Reasons Why Employees Don’t Use Their Benefits

This post was written in collaboration with Mike Gaspar, Co-Founder & COO of HealthCasa.

Many employees in Canada are very fortunate to be working at companies who provide them with healthcare benefits as part of the overall compensation package.  These benefits typically cover things like prescription medications, paramedical healthcare services (e.g. chiropody, massage, physiotherapy), dental care, and various medical devices and aids (e.g. eyeglasses, orthotics, body braces).

What’s surprising is that despite so many of us having these benefits, many employees aren’t getting the full value of their benefits.  Explanations for low usage of benefits typically include: 

  1. Time constraints
  2. Lack of understanding of what’s covered under a benefits plan
  3. Unfamiliarity and inconvenience of accessing healthcare services 
  4. Inflexible coverage 

Let’s go through those four issues.

Time Constraints:

We’ve all heard that time is our most valuable resource, since once it’s gone, you can’t get it back … and it’s true.  That said, it’s more important now than ever before to make time for self-care.  We’re all guilty of spending several hours per week scrolling through social media or binge-watching Netflix.  Make an investment in your own health and wellbeing, and take some of that time to address that nagging back pain, foot or knee pain, or whatever it is is that needs attention. Your body and mind will thank you later.

Lack Of Understanding Of What’s Covered:

Health benefits are a funny thing; we want them and want to use them but trying to understand what is actually covered by your benefits plan can feel more confusing than it needs to be.  If you have benefits, take the time to go through your coverage booklet, your benefits portal, or ask your Plan Administrator if you have any questions. After all, your employer provides benefits for a reason, and that’s to help you maintain your short-term and long-term health. You can also call your benefits provider to inquire about your coverage e.g. amounts, co-insurance levels, as well as what other requirements might be in place (e.g. Do you need a referral from a medical doctor?).

The right healthcare clinic or provider may be able to help you navigate your benefits so you can better understand your coverage.

Honeybee’s user-friendly app makes understanding and using benefits a breeze.

No guessing coverage amounts, no paperwork, no flimsy booklets or brochures. Simple. Fast. Easy.

Unfamiliarity With How To Access Healthcare Services:

Gone are the days where you have to wait a few weeks to get a healthcare appointment, drive 20 minutes to and from your appointment, only to find that the clinic is running behind.

Technology and innovative thinking have provided new ways to access healthcare, and have brought forth some interesting changes to the healthcare industry.  Virtual healthcare, already gaining prominence over the past few years, has been readily accepted into the mainstream over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Virtual healthcare appointments are a great option for many types of healthcare disciplines and can be facilitated anywhere that both parties have an internet connection.

Even healthcare services that must be done in-person such as massage therapy and physiotherapy are adapting with home visits and house calls in order to accommodate those who would benefit from the convenience of having a healthcare professional come to them.   In fact, mobile healthcare is coming back in a big way.  

HealthCasa is one such service. HealthCasa provides patients in Toronto and the GTA safe, convenient access to healthcare appointments by bringing the clinic to the patient in the comfort and safety of their own homes.  In addition to Chiropody and custom orthotics, HealthCasa also provides registered massage therapy services, physiotherapy, and ergonomic assessments with plans to further expand to other related services in the near future.   

Inflexible Coverage:

Finally, one large reason why most people’s benefits coverage go unused is due to overly rigid, inflexible coverage. Take for example a typical traditional insurance benefit plan with set amounts of coverage for health, drug, dental, and over a dozen types of paramedical services. On the surface, it seems great, right? But the reality is, hardly anyone requires healthcare in every single category of coverage available – it’s just not realistic.

A traditional insurance plan that is one-size-fits-all isn’t actually designed to be utilized to its fullest capacity. It’s far more likely that someone may require multiple visits to just a handful of health practitioners and pay out of pocket when their coverage runs out. The other categories of coverage that aren’t used merely act as “hypothetical coverage.” This means that employees aren’t getting the most out of their benefits, while employers are still stuck paying for large amounts of coverage that mostly go unused. 

Honeybee fills the gaps in a traditional plan by offering customizable coverage. Plan members can determine the needed level of coverage in their plan, and allocate their funds across categories based on expected level of usage. For example, a young, healthy employee in their 20’s who does not take any prescription medication may find that it makes the most sense to choose a higher drug deductible and co-insurance. This way, they may allocate more funds towards paramedical services such as massage therapy or therapy, two types of services they tend to make use of, than they would otherwise receive under a traditional plan. 

A Health Spending Account (also known as a HSA) is also a great way to personalize benefits to ensure relevant, useful coverage. An HSA is a handy alternative or additional to a traditional benefits plan which combines all categories of health expenses (i.e.. health and drug, dental, and paramedical expenses) into one lump sum account which allows employees to use their coverage for what they actually need.

Those who have benefits often don’t don’t use them as much as they need for a myriad of reasons. The important take-home message is that self care is important; not just to yourself, but to your family, friends, and colleagues.  Make time to take care of yourself, understand what’s covered by your benefits by asking the right questions, and consider all of your options when it comes to accessing the healthcare services you need. You have more options than you may realize!

Mike Gaspar is the Co-Founder and COO of HealthCasa, specializing in providing mobile massage, physiotherapy, chiropody, orthotics, home office ergonomics, and corporate wellness services within the Greater Toronto Area.