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News from HUB Employee Benefits
January 2018 | Issue 25

Medical Tourism

Rayann Buchko, Senior Client Service Specialist, HUB International
Medical Tourism is rapidly growing in popularity in Canada.  In 2016 it is estimated that 63,459 Canadians received non-emergency medical treatment abroad.

Many people chose to travel abroad for treatments for a number of reasons.  The treatment or procedure offered is more readily available, or treatment is not approved or available in Canada, or the wait times are too long. Some patients may be sent out of the country by the public health care system due to lack of available sources. Others may choose to leave because they are concerned about quality of treatment and are seeking more advanced health care facilities.

When making the decision to travel abroad for medical treatments or procedures, there are some key considerations such as cost, standard of care, condition stability, vaccination, traveling with medications, immigrations laws and visas. You will want to be prepared for all of these considerations before traveling.

Most employee Group Benefit Plans specifically exclude Travel Health coverage if traveling for purposes of seeking medical treatment.  If excluded, regardless of the treatment being sought or if due to an unrelated condition, you could be financially responsible for all costs should a medical emergency occur.  Review your Benefits Insurance Plan to see if your plan has any specific exclusions for medical tourism.

Also, explore the Government of Canada’s site, A Canadian's Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad  and Travel Health and Safety for further information.  

Why more group retirement plans are including passive investments

Scott Anderson, Vice President Group Retirement HUB International, as published in Benefits Canada
It’s no secret that passive investments, such as exchange-traded and indexed funds, have become more popular with investors over the past 10 years.

Such funds require very little to no intervention by investment managers and, therefore, have much lower management fees than the classic mutual fund structure.

The trend of choosing passive investing has evolved to become part of many organizations’ pension plan investment structure. The reasons include:

  • Plan members are requesting the funds;
  • Brokers and consultants are suggesting them as additions to the investment menu; and
  • Many asset allocation and target-date funds now have indexed options.

On top of those factors, there are a number of other reasons why group retirement plans have started adding passive options to their fund menus.

First, employers feel more comfortable with indexed funds on the menu because they have less of a fiduciary burden. With active fund managers, they have to regularly monitor their performance versus that of their peers and their benchmarks. There also has to be company willingness to keep fund managers on the menu during underperforming years. Sometimes, it will be necessary to remove fund managers from the menu or to replace them, and those decisions can weigh heavily on a pension committee or on a plan sponsor.

With indexed funds, the return is what it is. It’s the benchmark. There’s no reason to explain why it varied from its mandate or returned less than its peers did. And it’s easy for the employer and employee to understand the performance of the fund.

(continued at the following link)


Should non-smokers get extra vacation time?

Karley Middleton, Health & Performance Consultant, HUB International, interviewed for Benefits Canada

Japanese marketing firm is giving non-smokers an additional six vacation days per year.

Piala Inc. originally got the idea from employees who complained their smoking co-workers took more breaks and were less productive as a result.

“One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems,” Hirotaka Matsushima, the corporate planning director for the marketing firm, told the Telegraph.

While smoking has been on the decline for the past few decades, in 2016, 16.9 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older smoked occasionally or daily, according to Statistics Canada. That amounts to roughly 5.2 million people.

When pushing for workplace wellness, Canadian employers often choose the carrot rather than the stick, says Karley Middleton, a wellness consultant with HUB International Ltd. in Winnipeg. She notes punishment-based systems can be challenging to enforce, increase administrative burdens and adversely affect employee morale.

“So I think this adjustment to policy allows for a refreshing way to reward healthy behaviours while not directly punishing unhealthy behaviours like smoking.”

Middleton believes it’s not up to the employer to “make their employees healthy” but she suggests they should focus instead on providing opportunities for workers to make progress. “This is a perfect example of that principle.”

She also concedes that “smokers may find this policy unfair but until this policy became reality, the poor morale fostered by the continuously growing population of non-smokers could no longer be ignored by employers, either, especially when many employers are trying to sell employees on the culture of wellness, starting with workplace policies.”

Employees increasingly value rewards that give them increased flexibility, adds Middleton. “Additional vacation is a great way to give employees the gift of time to help balance their work-life responsibilities and also reinforce their decision to not smoke.”

(full article at the following link)


Direction of Financial Wellbeing

BPM Monitor - 11/30//17

The financial well-being of Canadian employees reversed direction this year, says a survey by Willis Towers Watson. The biennial survey also revealed a large increase in the number of employees who say their financial woes are negatively affecting their lives and who are worried about their future financial situation. The '2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey' found that less than half of Canadian workers (44 per cent) were satisfied with their financial situation this year, a decline from 55 per cent just two years ago. The survey also found that almost a third of Canadian workers (30 per cent) now believe their current financial concerns are negatively affecting their lives, compared with just 18 per cent two years ago. The worsening financial well-being is also having a negative effect on employee performance. The research shows that it affects employee's productivity, engagement and health, with the struggling, identified in the research as those worried about their short- and long-term finances, performing the worst in these areas.