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  • Steve McEwan

Survey Says

Indulge me for a second while I digest some of the data from the recent survey done by the Conference Board of Canada and Telus Health.

"1,500 Canadian workers, found a majority (82 per cent) of respondents want basic dental services (such as preventative and minor restorative) covered by their benefits plans, compared to the 25 per cent who said their plan already covers these services,"

"About seven in 10 (70 per cent) said they’d like basic/core prescription coverage, while only 37 per cent of respondents said this was covered under their plans"

You are telling me 75% (I assume bigger businesses surveyed) do not have basic dental coverage in an insured plan or even an HSA or both? 63% provide no (not even basic) prescription coverage?

Is it just me, or does anyone else think these numbers sound off? Or is the survey revealing a major fundamental problem in the industry? Rather than a matter of coverage, or lack thereof, employees still don’t understand their plan.

Most employees in good health will never interact with the plan enough to understand it, and they’re more likely to offer a positive review when asked about their benefits. On the contrary, those in poor health and who need the plan the most understand its shortcomings and are more likely to be negative.

It would seem the industry likes to keep things status quo, so why change something that isn’t broken? But is it? We are talking a multibillion-dollar industry, where three insurers control 65% of the market in group insurance.

I think there is a value and communication problem, and there is intrinsic bias in this survey; they assume that employees value traditional benefits. I say bullshit. I think 100% of these employees surveyed have these benefits, yet the reviews show that many don’t know it, or at least know what theirs covers. Don’t get me wrong, insurance has its place, but where is the value in the offering if your employees don’t even understand it? Handing employees a booklet with insurance jargon to explain a complex product isn’t doing any favours. I’d be so bold to say their HR department may not fully understand the offering to pay it forward.

Why haven’t things changed? It’s no secret that a benefits plan isn’t cheap, so is the value really there?

What if we could re-write the way benefit plans are created, and what if you brought the employees in from day one. Individualize the plan. Educate employees on different offerings, making transparent the value in the coverage they have—but hopefully they don’t need. Give them choice and flexibility, a mix of insurance, health, and wellness products. With pro-active and preventative options for employees, they can avoid high-cost prescription drugs, disability or keep their mental health positive to experience fewer negative health outcomes. Do we have this plan yet? No, but this is the vision behind myMarketplace, and we are on our way there.

Steve McEwan

COO & Co-Founder



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