Group Benefits FAQ

Get your questions about group employee benefits answered.

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What is group benefits insurance?

A group benefits plan helps employees cover some of the costs that provincial health care plans may not pay for, including prescription drugs, dental, hospital, vision, paramedical services.

What are the benefits of group insurance?

Offering a group benefits plan to your employees could increase how engaged your employees are with your company and business more than simply giving workers a raise in pay. Here are three major reasons:
1. Benefits can be a tax-effective way to compensate your employees—health and dental benefits are tax-free for employees in all provinces except Quebec (other exceptions may apply.)
2. You can help protect the well-being of your employees and their families by assisting them to manage their health and wellness, creating a sense of security and belonging.
3. You can improve team member appreciation and loyalty by conveying your support for your employees beyond their day-to-day work.

Who qualifies for group benefits insurance?

Full-Time Employees/Members of an organization. Group plans can be created with two or more Employees/Members.

How do I buy group health insurance?

Contact one of our Group Benefits Consultants to review and customize a plan based on your organization's unique needs.

What are the key points for a successful group benefits plan?

Build a Group Employee Benefit program whereby the employer pays 100% (except for long-term disability (LTD), where the employee pays 100% of the premium) of the plan.

The option for employers to pay 100% of premiums. This is helpful when renewal increases arise because it is often difficult for business owners to take premium increases to employees. When employers pay 100% of the premium, the employer is the one responsible for the increase and not the employees.

It's all about being informed for owner and employees, often they have no idea that the price changes year to year based on usage.

For some clients, to make group affordable, the plan may involve using large coinsurance’s e.g., 50% coinsurance on EHC or Dental (usually 80% with a $50 Single / $100 Family deductible)

The owner who is communicating that the plan is mandatory and part of their "total compensation package".

Which benefits do employees pay?

  • LTD is usually employee paid so the benefit is tax-free at time of claim.
  • Any additional amounts the employer wishes to pass on to the employee (assuming the LTD is not enough) can be either:
  • Paying 100% of the Life, AD&D, and Dependent Life and Critical illness benefits
  • A percentage of the EHC and Dental.
  • There is one school of thought that when employees pay EHC and Dental premiums…. their claims tend to be higher because they want their "investment" back (and more).
  • When there is EHC and Dental cost sharing, it is recommended that there are no co-insurances and no deductibles as employees feel "nickled and dimed".

Which benefits do employers pay?

  • The greater the contribution from the employer, the greater the chance of implementing a plan.
  • If the employer can pickup the cost of the EHC and Dental it will really go a long way to getting a plan in place.
  • Employers can pay the premiums for Life, ADD and STD (STD would then be taxable) with the Life premium charged to the employee as a taxable benefit, rather than have employees pay the premiums.
  • The employer offers health and dental benefits to all employees (and their families)
  • The employer offers to pay 100% of the single rate for ALL Employees,
  • Employees with families pay the difference between the single and family rate
  • If single = $50, and family = $150 then the employees with a family pays the $100 difference

Are there any tax issues to consider with Group Benefits?

To maximize tax efficiency and to help with cost sharing ,the employees should pay for the life, AD+D, Dep Life, and LTD. This will ensure that life, AD+D, Dep life are not taxable benefits. With LTD, the employee would receive non-taxable benefit at the time of a claim.

What are the best ways to keep the cost down for new groups?

With the introduction of many specialty medications, and the rising overall cost of drugs in the marketplace, groups can always consider a drug cap (perhaps $2,000).

A drug cap allows for the majority of basic medications to be covered, however, it will cap out any high cost claims, or employees taking several medications that add up to more than the drug max.

The drug cap reduces the insurance company's risk significantly and there will be large reductions to the EHC premiums which will increase the affordability of a basic plan.

Having 80% co-insurance, a dispensing fee deductible on drugs (this is often overlooked), mandatory generic drugs, and combined paramedical maximums can all be nice cost containment features.

Once the plan is up and running it can always be enhanced over time as the company grows.

Scrivens Group Benefits Specialists

Contact a Scrivens group benefits specialist to get started with the best group benefits plan for you.

David Scrivens

Partner, Life & Employee Benefits Consultant