Canadian employees prefer benefits over cash: Survey

Majority think governments should support employers promoting better health, fitness

Fifty-nine per cent of group health benefit plan members in Canada would rather keep their health benefit plan than receive $10,000, found the 2011 sanofi-aventis Healthcare Survey. When the money is doubled to $20,000, 48 per cent of the 1,598 survey respondents said they would choose their benefits over the money.

"The information in our survey highlights how employers and insurers can improve the satisfaction of their health-care plans," said Hugh O'Neill, president and CEO of sanofi-aventis. "Better health-care plans mean healthier employees, better productivity and less pressure on Canada's public health-care system."

Almost one-half (45 per cent) of plan members said they take at least one medication to manage a chronic disease such as diabetes or hypertension. Yet studies show that non-adherence is a real issue, said sanofi-aventis.

"Complications arising from unmanaged chronic diseases are a huge challenge for our public health-care system. For example, in Quebec, people with three or more chronic diseases account for 71 per cent of all hospital admissions. We should address the question of how we will collectively manage this issue, beginning now," said O'Neill.

A clear majority (86 per cent) of respondents said governments should actively support employers that promote better health and fitness. When asked what level of involvement governments should have in encouraging healthy workplaces and healthy employees, 93 per cent responded they should have a high level of involvement.

"Governments, employers, employees and unions all want the same thing — a healthier population and a sustainable health system. Each party makes an important contribution," said Chris Bonnett, a member of the survey's advisory board and president of H3 Consulting in Toronto. "What's needed now is a more collaborative spirit and better coordination among those who are already doing good work in this field." 

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