Private Health Insurance: Understanding your options

Private Health Insurance: Understanding your options

As Ontarians, we’re lucky to have a world class provincial healthcare system in place. But it’s no secret that there are gaps in OHIP coverage that can result in significant out of pocket expenses. The cost of prescription drugs, vision care, registered therapists and dental care can really add up. 

The good news is that private health insurance plans can help us fill those gaps. Depending on your employment situation, there are a number of options available to you or your family that can provide coverage for everyday expenses, and protection against the unknown.

Which category best describes your situation?

Employee of a company / Retiree

If you / your spouse are employees of a company and your employer doesn’t offer benefits, or if you’ve retired and lost benefits, you have a number of Individual Health and Dental benefit plans to choose from. Insurance companies such as Manulife and Green Shield provide a wide range of Individual plans, each offering varying levels of healthcare and dental benefits. Understanding your own coverage needs and your budget are key to selecting the right plan. 

Self-employed / Solopreneur

Whether you consider yourself freelance, contract, independent contractor, consultant etc., you likely don’t have access to a fancy corporate benefits package. Contrary to popular belief, you have options! In addition to the Individual health and dental options described in the “Employee” section above, there are also a few “Group Insurance” plans out there that are available to 1 woman operations (ie. the Chambers of Commerce Plan). Group Insurance typically provides additional customization and more comprehensive health and dental coverage, as well as the ability to add options on the same plan, such as disability insurance, critical illness insurance and life insurance.  

Healthcare Spending Accounts are another option available to the self-employed, and these can be a tax-effective means of running your healthcare/dental expenses through the company.   

Small Business Owner

There’s a sweet spot in the benefits industry for small businesses with 3 (or more) employees. At 3 employees, cost is lower, no medical questions are required to qualify, and the number of insurance companies offering coverage increases dramatically. Full customization of your benefits plan is possible. The overall cost of your plan will depend heavily upon the type of coverage you’d like to offer, the demographics of your group and the industry in which you operate. Many small businesses find that benefits are a necessity in order to compete for new talent and to retain their best employees.

Regardless of your employment situation, there are private health insurance options available. But making sense of the options online can be difficult. It’s important to find a broker that has access to a wide range of products and can help you make an educated decision about the plan that’s best suited for you, your family or your business.

About the author

Bill Hutton BBA, CHS is a Benefits Consultant with Norbram Group Insurance Benefits Inc. He provides customized health insurance solutions for small business owners and individuals.  

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