Why is Having a Group Health & Dental Plan a Good Idea?

Are you a business owner looking for ways to improve your business and compensate your employees? Group benefit plans are a great tool for business owners and can greatly improve the quality of your company.

Signing up for employee health and dental benefits gives you and your employees access to insurance products that might be available on an individual basis. The greater number of people seeking benefits, the better group plan you’ll have access to – and at a significantly lower cost that individual insurance.

Meeting

Furthermore, groups of three or more do not have to complete medical questionnaires, so you and your employees will not be subject to exclusions or denial based on pre-existing health conditions.

In addition to the increased availability of insurance products, group benefit plans provide tax benefits for both the employee and the employer. Business owners are able to write off any portion of the group plan they pay for as a business expense, making benefit plans even more affordable than some might think. If you choose to have your employees pay for their benefits, they will be considered non-taxable to the employee.

Some business owners choose to include benefit plans as part of employee compensation and are often offered to employees instead of a monetary raise. This benefits the employee by not increasing CPP and EI deductions on their paycheck.

Other benefits of group benefit plans:

  • Travel insurance; employees don’t have to purchase additional insurance when travelling out of province or out of country.
  • Improved employee health; with access to extended health care benefits, employees can take better care of themselves outside of the workplace.
  • Improved morale; providing benefits for your employees lets them know that you, as an employer, care about their health and well-being, leading to a more cohesive and productive work place.

5 Reasons to Get a Massage

Did you know that massage is covered under most benefit programs, allowing you to claim a portion or the entire cost of massage service? It appears most people think of massage as a treat to themselves, but it can be a really great way to maintain your overall health, decrease muscle pain, improve your athletic performance, and assist in reducing pain caused by arthritis and/or other illnesses.

Stress Relief

Massage can provide you with 30-90 minutes of relaxation, taking you away from your every day stresses and allowing you to clear your mind of any bothersome thoughts.

 

 

Reduce Anxiety

Alongside stress management, massage can help to reduce anxiety by enforcing relaxation. Many people experience anxiety throughout the week as they find a way to manage work place stressors and other personal concerns.

Decrease Migraine Frequency

 

Do you experience severe headaches and/or migraines? Massage can help to relax your muscles and decrease the frequency in which you experience migraines.

 

 

Reduce Muscle Tension

Parallel to reducing headaches, massage therapists can help to relax the other muscles in your body that might be causing you pain or discomfort. Your massage therapist can work on specific muscle groups to release tension throughout your body.

Enhance Exercise Performance

Massage can help to increase your range of motion, therefore enhancing your exercise performance. If you have tight muscles at the gym, you’re at greater risk for injury and you likely won’t be able to complete your exercises properly.

 

For more information about the benefits of massage, read the full article here.

If you’d like to learn about claiming your massage or you wish to know more about your coverage, please contact our office.

How Do You Combat Mental Illness In The Work Place?

It seems like most people we talk to these days are experiencing some sort of anxiety disorder, whether it’s severe, or just moderate enough to inconvenience their lives. We live in such a fast-paced society it’s hard to keep up to all the social responsibilities we experience day to day.

How do you ensure your employees are not only taking care of their physical wellness, but also their mental well-being? We found an article that discusses various ways to help your employees to maintain their happiness and overall health.

The first suggestion is to promote work-life balance; this can be done by offering your employees flexible work hours or work-from-home options.  By allowing this, your employees are still able to get their work done, but they are less likely to feel overwhelmed by the amount of responsibilities they need to meet throughout the week.

Secondly, discourage employees from working on vacation. Some particularly hard-working people can see a vacation as a time to get caught up on outstanding work, but it should be a time for your employee to relax, de-stress, and enjoy the things they love to do most.

Another important aspect of promoting a happy and healthy workplace is to create an environment your employees feel comfortable in. It can be difficult to discuss personal issues with a boss or a manager, so be sure to let your employees know your office is a judgement-free zone.

Another suggestion the article makes is to provide your employees with an insurance plan that covers the cost of therapy and/or counselling sessions. Many people use group insurance plans to help with physical pain or maintenance, but it’s also important to have a plan that covers the cost of counselling services to help with mental well-being.

Lastly, encourage your employees to exercise as part of their daily routine. Exercising helps both the body and the mind by relieving stress and anxiety and promoting and overall healthy lifestyle. We know it can be hard to encourage exercise, but some of the suggestions include teaming up with a local gym to provide discounted rates, installing a bike rack so employees can cycle to work, or allowing for longer lunches so employees have time to exercise during the day and refresh before returning to their desks.

It’s important to let your employees know you care about them on a personal level. Happy and healthy employees will benefit your workplace by investing more in their jobs and being more productive throughout the day.

So, we ask, what are you doing to promote mental wellness in your work place?

 

To read the full article, click here

How Do You Increase Workplace Productivity?

We recently read an article that suggested each person has a different time of day in which they are the most productive; some people love to wake up for an early morning workout, while others to prefer to wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee before beginning their days. Either way, it’s important to allow your employees to work in a way that will benefit them, therefore increasing productivity and personal investment in the work place.

 

Workplace

With a rise in millennials joining the work force, a higher importance is being placed on flexibility within the work place. Employees value the ability to leave early for a personal circumstance, if need be. This applies to working parents who wish to attend their children’s extra-curricular activities, as well as single people who have personal commitments outside of work. This isn’t to say that you should allow your employees to leave early every day, but allowing them the freedom to enjoy their personal life shows that you, as a business owner, place importance on your employees’ happiness.

 

Another interesting idea the article mentions is allowing your employees time to develop creative ideas away from their desk. Sitting at a desk and answering emails for eight hours a day can become robotic; as an employer, you should try to encourage your employees to take a walk at lunch, or to simply get up and stroll around the office every now and then. This will encourage creative thinking and new ideas as your employees experience a change of scenery and give their brains a small break.

 

In our office, we make a point of visiting new restaurants for team lunches, or we eat lunch outside on sunny days. As the insurance industry can become repetitive, we take the time to walk around the office, give our minds a break, and visit our co-workers to share ideas or work through problems together. It is very important to us to maintain a positive work environment with happy employees who feel supported, taken care of, and pleased to come to work each day. What do you do in your office to increase productivity?

 

To read the article referenced, click here 

Simple Ways to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Are you one of the many people who suffer from common aches and pains? It’s much more common that one might think and can often be helped by increasing your daily activity, and this doesn’t have to mean buying a gym membership and cutting your favourite foods out of your diet

We found an article with some simple suggestions to relieve every day aches and pains.

One of the simplest ways to increase your activity level is to get social with your friends. If you’re the type who frequents local coffee shops, try taking your coffee to go and exploring nearby neighbourhoods or venture down to the river valley for a peaceful change of scenery. If you’re looking for a bigger challenge, try signing up for a fitness class, like spin or yoga with your closest friends.

Another way to soothe pain is by frequently stretching your muscles. If you work in an office, you should stand try to stand up from your desk every 15-30 minutes. In doing so, you can take a short walk around the office, walk up and down the stairs if you’re able, and take the time to stretch your muscles.

If this decreases your productivity too heavily, you can try some simple neck, leg, and arm stretches at your desk. Not only will this give your body a break, but it’ll also give you a chance to rest your eyes and to re-cooperate your mind from tedious work tasks.

In addition to stretching, you should try to maintain proper posture as much as possible throughout the day. We know it is much easier to slouch in an office chair, but keeping your head up, shoulders back, and chin tucked can really help to prevent shoulder and neck pain.

The article also notes that we should try to maintain our lower body strength to prevent falls as we age. An easy practice to keeping your lower body in check is to stand on one foot as you are engaged in conversation or standing in line at a store. This is a very simple task that will help to maintain your balance and improve your lower body strength.

Keeping healthy doesn’t always have to be a daunting task, however it should always be placed as a priority to keep you strong and healthy into the later stages of your life.

If you’d like to read the full article, please click here 

What do we know about Dieticians?

It's hard to keep up with the latest food trends, the latest fad diets, and the latest health crazes, but what if we actually visited someone who could help us to better understand what we should be eating in a day?

We did some research to learn more about Dietitians and what they can really offer us. 

First and foremost, dietitians are registered nutrition experts who are trained to help us with our overall health and wellness. They are able to coach us through our daily diets and learn about lifestyle changes we can make to improve our eating habits; they help us to set goals and to follow through on them. Dietitians can help us to steer clear of the fad diets and to understand practical solutions to unhealthy eating habits, resulting in long term results and and overall improvement to our physical health. 

I think we all know how difficult it can be to understand the labels we find on our food; how is one ever supposed to fully understand a list of ingredients we can't even pronounce?! Luckily, registered dietitians can help us to read labels and fully understand what we should be getting from our foods. When we understand the labels we are given, it is much easier to stay on track and feed our bodies with proper nutrients. 

It's also important to realize that changing our diets doesn't necessarily mean we have to miss out on our favourite foods. Dietitians can help us to adapt our favourite recipes to better suit our diets, therefore keeping us healthy and happy! 

Registered Dietitians don't only work with clients one on one, they also work with families, communities, and professionals to develop healthy eating habits and to set reasonable health goals. They help patience who are in long term care, and they help hospitals, and nursing homes to maintain healthy menus for their residents. Further to that, Dietitians can work with corporations to develop a corporate wellness plan for you and your employees

As an added bonus, Registered Dietitians are covered under your Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan! If you'd like to learn more about your coverage, contact us today. if you'd like to learn more about Dietitians, click here.

What do your employees really look for in a benefit plan?

There are many benefits to having an employee health and dental plan, but one of the main assets of a group plan is that it attracts and retains quality employees. 

As a company owner, you need to ask yourself which benefits would be of the most value to your employees. To make things easier for you we found an article that lists prescription drug coverage, dental care, and vision care as the most important qualities of a group benefit program.  

We can help you to find a plan tailored specially to the needs of your company and your employees. We can work within your budget, help you with prescription drug care maximums based on requirements, and can help you choose dental coverage to suit your employees. Further to that, we can discuss extended health care options, including vision coverage, that will improve your employees' quality of life. 

After implementing a plan, we can help you set your employees up with an easy-to-use mobile app to submit claims, see claims history, and register for direct deposit for claims reimbursement. Your employees can keep up to date on their coverage maximums, plan usage, and other pertinent information without the help of a third party. if they have questions about the mobile app or about their benefit plan, they can call our office directly and we can direct them while maintaining confidentiality standards. 

Similar to the mobile employee app, we can offer online plan administration, which allows you to make changes to and review all of the details of your group plan. Plan administrators can log on to the website to see taxable benefit information, billing statements, and a summary of your employee benefit program. They can also add or delete employees or make changes to a current employee if he/she experiences a life changing event, such as the birth of a new baby or entering a new marriage. 

We'd love to help create a better quality of life for your employees, so call us today for a quote or further information on the types of plans we can offer. 

 

To see the full article, please click here

Chiropractic vs Massage Treatments

Are you amongst the many people who experience soreness and/or stiffness at the end of a long work day? Regardless of whether you have an active job that requires you to be on your feet, or a job that requires you to be sitting all day, our bodies can become tired and worn out by the end of the week.

Two of the best and most common forms of pain management for sore muscles and joints are chiropractic and massage treatments, which are generally covered under your group benefits program. Using your employee benefit program to cover the cost of treatment allows you to maintain your overall health and well-being with regular visits to your licensed chiropractor or registered massage therapist.

However, there is often confusion about which treatment is right for your needs. So how do we know which one is best? First things first, we should know the difference between the two practices:

Massage is aimed at solving muscular issues such as tension, spasms, or strained/pulled muscles. Massage therapy can also reach into your nervous system by helping fluids to move more freely throughout your body. While massage therapists cannot adjust your joints or prescribe medications, they can be a great source of holistic healing to relieve tension and make sure your body is performing at its full potential.

Unlike massage therapists, chiropractors are able to address the issues lying within your musculoskeletal and nervous systems. They can write prescriptions and provide rehabilitative exercises tailored to your specific needs. Chiropractic care is especially useful in helping with joint pain, headaches, insomnia, and neck or back pain.

To take your course of treatment one step further, you can combine the two practices to help with chronic pain. Massage therapy is a great way to warm up your body and ensure you are relaxed before going in for a chiropractic treatment; your chiropractic adjustment is more likely to last longer if your muscles are relaxed before. Similarly, your massage is likely to be more effective when your joints are properly aligned.

Both forms of treatment can bring relief to your body and help with your overall wellbeing, but we know they can be expensive when they are not covered by your insurance. If you have questions regarding coverage of these treatments, please talk to your plan administrator or call our office for the details of your extended health care coverage.

 

To read more about the benefits of chiropractic and massage treatments, please see this article.  

Wondering about Travel Insurance?

Travel Insurance

Planning a family vacation or a romantic get-away? Carrying travel insurance is one of the most important things to remember when travelling out of the country. 

We know it's easy to forget about, so we've included it in the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan

Your extended health care insurance covers out of province and out of country travel - just have your wallet cards handy and you'll have access to emergency treatment when you're away from home. 

Your travel insurance will cover the cost of emergency treatment not covered by your provincial plan, including hospital rooms, physician charges, and prescription drugs. It also covers the cost of air fair changes, the return of a vehicle, chaperoning minors who must return home alone, and a bedside visit by a family member if the injured person was travelling alone. 

Your wallet cards have a toll free number on the back that provides access to a 24 hour telephone support system. This number will connect you to a helpful professional who can help you to find medical facilities and can even provide translation services in all major languages. 

Check your employee booklet, visit the Chambers Website or call our office to discuss travel coverage before taking off on your next trip! 

The more you know, the safer you will be in the event of an emergency!

Submit Health and Dental Claims on Your Smart Phone

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1. Download the mobile app in iTunes or Google Play. 

Chambers of Commerce Group Plan participants can submit most health and dental claims using a smartphone or tablet. Submitting claims electronically is a convenient way to have your claims processed quickly and easily, resulting in faster reimbursement. 

 
register your account

 

2. Enter your username and password. If you have not created an account, please visit the website to register. 

All plan members must first register online through the  www.my-benefits.ca.  You will need your firm and certificate number, which can either be found on your wallet cards or through your plan administrator. 

Once you have registered online, you can download the app and have immediate access to your plan information. 

You can even tell the app to save your ID cards and remember your username for easier sign-in purposes. 

 
Review your claims

3. Review your benefits

Upon sign in is a list of all of the employee benefits provided through your group plan. For a comprehensive explanation of each benefit, follow the purple arrow. This is a quick and easy way to review your coverage before booking health and dental appointments. 

If you have Extended Health and Dental coverage through your group plan, you can check your claims usage, next eligible service dates, remaining coverage, and a summary of previous claims. 

You are also able to access your prescription drug cards and all travel insurance information for out of province/out of country travel. 

 
Review your options

4. See recent claims, update personal banking information, or submit claims using the menu on the left hand side of the screen.

Further explore the details of your benefits by clicking on each of of the options in the menu.

View your recent claims, change your banking information, and submit new claims for faster reimbursement.  

 
Submit Claims

 

5. Submitting claims is easier and faster than ever when using the app

Fill out this form with the correct information and receive your automatic reimbursement much faster than manual claims submission. 

Select the family member who used the plan, the type of service, the date, and the amount charged. Upload a legible picture of your receipt and click submit!

 

If you'd like more information about the mobile app, or care to set up an in-person tutorial to learn the website and/or app, please contact our office. We are happy to walk you through the steps and help you make the most of your plan! 

Alberta Dental Fee Guide

A dental fee guide has been set to be released in 2017 following a number of complaints against sky-rocketing dental fees.

Alberta has been the only province since 1997 without a dental fee guide, allowing dental practitioners to charge increasing prices for their work. As seen in the graphic below, 62% of Albertans limit their dental visits due to high costs and 87% of Albertans agree that dental costs are far beyond reach. 

Although the fee guide will create a guideline, it might have a negative affect on people with dental plans. A Red Deer dentist suggested that insurance companies will use the fee guide as an opportunity to reimburse at a lower level, which will not be taken into consideration when creating the guide. 

To read the whole article, please click here

The Mental Health Stigma

As most Canadians know, yesterday was Bell Let's Talk day; a day that aims to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. 

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We believe that mental health shouldn't only be a priority one day of the year, but rather a continuous conversation between employees and employers that takes place throughout the year. Your employees' mental health is equivalent to their physical well-being, and that's why your Chambers of Commerce Group Benefit Plan offers coverage for counselling services along with other extended health care benefits.

Each Chambers of Commerce Group Plan comes equipped with a Business Assistance Service; a program which offers up to three hours of professional counselling services at no extra charge to the employee. Your employee calls a toll-free number, has a confidential conversation about the issue he or she is facing, and is then referred for an in-person or over-the-phone meeting with a specialized counsellor. 

If the employee uses the full three hours of free service, he or she can continue to see the same counsellor using the coverage provided by the benefit plan, which will cover either a portion or the full amount of the appointment depending on the company's employee benefit program

To learn more about the Business Assistance Service, please click the button below or contact our office with any questions you might have. 

Taxation of Employer-Paid Health and Dental Benefits

The federal government is considering taxing employer-paid health and dental benefits. In addition to hundreds or thousands of dollars that would be added to Canadians' tax bills, it also means that many employers may no longer provide coverage to employees.  

When a similar tax was introduced in Quebec, 20% of employers dropped health and dental benefits for employees. Although this tax would directly impact employees, studies suggest the removal of this tax benefit across the board could result in a decrease of 50% of small firms who will be able to offer health benefits.

Please tell your MPs that this move would harm the people the federal government promised to champion; the middle class.  

We are still hopeful that the Federal Government will back away from this proposed action but they need to hear from Canadians.  We are working with Chambers to do their part to ensure the Federal Government knows this is not a group insurance issue but a serious business issue.

Health and Dental Care Revisions

The Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan is implementing a 12-month pilot project beginning in January, 2017. 

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Currently, the Chambers Plan does not allow employees to claim services and/or treatments provided to them by their employer.

For example, a dental assistant cannot receive treatments from the dentist who he or she works alongside. 

The pilot project will revise this rule to allow employees to claim health or dental services provided to them by their respective employers. 

We hope that this rule allows for ease of access to health care providers and look forward to the positive changes this will bring to our Chambers Plan members. 

Learn more about your Health and Dental Benefits here.

Chambers Plan Holiday Contest

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Have you heard of the Prairie Region Chambers Plan Holiday Contest? It's a quick and easy way to win $1000 towards your charity of choice! 

Follow these steps to enter your company in for a chance to win: 

  1. Visit the "Chamber Plan Prairie Region" Facebook Page 
  2. Post a festive picture of your staff members along with a description of your business and the charity you would like to donate to 
  3. Tell your friends, family, followers, and clients to "like" the post

The company with the most likes at the end of the contest wins the grand prize! 

This is a great way to raise money for those in need this holiday season, so if you have a favourite charity that you'd like to donate to, join the contest by clicking the button below 

 

 

 

Counselling Services for Owners and Employees

Did you know that the Chambers Plan provides counselling services for both business owners and their employees? 

Business Owners have up to 9 combined hours per year of the following services: 

  • Legal Advice - Practical interpretations of company, partnership, taxation and insolvency law. 
  • Accounting Advice - Helps management strengthen and gain control of the company's finances 
  • Human Resources - Solutions to terminations, labour laws, and other human resource issues. 

Employees have up to 3 combined hours per year for counselling services

  • If an employee's personal life is affecting his/her professional performance, company owners can help the employee to deal with the situation by referring him/her to a professionally trained counsellor 

The Business Assistance Service is a free service built in to each Chambers of Commerce Group Benefit Program. You and your employees will incur no out of pocket expense when using these services. 

Please call our office if you'd like more information on these services. 

What's included in your Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan?

Extended Health Care Benefits: 

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Group health care plans can help your employees and their families pay for necessary medical expenses that aren't covered by their provincial health care plan. 

The Chamber's Plan covers between 50% - 100% of eligible costs, including vision care, prescription drugs, and paramedical services. 

Prescription Drug Plan: 

The Chambers Plan provides a drug card with each benefit package; this allows for immediate reimbursement and prevents your employees from having to pay out of pocket expenses. 

Paramedical Practitioners: 

Paramedical services are covered with maximums of $250 - $600 per person per year based on the type of plan that you choose. Some of the covered services include: 

  • Physiotherapy 
  • Speech therapy 
  • Osteopaths
  • Naturopaths 
  • Chiropractic
  • Podiatrist and Chiropodist
  • Massage therapist 
  • Acupuncture

Medical Equipment: 

  • Up to $25,000 per person for home nursing are
  • Emergency group or air ambulance 
  • Up to $700 per person for hearing aids 

Vision Care

  • Glasses, Contacts, Eye Surgery
  • Up to $200 per person every 2 years for adults and every 1 year for children 

Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Plans

It is important to ask your dentist to send in a pre-authorization or estimate to the Chambers Plan before you proceed with any unknown or expensive dental work. 

Some dental clinics will make you pay 100% of the cost upfront and some will allow you to pay the difference at the counter. The dentist's office will generally ask you to leave a credit card on file and they will collect payment from The Chambers of Commerce Group Plan. For example, if you have 80% coverage on your plan, they will ask for a 20% deposit after your visit. 

Be sure to show the dentist your wallet card, it has the direct billing information they need to get you and your family set up for electronic claims submission. 

Carefully review your dental claim form before signing it to ensure all of the information is correct. 

Dental Fees and Fee Guides: 

  • Did you ask upfront what the dentist charges for routine procedures so you can compare to other dentists in your area? 
  • Keep in mind that the treatment plan proposed by your dentist and your decision to proceed with the recommended work should not be based on the amount of insurance coverage your have. However, you should know in advance exactly how much your plan will reimburse you and what you will have to pay out of your own pocket. 
  • Ask your dentist how much they charge and how much will be covered by your insurance plan! 

Disability Guide

There are a number of steps an employer must take when an employee becomes disabled, here is a guide to help you through the necessary actions you are required to take when an employee is off work due to a health or injury disability. 

Weekly Indemnity

  • Contact our service centre immediately
  • Weekly indemnity claims need to be completed no later than 90 days after the date of disability

Long Term Disability 

  • Contact our service centre after 60 days of the date of disability
  • LTD claim forms must be completed after 90 days of the disability

What's Next?

  • An assessor might call to discuss the duties of the insured and a possible return to work date
  • Underwriting will send an edited version of the approval or denial letter for your records
  • If the claim is approved, the plan will waive the disability premiums for the first day of the month following six months of disability

Online Banking in 3 Simple Steps

Setting up the Chambers Plan as a payee through your online banking allows quick and efficient payment of your monthly premiums. 

It can be done in 3 simple steps:

  1. You will need to be registered with online banking 
  2. Set up the Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan as a payee 
    1. Search for the Chambers of Commerce 
    2. Select "Chambers of Commerce Gr.Insurance 
  3. Enter your account number 
    1. Ch + Five Digit Firm Number 
      1. Example: Ch12345

Online banking will save you time, postage, and the stress of payment deadlines. 


If you are an existing client and need help with online banking, please contact our office and we will be happy to help you.