Employer paid benefits that support both the employees and the workplace. These services are designed to enable employees to resolve personal and work issues so that optimal work productivity is maintained. They include health, wellness and other strategic solutions for smaller employers.https://www.healthrisk.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/employee-benefits-calgary.jpg

Here at Health Risk, we’re finally finishing up our series on the 7 major nutrients. The unfortunate fact is many Canadian health plans don’t cover access to a nutritionist, so we want to make sure this information is as widely available as possible. We hope that in the future employers will choose to cover nutritionists as part of their employee health plans. That way their staff will be able to eat better, make more informed decisions, and live healthier lives. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about micro and macro nutrients.

Macronutrients.

If you’ve been keeping up on our blogs, you’ll actually know quite a bit about macronutrients already. These nutrients are the calorie dense foods that humans consume for the bulk of our energy. They include carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and fat. Some people also include alcohol as alcoholic drinks have a ton of calories, but as alcohol is hardly necessary for the body, its inclusion is questionable at best. If you want to learn more about carbs, fiber, and protein, you can check part one of the 7 major nutrient series. And follow up with part 2 which takes a look at fats.

Micronutrients.

Just given that the name contains “micro” and we’ve already told you that macronutrients make up the bulk of the human diet, you’ve probably already figured out that micronutrients are the chemicals, minerals, and elements that we need in only tiny amounts. For humans, a micronutrient is classified as a trace mineral that we need in quantities of less than 100 milligrams / day. And if that sounds like a lot, it isn’t. One hundred milligrams is equivalent to 1/10 of a gram or the weight of roughly half a paperclip.

You’ll likely have heard of many of the trace-elements and minerals that humans need. Micronutrients include everything from Vitamin A to zinc. Metals like copper, iron, and cobalt among others are important in trace amounts and are easily found in the foods we eat. Other non-metal elements, like iodine, are harder to get but just as necessary. When you don’t eat enough iodine, your thyroid (responsible for your metabolism) won’t run properly. In the past, iodine deficiency commonly caused goiters. Today, table salt is often iodized to prevent deficiency.

Micronutrients, unlike macronutrients, should only be eaten in small doses. While you can eat as much vitamin C as you want (you just pee out the excess), too much vitamin A or iron can cause major problems. The human body is a complicated machine of intricately balanced chemical reactions, and it can be hard to keep it running optimally. A nutritionist can help. More knowledge about food, nutrition, and how are bodies works means that Canadians will have the power to make informed decisions and live better. At Health Risk, we recommend that employers offer their staff the opportunity to talk with a nutritionist.

If you want to add nutritionists to your employees’ benefit plan, contact Health Risk today!

 

Talking about mental health is kind of a taboo subject. A lot of people would rather talk about sex or how much they make than discuss their mental health. And that’s a big problem because mental health doesn’t just refer to people struggling with chronic depression or schizophrenia. Every single person has to deal with their own mental health. We need to understand our anxieties and our emotions, and when we’re reaching our limits and how to deal with difficult things in a constructive way. One of the best things an employer can do for their employees is start the conversation about mental health before problems arise and grant employees paid mental health days.

Mental Health is Just as Important as Physical Health.

The way we treat individuals struggling with depression is very different than how we treat those who are fighting cancer. That makes sense. Physical sickness is much easier to see and wrap our brains around. When someone who is (or seems) physically fit has no energy or motivation, it’s hard not to just feel like they should “stop being lazy” or “snap out of it.” But mental health problems aren’t mended through “sucking it up” any more than a broken arm is. And just because our society doesn’t like talking about mental health doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Employees are Already Taking Mental Health Days.

If you offer your employees the opportunity to take sick days, then they’re likely already taking mental health days. But, instead of being able to be honest about feeling burned out, they’ll lie when they call in sick to blame a physical ailment. Often, the guilt of lying causes additional anxiety and makes everything worse. At Health Risk, we suggest offering employees “wellness and health days.” These paid days should be available for physical illness but also mental health days. That way employees can take the time they need to feel better without needing to lie.

According to research, better health benefits and more paid sick days are some of the top priorities of today’s employees. Just under 80% of employees would rather see better benefits than a pay raise, so it’s important to keep in mind what your employees actually want from you and your company. At Health Risk, we recommend offering your employees paid mental health days because an employee who feels like they can take a day to unwind will be more productive and grateful for their job in the long run.

At Health Risk, we want to see employees across Canada having access to the benefits they want and need. If you want to offer your employees a better health plan, than Health Risk is here to help. Call us today.

If you’re considering offering your employees flexible benefits, you must be able to communicate the advantages of such plans. From your employees’ perspective, the additional payroll deduction necessary to cover flexible benefit plans must be offset by benefit offerings they truly care about.

At Health Risk, we have the ability to select specific benefits from traditional plans to design employee benefit programs that meet our customer’s unique needs. If you’re curious about flexible benefits, here are a few ways in which these types of plans can benefit employees:

Cost Savings

While offering flexible benefit plans requires that the employer implement an additional payroll deduction to cover costs of these programs, this deduction is taken out of employees’ before-tax income. This means that employees will actually save money at tax time, and their total, after-tax, take-home income will increase.

Flexibility

More traditional employee benefit programs offer little room for flexibility, and potential candidates may be hesitant to join your company if they can’t find the coverage they’re looking for from your current benefit plan.

Giving your employees options for designing their own benefit coverage plan can help you ensure that each employee receives the coverage they want and deserve. If you have a relatively diverse collection of employees, flexible benefits are a great way to guarantee everyone the best coverage to meet their needs.

Control of Expenditures

With the flexibility of these plans, employees can determine the specific amount of premium dollars you wish to allocate for the current year, and future years. It also allows you to decide exactly where you wish to allocate these dollars. Any unused dollars at the end of the year remain in your benefits account.

Design Incentives

From the perspective of prospective employment candidates, a company that offers flexible benefits clearly demonstrates that it values its’ employees. By offering assistance in designing a flexible benefits plan that works for each employee’s individual needs, you’ll give potential employees considerable incentive to work for your company.

Tax-Free Benefits

Depending on the type of plan you, and your employer, end up designing for your unique needs, you may receive a number of tax-free benefits. These benefits can be exceedingly valuable if it means not having to shell out an additional lump sum at tax time to receive them.

At Health Risk, we offer a variety of insurance products and services. We know that it can be difficult for many companies to cover the cost of employee benefits, and we cant to help you find benefit solutions that work in your budget and still provide a plethora of attractive options for your employees.

When it comes to flexible benefit plans, we strive to design programs that are efficient and effective for all parties involved. If you’re interested in exploring more advantages of flexible benefit plans, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-403-236-9430 today!

A Cost Plus Account allows for reimbursement of eligible medical and dental expenses which otherwise would have been payable by the individual with after tax dollars. A Cost Plus usually replaces a standard medical or dental plan as a stand alone program. It also can be offered as a component of a flexible benefit plan or as a complement to a traditional group insurance plan and can be used to offset any expenses that have not been covered under those types of plans.

Premiums for such a plan are deductible for tax purposes and the reimbursement to the employee for those services is considered to be a non-taxable benefit in accordance with Interpretation Bulletin 339R2 dated August 8, 1989, which read as follows:

“Under a Cost-Plus plan an employer contracts with a trusted plan or insurance company for
the provision of indemnification of employee’s claims on defined risks under the plan. The employer promises to reimburse the cost of such claims plus an administration fee to the plan or the insurance company, provided that the risks to be indemnified are those described in paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition of “private health services plan” in subsection 248 (1), such a plan qualifies as a Private Health Services Plan.”

  • Pay-as-You-Go: A Remittance Form along with receipts for services and a company cheque equal to the cost of the service plus the administration fee and GST. HRS will send a tax-free benefit cheque to you.
  • Pre-Funded Account: Your company funds an account with HRS to cover claims as they are submitted. HRS processes the claims and pays with funds from the account. This method is efficient in terms of avoiding time delays for processing and issuance of company cheques for proper claim amounts.

Taxation Considerations

A Cost-Plus Account qualifies as a PHSP and any premiums paid to a PHSP by an employer are considered business expenses deductible against business income. These amounts are non-taxable benefits to the employee and must meet the following criteria:

  • A formal Private Health Services Plan agreement must be in place with a third party administrator or insurance company.
  • Cost Plus Accounts must be 100% funded through your company.
  • A Cost Plus Account cannot be used to purchase additional insurance such as life insurance, long-term disability or critical illness insurance.
  • Benefits must meet income tax definitions of eligible expenses (Eligible Medical Expenses – PDF).

Corporations have been granted the right to decide the employee’s annual benefit allotment by class. While they have not been regulated on dollar amounts, CRA has indicated that benefits should be reasonable within relation to the employee’s remuneration package.

 

The greatest advantage of a Cost Plus Account is that allows you and your family to meet your specific needs for health benefits coverage. You claim what you require based on actual usage and never pay a premium for coverage that will never translate into a claim. You only pay for what you choose and what you use. Claims can be made for extra vision care expenses, massage therapy or orthodontic expenses to what ever amount is required.

What Is Travel Insurance?

Travel Insurance is intended to cover sudden, unexpected and unforeseeable circumstances which create a need for emergency treatments such as hospitalization, emergency surgery or dental work, transportation, and recovery or return of personal possessions. Basically, Travel Insurance will provide coverage for health care services in another province or country that your local or provincial plan will not cover. When purchasing a Travel Insurance Plan, ensure you are purchasing the right product with the best coverage by using an HRS Inc. Travel Insurance Checklist to guide you in your decision-making process.

Who Should Purchase Travel Insurance?

Government health insurance plans will pay only a small fraction of expenses if you are sick or injured while outside Canada. Some hospitals charge thousands of dollars a day, not including doctors, Efees or diagnostic services. Without emergency hospital and medical insurance, you and your family would be responsible for these high costs.

Travel Insurance: Key Features & Options

Circumstance/Occurrence Definition Coverage
Hospitalization Emergency hospitalization (semi-private) and emergency medical services in excess of provincial or territorial plan Up to $5 million
Meals & Accommodation While you are in hospital, insured family members or traveling companions remaining with you will be reimbursed for reasonable living expenses Up to $3,000
Transportation of Family or Friend Round trip economy transportation to bring family or friend to bedside

Travel Costs and/or identification of remains in cases of death

Up to $3,000

Up to $1,000

Return Transportation One-way economy transportation to return insured travelling companions and one insured accompanying family member home* Extra costs incurred
Attendant Attendant (not a relative) and return economy transportation to travel with your children home when you have been air evacuated back to Canada* Extra costs incurred
Return of vehicle or watercraft vehicle or watercraft used on journey which cannot be returned due to illness or injury that is covered by your plan Up to $3,000
Pet Return (Dog or Cat) Return of accompanying dog or cat to Canada if you return to Canada under the Emergency Transportation benefit or are hospitalized due to a sickness or injury covered by your plan Up to $300
Return of Deceased In the event of death, cost to return your body to Canada

In the event of death, cost for cremation or burial at place of death

Up to $10,000

Up to $4,000

Accidental Dental Emergency repair or replacement of whole or sound natural teeth caused by an accidental blow to the face Up to $3,000
Dental Emergencies Immediate relief of acute dental pain from causes other than an accidental blow to the face Up to $500
Emergency Transportation Arrangements for emergency transportation to a hospital in Canada or to the nearest hospital** Extra costs incurred
Return to Original Trip Destination One-way economy transportation for you and travelling companion to return to original trip destination after your emergency is completely resolved if your return home was under the Emergency Transportation benefit Up to $5,000

* Travelling companions are under the age of 18, or physically or mentally handicapped and reliant on you for assistance
** Patient must be medically assessed as transportable

What is Not Covered Under Travel Insurance

Travel insurance does not cover everything. This insurance has exclusions, conditions and limitations. Certain circumstances and conditions may affect the manner in which insurance coverage can be applied to a medical situation.

Assuris Policy Protection

Health Risk Services Inc. offers a number of quality products to meet the specific requirements of your business and the changing needs of your employees. Your benefit plan can be designed for group or individual use which incorporate flexibility and cost control. Choose from a variety of insurance and investment programs designed to meet specific coverage requirements for group, business and/or personal use.

Investments

  • Group Investment Plans
  • Business Investment Plans
  • Personal Investment Programs

PHSPs (Private Health Services Plans)

Private Health Services Plans (PHSPs) offer an alternative method of providing medical and dental benefits for self-employed individuals, small business owners and larger sized businesses with several employees. PHSPs will cover virtually 100% of ALL medical and dental services performed or prescribed by a registered or licensed practitioner. You determine the extent of the coverage that you, your employees and their dependents require. Services that are ineligible through traditional insurance programs can now be included in your coverage such as vision and major dental that may have been very costly under another plan.

Medical and dental services are not “insured” products but are “fee for serviceproducts. This means that as a service is required or used by an individual, then the benefit is administered and paid for as opposed to paying for a service inside of a plan that may or may not be used. Health Risk Services Inc. (HRS) has the ability and the program design expertise to remove these benefits from traditional plans and create benefit programs that provide the following advantages:

    • Cost Savings: An estimated 25% – 40% savings can be realized over both the short and long term. A PHSPs administration fee is charged only when HRS processes a claim and this fee is significantly less than the cost to operate a traditional benefits plan.
    • Complete Flexibility: The limitations and restrictions placed on claim eligibility by traditional plans is eliminated by a PHSPs design which allows for greater flexibility as to how employees can use the program.
    • Complete Control of Expenditures: You determine how much and where you wish to allocate premium dollars in current and future years. Unused premium dollars at year end stay with you and your benefits account.
    • Plan Design Incentives: Attract and maintain quality employees with benefit program designs that meet specific needs and return claims and information quickly.
    • Tax Free Benefits: All benefits received through a PHSP are tax free.

An efficient, fully functional PHSP can be established in one of many ways. There are four main design structures to choose from:

1. Health Spending Accounts

2. Cost-Plus Expenditure

3. Traditional Plan Design

4. Combination – integrates components of any of the options above

A HSA resembles a personal bank account as it works with debits and credits. With a positive account balance, an individual may obtain reimbursement for eligible medical and dental expenses and the account is debited by the paid amount. The amount deposited into each account must be used within a specified period (1 or 2 years), after which an unused balance is forfeited. This “use it or lose it” principle is required by Revenue Canada for the HSA to qualify as a private health services plan and is necessary to maintain a reasonable element of risk in the benefit plan for insurers.

There are three main areas of consideration when implementing a HSA – Philosophy, Carry Forward and Funding.


Philosophy.
Should the company have a program that has a tiered benefit structure for different groups of employees in the organization? HSAs could be structured based on seniority or position within a company such as different benefit amount for executives, management and all other employees.

Carry Forward. The design of a HSA is determined by the method of “carry forward” that is selected by an employer. There are three option s by which a HSA is constructed:

  • Balance Carry Forward – Employees may roll over any accumulated credits in year one to year two. Any remaining balance would revert to the employer.
  • Expense Carry Forward – Unused credit from year one may be carried over into year two. Any remaining balance of credits would revert to the employer at the end of year two.
  • No Carry Forward – Employees can claim their expenses against employer credits within the year that the expense is incurred.


Funding.
The employer’s pre-determined contribution amount can be allocated to fund an employee’s HSA in one of the following options:

  • Monthly. The employer will pay an equal amount each month.
  • Pay-As-You-Go. The employer pays an amount equal to the total of the claim and any expenses each month.
  • Annually. The employer will contribute a lump sum to all HSAs on a specified date once per calendar year.
  • Pro-Rated. The employer will pay monthly on an HSA that is actually being funded on a quarterly and semi-annual basis.

Certain criteria must be met for a HSA to be considered a tax deductible business expense, the same as a traditional benefits plan.

  • HSAs must be 100% funded through employer contributions set prior to the benefit year (ie. a set amount per person per year)
  • HSA funds cannot be used to purchase additional insurance (ie. Life Insurance, Long Term Disability)
  • The amount of reimbursement is limited to the amount allocated to the account by the employer
  • Benefits must meet Income Tax definitions of eligible expenses (Eligible Medical Expenses – PDF)
  • Unused amounts in the HSA cannot be paid out at year end as cash to the employee
  • A HSA provides coverage to enable employees to meet their specific needs over and above a basic insurance plan for catastrophic coverage
  • Employers can budget more accurately for the cost of allocating set amounts each year for a HSA for each employee
  • Health and Dental claims are completely controlled by the HSA preset maximum for each employee
  • Employees aware of HSA maximum amounts will increase utilization to ensure use of all HSA account dollars
  • Overall costs of HSA may increase as employees use credits for their specific needs as opposed to a traditional plan which may only used for certain needs of each employee

Qualifications

Incorporated business, limited companies or self-employed individuals and their families are eligible for HSAs. Claims may be submitted for eligible expenses which are incurred by an eligible employee, their spouse or any other dependent for which the employee is claiming a tax deduction in the taxation year the expense was incurred.