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Posted by Martin Papillon, FSA, FCIA, MBA, April 29 2020
Plan Administration
Does Your Benefits Program Still Meet Your Needs?


Upon the annual renewal of their group insurance policy, plan sponsors and their advisors often carefully consider the small coverage adjustments they could make to limit premium increases. But what about the benefits program offering? Is it still adequate?  

While it had already been on the rise in recent years, telecommuting experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity amid the pandemic shutdown; it is quite likely that the virtualization of work will go on long after the shutdown is over. This trend is forcing employers to rethink their employee benefits program offering.

Benefits Program: Assessing the Needs of Insured Members 

Thoroughly understanding the needs of insured members is the starting point for reviewing your benefits program.

You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have the maximum life insurance and long-term disability insurance amounts kept up with salary increases? Are there any underinsured employees within your group?
  • Is the formula used to calculate disability insurance benefits optimal from a taxation standpoint? What percentage of net income replacement does it provide for different salary levels?
  • Do you have sufficient paramedical care coverage? Does your plan include per-visit limits set 20 years ago?
  • Is employee coverage maintained during temporary layoffs? For how long?
  • Do you have expatriate or work permit employees? Are they covered adequately?
  • Do you know your employees’ preferences and priorities with respect to benefits? When did you last survey them?

Preferring Online Services

Whether during a shutdown or when your employees regularly work from home, offering virtual services can only help them better perform!

There is an increasing range of services available online, including:

  • Telemedicine, which gives access to medical consultations 7 days a week, through providers such as a virtual clinic.
  • Online pharmacies, such as Picard et Desjardins and Medzy, that offer home delivery of prescription drugs along with price savings.
  • A wide range of other health care providers also offer online services, including physiotherapists, dieticians, psychologists, psychotherapists and speech therapists.

Some of these services are already reimbursed by your plan, while others such as virtual medicine require a monthly subscription.

Ensuring Your Plan Is Sustainable

Of course, you must also consider your plan costs and long-term stability! To gain enough flexibility to improve your plan and make it more attractive, you should contemplate the implementation of better cost control measures, such as generic substitution, 90-day prescription drug supply for chronic conditions and educating members on responsible drug purchasing practices. AGA has developed a unique approach that leads to impressive results!

Communication Is the Key

Employee appreciation is the best measure of a successful benefits program. And to appreciate their plan, employees must begin by understanding it! An appropriate communication strategy should start with an employee survey to help you understand their interests and priorities. This should lead up to a comprehensive presentation of the new plan, followed by regular updates on the plan’s developments.

Performing a Comprehensive Diagnostic with an Expert Advisor

The best way to revamp your plan while factoring in all these considerations is to be guided by an expert advisor from AGA Benefit Solutions! This specialist will be able to give you sound advice every step of the way, help you match your corporate goals with the needs of your employees, and assist you in deploying a modern and attractive benefits program with long-term financial sustainability. Are you ready to step into action? Contact us.

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Martin Papillon is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and holds an MBA from HEC Montréal. Throughout his career, he has been working in the group insurance and retirement sector. Before joining AGA in 2013, he held advisory and senior management positions with world-class consulting actuarial firms.
Martin Papillon, FSA, FCIA, MBA