The unique needs of the self-employed

“I don’t want to work in a traditional 9-5 job.” “I want to choose who I work with.”
 “I want to have time for my family.”
  These are the voices of Canada’s self-employed, and they are growing in number at a rapid pace. People who are self-employed now represent about 16% of all working Canadians.1

More and more Canadians are working on contract, freelancing or starting their own businesses. They come from all ages and sectors – and economists tell us this trend is here to stay, the product of a shifting economy and changing lifestyle values. 

Unique needs call for unique coverage 

Though being self-employed may offer independence, increased job satisfaction and a better work/life balance, what it doesn’t offer is access to group health benefits. As a result, if you’re self-employed in Canada, you’re responsible for paying for your own health and dental costs not covered by public health plans. That can easily cost hundreds of dollars a year. 

Manulife’s Flexcare® Health & Dental Insurance Plans provide a range of solutions tailored to the unique needs of people who are self-employed. They’re designed to help protect you against out-of-pocket health expenses. 

The rising cost of health care in Canada 

Statistics show that the average Canadian household spends in excess of $2,251 on out-of-pocket health and dental expenses per year. This includes prescription drugs, eyewear and dental care not covered by a public or private health care plan and more.2

One report shows that high costs keep over 6 million Canadians from going to the dentist each year.3 Particularly vulnerable to out-of-pocket health costs are people who are self-employed, whose income may be less regular than that of salaried employees. After all, it’s difficult to budget when you’re faced with an unexpected dental bill costing hundreds of dollars, or a course of prescription drugs

Manulife’s Flexcare Health and Dental insurance plans offer a solution, by providing coverage for prescription drugs, dental services, or a combination of both. All core plans include vision care and extended health care
benefits, which include registered massage therapists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, homecare and more. 

The advantages of individual vs. group coverage

Different individuals and different families have different needs, something which company group plans often don’t reflect. This is where individual health coverage can actually be more effective if you’re self-employed, because it allows you to choose the exact type and amount of coverage that’s right for you. 

With the Flexcare plan from Manulife, you pay only
for what you need and want to be covered for, if something unexpected happens. Choose the plan that most closely reflects your lifestyle and budget, or create your own with Stand-Alone options. 

Frequent employment changes 

Another thing unique to being self-employed is frequent employment changes. Unlike salaried employees, if you’re self-employed, you may change employers and work for several people or companies during the course of a year. While the health benefits of salaried employees typically terminate when employment ends, individual health insurance plans offer portable coverage that is not tied to any employer. In effect, you “own” your own coverage, so it goes wherever you do. With the Flexcare plan, you can even keep your coverage all life long. The only exception is the plan’s travel insurance benefit, which terminates at age 65. 

Focus on non-traditional therapies 

If you chose self-employment for the improved work/life balance, you may also be interested in certain alternative therapies, which aim to promote wellness and balance. These therapies may include massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, podiatry, naturopathy, psychology, physiotherapy and more. 

Chiropractic therapies and acupuncture are the most frequently used of these, and studies show that a majority of Canadians who have tried alternative therapies feel them to be very or somewhat effective.4 Comprehensive and affordable Flexcare plans from Manulife cover visits 
to a variety of such specialists not usually covered by public health care plans. 

Self-employed? You may be able to write off your premiums

The tax needs of people who are self-employed are as unique as they are. You may be surprised to learn that there are potential tax advantages with supplemental health insurance. Being able to deduct premiums from your business income can go a long way to improving your bottom line. Be sure to consult with your tax advisor when you are filing your income tax return, to take advantage of eligible deductions. 

Without question, people who are self-employed in Canada represent a diverse, dynamic and rapidly growing group with unique needs. As the cost of health care continues to rise along with the number of people who are self-employed, individualized health insurance solutions such as Manulife’s Flexcare Health and Dental Insurance plans fill a critical need. 

This article is part of a continuing series of informational articles about the issues impacting health care in Canada. Manulife offers a range of insurance and banking products to meet the changing needs of Canadians, including Health & Dental coverage.

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