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. 

 

What is Critical Illness Coverage?

There are often a number of financial stresses associated with surviving a health crisis; loss of wages, travel to and from medical treatments, and home modifications can greatly increase your cost of living as you deal with your illness. 

Critical illness insurance is designed to ease financial pressures by paying a tax-free lump sum if you become seriously ill. The chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan can pay up to $50,000 for employees and/or spouses who receive a diagnoses of a serious condition. This payment can be used however the plan member decides; there are no restrictions placed on how the money is used. 

 

Some of the illnesses covered by the Chambers Critical Illness plan include: 

  • Cancer 
  • Heart attack
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Major Burns
  • Coma 
  • Speech loss
  • Stroke
  • Kidney Failure 
  • Paralysis 

 

To learn more about Critical Illness insurance, please visit the Chambers of Commerce Website: 

Farmers Insurance

The Chambers of Commerce Group Plan was created to provide group benefits to small business, including farmers, who sometimes find it tough to find affordable health and dental plans. 

The Chambers Plan can provide coverage to farms that have between one and thirty-five employees. 

  • Coverage is guaranteed for farms with more than three employees without completing a medical questionnaire 
  • Home-based business qualify for coverage
  • Direct-pay extended health and prescription cards are included
  • Pooled benefits help to stabilize your premiums and prevent considerable rate increases due to the number of claims you and your employees make 

The Chambers Plan provides an easily accessible group benefit plan to farmers who otherwise might not be able to acquire health and dental benefits for themselves and/or their employees. 

Contact us for a free quote and more information about a group benefit plan

Generic vs Brand Name Drugs

If your company has chosen a prescription drug card health option, you must present your card at the pharmacy at the time of purchase and pay your portion of the expense. 

To ensure that your prescription is covered up to the full cost of a brand name drug, your physician must indicate no substitution on your prescription. Otherwise, if you are buying a brand name drug, you may only be paid up to the cost of its generic equivalent. 

If you do not present your Drug Card at the time of purchase, the pharmacy will not be able to tell you how much of your prescription will be covered by your insurance. 

It is imperative that you present your drug card at the time of purchase.

What Kind of Businesses use the Chambers of Commerce Group Plan?

Providing a group plan to your employees has been said to increase job satisfaction and employee retention, however many business owners worry about the cost of providing benefits for their employees. 

So what kind of business has access to an affordable group benefit plan through the Chambers of Commerce? 

Small Businesses

  • For-profit businesses with as few as one employee are eligible for coverage. Small firms with three employees or more are guaranteed coverage

Home-Based Businesses

  • The Chambers Plan provides flexible coverage the fills in any gaps left out by provincial health care coverage. 

Agricultural Businesses 

  • Year round coverage can be provided to those who are farming, or raising fish or livestock. 

The Chambers Plan is easily accessible and affordable to small businesses in Alberta - contact us today for more information or to receive a quote for your business! 

Coordinating Health and Dental Benefits

Coordinating benefits is common with health and dental plans; it allows employees and their dependants to make the most of their plans by combining benefits to receive 100% coverage on prescriptions and/or health and dental procedures. 

If an employee and his/her spouse both have coverage, the claims should go through the patient's plan first. Any expenses that are not covered by the patient's plan can then be submitted to the spouse's plan along with an explanation of benefits from the initial claim.

If the employee and his/her spouse have dependants, the claim goes through the plan of the parent whose birthday falls earlier in the calendar year, then to the other parent along with an explanation of benefits.  

When parents are divorced or separated, the dependant's claims should be submitted in this order: 

  1. The plan of the parent with custody 
  2. The spouse of the parent with custody 
  3. The parent who does not have custody
  4. The spouse of the parent who does not have custody

Coordinating benefits can help employees to save money on health and dental claims and ensure that they are receiving the most amount of coverage available to them. 

Dental fees in Alberta - it's different here!

Alberta is the most expensive place to get dental care in Canada

In the past 10 years, fees for dental services have climbed 56%, and Alberta is the most expensive place in Canada to care for your pearly whites. 

Bruce Yaholnitsky is a Calgary dentist and a director for the Alberta Dental Association and College who gave several reasons for our high costs:

  • dental hygienists' salaries, which are higher than the national average
  • higher overall costs in economies like Fort McMurray
  • Calgary's steep downtown parking rates, which are among the highest in Canada
  • Alberta's health care professions' infection prevention standards

Dental Fee Comparison

Lee Kinasewich, Gold Key benefits advisor, says: "You need to know what exactly is covered by your plan, including how often you can visit your dentist, how many units of scaling are included, and educate yourself on the fee guide set out by your insurance company so you can compare that against a dentist's fees."

No set fee schedule in Alberta

Because the Alberta Dental Association does not regulate fees, each dental office sets its own prices. Each insurance company also sets their own fee guide. What does this mean for you as a patient?

  • your plan provides 80% coverage
  • your dentist's for a new patient exam is $80
  • your insurance company's fee guide for the exam is $65
  • your insurance company will only pay 80% of their fee for the procedure (so 80% of $65), not 80% of the dentist's fee ($80)
  • you will pay your 20% portion + the difference between your insurance company's fee and the dental office fee