Yahoo! Finance Canada article about Self-Employed Canadians getting Personal Benefits
The article posted below is an excellent piece about self-employed workers, mainly independent contractors, consultants and small business owners, getting a good deal on health and dental benefits. The article was written by Gail Johnson for Yahoo! Finance Canada.
Mitch Reynolds, President of Life Guard Insurance, was interviewed for the article and is featured prominently throughout. This is an excellent read if you are a self-employed business owner or consultant looking for a good deal on health and dental insurance benefits. We hope you enjoy this re-posted article.
Self-employed? How to get the best deal on benefits
By Gail Johnson | Insight – Thu, 19 Apr, 2012 2:31 PM EDT
Before he took on the role of executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Jeffery Schwartz had spent some time running his own business. Having worked previously at a company that offered a competitive benefits package, Schwartz remembers being a little nervous about not having any health coverage— especially as he and his spouse were raising three kids.
“I was puzzled, and just thought, ‘Now what do I do?’” Schwartz says. “With a family of five, it was a big concern.”
Like so many entrepreneurs, writers, artists, and other Canadians who don’t have health benefits, Schwartz had to figure out how to ease the pain on the pocketbook while watching out for his and his family’s well-being.
There are many ways those without a conventional benefits plan can cut their health-care costs.
Look into getting a health plan even if you’re self-employed
“People are typically covered by a larger group plan, but there are companies that do one-offs for a monthly fee,” Schwartz says. “There are the Chevrolet plans and the Cadillac plans.”
It pays to compare prices and plans, but to save yourself some time, consider going to an insurance broker who can do the research for you. They can also help you understand what you’re getting.
“The most important thing a broker can do is explain things to you,” says Mitchell Reynolds, president of Calgary-based Life Guard Insurance. “Once they’re making a recommendation on a plan, they should go over the features and benefits and the maximum claimable amount, for instance X amount for dental, X amount for restorative dental, X amount for chiropractic, X amount for vision care and so on, so you have a good overview.”
Be specific with the coverage you need
Some plans include medical and dental coverage automatically; others allow you to choose one or both. The type and amount of coverage you have will affect the monthly premium. (Be sure to include that monthly payment into your budget.)
“If you have genetically bad teeth, it’s probably good idea to have dental [coverage],” Reynolds says. “If you have normal, healthy teeth that just require fillings now and then, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth paying for dental insurance because that’s the most expensive part of a health and dental plan. Spending hundreds of dollars a month to get about $1,000 year that you might not necessarily use every year doesn’t necessarily make sense. Dental is the most expensive element and the one most likely not to be fully utilized.”
Consider getting several people together
Sometimes, a group of entrepreneurs or others who are self-employed can share a group plan. “People in a similar situation can possibly bulk up in a group, which has the potential to drive the price down,” Schwartz notes.
Look to local universities, colleges, and schools for services
“People who live in major cities are lucky to have training facilities for things like physiotherapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, and dental care (not to mention services in other areas, like hair and beauty salons).
“The opportunity exists to get lower rates for what you need,” Schwartz says. “This is a fantastic way to go.”
Pay attention to prescriptions
First of all, make sure you’re getting the generic — and cheaper—version of a drug and not the brand name. Also, before you fill a costly prescription, ask your doctor if there are any samples kicking around for you to try first.
“The last thing you want to do is pay for a full course of medicine, which you can’t return, and then find out it doesn’t agree with you,” Schwartz says. “A lot of us just don’t think to ask for a sample.”
Watch for deals
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, look for specials such as two-for one, as shops regularly have promotions on. “Just because it’s medical-related doesn’t mean there’s not a chance to get discounted products,” Schwartz says.
Check out the government’s Personal Health Service Plan
Designed for small-business owners or people who are incorporated, it allows you to operate a private health-service plan through an insurance provider. The plan was developed by the Canada Revenue Agency and allows for tax-deductible medical and dental expenses.
Take care of yourself
“You can look at your health like an automobile: you have to change the oil and have regular checks and tune-ups so that you won’t have anything major to deal with down the road,” Schwartz says. “There are no guarantees, but there’s a lot of stuff you can do as preventive medicine.”
You know the deal: get plenty of exercise, stop smoking, eat lots of fruit and veggies but not much meat or fat, consume alcohol in moderation, get enough sleep — and just think of the money you’ll save.