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.

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COVID-19
RESOURCES

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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
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Canadian Telehealth Services

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

View the map

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 have extended our grace period to 45 days but retain an added level of flexibility due to the current economic climate. Please reach out to your Account Manager if you have any concerns.

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.

General Questions

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.

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.

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

Travel Insurance Information changes frequently. Please check with your carrier for the most up-to-date and accurate information. For plan members with Green Shield Canada (GSC) standard travel benefit, please visit the GSC Support Centre.

Have additional questions? We’re here to help!

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