We’ve been putting healthcare spending accounts in place for our clients for years, as not only are they loved by the staff but business owners find immediate value in the tax savings.
There’s another level of flexibility and choice for you and your business that very few other brokers offer. With a benefits plan through The Financial Benefits Group, you get to decide how much money to make available to each employee, and then that individual logs in to their personal account and allocates those dollars as they see fit between three different pools:
- Healthcare Spending Account for CRA-approved deductible medical expenses
- Wellness Account for health and wellness-related expenses, such as fitness memberships, child care, financial planning, and education
- Group RRSP deposit
As businesses look for creative ways to recruit, motivate and reward their employees (without breaking the bank) these flexible accounts offer tremendous value for the dollar, while maintaining cost control in a volatile economy. Finally, as you only pay when claims are incurred, there is no reason not to have a healthcare spending account in place if you own a business.
SMEs using healthcare spending accounts creatively
BY April Scott-Clarke
Healthcare spending accounts aren’t new products, and the scope of expenses covered hasn’t changed much since they came to market about a decade ago. What is changing is how small businesses are using these products.
Healthcare spending accounts have traditionally been used to enhance a benefit plan, with all employees getting a pre-determined amount of cash to use to cover any CRA-approved medical expense that isn’t covered by the core plan or provincial plan. Now, more small business owners are recognising healthcare spending accounts as a means to be more cost-savvy and creative with their benefits offerings.
Robert Crowder, president of The Benefits Trust, says cost is king for small business owners and having the ability to offer employees benefits but still control the costs is something clients are looking for. “We use to get calls monthly about healthcare spending accounts,” he says. “Now we get calls daily.”
Lucy van Scheltinga, a benefits consultant with Benecaid Health Benefits Solutions, says she too is seeing an uptick in healthcare spending accounts, and more integration between them and traditional benefit plans. She says it’s common to add a healthcare spending account to a traditional plan when a co-pay has been added.
“Healthcare spending accounts can plug holes in traditional plans. They are being used as part of cost-saving strategies,” she says.
And this trend seems to be common across the country. Only three years ago, healthcare spending accounts were the norm in the western provinces says Glenn Kehrer, employee benefit consultant with Group Benefits Consulting of Canada Inc. But now with the tighter economy Kehrer is seeing them being used strategically. “We are seeing them pop up when employers are making cutbacks to other programs, it’s a way to soften the blow,” he says. “[It’s] a good way of adding benefit without adding too much to the bottom line.”
It’s also a tax-deductible benefit for employers that employees can reap the full rewards from, Kehrer points out. “Governments make a lot of money off of pay raises, so a healthcare spending account is one way of adding a benefit without adding a huge costs and it’s one that goes right to the employee.”