Health Benefits Plans Key to Talent Attraction and Retention; But Younger
Workers Don't Want their Parents' Plans

Younger workers want control and choice over benefits - and that can means savings for employers'

TORONTO, Nov. 17 /CNW/ - More than two thirds (65 per cent) of working Canadians say that the availability of an employee health benefits plan plays a "very important" role in their decision to accept a new job, according to research conducted for Benecaid. In fact, the vast majority of Canadians (78 per cent) would expect a compensation increase of at least 10 per cent to offset the absence of a benefits plan.

But they don't just want any plan. Workers, particularly younger ones (aged 25-34 years), are seeking control over their benefits coverage.

"Canadians have come to rely on their employers to provide health benefits, but they also want to be able to direct how those dollars are spent," says Jonathan Graff, co-president of Benecaid. "Younger employees in particular don't want their parents' plan with fixed spending caps in fixed categories. Employers need to stay abreast of these new expectations and evolve their benefits offerings. The good news is that in providing employees with some control, employers can actually save on benefits spending."

Overall, 77 per cent of workers say they want complete control over their benefits spending with only 21 per cent comfortable with a plan chosen for them. A disproportionately higher number (85 per cent) of workers aged 25-34 years prefer control. In fact, the majority (76 per cent) of all workers say that they'd accept a smaller amount of money for health benefits if they could have control on how to spend it.

Benecaid has developed a Guide to Employee Health Benefits Programs for Canadian Small & Medium-Sized Businesses designed specifically to help businesses navigate through the creation of a benefits program. Recognizing that many business owners struggle in this area - weighing the expense of a health benefits program, but knowing without one they are at a disadvantage in attracting and retaining staff - the Guide can help employers set-up a plan which is cost-effective and mutually beneficial.

"Just as we are becoming guardians of our health, many Canadians are seeking to be guardians of their healthcare finances," says Graff. "By offering benefits programs where employees can direct spending to their health-related priorities, employers can achieve more efficient use of benefits, and control costs. This makes benefits programs more accessible to smaller employers who want to offer health benefits but fear the costs."

Among the new models of benefits programs is the Health Spending Account. The account is established by the employer exclusively for employee health spending. The employer contributes pre-tax dollars and the employee controls the decisions about spending based on their healthcare needs and wants.

A Benecaid Health Spending Account can be set-up by an employer or a self-employed individual. It provides greater cost-efficiency while offering the recipient greater choice and flexibility in health spending.

"A Benecaid Health Spending Account is one of the best kept secrets in Canada today, but we believe all employers - and employees - should be aware of this option," says Graff. "An HSA is like an RRSP for health care costs - dollars are set aside to be spent on healthcare needs, protection and wants. This offers employers better control while offering employees what they really want - choice."

Canadians concerned over costs of healthcare

Despite the fact that 22 million Canadians are covered by a workplace benefits plan concern surrounds the ability to cover current and future healthcare costs.

Survey findings show:

    
    -   68 per cent are concerned with covering the cost of current and
        future healthcare needs;
    -   53 per cent are concerned with covering the cost of a spouse's
        current and future healthcare needs;
    -   50 per cent are concerned with covering the costs of my children's
        healthcare needs;
    -   44 per cent are concerned with covering the costs associated with the
        care of an ill or aging parent.
    

Young Canadians already share these concerns with the older cohorts. More than one-in-four Canadians aged 18-24 already have concerns about covering the costs of their own future healthcare needs. They are also the group most likely to say that they are concerned about covering their children's health care costs (62 per cent) followed by Canadians aged 25-34, 58 per cent of whom say they share that concern.

"For the sandwich generation, some of whom are also continuing to provide for an ex-spouse, providing healthcare funding for the whole family is a very real concern," says Graff. "This is a trend that is very likely to continue. Employers should consider this when contemplating health care benefits plan that will really help them become an employer of choice. A Benecaid Health Spending Account for employees is a great way to provide that coverage. It offers choice, flexibility and coverage for family members."

About Benecaid

Benecaid is a health benefits administrator that provides cost-effective, customized plan management for small and medium-sized employers and the self-employed. Benecaid was founded by business people who knew there had to be a better way to provide health benefits. Its innovative approach delivers best-in-class programs while helping companies control costs.

With over 4,500 clients, Benecaid is one of the fastest growing administrators of employee health benefits in Canada.

The Guide to Employee Health Benefits Programs for Canadian Small & Medium-Sized Businesses can be found online here: http://www.benecaid.com/benefitsguide

The Canadian survey results are based on a telephone survey of 675 nationally representative Canadians (excluding retirees and homemakers) between October 1 and October 5, 2009 by Harris/Decima. A sample of this size will provide results that can be considered accurate within +/-3.8 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

SOURCE BENECAID

For further information: For further information: or to receive a copy of the guide, please contact: Lisa Mills, (416) 969-2831, lmills@environicspr.com; or Jessica Davidson, (416) 969-2735, jdavidson@environicspr.com

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