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  • Jeremy Stankov

3 steps to decide what your group health benefits plan should cover

April 2021

Let’s look at the big picture first. The most important goals for a group benefits plan are:

  • protecting your employees, and

  • safeguarding their ability to provide income.

Protecting your employees by keeping them healthy and supporting their wellbeing has important financial consequences for your organization. Supplementing provincial healthcare through a benefits plan can keep your talented people doing their best work and improving your business.

For employees, having group benefits really means they know their ability to provide income is safe should an accident or illness occur. Key benefits such as disability and accidental death and dismemberment coverage will protect them in the event of an unforeseen tragedy.

So, how do we take steps to meet these goals? It starts with a little bit of research. Here are 3 key things to consider.

Employee demographics and needs

Finding the best benefits match for your organization depends on who works there. For a broad mix of age groups, the traditional benefits such as health, dental, drugs, and vision are a good place to start. Everyone can benefit from a plan that supplements their provincial health coverage for basic needs. These benefits also have a big impact for employees with families who want to keep everyone happy and healthy.

If your workforce skews younger, they may see more value in paramedical or lifestyle focused benefits. Research done in 2017 by Accompass Inc. showed that generation Z and millennial employees in particular valued health care spending accounts and paramedical benefits.

In every case, if you want to know what your employees value, just ask! Looking at the current use of your benefits or conducting a survey of your workforce will help you understand which benefits make a difference, and which your employees will appreciate and use.

Your budget

When it comes to any business expense, the dollars must make sense. Before working with an advisor to determine the group health benefits options available to you, decide how much you are willing to pay and how much you can reasonably afford. Remember that creating a group health benefits plan for your business is an expense, but it can also add value for you.

Some key questions to ask yourself include:

  • Is offering (the right) group benefits plan a differentiator for my business?

  • Will it help me attract or retain talented employees?

  • Can the right group benefits plan help us build our culture?

If you need to cut costs, you have a few options to help make your employee benefit plan more affordable, including:

  • Premium contribution – when employees pay a portion of the premium

  • Deductibles – when employees must pay a fixed amount before benefits become payable

  • Coinsurance – when employees pay a fixed percentage of the total cost of the claim

  • Maximums – limiting the amount payable for certain types of coverage

Of course, it’s always best practice to shop around and find a group benefits provider that not only promises a competitive rate now but will continue to provide excellent service and reasonable increases well into the future.

Your industry

One step that can be overlooked in the group health benefits selection process, is how your industry impacts the need for benefits.

As discussed earlier, benefits can be a differentiator for your business, as well as help you attract and retain talent. Understanding what others in your industry are offering will help you position your benefits package appropriately.

Employees in different industries may also find more use in particular benefits. For example, those who work in manual labour may be at elevated risk for injuries that will result in disability. Offering both short-term and long-term disability will help bring them peace of mind. Those with high stress jobs may appreciate the ability to claim psychologist visits as part of their benefits. They may also benefit from the resources and support provided by an Employee and Family Assistance Program.


With your goals in mind, and some research in hand, deciding what your group benefits plan should cover isn’t a tough task. It’s all about finding the right fit for your employees and your organization.

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