COVID-19

Check this space often for updates, resources, and tools that will help you navigate these challenging times.

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C o r on a virus P age

Safety of our Employees

With the ongoing global impact of COVID-19, Benefits by Design (BBD) Inc. is doing our part to help protect our employees, their families, and our communities. To encourage social distancing, our staff will primarily be working from home. We are moving all meetings to either telephone or video conferencing format, and all business travel has been postponed until further notice.

These measures have been proactively put in place to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus and lessen the burden on the Canadian healthcare system.

COVID-19
RESOURCES

BBD COVID-19 Information Sheet

Updated regularly with COVID-19 information from our supplier partners.

Download the info sheet

Webinar: Cybersecurity

Led by Mark Hoffman, certified business continuity and crisis management consultant.

Watch now

Amending Your Plan Design

Options for amending your employee benefits plan during COVID-19.

Read the post

Green Shield Canada (GSC) Support Centre

Updated daily with the latest COVID-19 related information, pertinent to plan members.

Support centre

Telehealth Resources from GSC

A one-pager of online health resources available through Green Shield Canada and BBD.

Download the resource

Canadian Telehealth Services

A clickable, interactive map of Canada with provincially-funded telehealth services.

View the map

Virtual Healthcare Services

Telehealth services stand to make a great impact during COVID-19’s social distancing measures. Learn more about the services available!

Available telehealth services

HumanaCare EAP Brochure

Downloadable brochure for insured plan members with information on how to access their Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Download the brochure

HumanaCare BAP Brochure

Downloadable brochure for employers with information on how to access their Business Assistance Program (BAP).

Download the brochure

Frequently Asked
Questions (FAQ)

Business Relief Measures

Businesses may have significantly reduced income during this time and struggle to pay their group insurance premiums. Is BBD prepared to extend the premium grace period and not impose claim suspension?

We will extend our existing grace period by 30 days. Our new standard premium grace period during COVID-19 will be 60 days.

I have a client who is about to renew. In light of everything, what is BBD doing for premium renewal deferrals?

Renewals for May 1 and June 1 will be postponed for two months – until July 1, 2020, and August 1, 2020, respectively.

If you have a client who does not want to defer their renewal, please contact your Client Manager.

All self-funded plans (ASO and HCSA) will renew on their regular renewal date.

Can a group reduce or remove coverage for certain benefits (i.e., paramedical or dental) while they can’t access those services?

BBD is committed to helping working Canadians retain their benefits coverage however, we understand that many businesses may be experiencing financial hardship. In those cases, feel free to reach out to your BBD Client Manager about specific plan amendments.

BEACON Digital Therapy

If you are feeling stressed or worried or are having difficulty sleeping, BEACON digital therapy could be for you.

BEACON is a personalized Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) program that connects users with a registered therapist to help them work through a variety of issues, including the stress, social isolation, and anxiety as a result of the pandemic.

BEACON: Supported by the Government of Ontario

As part of its provincial support for COVID-19, the Government of Ontario is currently funding the standard BEACON service in full for residents of Ontario age 16 or older, making BEACON free of charge for stress and mental wellbeing concerns during COVID-19. Ontario residents can click here for more details.

For all other provinces, visit mindbeacon.com and click on “Start My Assessment” to find out whether BEACON is right for you. You’ll be guided through the steps to complete your personal assessment.

For all other provinces, visit mindbeacon.com and click on “Start My Assessment” to find out whether BEACON is right for you. You’ll be guided through the steps to complete your personal assessment.

General Questions

An employee has tested positive for COVID-19. What does an employer need to do?

The employee should not be permitted to return to the workplace until they are free of the COVID-19 virus, a minimum of 14 days, and showing no signs for 24 hours after that.

The current advice from health authorities is that all employees who worked closely with the infected employee should also be removed from the workplace for at least 14 days to ensure the infection does not spread in the workplace.

What constitutes “closely” will depend on the workplace and the nature of interactions between employees. Employers should err on the side of caution.

Employers should also take reasonable measures to protect, to the extent possible, the identity and confidentiality of any employee who contracts COVID-19.

An employee has an unconfirmed case of COVID-19. What does an employer need to do?

As with a confirmed case, the employee should leave the workplace.

The Public Health Agency of Canada encourages any person who has even mild symptoms to stay home and call the public health authority in the province or territory they are in to inform them. They will provide advice on what the employee should do.

Other employees who worked closely with the infected employee should also leave the workplace for at least 14 days, or until the diagnosis of COVID-19 is ruled out.

One of our employees told us that they came into contact with someone who has COVID-19. What should we do?

Once contact is confirmed, the employee should leave the workplace for at least 14 days. Coworkers who may have come into close contact with the employee should also leave the workplace for at least 14 days.

What if an employee has COVID-19 and cannot work?

Where an employee contracts COVID-19 and is unable to work, an employer must grant any applicable legislative leave to the employee, in addition to meeting any sick leave obligations outlined in employment agreements or collective agreements.

If the employee contracted COVID-19 in the workplace, there might be additional reporting obligations under workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety legislation.

What happens to employees if an organization is ordered to close their business by the government?

If an employer is ordered to close by health or other authorities, employers may be able to layoff employees without liability under provincial employment standards legislation or the common law. Each case will be different, and you should contact a lawyer for advice.

Going Digital

For new groups in installation, do you have the ability to send the Plan Admin digital copies of employee benefit cards since all employees do not necessarily register to the plan member portal?

Yes, when implementing new employee benefits plans, we can send a digital PDF copy of the ID to the Plan Administrator of the group for distribution to employees. Please inform us if this is something you require when implementing a plan.

Layoffs

Can an employer temporarily lay off employees?

Yes, but employers should be mindful of the legal rules and requirements that protect employees. A layoff can be treated as a termination of employment under employment standards legislation or the common law depending on the circumstances. There may be exemptions in many jurisdictions due to the pandemic and forced closures. Each case may be different, and you should contact a lawyer for advice.

Does an ROE (Record of Employment) have to be issued for a temporary layoff?

A Record of Employment must be issued for each of the employees that are on a temporary layoff.

What happens if an employer wants to continue benefits during a temporary layoff?

Coverage without disability insurance (except as required by law) can be extended for up to 6 months. All benefits (except disability) must be extended – there can be no picking and choosing of benefits offered during the layoff. No prior notice of the layoff is required. Layoff period will be terminated on the earlier of:

Collection of Premiums

If Plan Sponsors cannot collect employees’ premium contributions at this time, they can pay the full premium and collect back when the plan member is back at work. This will not affect benefit taxability.

What happens if an employer wants to terminate benefits during a temporary layoff?

We strongly recommend that plan sponsors maintain coverage for their employees during a temporary layoff and that they seek the professional advice of an employment lawyer before making a decision to terminate benefits for employees during a temporary layoff (see Benefits by Design’s Business Assistance Program).

Plan sponsors should be aware of the potential risks of terminating coverage including:

What coverage options are available if an employee no longer has group coverage?

Health & Dental Options

If you are between the ages of 18 and 79, we have a fantastic solution available through Green Shield Canada’s (GSC) Health Assist ZONE and LINK individual health and dental programs.

LINK plans offer guaranteed coverage for you and your family for day-to-day medical, dental and travel expenses, as well as unforeseen health expenses and must be applied for within 90 days of losing coverage. Choose from four pre-designed plans.

ZONE plans cover you and your family for day-to-day medical dental and travel expenses, as well as unforeseen health expenses. ZONE offers eight pre-designed plans (four guaranteed issue) and has more affordable options if you have no outstanding ongoing or medical issues.

Personal Protective Equipment Charges

Per the Government, regulatory bodies, and governing associations, many health and dental practitioners are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for in-person appointments. Many health and dental providers are adding the cost of PPE to their fees.

Green Shield Canada Extended Health and Dental Clients

Taken from the GSC: Update distributed on Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

PPE fees are not a standard eligible expense under GSC health and dental plans. As a result, the portion of claims related to PPE fees will not be reimbursed – though plan members can be reimbursed for these fees through health care spending accounts (HCSA) or personal spending accounts (PSA), where applicable.

When dental claims are submitted with PPE fees, the entire claim will be entered as billed and reimbursed according to plan design so that eligible procedure codes continue to be reimbursed.

When health claims are submitted with PPE fees noted on the receipt or invoice, GSC is taking the following approaches:

Some plan sponsors may, in fact, wish to enhance their plans to include coverage for PPE costs – and, depending on their current funding arrangement, there may be options to do so. This will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Standalone® Spending Account Clients

PPE equipment does fall under CRA Personal Health Spending Product guidelines. As such fees are covered to an amount of not more than 10% of the total of the eligible service fee.

For example, if a $50 dental service is being claimed on your Health Care Spending Account (HCSA), and is accompanied by a $10 PPE fee, only $5 of the $10 PPE fee can be claimed.

Prescription Drugs

My pharmacy is restricting the amount of medication I am able to get. Why can’t I get more? What are my options for early refills?

Given the evolving coronavirus situation, GSC is working collaboratively with pharmacy organizations, officials, and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association to ensure everyone has access to the medication they need. As a result, plan members will see some differences – most significantly, GSC’s 90-day supply requirement for maintenance medications has been reduced to a 30-day supply to help manage an increase in requests to refill medications. When it comes to requesting refills, they have adjusted their standard approach to allow for refills up to 14 days early.

For certain medications with variable use, such as inhalers, it can be difficult to measure a consistent day supply. In the event that someone requires a refill for this type of medication, have them ask their pharmacist to review the day supply, and if necessary they can utilize the resources available on providerConnect.ca to assist them with submitting the claim on the plan member’s behalf. Keep in mind that officials recommend that patients maintain at least a 14- to 30-day supply of medication on hand but also warn against “stockpiling” as this creates an unnecessary risk of medication shortages.

For additional information, please visit GSC’s Support Centre.

Resources

What tools or resources are available through BBD’s group benefits plans to assist us during these uncertain times?

If the employee benefits plan includes an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), this program is available to provide support to employees and their families during these challenging times.

For clients with HumanaCare’s EAP, HumanaCare’s best-in-class services are available through a host of mediums, including e-counselling and telephone counselling, to encourage social distancing. Contacting HumanaCare is easy – simply call 1-800-661-8193 24 hours a day, anywhere in North America, or email info@humanacare.com

If the employee benefits plan includes Life Insurance through BBD & Empire Life, they have access to a Business Assistance Program (BAP). A BAP helps employers access accredited legal, financial, and human resource professionals to navigate the complex problems arising within their business. Contacting HumanaCare is easy – simply call 1-800-661-8193 24 hours a day, anywhere in North America, or email info@humanacare.com

As a way to encourage social distancing, what telemedicine or telehealth resources are available?

Green Shield Canada has many telehealth resources available to get employees through during this time. A complete list is available here.

HumanaCare also offers counselling service through a host of mediums, including e-counselling and telephone counselling. These services extend to both their EAP and BAP.

Telehealth resources have been ramped up across Canada to ensure access to medical professionals. BBD compiled a list of the large provincial providers, which is available here.

Travel

Information for plan members with Green Shield Canada (GSC) standard travel benefit.

What if a plan member was away before the travel advisories?
As of March 23, 2020, a plan member’s travel day limit will be extended indefinitely (meaning their insurance will continue in-force) if they travelled before the advisory was issued on March 13, they are now being quarantined, and their travel coverage would expire while they are away. Previously, only hospitalization of a plan member would allow such an extension.

A plan member’s travel day limit will be extended indefinitely if they travelled before the advisory was issued on March 13, they cannot get transportation home, and their travel coverage would expire while they are away. Previously, only hospitalization of a plan member would allow such an extension.

What if a plan member’s travel is deemed essential?
If a plan member left before or after the advisory was issued, and they are crossing the border for work purposes deemed “essential” travel (e.g., truck drivers, airline workers, and health professionals), they can use their travel coverage for any unforeseen medical emergency, including treatment required for the coronavirus. All other limitations and exclusions of the travel plan remain in place.

GSC Update on Out-of-Country Travel
For the period of August 15, 2020, through June 30, 2021, all standard GSC travel plans will include coverage for emergency medical expenses related to COVID-19, up to the existing maximums of each plan.

If your out-of-country travel coverage is under a pure ASO funding arrangement or you have an out-of-country pooling limit, GSC will also extend the COVID-19 coverage to your plan. Plan members are encouraged to visit the GSC Support Centre for more details on the prudent steps to take before booking or undertaking travel.

Have additional questions? We’re here to help!

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