Below is the answer to a question recently asked by a plan member that we would like to share regarding your Blue Cross Health Plan and your access to benefits during the COVID-19 restrictions:
I was wondering why we are still being charged for Travel Insurance when no one is allowed to travel at this time. We also do not have access to dental, physiotherapists, chiropractors and the like so why are we also paying for these services?
Several insurance companies, namely Canada Life Assurance and Sun Life Financial Inc. Financial Corp are reducing dental premiums by 50 percent and extended health care premiums by 20 percent (excluding drugs). Manulife Financial is also reducing their dental premiums by 50 percent and extended health care premiums, including prescription drugs, by 10 percent.
We understand your position. During the pandemic, the concerns that you have expressed are similar to others who are in benefit plans. As such, requests have been made to Manitoba Blue Cross to determine if there can be relief provided to plan members during this difficult time.
It is correct that the many insurance carriers, including Manitoba Blue Cross, have reduced premiums for some group benefits plans for the month of April and are continuing to monitor the situation on a month to month basis. Unfortunately, reductions of premiums do not apply to all group plans and will depend on how the benefit plan is set up (this policy is consistent among the insurance carriers). At this time, the PSET Plan is not eligible for a reduction in premiums; instead, Manitoba Blue Cross is looking at future pricing to compensate for the any potential reduction in coverage/claims (i.e. this would be done with the plan’s renewal in January, 2021).
As the travel insurance product is a pooled program and coverage and pricing is based on the overall pool’s experience, Manitoba Blue Cross will not yet know the full impact of the travel claims given there is a natural lag in claims (as all claims have to go through Manitoba Health first) and coverage has been extended on exception basis for those who are stranded out-of-country due to the global pandemic. Therefore, Manitoba Blue Cross is hesitant to make any financial decisions until the experience/usage is known.
At this time, there are also some initiatives that the provincial government is taking to support seniors during this pandemic and that can sometimes can have an impact on what the group benefits industry does. We will continue to monitor this situation with Manitoba Blue Cross and the other insurance carriers and inform plan members as new information or changes become available.