by Pierre Marion
Last month the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey was released. This study is done every year to gauge what’s important to Canadian employers and employees when it comes to health benefits and workplace wellness.
We’re proud to sponsor this report and serve on the advisory committee. The survey usually gives some pretty good insights and this year was no different – especially when it comes to health coverage and retirement.
Misconceptions about health coverage after retirement
A third of our workforce is expected to retire in the next 15 to 20 years. You would think with this significant number there would be more planning on the part of the employer and the employee when it comes to health benefits. But according to the Sanofi Survey that’s not the case.
According to the survey almost half (48%) of plan members expect access to their current health plan after they retire. But only 23% of plan sponsors/employers offer post-retirement benefits. Why the disconnect between employee and employer expectations?
More information from employer needed
A lot of the problem is lack of information. Over the past several years employers have really stepped up to investing more in workplace wellness programs and resources. But when we are out of the workplace – like when we retire – the focus seems to fade.
A lot of good could be done if benefit providers and employers worked together to inform their members about options when they retire — well before retirement age. This would guard against any surprises or misconceptions about health coverage. Most of all it would give the employee enough time to prepare if their benefit plan from work does not continue or changes after retirement.
Benefit Providers can help with retirement transition
Employers would be smart to utilize their benefit providers when it comes to supporting employees as they transition from work to retirement. A lot of providers offer transition programs and services to switch customers from their employer plan to an individual plan.
Many times this doesn’t require another qualifying health assessment known as medical underwriting. For example we offer a program called Assured Access which allows our eligible members to move from a group plan to an individual plan with no underwriting when they may lose employer coverage. It’s pretty unique and works to make the transition from an employer plan to an individual plan a simple process. It’s also something that can be added to your plan well before retirement.
Helping employees understand health benefits
For many of us our employee health plan is something we just accept at work. When it comes to things such as premiums, choosing different types of benefits and managing plan costs – we don’t usually think about it – our employer takes care of that.
But this isn’t the case when we retire – all of a sudden we may be responsible for not just having benefits but managing them. This can be pretty intimidating if we don’t understand our plan or how it works.
Benefit providers can help employers in educating their employees on how health plans work overall – ensuring employees are always making a wise consumer choice whether they are with the employer’s plan or not.
How to get started
HR Managers could touch base with the benefit provider to see what retirement supports and plans are offered. Or if you are an employee why not ask your benefits manager about retirement planning.
By providing resources and options employers can empower employees to take care of their health both during their time with the organization and beyond. Now is the right time to get started.
Pierre Marion is senior director of sales and business relations at Medavie Blue Cross and, along with Anne Nicoll, vice president of health and disability management, sits on the Sanofi Canada HealthCare Survey Advisory Board.