Thinking about extended health benefits in Alberta? Employees want to have health benefits that can truly enhance their quality of life. Business owners want their workers to have sufficient insurance coverage for both routine preventative care and unexpected emergencies. We all want our families to enjoy the safety and security of comprehensive health coverage.
For Albertans, the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) covers certain basic medical services and procedures. Yet, many health-related services are not government-mandated. For example, visits to the dentist, vision care, and hospital visits are not covered under the AHCIP.
Because of this, many supplement their AHCIP benefits with an extended health benefits in Alberta. Alberta residents have many different options for extended benefits. You may wonder, though: “How important are extended health benefits for my family and me?” And if you are a business owner or manager, you may also want to know: “How can extended health benefits impact my employees? How can I determine the best coverage option for my business?” Let’s consider the answers to these questions.
The Costs of Going Without Benefits
The primary reason why extended health benefits are so important is the extremely high cost of many health-related services without extended benefits. Here are 3 examples of health services not covered by the AHCIP:
A report on average dental fees throughout Alberta was published in December 2016. The findings included the following:
- On average, dental examinations or “checkups” could cost between $72.94 and $224.00 per visit.
- A 45 minute session of preventative cleaning (including polishing and scaling) for an adult with good dental habits and diet could cost $214.00 in total.
- A tooth with a damaged pulp will likely require a root canal. The average cost of 1 root canal could be $697.00. However, if the tooth requires multiple root canals, the cost of the procedure could escalate to $1,015.00 or more.
- The administration of general anesthesia could cost $375.88 or more.
Clearly, these are costs that you or your employees would not want to pay out of pocket.
The AHCIP does include some coverage of vision care. However, these benefits mostly apply to youth or seniors (youths 18 years of age or younger, and seniors 65 years of age or older). For adults between the ages of 19 and 64, a basic eye exam could cost $100. Eye examinations that include retinal photography, which can help pinpoint early indications of eye disease, could cost $149 or more. Of course, prescription glasses and vision-related procedures would carry their own costs as well.
Throughout Canada, hospital visits can be extremely costly; and these costs are only climbing over time. The average cost for a stay in acute care in Canada is $6,098.
However, Alberta boasts a higher wage rate for nurses and other hospital staff than other provinces. Therefore, costs related to hospital stays in Alberta are nearly $2,000 higher than the Canadian average, coming in at an average of $8,007 per visit. These costs include wages for the hospital staff, supplies and medication, but don’t include the costs of doctors.
It is evident that the costs of going without extended health benefits can be extremely burdensome on an individual level; and by extension, on a corporate level for businesses that do not offer extended coverage to their employees.
The Positive Impact of Extended Health Benefits in Alberta
Now let’s consider some of the positive impacts that an extended health benefits plan can have for you, your individual employees, and your business as a whole.
- Flexibility. Whereas the AHCIP is by default rigid in its coverage guidelines, a supplemental extended benefits package can be tailored to both the needs of an individual and the needs of a business. Since government-mandated coverage varies by province, your insurance provider will adapt its supplemental coverage to the province in which you or your business is currently residing. Furthermore, many extended health benefits packages come with flexible payment options, which allow you to effectively work within budget constraints.
- Tax advantages. For small business owners and those who are self-employed, it may be possible to deduct supplemental insurance premiums from business income, which can help offset some of those costs of coverage.
- Employee morale. The implementation of an extended health benefits option for your business sends a clear message to your employees: you care about them. Employees are more likely to stick with employers that offer health and holistic benefits. In fact, a study from MetLife found that 59% of employees agree that health and other benefits are important factors that can increase their loyalty to their current employer.
The bottom line is, extended health benefits can be a powerful driver for your own peace of mind and sense of well-being, as well as for that of your employees.
How Experts can Help You Make the Best Decision
As we have seen, there can be serious consequences that come to those without extended health benefits. On the other hand, an extended benefits plan can provide much-needed coverage and peace of mind to business owners and employees alike.
Still, there are many factors that you must consider before selecting a specific extended benefits package. For instance, what would the level of coverage be for prescription medications? Statistics Canada has found that “36.3% of working age Canadians have prescriptions for medication.” Some of these medications can cost hundreds of dollars every month. This is just one example of how several different considerations must be thoroughly researched before an extended health benefits plan is chosen for your business.
However, don’t think that you need to work through this decision making process on your own. At BP Group Solutions our experts, including our certified financial planners, have a wealth of experience and insight that can make all the difference in your selection of an extended health benefits plan in Alberta. We want to help you help the people that you depend on the most: your employees. Reach out to us today for more information.