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					                                                                                                                               QUARTERLY
                                                                                                                               Volume 9 • Issue 1

                                                                                                                               First Quarter 2002




Benefit
         E M P LO Y E E


    ne ws
 I      N     S       I    D     E
            The Script
                  2
      International coverage
                  4
 Canada Pension Plan/Quebec
        Pension Plan
                  4
     2002 Dental fee increases
                  5
      Employment Insurance
      premium rates reduced
                  5
     An Introduction to Health
     Care Spending Accounts
                  6
          e Benefit News
                  7
  Alberta’s Health Information
  Act could affect pharmacies
   and pay-direct drug cards
                  8                  Good health is good business
                                                                                         That’s the message Danielle Pratt, president
Making the connection                   F   or employers, taking the steps necessary
                                            to ensure the good health and overall
                                        well-being of their employees isn’t only the
                                                                                         of Calgary’s Healthy Business Incorporated
                                                                                         and author of The Healthy Scorecard, has
        between customer
                                        sensible thing to do, it’s also proving a        been taking to business and government
             satisfaction and           profitable course of action. Evidence shows      leaders across North America. Through her
                                        organizations that make an up-front              book and presentations on the subject, Ms.
 employee well-being                    investment in the health of employees are        Pratt illustrates the connection between great
                                        realizing a more robust bottom line. As job-     managers, healthy and capable employees,
                                        related stress, illness and injuries decrease,   satisfied customers and bottom-line
                                        productivity, employee satisfaction, customer    profitability.
                                        loyalty and financial returns rise.

                                                                                                             see Good health on page 2
                                                                         Good health continued from page 1

The Script                                                           How healthy is your                               her book, Pratt points to numerous studies
A new generation of drugs is causing the health                      workplace?                                        that show employees are better able to
care industry to re-examine how and where                            Many organizations fail to include employee       deliver results that produce satisfied
treatments are paid for and delivered. Gleevec™                                                                        customers when managers give staff the
                                                                     health as a key component of their business
and Tracleer™ are examples of revolutionary new
                                                                     plans. Instead, health is often viewed as a       knowledge and skills necessary to do their
medications, not only because of their therapeutic
qualities, but also because each drug is intended to                 figure in the expense column—and one to be        jobs, the freedom and authority to serve their
be self-administered in the patient’s home. These                    contained. Pratt passionately believes the        customers’ needs, and the praise and rewards
replace traditional treatments that were invasive                                                                      that go along with a job well done.
                                                                     health and well-being of employees cannot
and available only in a hospital setting.
                                                                     be overlooked or underestimated, and she          At the other end of the spectrum, the report
Tracleer                                                             urges every company to make it a part of          “When Workplace Stress Stifles Productivity,”
In November, Tracleer was approved for the                           corporate strategy. When challenged by an         by Dr. Martin Shain (Health Canada) and
treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH),                  executive who asserts, “It’s not my job to        Dr. Jack Santa-Barbara (Corporate Health
a rare condition that affects about 2,000 Canadians.
                                                                     keep employees happy. Life is tough. They         Consultants), reveals that when those
PAH is a chronic, life-threatening disorder that
affects the lungs and heart. In its advanced stages,
                                                                     should deal with it,” Pratt concedes, “You’re     conditions do not exist, a “toxic work
treatment usually requires therapy involving a 24-                   absolutely right. But it is your job to deliver   environment” results. The “toxic work
hour infusion pump and an intravenous line                           superior customer service, and you can’t          environment” is characterized by workers
implanted through the chest, directly into the
                                                                     possibly do that if your employees are            who have high demands placed on them but
patient’s heart—a procedure performed and paid for
                                                                     stressed, ill or injured.”                        low control over how they do their jobs,
by a hospital. Tracleer is the first PAH treatment
available in the form of a simple pill that can be self-             Many ingredients of a healthy work                combined with an atmosphere of high effort
administered in the comfort of a patient’s home.                                                                       but low reward. In addition, these
                                                                     environment also contribute to increased
This breakthrough home therapy, with an estimated
                                                                     employee performance and motivation. In           employees often feel there is little support
cost of $48,000 per year, is an eligible expense
under drug plans.                                                                                                      for them within the organization. In the
                                                                                                                       “toxic work environment” Shain and Santa-
Gleevec                                                        Tracleer™ is the first of                               Barbara observed that back pain and heart
Gleevec is another recently approved drug                      a new class of drugs
                                                                                                                       problems tripled, interpersonal conflicts,
producing exciting results in the treatment of a               called “endothelin
                                                               receptor antagonists.”                                  mental health problems, injuries and
rare form of cancer called chronic myelogenous
                                                               Patients with PAH have                                  infections increased by two to three times,
leukemia (CML), diagnosed in about 500                         elevated levels of
Canadians each year. Routinely, CML treatment                  endothelin, a blood                                     substance abuse doubled and even certain
includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy and                   vessel constrictor.                                     cancers increased by five times the normal
bone marrow transplant—all invasive, hospital-                 Tracleer works by
                                                               blocking the binding of                                 rate of occurrence. Not surprisingly,
based procedures. Gleevec, however, is an oral
                                                               endothelin to its                                       creativity and productivity fell.
tablet dispensed at a pharmacy and taken at
                                                               receptors, preventing
home, just like many other pills. Again, this                  damage to blood                                         If a company is seriously committed to
treatment—traditionally paid for from a                        vessels.
                                                                                                                       building a successful enterprise over the long
hospital’s budget—becomes an eligible expense
under drug plans. The cost of Gleevec is                                                                               term, the link between delighted customers
estimated at $36,000 per year.
                                                               Gleevec™ is used to                                     and healthy employees has to be recognized
                                                               treat people with
Tracleer and Gleevec are examples of powerful                  advanced CML who                                        and built into the organization. Pratt says
new medicines that challenge existing health                   have become                                             “Leaders in these workplaces recognize that
                                                               resistant to other
care delivery methods and offer patients the                                                                           employee and customer results are not an
                                                               forms of treatment.
chance to lead relatively normal, productive
                                                               Gleevec targets and                                     either/or proposition…employee and
lives. When measured against lost working                      turns off the enzyme
days, disability costs and overall quality of life,            that allows cancer                                      customer satisfaction feed off each other.”
the new generation of medicines has the                        cells to grow.
potential to provide a better future for all.
Sources: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., Actelion Ltd.


2
                                                   my personal and family life.” In 2000,               benefits. The insurance industry has to
    You can help create a culture of
                                                   improvement was noted when 70% of                    respond by offering value in the form of
    success in your organization by
                                                   participants indicated their organizations           information and knowledge designed to help
    encouraging:
                                                   demonstrated increased efforts, over the             plan sponsors manage their employee costs
    • A sense of belonging                                                                              and productivity.” Teaching organizations
    • Meaningful involvement
                                                   previous year, to help employees balance their
                                                                                                        how to better understand what their total
    • Learning and challenge                       work and personal needs. Still, with 30%
                                                                                                        health costs are, is a good place to start.
    • Social and supervisory support               ranking their companies’ performances as
    • Job clarity
                                                   “below expectations” there’s work to be done.        Pratt breaks health costs into three
    • Pride in workmanship                                                                              categories: the good (prevention and
                                                   Those who are up to the challenge will hold a
    • Balance between job demands and                                                                   detection), the bad (failure costs) and the
      employee control over how work is            distinct advantage over their competition.
                                                                                                        ugly (the cost of lost opportunities). By
      performed
                                                   Employees need managers’ help to strike a            increasing prevention and detection efforts
    • Balance between effort and reward
                                                   balance between their personal and                   through high quality health care and
    • Suitable physical working
      conditions
                                                   professional lives. Satisfying an employee’s         education, the severity and frequency of
    • Overall job satisfaction                     benefits requirements goes a long way toward         sickness can be reduced, which lessens
                                                   achieving this goal. Successful strategies           exposure to the cost of lost opportunity and
                                                   include health promotion programs to educate         drives total health costs down. The province
                                                   plan members about healthy lifestyle choices,        of Ontario recognized this reality when it
What employees want                                with an emphasis on prevention of illness.           began offering province-wide flu shots in
The value a culture of success brings to           Employee assistance programs offer                   2000—the only jurisdiction in North
employers will be seen as Canada’s                 confidential, third-party counselling and            America to make the flu vaccine available to
workforce ages, and the available number of        advice on a broad range of subjects including        every resident, free of charge. The $44
skilled workers shrinks. In the “War for           depression, financial and marital problems,          million immunization program seeks to
Talent” employees will have more power to          childcare and other issues of a personal             reduce the impact of influenza on the
                                                   nature. Early intervention services provide a        province’s health care system.
choose the position that offers them the most
                                                   bridge between an employee on disability and
in return, and financial compensation will                                                              But, as Pratt points out in her presentations,
                                                   the workplace, easing the often difficult
only be part of the equation. Understanding                                                             many job-based prevention efforts don’t have
                                                   process of returning to work after an injury or
exactly what is important to employees                                                                  to carry big price tags. “After all, how much
                                                   lengthy illness.
becomes critical in the struggle to keep the                                                            does it cost to sincerely say, ‘I really like the
                                                                                                        job you did’, every chance you get?”
best performers.                                   The total cost of health
                                                                                                        Sources: The Healthy Scorecard by Danielle Pratt,
                                                   Dave Hales, Manulife Financial’s vice
The Canada @Work™ study by Aon                                                                          www.healthyscorecard.com, Canada@Work™ by
                                                   president of Group Distribution, says the
Consulting looked at how Canadians cope                                                                 Aon Consulting (1999, 2000)
                                                   subject is “bigger and broader than employee
with the challenges associated with balancing
work, family and life. In both 1999 and 2000,
the survey found an individual is most
                                                     Total Health Costs
strongly committed to an organization when
                                                     The Good         Detection costs: customer loyalty and employee commitment surveys,
that company recognizes the importance of                             health risk appraisals.
the employee’s personal life. By taking steps                         Prevention costs: cultural transformation, ergonomic design, work/life

to recognize employees have goals and                                 initiatives.

responsibilities outside of their working lives,     The Bad          Direct failure costs: WCB premiums, drug costs, STD/LTD costs.
an employer actually builds a stronger,                               Indirect failure costs: replacement worker and turnover costs.

potentially more successful company. The             The Ugly         Opportunity failure costs: income lost because of poor well-being (lost
1999 survey noted less than half (46.3%) of                           productivity, quality and creativity from stressed, ill, injured and
                                                                      demoralized workers). The “underbelly” of the health cost iceberg!
respondents fully agreed with the statement
“Management recognizes the importance of
                                                                                                                                                            3
International                                           Canada Pension Plan/
coverage
If you’re in the market for home or auto insurance in
                                                        Quebec Pension Plan
Canada, you’ll most likely do one of two things –
                                                        2002 rates and benefits
consult the yellow pages and start making phone
calls or begin surfing the Internet. What can you do    The rates for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) were adjusted as
if you need employee benefits for a sales office you    of January 2002. This chart compares rates and benefits for 2002 with those for 2001.
recently opened in Japan?

The Multinational Insurance Arrangement (MIA),
                                                           Summary of Canada/Quebec Pension Plan Figures                             2001         2002
more commonly known as MIA Benefits, is an
extensive network of reputable insurance                   Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings                                  $38,300.00   $39,100.00
companies representing more than 28 countries
around the world. MIA Benefits member                      Yearly Basic Exemption                                                $3,500.00    $3,500.00
companies provide an array of comprehensive
insurance products and services for employee               Employee/Employer Contribution Rate:
benefits programs including medical, disability                       CPP                                                            4.3%         4.7%
and life coverage.                                                    QPP                                                            4.3%         4.7%
The idea for an international insurance network
evolved with globalization. In the late 1960s, three       Maximum Employee/Employer Contribution/Year:
multinational insurance companies agreed to form                     CPP                                                         $1,496.40    $1,673.20
an alliance providing international insurance                        QPP                                                         $1,496.40    $1,673.20
products and services to existing clients. Since its
inception, MIA Benefits has become one of the              Maximum Monthly Disability Benefit:
most renowned and widely respected networks of             Contributor: CPP                                                       $935.12      $956.05
its kind in the world.                                                  QPP                                                       $935.09      $956.02

With more than 30 year’s experience, MIA                   Child:        CPP                                                      $178.42      $183.77
Benefits’ extensive membership enables clients                           QPP                                                       $56.65       $58.35
whose employee benefits needs go beyond their
borders to provide benefits coverage to employees          Maximum Monthly Retirement Benefit (at age 65):
abroad. Working through a plan advisor, a                            CPP                                                          $775.00      $788.75
company can receive information or a quotation                       QPP                                                          $775.00      $788.75
from MIA Benefits through some of the leading
employee benefits providers around the world.              Death Benefit:
Manulife Financial Group Benefits recognizes                            CPP                                                      $2,500.00    $2,500.00
many clients are active in the international                            QPP                                                      $2,500.00    $2,500.00
business community. As a MIA Benefits member
for Canada, Manulife confidently refers Canadian           Maximum Monthly Survivor’s Pension:
clients with employees in other countries to                         CPP: Under Age 65                                            $428.70      $437.99
reliable insurers who operate in those countries.                           Age 65 and Over                                       $465.00      $473.25
Conversely, Manulife Group Benefits products and
                                                                         QPP: Under Age 45
services are available to international companies
                                                                               • Without dependent children and not disabled      $381.26      $389.13
with Canadian-based employees through referrals
                                                                               • With dependent children and not disabled         $619.17      $634.18
from MIA Benefits international members.
                                                                               • Disabled, with or without dependent children     $644.47      $660.24
For more information about MIA Benefits, visit                                 Age 45 - 54                                        $644.47      $660.24
www.miabenefits.com. To request a referral or to                               Age 55 - 64                                        $690.22      $695.37
find our more about Manulife’s participation in the                            Age 65 and over                                    $465.00      $473.25
MIA Benefits network, contact your local
Manulife Financial representative or visit                 Cost of Living Adjustment                                                 2.5%         3.0%
http://www.manulife.ca/Canada/GB_v2.nsf/Public
/MIA.


4
2002 dental fee
increases                                                                                                                     Employment
Most provinces have released their
                                                                                                                              Insurance
2002 Dental Fee Guides
The average dental fee increases for most provinces are summarized in this chart.
                                                                                                                              premium
                                                                                                                              rates reduced
                             Average Increase                         Effective Date
  Alberta                               2.97%                       January 1, 2002
                                                                                                                              2002 update
                                                                                                                              Human Resources and Development Canada
  British Columbia                      2.32%                     February 1, 2002
                                                                                                                              (HRDC) has reduced EI premium rates for
  Manitoba                              3.56%                       January 1, 2002                                           2002. Employees will pay $2.20 per $100 of
  Newfoundland                           3.0%                       January 1, 2002                                           insurable earnings—down from $2.25 in
                                                                                                                              2001—while employers pay $3.08 per $100
  New Brunswick                          3.0%                       January 1, 2002
                                                                                                                              of insurable earnings—reduced from $3.15 in
  Nova Scotia                           2.55%                     February 1, 2002
                                                                                                                              2001.
  Ontario                         2.5 to 3.0%                       January 1, 2002
                                                                                                                              Maximum annual insurable earnings for
  Prince Edward Island           Not available                         Not available
                                                                                                                              2002 remain at the 2000/2001 levels of
  Quebec                                3.42%                       January 1, 2002                                           $39,000. The maximum benefit payable
  Saskatchewan                          3.35%                       January 1, 2002                                           continues to be $413 per week.

  Northwest Territories          Not available            Expected April 1, 2002                                              Since there is no change to the EI maximum
  Nunavut                        Not available            Expected April 1, 2002                                              insurable earnings/benefits for 2002,

  Yukon                          Not available            Expected April 1, 2002                                              Weekly Income plans that are linked to the
                                                                                                                              EI benefits/insurable earnings will not
                                                                                                                              require benefit adjustments in 2002.




                                                     Summary of EI figures for 2001 and 2002                                                             2001                   2002

                                                     Maximum Yearly Insurable Earnings                                                              $39,000.00          $39,000.00

                                                     Maximum Weekly Benefit                                                                           $413.00               $413.00

                                                     Employee Contribution
                                                     • Rate per $100 of Insurable Earnings                                                               $2.25                 $2.20
                                                     • Maximum Annual Contribution                                                                    $878.00               $858.00

                                                     Employer Contribution (Without a Registered WI plan)
                                                     • Rate per $100 of Insurable Earnings                                                               $3.15                 $3.08
                                                     • Maximum Annual Contribution                                                                   $1,228.50            $1201.20

                                                     Employer Contribution (With a Registered WI plan)
                                                     • Rate per $100 of Insurable Earnings                                                               $2.86                 $2.78
                                                     • Maximum Annual Contribution                                                                   $1,115.40            $1,084.20

                                                     EI savings per employee for employer with a registered WI plan*                                  $113.10               $117.00
                                                    *The reduced premium amount applicable to an employer may differ from the numbers shown here, depending on plan design or type
                                                    of arrangement (for example, sick leave, salary continuation). Plan sponsors can obtain this information through the EI Premium
                                                    Reduction Program. Visit the EI Web site www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca or contact your local EI office.




                                                                                                                                                                                       5
    An introduction to
    Health Care Spending Accounts
                                                       employee, except in Quebec where taxes are         payable, deductibles, coinsurance or any
    H     ealth care spending accounts (HCSAs)
          are an option easily adapted to serve a
    variety of needs, from both the plan
                                                       charged by the provincial government. In
                                                       most plans any money remaining in a
                                                                                                          other portion of a claim that isn’t
                                                                                                          automatically paid. However, not all
    sponsor’s and plan member’s perspectives.          member’s HCSA at the end of the first year         HCSAs are alike and many variations are
    Here’s a brief look at what health care            can be carried over into the second year. If,      possible based upon specific plan design.
    spending accounts are, how they work, and          at the end of the second year funds remain         Plan members should always consult their
    why they’ve proven to be an excellent fit for      from year one, the amount is forfeited by the      booklets and speak to their plan
    many large groups of approximately 750             plan member.                                       administrator to clarify which services and
    members and more.                                                                                     expenses are considered eligible.
                                                       Power to the plan                                  Usually, claims are paid from the core benefit
    Tax-free benefits                                  member                                             plan, then submitted to any secondary plan for
    Think of an HCSA as a special allotment of         A health care spending account is an easy
                                                                                                          coordination of benefits, and finally submitted
    benefits coverage—money set aside to pay for       way for plan sponsors with large, diverse
                                                                                                          to the HCSA. This makes the most of the
    health and dental expenses not already             workforces to acknowledge plan members’
                                                                                                          coverage available and reserves the HCSA for
    covered by a group benefits plan or a              different priorities and needs at different
                                                                                                          expenses not covered by any other plan.
    provincial health plan. Each year, a plan          stages in life. For example, HCSAs can be
                                                                                                          Members can monitor the balance remaining
    sponsor allocates a specific amount of             designed to recognize a broader definition of
                                                                                                          in their accounts by referring to the
                                                       eligible dependants, making funding
                                                                                                          explanation of benefits statements attached to
                                                       available for the health care of a parent who
                                                                                                          their claims cheques. Progressive insurers,
        A health care spending                         requires eldercare, or any other financially
                                                                                                          including Manulife Financial, also make
        account is an easy way                         dependant family member for whom a
                                                                                                          balance information available via a secure
                                                       medical tax credit could be claimed.
        for plan sponsors with                                                                            Internet site.
                                                       The HCSA also answers plan members’
        large, diverse workforces
                                                       requests for more control over the kinds of        A versatile solution
        to acknowledge plan                            services covered, giving them access to the        There are many compelling reasons to
        members’ different                             long list of supplemental procedures and           consider a health care spending account. As
                                                       services approved by the Canada Customs            an enhancement to an existing benefits plan,
        priorities and needs at
                                                       and Revenue Agency. Many of these                  HCSAs become a persuasive tool in the
        different stages in life.                      procedures are normally excluded from, or          effort to hire and keep the very best
                                                       only partially paid for by, traditional benefits   employees. An HCSA may be used as a key
                                                       plans. Cosmetic medical and dental surgery,        element in an overall compensation plan,
    coverage to each plan member’s account.            treatment for hair loss, laser eye surgery,        offering enhanced benefits that contribute
    This is available for the plan member to draw      electric lifts for disabled people and other,      directly to the health and well-being of plan
    upon as required to pay for eligible expenses      similar expenses can all be paid for using         members and their families. HCSAs may
    as he or she sees fit. The only limitation to      funds in an HCSA.                                  prove useful when moving to a benefits plan
    coverage is the amount of the allocation itself,                                                      with more cost sharing between plan sponsor
                                                       Applied in conjunction with an existing
    which acts like a benefit maximum. Oh, and                                                            and member, helping to ease the transition.
                                                       group benefits plan, a health care spending
    in case you’re wondering, going into
                                                       account can be used to “top up” core benefits      The ability to set and control the cost of the
    overdraft is not an option!
                                                       and pay for expenses not completely                program is obviously an appealing feature
    Private health services plans (such as an          reimbursed by the plan. These include              for a plan sponsor who begins by deciding
    HCSA) are a tax-free benefit to an                 amounts exceeding the plan’s maximum               how much will be contributed to each


6
  …by giving plan members
  a more active role in the
                                                reimbursed claims, also for a period of up to
                                                one year; this is “claims carryover.”
                                                According to Canada Customs and Revenue
                                                                                                        e Benefit News
                                                Agency rules, plan sponsors must choose                 Access delayed
  purchase of benefits, they                    one carryover option or the other—but                   Last September’s terrorist attacks in the United States

  may be encouraged to use                      cannot offer both. Also, all members must               have delayed plans to make high-speed broadband
                                                                                                        Internet access available to all Canadian communities by
  their resources wisely and                    be subject to the same carryover rule or the
                                                                                                        the year 2004. With an estimated price tag of $4 billion,
                                                plan’s tax-free status is jeopardized.
                                                                                                        this big-ticket item took a back seat to spending on
  cost-effectively.
                                                While plan members appreciate the choice                airport and border security in December’s budget.

                                                and flexibility that health care spending               Internet access has been part of the government’s
                                                accounts allow, plan sponsors must realize              agenda since it was promised during the last election
member’s account, then budgets accordingly.
                                                that they relinquish a certain amount of                campaign. As the Internet grows by leaps and bounds,
There are no renewal, reserve or inflationary                                                           providing access to communities currently without
                                                influence whenever they pass control and
considerations, and by giving plan members                                                              service takes on some urgency.
                                                costs back to the member. If choosing an
a more active role in the purchase of
                                                HCSA as a way to reduce overall costs, plan             Despite (or perhaps because of ) the fact that traffic on
benefits, they may be encouraged to use their                                                           the Internet currently doubles in volume every twelve
                                                sponsors have to ask, “How much influence
resources wisely and cost-effectively.                                                                  months, the digital divide between those parts of the
                                                am I willing to give up? Will plan members
                                                                                                        world with Internet access, and those without, continues
                                                use allocations wisely? When the maximum
Plan design and other                                                                                   to grow. Naturally, areas with better infrastructure enjoy
                                                benefit is reached, will they be willing to pay         increased access and use. Consider North America and
considerations
                                                for any additional treatments on their own?             most of Western Europe have more than 200 Internet
HCSA plan design can be very
                                                Or will they choose to go without, and if so,           users for every 1,000 people, compared to areas like
straightforward, but one decision that must                                                             India that have about 5 users per thousand. This has
                                                how will that decision affect on-the-job
be made concerns “carryovers.” At the end                                                               implications for a country as big and diverse as Canada
                                                productivity and absenteeism?” On the other
of a given calendar year, two situations may                                                            where nearly 4,800 of 6,000 communities fall into the
                                                hand, when viewed as part of a company’s
exist. Some employees may have exhausted                                                                rural and remote categories.
                                                total compensation package, the HCSA
the funds in their health care spending                                                                 Even within areas where access exists, there are still
                                                offers plan members an enhanced level of
accounts, but have claims on-hand that                                                                  barriers to overcome. A study on Internet use in England
                                                coverage and protection, and gives them the             found young, well-educated men with good jobs were
haven’t been reimbursed. Others may have
                                                chance to play a more active role in                    more likely to have and use the Internet in their homes.
unused money left in their HCSAs. As
                                                determining which treatments and services               So income, education, age and sex are obstacles to be
indicated earlier, remaining funds can be
                                                best meet the needs of their families.                  bridged before the population as a whole can fully
carried over for use in the second year; this
                                                                                                        benefit from the information and opportunities the
is called “credit carryover.” As an             If you’re considering an HCSA or any other change to
                                                                                                        Internet makes possible.
                                                your benefits program, contact your benefits
alternative, plan sponsors may choose to
                                                consultant. This article is provided for information    In the areas of health and health care specifically, the
allow members to bring forward any non-
                                                only and is not intended to give legal or tax advice.   National Broadband Task force (commissioned by the
                                                                                                        government to make recommendations on the project)
                                                                                                        sees potential benefits including easy and rapid access to
                                                                                                        health information and training, greater collaboration
  Applied in conjunction
                                                                                                        between health care providers, improved diagnosis
  with an existing group                                                                                through diagnostic imaging, reduced waiting times for
                                                                                                        medical services and new opportunities in tele-homecare.
  benefits plan, a health
                                                                                                        These are exciting prospects, so the challenge will be to
  care spending account can                                                                             prioritize these needs, against the need for increased
  be used to top-up core                                                                                national security, in the post-September 11 world.

  benefits and pay for                                                                                  Sources: the Broadband Task Force Web site (broadband.gc.ca),
                                                                                                        Internet use: the digital divide by Jonathan Gardner and Andrew
  expenses not completely                                                                               Oswald, National Geographic Magazine (Dec 2001).

  reimbursed by the plan.                                             You can read about the National Broadband Task Force at http://broadband.gc.ca
                                                                      Want to “connect” with your fellow Canadians? Try www.connect.gc.ca
                                                                      To explore the world from your computer screen, visit www.nationalgeographic.com

                                                                                                                                                                    7
Benefit
       E M P LO Y E E


    ne ws
 For further benefit information,
 please call your usual Manulife Financial                       Alberta’s Health Information Act
 contacts.

 Employee Benefit News is published by:
                                                                 could affect pharmacies and
             Manulife Financial                                  pay-direct drug cards
             Group Benefits
             25 Water Street South
             Kitchener, Ontario N2G 4Y5                          A      lberta’s Health Information Act, which came into effect April 2001, may cause changes in
                                                                        the way plan members use pay-direct drug cards at Alberta pharmacies.
 Please send your comments and                                   The Act regulates the collection, use, disclosure and protection of personal health information
 suggestions to the EBN editor,
                                                                 in Alberta. Under the Act, custodians of this information (such as hospitals and pharmacies)
 by fax: (519) 744-8908, or use the
                                                                 cannot disclose individually identifying information to a third party without first obtaining
 “contact editor” feature on our Web site.
                                                                 consent from the person involved. As a result, no information relating to a pay-direct drug
                                                                 claim can be transmitted by a pharmacist to a third party (such as an insurance company or a
 Please Note:                                                    pharmacy benefit manager like ESI or Assure) unless the customer has expressed his or her
 Employee Benefit News is published to provide                   consent to do so. Consent cannot be implied and must include the following:
 information about current issues and assist in
                                                                 • an authorization for the custodian to disclose the health information specified in the consent.
 the decision-making process. Our articles
                                                                 • the purpose for which the health information may be disclosed.
 however, are not intended to provide medical,
                                                                 • the identity of the person to whom the health information may be disclosed.
 financial or legal advice and any queries you
                                                                 • an acknowledgement that the individual providing the consent has been made aware of the
 may have should be directed to an appropriate
                                                                    reasons why the health information is needed and the risks and benefits to the individual of
 professional advisor.
                                                                    consenting or refusing to consent.
                                                                 • the date the consent is effective and the date, if any, on which the consent expires.

 Extra! Extra?                                                   • a statement that the consent may be revoked at any time by the individual providing it.

 Plan sponsors and advisors can download                         Obtaining consent for every prescription filled would involve a massive administrative effort.
 additional copies of this Employee Benefit                      In the event pharmacists decide to request payment directly from the customer (to avoid
 News or previous issues from the
                                                                 transmitting health information entirely), the convenience plan members have enjoyed with
 Employee Benefit News pages on
 Manulife Financial’s Web site at                                pay-direct drug cards will be lost.
 www.manulife.ca/groupbenefits.
                                                                 Pharmacists and insurance companies are consulting with Albert Health and Wellness to find a
 Additional copies of this or previous issues
 are also available in hardcopy. Fax requests                    workable solution and drug card customers shouldn’t experience any difficulties using their cards
 to (800) 230-2520.                                              during the review. One possible solution is the inclusion of a consent statement printed on the

 Ce bulletin est                                                 enrolment form and/or the drug card. Others are calling for the government to change its

 également publié                                                interpretation of the Act to recognize an individual’s use of the card as the equivalent of consent.

 en français.                                                    Watch upcoming issues of Employee Benefit News for further information on this topic.



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