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New survey: Canadians concerned about the impacts of a major health event, yet few are covered

April 22, 2021

After more than a year of living through a pandemic, Canadian workers are reporting that they would struggle after a major life or health event. According to a survey by Medavie Blue Cross, over eight-in-10 (82%) Canadians who are currently employed and have opted into their employer health benefits worry that their finances would be impacted by a critical illness or major injury to themselves or a family member, and six-in-10 (57%) say they would be only able to manage financially for up to six months before going into debt.

Despite these figures, very few respondents have purchased additional insurance coverage since the pandemic’s onset with only five per cent reporting having purchased life insurance, and only three per cent having purchased critical illness insurance.

“The findings are eye-opening. A critical illness or serious injury would cause many Canadians to dip into their savings, look for additional sources of income, seek financial assistance from friends or family, or even downsize their living situation,” said David Adams, Vice President, Business Development at Medavie Blue Cross. “Employers have a real opportunity to reconsider their workplace benefits plans to increase optionality and flexibility – allowing employees to better protect themselves from risk – while making the process of choosing and adding coverage as easy as possible for them.”

Canadians see value in coverage for the unexpected but many experience barriers

The survey found that while over 66 per cent of respondents agree that owning life, critical illness or injury insurance is more important as we continue living through the COVID-19 pandemic, only four-in-10 have coverage should a major life or health event occur. Challenges most identified by respondents include cost as the number one factor (48%); and almost a quarter of respondents (24%) indicated that there were other barriers such as too much time required to set it up; a process that is too complex; and/or not having a trusted advisor to help them in reviewing their options.

A fully digital solution for employers to offer enhanced life and health coverage

Optional Benefits, now available to Medavie Blue Cross group plan members when activated by their employer, is an innovative solution available at no cost to the business that allows employees to add life and health coverage to their existing benefits plan, based on their needs and lifestyle. Optional coverages include critical illness, accidental death and dismemberment, and life insurance.

Members can add these protections in minutes through a simple and secure process on Medavie Blue Cross’ online platform. Adding optional coverage also opens the door for members to Online Doctors – a group benefit that provides them with year-round virtual health care access to Canadian-licensed physicians.

“There are many key learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic, one of which is the role an employer, through its workplace benefits plan, can play in helping its employees plan for major life and health events. Our survey found that eight-in-10 Canadian employees say their employer has done a good job of supporting their health and wellbeing during the past year. Companies can continue this positive trend by considering adding benefits plan features, such as Optional Benefits, that give employees what we know they want – greater personal risk protection, a greater ability to plan long-term and ultimately, peace of mind,” Adams said.

About Medavie Blue Cross

Medavie Blue Cross is a premier all-in-one carrier that provides health, dental, travel, life and disability benefits, and administers various federal and provincial government-sponsored health programs. Together with Medavie Health Services, we are part of Medavie, a health solutions partner committed to improving the wellbeing of Canadians.

We are one of Canada's Most Admired Corporate Cultures and recognized as an Imagine Canada Caring Company. As a not-for-profit organization, we are proud to commit an annual social dividend to the Medavie Health Foundation to support programs and initiatives aimed at addressing some of our country's most pressing physical and mental health care challenges.

Media Contact

For further information:
Nick Williams
Senior Communications Advisor, Medavie Blue Cross
[email protected]

Data is from a Leger survey of 1,004 Canadians who are employed full time and have opted into their employer health benefits plan. It was completed between March 8-16, 2021, using Leger’s online panel.