It’s hard to think about health insurance without talking about COVID-19. Sometimes it seems hard to think about anything without considering the effects of the pandemic game-changer. It has sped up changes in how we use things and act from day to day, and slowed down others. Most of all, it has heightened the value of health insurance plan features that we may have taken for granted.
Let’s take a close look at the most valuable components of your health insurance.
The onset of COVID-19 has reminded us that prescription drugs are essential. According to the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network report on drug utilization during the pandemic, there have been medication upticks for:
- Hypertension (a.k.a. high blood pressure)
Blood pressure may rise temporarily in certain stressful situations. If it left untreated and remains elevated for a long time, it can be a big problem as it increases the risk for kidney disease, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and even death.
More frequent dispensing of chronic medications — like drugs used to treat diabetes – was witnessed as prescription size was limited to ensure there was limited risk to the supply in Canada (these restrictions have eased).
Some individuals dependent on their rescue inhaler to avoid or lessen the effect of an asthma attack increased their personal stockpile.
Those directly affected by COVID-19 faced prescription medication treatment costs, like antivirals and corticosteroids.
Prescription drug coverage contained in many health insurance plans has enabled people to continue to take their medications to maintain their health or take medication they had never considered they would need while also protecting them from unexpected out of pocket costs.
The pandemic has also changed how patients use and receive some medications. Health insurance plans with features that make paying for prescriptions simple and provide access to online delivery options have helped individuals limit their need to visit the local pharmacy, staying safely physically distant.
Over the course of the past decade, there’s been increased readiness to recognize mental health as an essential part of one’s well-being. People now understand mental health simply as an aspect of overall health and the role it plays in our daily lives. We’ve come a long way.
Faced with a pandemic, our daily lives have been restricted socially, physically and for many economically. Beyond stress and anxiety, as the pandemic end date remains uncertain, mental fatigue from the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the majority of people.
As we are faced with lack of information, constant bad news and the need to deeply think about and make difficult decisions on very simple things that we normally wouldn’t have to think about, many Canadians are tired and need support.
There are a number of outlets for mental health support through your health insurance that have proved invaluable:
- Coverage for Professional / Registered Therapists
Visits for counselling provided by a psychologist or social worker help you think about your problems differently and give you ways to manage, and usual and customary fees charged are generally covered under your health insurance, up to the plan maximum covered per year. This can also be done virtually.
Many individuals find that prescription medication decreases their suffering and improves their quality of life. Treatment may continue for many years. Most health insurance plans cover costs for a wide variety of prescription drugs, including anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.
- Alternative Therapies
When it comes to improving your overall well-being in mind, body and spirit, alternative therapies including massage therapy and chiropractic adjustments have continued to provide stress relief options by providing some in-person treatment in accordance with the requirements of government directives. These services are not covered by government health plans. Fees charged may be partially covered by your health insurance.
- Online Education and Support Tools and Apps
Health insurance plan online access and apps for you to download on your phone make managing your mental health easier. They conveniently deliver a variety of “built in” tools that help individuals learn new ways to deal with the expected and unexpected in life:
- Mindfulness tools that help individuals connect with the moment instead of reliving past regrets or worrying about the future
- Motivational programs to help you focus and achieve your health goals
- Access to recent articles on finding care, managing your health, and preventing illness
- Easy-to-use search tools to help you find a community support group
- Provincial health resource information
- Trusted information on conditions and prescription drugs.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, medical video consultations are working to connect patients with qualified doctors as an alternative to in-person care. Today, telemedicine is playing a crucial part in healthcare as more people seek medical advice from the safety of their homes.
While features vary, many health insurance plans give you the opportunity to conveniently set up virtual healthcare appointments. You get online access to healthcare professionals through web and mobile applications so you can get the care you need when you need it — at work, at home or wherever you are — for
- professional advice
- diagnosis and treatment of health concerns
- new prescriptions and renewals
- lab and imaging requisitions
- referrals to specialists and allied health professionals.
While prescription drug coverage, mental health coverage and support and access to virtual care have all proven important, the most valued aspect of health insurance is its role in safeguarding you and your family against unexpected out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.
Managing whatever life throws at us is a challenge in itself, and leaving health and dental insurance off the budget list may be tempting — but remember how important it is for your family.
While we have access to medically necessary treatment through our provincial health insurance plan, vital healthcare costs are not all covered under your government plan. You could end up being out of pocket for a lot of money just providing the healthcare essentials your family needs at the most trying of times.
Health insurance plans are available with varying levels of coverage. It’s important that you understand the coverage you’ll receive before purchasing a plan. If you’re unsure what plan to choose, a knowledgeable SBIS insurance professional can help you assess your needs. They will explain the different coverage options available and answer your questions.
Contact us today to discuss your health insurance needs and request a no-obligation quote to help you make an informed decision about your coverage.