The Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) covers more than 4,400 prescription drug products. Currently, it has been available to seniors (age 65 or older) and for others who meet specific criteria such as:
-living in a long-term care home or a home for special care or enrolled in Home Care,
-Ontario Disability Support Program, or the
-Trillium Drug Program.
The Ontario Drug Program (ODP) is for residents of Ontario with a valid health card. An eligible prescription needs to be filled in an Ontario-based pharmacy and it won’t cover prescription drugs purchased outside the province, drugs not listed on the ODB or not approved for the Exceptional Access Program. The ODB Formulary is updated monthly. It includes brand name and generic drugs.
The ODB also helps Ontarians pay for:
• allergy shots and Epipen (used in response to severe allergic reaction)
• some products used in monitoring and testing for diabetes
• some prescribed over-the-counter drugs under specific circumstances (e.g. Ibuprofen 200mg, Ferrous sulphate 300)
• some nutrition products
• some drugs used in treatment of HIV/AIDS
• some drugs used in palliative care
At present, the ODP ?";covers approximately 3 million seniors and 900,000 families on social assistance.
As of January 1, 2018, Pharmacare for children and youth will be eligible for the ODB. This new program makes the Ontario government first payor for these 4,400 ODB prescription drug products. This is an additional step toward complete provincial coverage.
Eliminating cost and red tape.
As of January 1, 2018, children or adults age 24 or younger no longer have to go through their own or their parent’s private coverage first. With the Ontario government assuming first payor responsibility, equal access to meditation is available to all who meet the eligibility criteria without adding time or additional cost. As the program is free for eligible Ontarians, recipients aren’t responsible for co-payment or dispensary fees.
What could this mean for plan sponsors?
Will these changes result in financial relief for plan sponsors? It depends on the plan sponsor’s funding arrangement, and the demographic make-up of their workforce with eligible dependents. Insured plans may not have exposure to the same type of cost shift plan sponsors with an Administrative Services Only (ASO) arrangement may experience.
With the provincial government taking on the first payor for young Ontarians, plan sponsors may look at the first payor change as an opportunity to review their group benefit health plan designs. Will they consider implementing drug caps to further reduce drug plan costs? Perhaps.
January 2018 represents a time of transition when shifting the approvals from private payor to public make signal some bumps in the road. Although nothing has yet been confirmed, there needs to be a grace period and process to ensure that already approved private payor coverage is moved over seamlessly to the Ontario Drug Program. Allowing for an automatic coordination of benefits between Trillium and private payers also would be a welcome system change.
While there is more work to be done and questions to be answered about this important provincial prescription drug benefit change, signals are pointing in a positive direction where Ontario youth have the ability to feel more protected when they need it.
These continue to be exciting times of change for the benefits industry. Our team is well positioned and ready to support you through change. Please contact us. We’re here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Like a coin has two sides, every decision has two choices — yes or no. Perhaps it isn’t quite as simple as more and more employers begin to explore some grey areas when the topic of bringing a dog to work comes into play.
Why is this even a consideration?
Let’s look at the statistics for starters. There are approximately 7.9 million cats and 5.9 million dogs in Canada. According to Ipsos Reid, approximately 35% of Canadian households have a dog and 38% have a cat. For some, they have both a cat and a dog or multiples of each.
There are two sides to look at when considering if implementing a pet-friendly policy is right for your workplace.
One side of the coin — bring pets (dogs) to work.
Likely one of the main reasons employers are pondering whether to introduce a pet-friendly workplace policy has to do with the results of recent studies. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association's (APPMA) study, allowing dogs in the workplace can reduce staff stress. Another study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University found that employees who were able to bring their dogs to work produced lower levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. The stress levels of employees who brought their dogs to work fell about 11 percent, while that of those who didn’t rose by 70 percent.
Why else should employers allow dogs in the workplace? The APPMA study also revealed that allowing employees to bring their dogs to work:
What employers have adopted a pet-friendly workplace? It might not come as a surprise, but companies like Google, Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, Nestle and Esty are pet-friendly workplaces. They are among the current 17% of North American employers to go down this pet-friendly path.
Who are employers hoping to attract?
The answer is Millennials. So much attention is paid to Millennials and for good reason. Since, their opinions will be the key drivers that influence workplace decisions.
Recent surveys show that 25% of millennials say that companies with dog-friendly policies are more attractive and 74% of millennials say they can see the benefits of bringing one’s dog to work. Millennial pet-owners tend to feel about their pets as parents do about their children. The thought of leaving them at home alone all day is stressful and guilt inducing. Creating a pet-friendly work environment helps to eliminate that stress and makes things a bit easier for pet owners.
The other side of the coin - the downside of a pet-friendly workplace.
Not everyone is a pet lover or thinks that allowing dogs in the workplace is a walk in the park. There are some downsides that warrant exploration.
Considering a pet-friendly workplace? If the pros outweigh the cons after you consider whether your workplace should introduce a pet-friendly policy, here are some tips to help you prepare and ensure a happy and safe work environment for you and any welcomed four-footed friends.
While pet-friendly policies remain a relatively new trend that has been embraced by more forward-thinking and Millennial-centric firms it is a benefit or perk that may quickly become in demand over time. Considering both sides of the question early is a helpful step to prepare you for when and if the question arises. Keeping in mind alternate benefit strategies and methods for improving employee productivity and engagement are as important to us as they are for our clients. We invite you to contact us should you have questions on this topic or others. We’re here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Are Canadians overestimating their level of financial literacy? If recent studies are any indication, the answer is, yes.
Before we get to the survey results, let’s define financial literacy. It is the ability to understand how money works in the world. It is also defined as one’s know-how when it comes to managing money in ways that will help achieve short and long-term financial goals.
According to a LowestRates.ca survey conducted in partnership with IPSOS, 78% of respondents said their financial literacy was excellent and 64% reported it as being good. Yet another recent survey, this one sponsored by the Canadian Bankers Association, revealed that a large portion of Canadians appear not to have a basic understanding of simple financial concepts. Of the five questions asked, only 13% of Canadians aged 18 and over were able to answer all five questions correctly. Only 25% were able to answer 4 of the 5 questions right and over one-third answered less than 2 questions correctly.
What were these questions asked by Abacus for the Canadian Bankers Association and how difficult are they?
The questions are:
Demographics, socio-economic differences and gender appear to have an impact on level of financial knowledge. For this survey, those that answered all the questions correctly were more likely to be male (58%), older (over age 45) and have a university education. Additionally they had incomes over $75,000 (54%) and had a financial advisor (44%)
Conversely, the survey revealed that those who answered only one or no questions correctly tended to be female (61%), under age 35 (54%) and only had a high school education or less (57%). Many didn't have a financial advisor. They also live in households making less than $50,000 per year (48%).
What demographic cohort scored the lowest? From the Abacus survey, Millennial responses reveal that they are less financially knowledgable than Generation X and Baby Boomers.
According to the LowestRates.ca 15 question financial literacy survey, Millennials self-reported at the most confident that their financial knowledge was excellent (18%) compared to the rest of Canadians at 14%.
Perhaps creating opportunities for more Canadians in the workforce to conduct financial literacy surveys to gain a bit more perspective about their financial knowledge would be helpful. It begs the question — if we believe we have a high degree of financial knowledge, how eager or willing might we be to seek the help of a financial advisor or be open to learning more wither online or via workshops?
Increasingly, employers are reporting their employees are showing signs of being financially stressed. What are the warning signs to watch out for? Accordingly to TalkAboutDebt.co.uk, they include:
Answers to questions:
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.