The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our day-to-day life in so many ways. Adapting to the “new normal” has brought on a variety of challenges for businesses, one of many include the task of finding new ways to help employees access and make use of their benefits.
As we expand upon this, a few recurring topics become apparent:
What limitations do employers and plan members need to be aware of?
How can plan members make use of the virtual options they have at their disposal?
As of the writing of this blog, dentists have been restricted to only treating urgent dental emergencies and paramedical practitioners have introduced similar protocols to comply with the recommendations of their Public Health authorities.
Before social distancing measures were put in place, a visit to the dental or paramedical clinic would have been categorized as a routine occurrence. They each account for a large chunk of a typical plan’s usage. With dental and paramedical claims being predictably low as of late, many insurers have reacted by providing their clients with premium credits as a means of financial assistance and to reflect the fact these benefits aren’t being used.
In the meantime, those in need of emergency dental work will be pleased to receive treatment (under strict safety standards) and those patiently waiting for distancing standards to be loosened represent a growing pent up demand for dental work and paramedical treatment.
Leveraging virtual options
A saving grace throughout this ordeal has been the fact that we live in a world immersed in technology. Healthcare and insurance industry innovation is surging at an impressive rate, providing Canadians with a deluge of options that serve to streamline the delivery of their healthcare needs in ways that simply did not exist in the past.
We’ve covered the topic of virtual healthcare at length in past blogs and the pandemic has made us that much more aware that it’s a viable option for people seeking advice from a medical professional. We’ve curated a listing of service providers in the Physical Health section of our COVID-19 resources page, check it out.
You may have recently been informed that many paramedical practitioners are able to provide their services virtually as well. This serves as an efficient option in the social distancing era. Check with your practitioner to see if virtual consultations are available, otherwise you can check out Sun Life’s Lumino Health search engine to conveniently sort through virtual options close to you.
For many people, the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant stress and anxiety. Solutions aimed at managing employee mental health was firmly on the radar of most employers prior to these unprecedented times and has thrust its way into the spotlight in recent weeks.
Employee and Family Assistance Programs (EAPs or EFAPs) are offered by most employers and have proven to be a great resource for employees struggling to cope with the fall-out of the pandemic. Affected individuals can expect to receive short-term counselling, help navigating the healthcare system and assistance connecting with other professionals (often covered via a benefits plan) with the tools to better their situation.
A variety of other mental health resources have also gained prominence lately – many of which can be accessed at no charge. We’ve put together a comprehensive listing of mental health related resources on our website, but some worth noting include:
Stronger Minds: A free digital program for all Canadians to support your mental well-being. They offer day-to-day guidance, video chats, quick reads and a variety of other resilience building activities
WellCan: Well-being resources for Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Available on your mobile app store, WellCan helps develop coping strategies to deal with uncertainty during the pandemic.
MindBeacon: Digital therapy that is personalized, guided by a registered mental health professional and available to the general public.
When BC enters the second phase of re-opening, in-person counselling services will resume. CounsellingBC can help individuals find the right counsellor. Keep in mind that spaces may be limited at first.
Social distancing does not have to prevent you from accessing the resources made available through your plan. Taking advantage of virtual services such as Lumino’s health search engine and online counselling helps individuals get the services they need while remaining safely socially distanced.
We understand the critical importance of being informed at a time like this. With the situation changing daily, we wanted to provide you with a single source for helpful updates related to Covid-19.