We’re back after a little break! This is The Friday GAB, a weekly roundup of all the things happening in the group benefits industry. Send me your news and updates to email@example.com
First up I recently sat with HR ShopTalk to discuss the latest in benefit trends and why someone in HR should pay attention. It’s a quick listen either on YouTube or Spotify
In product news, Canada Life finally does something post ClaimSecure acquisition and launches a new product collaboration called… wait for it.
SecurePak. I feel like this is a nod to the good ole days with Selectpac. The product is an ASO/Insurance plan mix for groups with 25-200 plan members. The news release doesn’t get into plan specifics, but unless there is a drug max, even with pooling, a strong risk conversation is needed for any group, but especially smaller groups since the health is an ASO funding arrangement.
In other product news, PBC is transitioning their virtual care from EQ Care to the Telus Health Virtual Care. Starting Aprl 27 plan members will be redirected to the TELUS Health Virtual Care app. Patent data will be transferred from EQ to TELUS and members will be able to use the same login credentials. You’ll recall that TELUS acquired EQ Care in December 2020.
TELUS Health has made another acquisition and adds Sprout Wellness Solutions to the fold. And in other acquisition news, Navacord has also made a big move, this time backing Beneplan
It's drug report season! My favorite time of the year. And Express Scripts is first out, they dropped their annual drug report, TELUS will after their host their events in May. Spoiler alert – drug spend is up with fewer claimants. Diabetes and Diabetic supplies continue to drive costs and this category grew by more than 10%.
In Legislation – Ontario just tabled a change that would allow anyone in ON to perform traditional Chinese medicine or acupuncture without an official license. Critics are worried that deregulating traditional Chinese medicine could endanger patients by allowing unqualified people to enter the field and practice. If this goes through, I’m not sure what this means for eligibility in benefit plans.
And the federal budget dropped yesterday and noticeably absent was any money for pharmacare, but the budget is requiring financial institutions to help pay for the recovery. This section of the budget permanently increase the corporate income tax rate by 1.5 percentage points on the taxable income of banking in life insurance groups above $100 million. Will this mean bank fees, mortgage rates and insurance premiums will increase?
The new dental program was listed- the budget proposes $5.3 billion of funding over 5 years and $1.7B ongoing. The plan is to provide dentalcare in 2022 to Canadian under the age of 12 and then expand to under 18, seniors, persons living with disability yin 2021 with full implementation by 2020. The program is income restricted, with no co-pays which means it’s filling the gap in coverage and will have little impact on group plans but could reduce the need for individual insurance plans. Sidebar – keep a close eye on your dental claims this year. Claims are way up compared to pre-covid levels, especially in Alberta, a trend that started in 2021. Both the cost per claim and the number of claims has increased.
On the mental health front, the government launched the Wellness Together portal in April of 2020 and this budget has $140M over two years for the portal so it can continue to provide Canadians with tools and services to support their mental health. This portal is a compliment to the free app PocketWell that was launched this past January.
And that’s the Friday GAB.