Donna Carbell
Head of Group Benefits, Manulife Canada

A friend of mine recently mentioned he was looking forward to retirement because it would give him time to focus on healthy activities and ‘get back into shape.’ That comment really concerned me because I think our work cultures should encourage health and fitness, not stand in their way. Better health is a lifelong journey that shouldn’t start in retirement, or worse yet, the day you receive a scary test result or a serious diagnosis.

I’m passionate about the role of the Group Benefits industry in helping Canadians achieve, maintain, and enjoy their best health possible. So, if people are telling me they need to leave their jobs or retire to regain their health, we need to rethink things.

New route, new destination

Fortunately, it’s not a case of having lost our way. Rather, I think we’re just finding the new path forward. The pieces have fallen into place to take Group Benefits plans from being an administration and claims paying service to become an enabler for the on-going health of plan members.

...if people are telling me they need to leave their jobs or retire to regain their health, we need to rethink things.

Historically, in Group Benefits, our core job boiled down to paying claims. Pay them fast. Pay them accurately. Don’t make any errors.

Looking forward, I think our true value as a benefits provider lies in being far more proactive. At Manulife, we have a chance to take everything we know about the health of Canadians and offer back relevant information, options, suggestions, and guidance to help make their lives easier. I’m talking about the kind of information that might help a plan member avoid an illness, or reduce its effects and, in some cases, its costs.

This opportunity – the shift from reactive to proactive – is only possible now because of some important developments.

First, all types of claims can be submitted electronically, which allows us to receive and process them quickly. And each digital claim is an opportunity to connect with plan members at precisely the right time, supporting them with evidence-based guidance and programs to help them manage their health.

At Manulife, we have the privilege of interacting with plan members and their families as they engage with the healthcare system. Taken together, these interactions provide opportunities and insights that tell a compelling new story about the health of Canadians. And this is where the real transformation of Manulife, and the Group Benefits industry, is happening.

But the new...measure of your Group Benefits plan should be how well it helps your members attain and maintain their health.

The most important measure

Yes – you should always judge us by how fast and accurately we pay your plan’s claims. But the new, and I think much more important, measure of your Group Benefits plan should be how well it helps your members attain and maintain their health. And how well the plan supports recovery from an illness or injury.

An accelerated pace

In my next post, I’ll discuss something else that is now speeding us along on our journey faster than we ever could have planned: the heightened awareness of personal health protection and preservation. But let me close by stating my number one priority at Manulife is to engage with Canadians at these critical and important moments of truth on their health journeys, helping reduce costs for plan sponsors and Canadians as a whole. And my sincere personal belief, albeit an admittedly biased opinion, is that we can do this better than anyone else.

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