The Stars of Employee Health Benefit Plans

Employee health benefit plans play an important role in any organization. There is a vast spectrum of what can be included, but it’s fairly safe to say that extended health and dental benefits tend to be the “stars” of most plans.

High-Profile Benefits

An employee and family assistance plan, disability benefits and life insurance are all very valuable, but the most high-profile of all the benefits tends to be extended health and dental.

Invariably, when employees think of benefits, they think of extended health and dental. They place a high value on these benefits. One of the reasons is that they are “high frequency” benefits that are claimed most often. This makes them visible and valuable to employees.

A Helpful Lens

  1. Prescription Drug Coverage – The Canada Health Act means prescription drugs administered in a hospital are provided at no cost to the patient. When it comes to the many prescription drugs that are prescribed outside of a hospital setting, provincial coverage varies widely across the country. Without private coverage, most people do have to pay out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. This is where prescription drug coverage as part of an employee health benefits plan becomes so important. Prescription drug coverage means all or part of the cost of the prescription drug is covered through the employee health benefits plan. Depending on the plan, there may be limits on which prescription drugs are fully covered, and which are not.
  1. Paramedical Coverage – There are a wide range of products and services included in the paramedical coverage category of employee benefits. These services are provided by professionals who are not part of the public health system. Examples of practitioners include: Massage Therapist, Physiotherapist, Registered Dietician, Naturopath, Chiropractor, Speech Therapist and more. Coverage for these services is usually capped at a dollar value (for example $750 per benefit year), and there is a maximum reimbursable amount per visit. These services tend to be highly valued by employees.
  1. Vision Benefits – Depending on the plan, vision benefits are sometimes included as part of extended health coverage. Vision benefits usually cover eye examinations, corrective lenses and glasses. They can vary widely, and some employers do not include vision coverage as part of their benefits plan at all. For employees that wear corrective lenses, vision benefits are a very valuable benefit.


Dental benefits make up the other half of the Extended Health and Dental dream team. As dental services are not covered under the Canada Health Act, employees without coverage must pay out-of-pocket. In many cases, costs for dental services are quite high.

Depending on the plan, dental coverage means employees can be covered for preventative dental services (such as cleanings, oral examinations and x-rays), basic comprehensive, major restorative and orthodontics. Dental coverage is another high-value benefit that employees want.

Tangible Support

The goal of your employee health benefits plan is to support your employees. A good plan is comprehensive. Extended health and dental are “must haves” in order to provide comprehensive support.

Every employee or someone in their family is going to need a prescription drug at some point or another; having coverage is a tangible way to support the health of the employee and their family. The same holds true for paramedical services or dental. It’s inevitable that your employees will need to access these services at some point; including this coverage as part of your employee benefits plan allows you to support them.

Extended health and dental coverages are very visible benefits. This is especially true for prescription drugs or dental where the cost of the service is direct-billed. When an employee fills a prescription and finds they can walk away without having to pay out-of-pocket, they are going to recognize and appreciate that their employer is looking after them.

Other benefits like massage therapy, physiotherapy and Chiro are highly valued by employees. With coverage, employees are most likely to use these services to address and treat physical discomforts instead of continuing to live with discomfort. They are also more likely to seek out services earlier on, before pain or discomfort becomes unmanageable. This helps contribute to a better outcome.

Paying for extended health and dental services out-of-pocket is expensive. Providing this coverage is a tangible way to support your employees.

A Good Return on Investment

Investing in the health and happiness of your employees by providing extended health and dental benefits is not just good for your employees, it’s also good for business. In addition to the moral benefits of taking care of your employees, investing in employee benefits helps:

  1. Improve Productivity – Employees who are healthy and happy are more productive. Extended health and dental benefits can help ensure that health problems are identified and addressed so that they don’t have a negative impact on your employees’ performance. It’s difficult to focus on work if you have a toothache, or if you are worrying about how to pay for a prescription that your child requires. Removing those barriers helps ensure employees are operating at their highest potential.
  2. Attract and Retain Employees – In a competitive labour market, it can be a challenge to recruit and retain the best employees; and having the best employees has a direct impact on the success of your business. A good employee benefits plan can help with this. Employees are more likely to accept employment with a company that provides a robust employee benefits program than one that does not. You’ll also be more likely to hold on to the employees you have, if you offer a good benefits program.

Investing in an employee benefits plan is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also a way to improve productivity and support recruitment and retainment efforts.

Good Advice is Key

Do you support your employees with comprehensive extended health and dental benefits? Do those benefits set you and your organization apart from the competition? If not, it’s time to look for something new. Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone or in-person or contact us for a comparison quote.

Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefit packages that work as hard as you do.

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