Extended Health Benefits – Know Your Options?

Every year extended health benefits go unused. According to the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey an estimated 67% of Canadians have an extended healthcare plan. So why are people not using benefits to their full potential?

Common Reasons:

1) People don’t know or understand what’s included in their extended health benefits.

2) People are aware of what‘s included, but they don’t know why they would use the different types of healthcare offered.

When we think of health benefits the basics come to mind like dentist or optometrist, perhaps massage therapy but many people don’t think to look beyond that until they have a health issue that arises. At first glance the options are not always clear, which can result in lack of use.

So let’s break it down. If you were to pull out that booklet with all the legal wording and insurance terms you will find a section for Paramedical Coverage. This will list services like massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic, naturopath, osteopath, dietician AND Acupuncture!

What would you see an Acupuncturist for?

Acupuncture can be used for a wide variety of health conditions which have been proven through controlled trials and can be found on the WHO website. In my practice I focus on treating injuries, sport related and otherwise. While you may think to go to a physiotherapist or massage therapist for an injury, consider using your benefits for acupuncture.  On that list provided by the WHO includes low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, sprains, tennis elbow and more.

Orthopaedic AssessmentAn acupuncturist who is trained in sports medicine will be able to properly assess your injury and provide you with the proper treatment. Sometimes upon patient request, doctors will also provide a referral for acupuncture if it’s related to an ICBC or Work Safe  claim. It is also important to make sure that you do not require a referral from your doctor to receive compensation for the use of your extended health care.

How are the Benefits Distributed?

It’s important to understand what’s included. There are a few different ways that insurance companies provide benefits. These are the typical setups: 

1) A specific dollar value is dedicated to specific treatment types

2) A specific dollar value to be used towards any type of extended health care

Within these there are two different breakdowns:

1) A percentage of each appointment is paid for, up to a total dollar amount

2) The total cost of an appointment is paid for up to certain dollar value, with total cap

Of course there are other variations of this, but these are the most common. Now that you know what your options are, pull out that extended benefits plan and see what you have. Get out there and find an acupuncturist that’s right for you and use your benefits before December 31st because once you use them up they start all over again on January 1st.