Empire Life: Premium reduction for dental and extended health benefits

Empire Life has some great news regarding premium reduction for dental and extended health benefits. From Empire Life website:

Premium reduction for dental and extended health benefits

These continue to be extremely challenging times for Canadians. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized businesses, who are facing immense pressures.

With dental offices and many extended health care providers closed, we have seen a reduction in claims for these types of services. Generally speaking, plan members are only accessing emergency treatments and some virtual services.  As a result, we are providing a premium reduction for the month of April, as described below. This will provide additional business relief to plan sponsors and assist with cash flow. 

Premium reduction details

·        50% reduction on April’s dental benefit premium

·        10% reduction on April’s extended health benefit premium  

Additional information

·        The April premium reductions will be automatically applied as a credit on the June billing statement. The group policy needs to be in-force when the premium credit is applied. For greater clarity, the premium reduction can only be refunded via a credit applied on premiums owed under a group policy. 

·        Plan members remain fully covered for their dental and extended health benefits in accordance with the terms of their plan.

·        As circumstances around the pandemic shift daily, we will continue to review dental and extended health benefit claims activity in May, as well as by region, and make a determination on premium reductions for future months.

·        Premium credits will not impact advisor commissions.

·        The premium credit does not apply to any benefits on an Administrative Services Only basis or related Stop Loss benefit coverage.

·        The 10% extended health benefit premium reduction only applies to extended health benefits that include paramedical coverage.

 Questions

We will send a communication out to sponsors tomorrow. We are grateful for your ongoing support and business—and together we will get through this unprecedented period. We are putting together an FAQ to provide additional detail. For any questions please contact your Account Executive or Account Manager.”

RBC COVID-19 Update: Premium credits for Health & Dental

RBC has some great news regarding premium credits for dental and extended healthcare benefits. From RBC:

“With the impacts of COVID-19 evolving, we continue to review clients’ needs and adjust our approach. As a result of physical distancing measures and business closures, visits to the dentist, chiropractor, physiotherapist and other healthcare professionals have declined. To reflect this, we will apply premium credits for dental and extended health care benefits.

Premium credits

  • 50% of your clients’ dental premium for both April and May premium will automatically be credited to their June bill

  • 10% of your client’s overall health premium for both April and May premium will automatically be credited to their June bill.

There is no action you or your clients need to take.

As public health measures regarding physical distancing change, we will re-assess this approach monthly and adjust as needed.

What you need to know

  • Premium credits apply to fully insured non-refund accounted plans

  • This is a premium credit adjustment, not a premium rate change under the group policy. As such, future premiums and claims reports will continue to show dental and extended health care premiums on an unadjusted basis, making loss ratios for these benefits appear more favorable than the actual experience.

We’re in this together

We understand the financial strain that many businesses across Canada are experiencing at this time. These premium credits do not impact the plan design: health and dental coverage remain the same for all plan members. We trust this approach will help your clients maintain their insurance protection for their plan members.”

Blue Cross: New pandemic premium relief program for plan sponsors

Blue Cross has some great news regarding their premium relief program for plan sponsors. From Blue Cross:

New pandemic premium relief program for plan sponsors

Small- and medium-sized businesses are dealing with the most challenging economic crisis of our time. We are committed to doing our part to help ease the financial burden on plan sponsors during this difficult period.

Premium Relief Program
Retroactive to April 1, 2020, we will be providing a premium relief program for all non-refund, fully-insured group clients for the month of April:
 

  • We are crediting 50% of dental premiums, to reflect the decrease in dental visits during the pandemic.  

  • We are also crediting 10% of Health Premiums, on both Drugs and Extended Health Benefits. Although drug claim levels have not been impacted by the pandemic, this credit reflects the current reduction in paramedical and vision claims.  We will continue to offer virtual options for many provider types to ensure that benefits can still be accessed in this time of need.

Note: The program applies for clients with the noted benefits.

This premium relief program will continue to be reassessed for potential extension.  Our approach to the program is to reflect the current reduction in claims, while balancing that claims will increase to higher levels in the future.  

Premium Credit Administration
These credits for April will automatically be applied to June invoices, with no action required by plan sponsors.

As an alternative, upon request, group clients can opt to receive the savings with the next renewal, as a credit or applied toward the plan’s rates.  This approach could help avoid potential administration issues for plan sponsors, advisors and third-party administrators.  If this option is selected, please confirm with your Medavie Blue Cross representative by May 8.

These new initiatives are in addition to changes already put in place to help plans through this pandemic, as are outlined at https://www.medaviebc.ca/en/info-centre-covid-19.

We may be working from home but know that we are working hard to serve your needs and are confident that, together, we can weather this storm. To discuss this program or how we are supporting your organization during this pandemic, contact your Medavie Blue Cross representative.”

Canada Life: Continued financial relief with premium reduction adjustments

Canada Life has some great news regarding financial relief for Dental, Vision and Healthcare benefits. From Canada Life:

“It has been our goal to remain flexible and to continue to be by your side with creative solutions to provide you with support in these challenging times. Today we’re announcing additional financial support for you.

Premium reduction adjustments

The premium reduction adjustments below apply to non-refund dental, vision and healthcare benefits and will be
retroactive to April 1, 2020 and appear on May bills as a COVID-19 premium adjustment.

  • Dental: A 50% premium reduction adjustment will be applied.

  • Vision: A 20% premium reduction adjustment will be applied.

  • Healthcare:

    • With reimbursement prescription drug coverage: An 8% premium reduction adjustment will be applied

    • With Pay Direct Drugs: A 20% premium reduction adjustment applied to the Healthcare rate.

Administrative handling of premium reduction adjustments

There is nothing for you to do.

Premium reduction adjustments will be applied automatically and monthly in arrears as necessary going forward. In addition to the April premium adjustments mentioned above, May premium reduction adjustments will be completed on the June billing once we fully evaluate emerging experience over the coming weeks.

Additional information:

  • Premium reduction adjustments will also apply even if we have agreed to defer your renewal date.

  • If you have amended or may amend your plan design, the premium reduction adjustment will still apply to the period prior to the amendment.

    • If you, for example, terminated your dental plan May 1, Canada Life will still issue the premium adjustment
      reduction retroactively for the April billing period.

  • The premium reduction adjustment is intended to be a temporary measure that will be applied until further notice from Canada Life, and may be discontinued as emerging experience becomes clear. As noted, the premium reduction adjustment is not a rate change under the group policy.

  • Issuing premium reduction adjustments, instead of rate reductions, is the fastest way for us to get you immediate financial relief.

  • We continue to work with the Federal Government to champion relief measures for you and other Canadian businesses.

  • GroupNet will continue to show dental, vision and healthcare premiums without the adjusted premiums. In other words, the loss ratios for these benefits will look more favorable than the actual.

Contact us

We are hopeful the premium reduction adjustment is helpful and that you and your plan members are staying healthy during this challenging time.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your Advisor or your Canada Life representative if you have any questions regarding the above. We’re in this together.

Questions & Answers

What if a premium reduction adjustment doesn’t show on my May bill?

There may be a small number of cases that were not caught before this billing cycle. These policies will receive a double adjustment on the next bill.

Does this adjustment apply equally if we deferred your renewal?

Yes, these adjustments apply to all in-force clients with non-refund dental, vision and healthcare benefits.

How does this affect terminated or amended plans?

If a benefit is in-force during the month of April, the adjustment will be applied. (i.e., If a cancellation occurs in May, you will still get the April adjustment).

Will you recover any of the adjustment at a future point in time?

No, we will not recover this adjustment.

We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our position monthly based on what’s happening with these services and potentially other areas of the benefits plans until such a time as we are back to a regular business environment.

Instead of this premium reduction adjustment, can benefits be adjusted?

Yes, you always have the option to change the coverage on a plan, such as reducing or removing a benefit to help control costs. Please speak with your benefits advisor about options available to you.

How will this work for a self-accounting case?

Self-accounting cases will be handled after our head office billing cases. Our plan is to calculate the reduction, produce a pdf and send to plan sponsor by email. We are still investigating this solution for these clients and will advise as soon as we know this can be accomplished.

The information in this communication should not take the place of, or be a substitute for, medical advice or official guidance and/or direction issued by your public health authorities or local government. We encourage you to visit the World Health Organization website and your local government health authority websites for the most up-to-date and reliable information about the status of the coronavirus in your region.

The content of this GroupLine is for general use and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal or tax advice. The content of this GroupLine is based on information available at the time of publication, which is subject to change. Efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this GroupLine. However, it may contain errors or omissions or become out of date following publication

Significant new financial relief for Manulife group benefits plan sponsors

Great news from Manulife regarding premium relief for Dental and Extended Health Care for the month of May. From the Manulife website:

We’re covering 50% of your dental premium and 10% of your extended health care premium for the month of May

Unlike anything in recent memory, the coronavirus is having a serious effect on Canadians and our economy. To support you and help provide financial relief to our clients, we are taking a significant step. If you have a fully insured non-refund accounted benefits plan with Manulife, we’re covering 50% of your dental premium and 10% of your extended health care premium (including prescription drugs) in the month of May to reflect the claims activity we’ve seen in April.

  • There’s no change to your health and dental plan design.

  • Coverage for your plan members is unchanged.

  • Regular pre-authorized debit draws for May’s premium will be reduced by 50% for dental and 10% for extended health care for that month.

Responding to the current healthcare environment

The coronavirus has forced many dental and health practitioner offices across the country to close. Generally, dentists are only performing emergency dental procedures. In the case of many other, non-dental health practitioners, virtual appointments and consultations have helped reduce disruption to service. We’ve also seen the adoption of new virtual health solutions. An Advance Bulletin detailing some of the virtual care options available to plan members was sent to you on April 15.

Our relief program helps support you and recognizes some benefits are being underused during the pandemic. Hopefully you will be able to use the money saved to help steer your business and your plan members through this crisis.

No interruption to coverage

Manulife will continue to cover health and dental claims that may be incurred by your plan members during the month of May. And when dental offices and health practitioner clinics re-open, plan members will be able to immediately resume services without any questions or concerns.

Looking ahead to June

We don’t know how long the current government guidelines, physical distancing rules, and business restrictions will last. So, we’re taking it one month at a time. It’s possible that restrictions will ease sooner in some provinces, but last longer in others. It’s also possible that health care providers will come up with creative solutions to dealing with physical distancing requirements. For these reasons, we’ll make decisions about June’s health and dental premium relief when more information is available.

That decision will be guided by our desire to:

  • help keep coverage in place for plan members,

  • help support your business through this difficult time, and

  • respond to the realities of the current healthcare environment.

What to expect

  • Invoices for May were generated April 17. 

  • As usual, the health and dental premiums are itemized on the invoice. 

  • Before our system pulls your pre-authorized debit payment, we will decrease the amount due by 50% of dental premium and 10% of health premium for the month of May. 

  • If you are a self-administered group that produces your own premium payment, or any group that pays by check, please feel free to reduce your payment by 50% of dental premium and 10% of health premium for the month of May.

  • If you inadvertently paid your full premium for May, we’ll credit your group’s account 50% dental premium and 10% health premium for the month of May.

At this time, we feel it is appropriate for Manulife to reduce your dental plan premium by 50% and reduce your extended health care premium by 10% for the month of May. This way, we can help you maintain coverage for your plan members and help keep some much-needed money in your company bank account.

If you have any questions, please contact your usual Manulife representative.

Note : If your plan is a type other than fully insured non-refund accounted (such as Administrative Services Only, or fully insured refund accounted), this information does not apply to you. Your group country for actual expenses incurred by your plan members plus any associated fees charged by Manulife for administering your claims.”

Sun Life – New for all non-refund Clients: Premium credits for dental and extended health care

From Sun Life’s website:

“The pandemic has been a challenge for everyone. We know it’s been a great challenge for many small businesses. We continue to seek ways to ease the burden – while still providing the coverage your plan members need.

We’re pleased to provide a new solution – premium credits for dental and non-drug-related extended health care benefits.

Plan member use of dental benefits and some extended health care benefits has declined during the pandemic. The premium credits we’re providing reflect this lower usage – and we hope this can help our Clients with their cash flow needs.

Here are the changes we’re making for all non-refund Clients:

  • 50% credit against dental premiums paid. Most routine dental visits have stopped during the pandemic. We’re providing a 50% dental premium credit per month. We will apply the April credit to your June 1 invoice. We will continue to assess on a monthly basis.

  • 20% credit against non-drug-related extended health care premiums paid. Prescription drug usage has not declined during the pandemic. However, while plan members are using an increased volume of virtual care across their paramedical providers, we are still seeing a reduction in claims activity. To reflect this, we’re providing a 20% premium credit on the non-drug coverage portion of your extended health care benefit premium which will translate to approximately 8% to 9% of the overall extended health care premium. As with the dental premium credit, we’ll apply the April credit to your June 1 invoice. We will continue to assess on a monthly basis.

We will be revisiting these credits on a monthly basis going forward. We expect plan usage to return to normal levels once current pandemic restrictions are lifted. Until then, we’ll be here for you and your plan members, who will continue to have full access to their benefits coverage throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Thank you

Your input on our COVID-19 response continues to be valuable. We hope these premium credits can help you and your business at a difficult time.”

Equitable Life: Premium relief for Dental and Extended Health Care benefits

From Equitable Life:

“We know this is a difficult time for Canadian employers and that many of your clients are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to look for ways to help employers manage while still supporting their employees.

With many health practitioners closing their offices due to the pandemic restrictions, plan member use of dental benefits and some health benefits has declined.

So, we are pleased to announce that we are offering premium relief for all Traditional and myFlex insured non-refund customers for Health and Dental benefits, as follows:

  • A 50% reduction on Dental premiums; and

  • A 20% reduction on vision and extended healthcare rates (excluding prescription drugs), which equates to an 8% reduction on Health premiums. 

These reductions are retroactive to April 1, 2020 and will appear as a credit against the next available billing. We will assess the situation monthly and expect to continue with monthly refunds for as long as the current crisis period continues.

We expect that claims experience and premiums will return to normal once the current pandemic restrictions are lifted.

In the meantime, plan members will continue to have full access to their benefits coverage throughout the pandemic. In many cases, dental offices remain open for emergency services, and a variety of healthcare providers are available virtually.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact your Group Account Executive or myFlex Sales Manager. In the meantime, we have provided some Questions and Answers below.

Will the premium reduction on Health and Dental benefits have an impact on the renewals that were deferred?
 
No. Renewals will proceed as normal, with rate adjustments based only on months where full premium was paid. For most clients, we anticipate “normal” rate adjustments at renewal compared to rates paid prior to refunds taking effect.
 
Does this adjustment apply equally to clients who have had their renewal deferred?
 
Yes, these adjustments apply to all Traditional and myFlex insured, non-refund customers for Health and Dental benefits.
 
How does this affect clients who have terminated or amended a plan?
 
If a benefit is in-force during the month of April, the adjustment will be credited to the next available billing. For clients who have temporarily terminated all benefits, this will be applied against the first bill once benefits have been reinstated. No cash refunds will be paid.
 
Will you recover any of the adjustment at a future point in time?
 
No, we will not recover this adjustment.
 
Instead of this premium reduction adjustment, can a client cancel or adjust some of the benefits on their plan?
 
Yes, you and your clients always have the option of changing the coverage on a plan, such as reducing or removing a benefit to help control costs. Please speak to your Group Account Executive or myFlex Sales Manager about the options available.
 
Are TPAs and self-administered groups eligible for the premium reduction?
 
Yes. TPAs and self-administered groups are eligible for the premium reduction. However, timing for the credit will be dependent on the billing practices of the TPA or self-administered group. We will apply these credits as soon as we are able.

More details will be announced later this week.

New Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance | Canada Emergency Business Account Expanded

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance

On April 16th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced support for to help small businesses with their rent for the months of April, May and June.

The program is being worked out with the provinces and more details will be available shortly.

“Businesses and Commercial property owners are also facing specific challenges because of COVID-19 so we plan on introducing the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance. This program will provide support to help small businesses with their rent for the months of April, May and June. To implement this program we have to work with the provinces and territories as they govern rental relationships and we hope to have more details very soon” – PM Justin Trudeau

Canada Emergency Business Account

The eligible amounts are being expanded to include businesses with 2019 total payroll between $20,000 – $1.5 million.

There are restrictions on the funds can be used. From their website https://ceba-cuec.ca/:

“The funds from this loan shall only be used by the Borrower to pay non-deferrable operating expenses of the Borrower including, without limitation, payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax and regularly scheduled debt service, and may not be used to fund any payments or expenses such as prepayment/refinancing of existing indebtedness, payments of dividends, distributions and increases in management compensation.”

Two new resources for Canadians struggling with their mental health

For Canadians who need mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are two new resources available to help you through these tough times.

Stronger Minds is a free digital program for Canadians by BEACON and sponsored by Manulife and Green Shield Canada

From their website at https://www.mindbeacon.com:

“With Stronger Minds, participants get day-to-day guidance from the extensive BEACON team of clinical psychologists. Through videos, quick reads and resilience-building activities, let’s help you learn how to protect your mental well-being through these times.”

Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support

The Federal Government launched Wellness Together for Canadians who need mental health and substance use support. This website provides online resources, tools, apps, and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals.

Stay Healthy & Safe!

Expanded eligibility for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) & Boosted wages for Essential Workers

From his speech this morning (April 15th), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced:

“Today, we’re announcing more help for more Canadians. This includes topping up the pay of essential workers. At the same time, we’ll also be expanding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to reach people who are earning some income as well as seasonal workers who are facing no jobs and for those who have run out of EI recently. Expanding the CERB to include people who earn up to $1,000 per month. Maybe you’re a volunteer firefighter, or a contractor who can pickup some shifts, or you have a part-time job in a grocery store.”

Eligibility for CERB

On eligibility for CERB, the Prime Minister stated:

“If you earn $1,000 or less a month, you’ll now be able to apply for CERB.

If you were expecting a seasonal job that isn’t coming because of COVID-19, you’ll now be able to apply.

If you’ve run out of EI since January 1st, you can now apply for CERB as well

And for others who still need help, including post secondary students and businesses worried about commercial rent, we’ll have more to say to you very soon.”

Wage Boost for Essential Workers

On topping up wages for Essential Workers, PM Justin Trudeau said:

“Our government will work with the provinces and territories to boost wages for essential workers who are making under $2,500 a month, like those in our long-term care facilities”

The government website is being updated with the new qualifications, for full details and to apply click below: