Whenever an employer is considering offering benefits, whether traditional or flexible, they’ll need to look at the pros and cons of each to decide which plan to choose. Providing benefits is a good idea for most employers if they want to attract and retain the newest, brightest talent. Millennials aren’t kids anymore. Few consider anyone born past 1997 to be a millennial, and that means even the youngest millennials have already turned 20. This generation has grown up in a time shaped by economic crisis after recession, and many of them are less concerned about their overall paycheck as they are in stability and benefits.

Tax Savings are a favourite among employees with flexible benefits. During payroll, a deduction is made from each employee’s income before taxes. The money deducted goes into a specific benefits account that they can then use to pay for medical services. And, because the health benefits money is deducted before taxes are applied, they won’t be taxed on the money going into their health account, and thus they’ll pay less tax overall.

More Flexibility. Traditional health plans are usually quite rigid. They specify exactly how much money can be used on precise services, with no wiggle room to have your eyeglasses fully covered because you never get cavities. That’s not the way flexible benefits work. Instead, your account slowly grows as money is deducted from each paycheck. That money can then be accessed to pay for all or some of any medical treatments. As long as you don’t go over budget, you can use the money for any medical service from physiotherapy to dental to whatever.

Financial Freedom. Another beloved perk of flexible benefits is that employees get to decide the specific amount of premium dollars they’re going to allocate to benefits each year. They can adjust this as necessary, and any unspent money stays in the account and gets carried over to next year’s budget.

Employee flexible benefits are a great option. This is especially true for Canadian employers who have a large team with diverse needs. Flexible benefits will mean that all members of your team have access to a useful benefits plan that meets their needs and wants. To learn more about how flexible benefits can help your employees contact Health Risk today.

Here in Canada, we tend to talk a little more about the dangers of extreme cold. After all, Canadians aren’t strangers to whiteout road conditions, frostbite, or hypothermia. However, the summer months can bring their own dangers, and that’s only becoming more true as each passing summer is hotter than the last.

Sunburn is likely the best known heat related injury. Sunburns (and tanning as well!) occur when the skin absorbs too much UV light, and the DNA in the cells is permanently damaged. The affected area becomes red, hot to touch, and is often painful. A very bad sunburn can even lead to skin cell death and the added symptoms of blistering and peeling skin. The best way to avoid a sunburn is to check the UV index for the day and make an informed decision about whether to wear sunscreen.

The average person won’t need sunscreen for low UV (0-2), but children, the elderly, and other exceptions will need it. If the UV rating is 6 or higher, it’s recommended to avoid direct sunlight during peak hours (10AM-2PM) even if you are wearing sunscreen. Remember that sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours.

Heat Stroke is another common heat related sickness. The opposite of hypothermia, heat stroke is also known as hyperthermia. It occurs when someone is in an environment that’s too hot for their body to effectively continue to regulate temperature. Normal, preferred body temperature is 36-37°C, and heat stroke occurs at 40.2°C. While the term “heat stroke” can be thought of as a misnomer as no blood blockage occurs, the symptoms are actually surprisingly similar. Sufferers may be dizzy, suffer a headache, and be disoriented. In children suffering from heat stroke, seizures are not uncommon. It’s important to remember that young children and the elderly are most at risk for heat stroke. Offer your kids cold fluids frequently to help them keep their internal body temperature low. If someone is suffering from heat stroke, active cooling methods, like taking a cool shower, can help bring the body temperature back to normal.

While the stinging cold of winter is a more obvious danger, the unrelenting heat of summer can also cause a lot of harm. This summer, many provinces have seen heat warnings. Our team at Health Risk hope that everyone can stay cool and safe this summer. If you have any questions about staying healthy or how our great health benefits can let you see the specialists you need, contact Health Risk today!

Many of the small business owners we’ve talked to know that they want to offer their employees health benefits, but they aren’t sure what’s the most affordable way to do so. One option that many Canadian business owners may not have considered is a PHSP.

PHSP stands for Private Health Services Plan, and it’s a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) approved alternative to traditional health insurance. You can think of it as a special account which is used exclusively to pay for healthcare services. Once set up by your business, it can be used by you, your family, and your employees.

The Benefits. One of the best things about a PHSP is it offers business owners maximum control over how much money each employee spends on health benefits while also maximizing the amount of flexibility your employees benefit from. Another perk for employers is their employees’ medical expenses becoming a deductible business expense. This means that your business benefits from any medical expenses being fully tax deductible, while your employees and family have access to more flexible and comprehensive benefits. PHSPs often include benefits not covered in traditional plans, and they eliminate expensive deductibles and high premiums. Basically, as long as your employee doesn’t try to go over their maximum benefit budget, they can distribute their benefits where and how they want.

Do you Qualify? PHSPs are a great alternative to traditional health plans, but unfortunately they aren’t available to individuals looking for a family plan. In order to qualify for a PHSP, you’ll need to own a business — whether you’re the CEO of a large corporation or a sole proprietary, you’ll also need to have health expenses to pay for, and your business must be paying income tax.

Are you interested in learning more about Private Health Services Plans? At Health Risk, we want to offer Canadians as many options as possible, so they can decide which health insurance solution fits their life and their priorities best. If you own a business and are interested in how a PHSP can help you, contact the professionals at Health Risk today! We’d be happy to answer your questions and provide you with the expert insight you need to make an informed decision.

Are you planning a summer vacation for the family? Great! There are few ways better to spend a summer than helping your kids or teens to explore the world and experience new things. But whether your family will be climbing the Rockies, swimming off the coast of PEI, or trying their first cappuccino in Italy, you’ll need to plan ahead.

Chat with Your Doctor. Before you head out on an adventure abroad, it’s a good idea to check in with your family doctor. Depending on where you’re going, they may recommend vaccinations or other medicines to stay safe. Remember, even the US can be affected by diseases we simply don’t have here in Canada, so always check in with your doctor even if you’re heading to a developed nation. Some topics to bring up are whether or not you can safely drink the water in the place you’re going, and whether there is anything you need to know to travel safely. For example, if your family is planning on getting pregnant in the next year, both spouses should avoid traveling to countries affected by zika.

Be Prepared. When you’re packing your bag, some things are obvious. You’ll need clothes and a tooth brush, etc. However, other things may be less immediately apparent. For example, if you’re planning a more romantic getaway, you may want to pack condoms or otherwise ensure you have effective, high quality birth control if you need it. In general, we suggest being cautious. Not every country has the same stringent health standards as Canada when it comes to health and pharmaceutical supplies. Sunscreen, bug spray, and even lip balm should be purchased ahead of time if possible.

Travel Health Insurance. Before you leave your home province, you’ll need to talk with your health care insurance provider to make sure you’ll be covered on your trip. Even if your vacation will keep you within the Great White North, it’s a good idea to double check. However, if your trip is taking you out of the country, it’s even more important to ensure you have travel insurance for every member of your family for the length of your stay abroad. Medical bills charged outside of Canada will not be covered by your provincial plan, so you’ll need a private health provider to pay for any treatments you receive abroad. It simply isn’t optional.

More than ready for work to be done and your vacation to start? Don’t forget to take a little time to check in with your doctor, get prepared for your trip, and contact your health insurance provider. Being proactive by getting the right vaccines and carrying the right supplies will help your trip to run smoothly, but if things go wrong, you need a private health insurance provider you trust. Contact Health Risk today to learn more about our travel health insurance benefits and how we keep your family safe abroad with less hassle for everyone.

Everyone understands the importance of paid sick days. When an employee is ill with a cold or the flu, they don’t do anybody any favours by coming in for work. They spread illness to your other employees and they feel so miserably sick they don’t accomplish anything. Businesses have learned that they lose less money by paying their employees to stay home when they’re ill than by having their entire office snivelling for two months. But what about mental health?

In general, it can be difficult for Canadians who don’t suffer from mental health problems to understand and empathize with those who do. The vast majority of Canadians don’t have chronic depression or anxiety, and they may struggle to understand what it’s like for their neighbours who do. It’s why sick leave for being physically ill is generally better accepted — everyone’s been miserably ill with a cold.

However, just like letting your employees take a day to recuperate from food poisoning is beneficial to your company, so is letting employees have 1 or 2 paid mental health days each quarter. This is because even an average employee who doesn’t suffer from any chronic illness is going to have days where their mind is elsewhere. They have a sick parent or child, they’re going through a divorce, or they will otherwise be distracted and of no use at work. Mental health days give employees the time they need to recenter their emotions, so they can be productive and useful workers when they do return to work the following day.

Benefits, like offering paid mental health leave, will also help you to attract and keep the most talented and skilled employees. More and more young Canadians between 20 and 30 are saying they consider benefits as just as or more important that the base wage. They want to know they have the flexibility to be able to take a day off when they need it. Another option for businesses is to simply offer more flexible hours. Your employees are expected to get 35 or 40 hours done each week, and if that means taking Mondays off and working an extra hour the other days, no questions are asked.

It’s easy for businesses to offer a limited number of mental health days or to provide slightly more flexible hours to give their employees improved mental health. Your employees will appreciate your effort, and employees who are feeling great and appreciate their jobs will work harder and be more loyal to your business. To learn more about the many great health benefits you can offer your employees, contact Health Risk today.

The summer is here, and that means Canadians from coast to coast are looking forward to sunny days and highs in the twenties and thirties. While we doubt there are any Canadians who aren’t ready for a couple months of warm weather, summer does come with some important things to keep in mind.

No Sun for Babies. Babies under 6 months shouldn’t be getting any direct sunshine. Their skin is much thinner than the skin of adults or older children, so they burn very easily. Many young toddlers and babies are also sensitive to sun screens, and they may have a reaction. We recommend keep your baby in the shade at all times instead of using sunscreen until they’re at least 6 months old. Once they’re a little older, your baby can spend time in the sun. But they should still avoid sun during the peak UV hours between 10AM and 2PM. Before putting your baby in the sun, they’ll need to wear a liberal amount of sunscreen. We suggest dabbing some of your chosen sunscreen on their back a few days before you’re planning an outing. That way you can ensure they aren’t allergic to your sunscreen before you put it anywhere near their face or hands.

SPF 30 is the recommended sunscreen protection. In general, research about sunscreens that claim to provide more protection than SPF 30 are mixed. They aren’t worse for your skin than SPF 30, but it’s doubtful that they provide significant benefits beyond what SPF 30 does, so you may be spending more money for nothing.

Broad Spectrum sunscreens will include both UVA and UVB protection. It’s important that any sunscreen you’re considering is broad spectrum. Protection from one type of UV light and not the other won’t do your skin much good.

Waterproof. Sweat and sprinklers are just a part of summer in Canada. If you want to ensure your family stays protected all day long, it’s important to make sure the sunscreen you have is waterproof. Consult the bottle for how often to reapply sunscreen, but keep in mind that almost all sunscreens should be reapplied after swimming or playing in the water even if they are waterproof.

What About Vitamin D? Of course, vitamin D is important, but it’s actually very easy to reach the necessary dose. Just 20 minutes in the sun on a day with a UV index of 3-5 is plenty. When the UV index is higher, you’ll need even less time, and you’ll begin to burn faster.

Here at Health Risk, we hope that all Canadians will be able to get outside and enjoy the sun this summer! But remember to do so safely. If you have any questions about keeping safe and feeling your best, Health Risk can help answer your questions and offer you the necessary health coverage to talk with your local experts and get the health information you need.

The cold is slowly leaving, and spring seems to be heading our way. For many Canadian families, it’s getting to be time to consider a deep spring cleaning for their house. Spring cleaning is always a great idea. It offers an excuse to scrub and sanitize the little nooks and crannies that usually get forgotten. But unfortunately, there are still a few place that often get neglected. This spring, the experts at Health Risk have a couple extra chores to add to your spring cleaning checklist!

Old Medical Supplies. When was the last time you took a look in your home’s first aid kit? Often, these kits slowly run out of important supplies and aren’t kept properly stocked. It’s a good idea to evaluate your first aid kit once a year. Are you low on bandaids? Is your polysporin expired? A well stocked first aid kit can save lives when accidents happen.

Out of Date Drugs. Just like food, both prescriptions and over the counter medications have an expiry date. Medicines, and even supplements, should not be used after they’ve expired. This is because, the medical ingredients will degrade with time and no longer perform adequately. While you don’t need to worry about these out-of-date drugs becoming toxic, we still suggest disposing of them safely and replacing them. Medicines and supplements should not be disposed of in the garbage, nor should they be flushed down the toilet. Instead, bring your expired medicines to your local pharmacy who should dispose of them free of charge.

It’s particularly important not to allow life-saving medicines (such as epipens or insulin) to become expired. An expired tylenol that doesn’t fully cure a headache is annoying, but an epipen that isn’t full strength may not be able to deliver vital medicine to someone experiencing a life-threatening allergic reaction. Oral contraceptives also degrade quickly, and they should not be trusted to prevent pregnancy after they’ve expired. Remember that if you’re travelling for an extended period of time this summer, your oral contraceptives and other medicines shouldn’t expire half way through your trip.

Health Risk is proud to offer Canadians advice on how to stay healthy and feel great. We want to make sure everyone is feeling their best whether they’re at home or travelling the world. Which is why we offer comprehensive health insurance that fits your life. Whether you need drug coverage so you can make sure your medicines are in date when you need them most or want travel insurance so you can explore the world this summer, give Health Risk a call at 1-877-236-9430.

For many university students, May is the end of the spring term and the beginning of summer freedom. Many Canadian students may want to spend some the summer off exploring the world, and that’s a great idea. However, as you shop the internet for great flight and hotel deals, here are a few more things you should be keeping in mind.

Travel Health Insurance. Whenever you leave your home province you may need travel health insurance. Travel health insurance is a private health care insurance that enables you to afford medical treatments in places where your provincial care doesn’t cover you. Most provinces have deals that allow their residents to travel to other parts of Canada, but even if you’re travelling nationally, it’s worth making sure that you have coverage. And, if you’re going abroad, you’ll definitely need insurance.

Young Canadians often feel as though they’re healthy enough to just risk traveling without insurance, but young adults and students are at an increased risk for injury compared to older Canadians when traveling. And, while your immune system may do an excellent job of fighting off the common diseases and biting insects in your home province, you may still react badly or get ill when exposed to new viruses and bugs.

Check in with your Health Practitioner. Whether you’re heading for an adventure in the Amazon rainforest or want to traverse the great wall of China, it’s important to speak with your doctor before you leave. We’ve already mentioned that other countries may have diseases, viruses, and biting bugs that we don’t have in Canada. This means you need to know what recommendations exist in order to not get sick. Malaria affects over 100 countries, zika is a challenge for southern nations, including parts of the USA, and tap water may not be safe in some areas. Your health practitioner can offer you the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about vaccines, medications, and your health.

We love to hear about Canadians who are leaving their home province to explore the rest of the world. But it’s important to use caution and plan ahead. If you’re thinking about taking an exciting trip to another country or province, talk to the experts at Health Risk. We can help you find the health insurance you need for your unique trip, and we can offer suggestions on what supplies and vaccinations will help to make your trip a success!

We sure seem to hear a lot about cancer here in Canada. There are tons of recommendations made by scientists and your neighbourhood “expert,” and when bacon isn’t the new cause of cancer, it’s palm oil. But despite our nation’s almost singular focus on cancer, the majority of Canadians will actually die from heart failure. So for our valentine’s day post, we thought we’d write about how to keep your (sweet) heart healthy!

Foods to Seek Out! Unless you’re brand new to the healthy food kick, you probably know just how great fish (and omega 3 fatty acid!) is for your body. Omega 3 has an anti-clotting effect that helps to keep your blood moving perfectly. We recommend salmon which is delicious, high in omega 3, and low in mercury.

Another great mineral for your heart is potassium. For Canadians with high blood pressure, potassium is extra good since it seems to have a low blood pressure. Try to get your potassium without added fats or sugars! We recommend bananas, oranges, or potatoes.

A heart superfood that both lowers blood pressure and has anti-clotting effects? Dark chocolate! Make sure to choose chocolates that are at least 70% cocoa to see any benefits.

Food to Avoid. There are so many delicious foods on this list that we’re going to apologize in advance. To start off, basically anything fried and salted is going to be a source of saturated (bad) fats that can potentially clog arteries and harm your heart. Salty foods also raise blood pressure. Things like french fries, chips, and chinese take-out are particularly bad. Other foods that are high in fat and salt (but not necessarily deep fried) include pizza, which should also be avoided. We know! We’re sorry!

The other “food” you should be avoiding at all costs — not just for your heart, but also for your teeth and literally everything else — soda pop. Just put the carbonated syrup-water down. And if you’re a nestea or brisk tea drinker chuckling to yourself as you sip your non-carbonated beverage, don’t think you’re off the hook! Store bought lemonade, fruit punch, and ice teas are no better.

Exercise! Strength training is great, but when it comes to the heart, it’s all about the cardio! Interval training that allows you to achieve a very high heart rate, to then cool down, and then to bring your heart rate up again is considered the best. Talk to your doctor or fitness specialist if you’re looking for fun idea to get your heart rate up.

This February, remember to take great care of both your sweetheart and your heart-heart! You only get one heart, so it’s important that you take care of it, so it can take care of you! If you have any questions about how you can achieve your health goals, the experts at Health Risk can help. We can set you up with a comprehensive health plan that includes access to fitness and health experts, so you can make the best informed decisions about your body.

The reading week is coming up, so if you have big plans for escaping the winter, you need to start thinking about travel insurance, immunizations, and a trip to your doctor’s now! Here in Canada, we’re very lucky to have access to clean water and not need to worry about malaria or other nasty diseases. When travelling abroad, this may not be the case!

Travel Insurance. When you’re at home, your Canadian health insurance is here for you. Whether you need life-saving surgery or just need to ask the doctor about your sniffles, our provinces do an okay job of covering all the most important expenses. But that all changes when you leave Canada (and depending on which province you live in, you might not even be covered just travelling across the Great White North). America, for example, has an infamously expensive health care system, but as tourists travelling abroad, you’ll find every country’s medical bills can be gigantic. That’s why it’s vital to have health insurance coverage while you’re travelling. Accidents and illness happen, so give Health Risk a call before you go — you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by our low fees.

The Small Stuff. All travel plans are going to include some necessities that you might not be thinking about. Despite it being February and cold here in Canada, you’ll still want sunscreen for your trip to Hawaii! Before heading out, do a little research on what you might need. Bug spray, good shoes, sunglasses, and a hat are only the beginning!

Visit your Doctor! As we mentioned earlier, we’re quite fortunate to live in a place where we can take clean, tap water for granted. This simply isn’t the case everywhere. That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor before you travel. They’ll be able to give you all sorts of useful and important tips for staying healthy. Perhaps you should have a hepatitis vaccine before you leave, or maybe, you’ll need malaria pills. They may recommend only drinking bottled water, or they might give you advice about what sort of shoes to wear to avoid bites or stings from animals we don’t have here.

You’re an expert at staying healthy and keeping safe here in Canada, but don’t assume the exact same strategies will work everywhere! Whether you’re looking for travel insurance or general advice on how to plan for a healthy trip, start with a call to Health Risk.