Manulife expands group benefits offerings

by Leo Almazora14 May 2019

Manulife has announced that it is introducing new technology and innovative thinking to its employee benefits plans, promising that they will “transform the benefits experience for Canadians.”

Starting July, Manulife said it will expand its Vitality offering to group benefits customers. Through the goal-oriented program, customers can track healthy activities to improve their health and well-being; at the same time, they can potentially earn rewards and discounts upon reaching certain activity levels.

“Chronic health conditions are on the rise in Canada and, in combination with an aging population, could soon reach economically unsustainable levels," said Donna Carbell, Head of Group Benefits, Manulife (Canada). “We are on a mission to help people and organizations become healthier, so employees can be their best at work, feel happier, and be more engaged.”

In recognition of Canada’s opioid crisis, Manulife has also developed a two-step opioid management program focused on prevention and early intervention. The first step puts patients on an opioid treatment regime with a short-term supply, while the second step prioritizes the use of short-acting opioids first. These two measures, in concert, allow earlier monitoring of side effects, risk tolerance, and dependence, helping reduce the risk of chronic use.

“Through a much more holistic approach, we hope people will be better able to recover sooner, and with less chance of addiction or additional health issues caused by overuse,” Carbell said. “When fewer plan members need ongoing, long-term treatment, their plan's drug costs and addiction management costs are lower."

The company also recently piloted a program to explore how a person’s genes are linked to their physical response to medications, particularly ones that treat pain, depression, or anxiety. Preliminary results showed that after genetic testing, 51% of patients’ prescriptions were changed, either in terms of dosage or medication. The study is still ongoing, and will hopefully reveal how a person’s genetic makeup can support or accelerate their treatment and recovery.

Manulife has also partnered with Akira Health on a new service called Healthcare Online, which aims to make healthcare more accessible to group benefits customers. With that program, customers will have increased access to virtual medical consultations.