Insurance Support for Mental Health - Q&A

We frequently get asked questions about insurance supports for mental health and what the best programs are. We were fortunate to have some of our frequently asked questions answered for this week's blog post by Justin Bader, a Financial Advisor at Millennial Financial Group. Thank you Justin for shedding some light onto this important topic for us. See below the questions and answers! Do you have any other questions? Contact us and let us know how we can get you the information you need.


1. Tell us about your role and your organization.

I work as a Financial Advisor at Millennial Financial Group. We are an organization of young, dedicated financial advisors, whose primary goal is to provide clients with the best possible financial plans to suit their individual needs. My role as an advisor is to help people understand the different financial planning products that are in the market, and to build customizable plans that fit their budget and personal needs.

2. If a company is reviewing their current insurance policies, what should they consider to ensure they will be getting a plan that supports employee mental health in the best way possible?

Mental illness can have a significant bearing on employers and employees. It affects both absenteeism and productivity and is now a leading cause of employee disability at work. The millennial generation places a greater emphasis on mental health services than their parents. A lot more Canadian companies are adding health plans to appeal to a new generation of employees. In addition to the base drug and dental benefits, some companies are offering mental health counselling and providing employees with a fitness subsidy. Employers need to realize that adding these health care plans benefits the employees, but also the employers. The healthier the workers are, the more productive and less likely they will miss work due to an illness. Further to that, they will be less likely to require costly drugs or other services later on. It’s imperative you know your work culture and to work with an advisor who understands the demographic at your work place.

3. I have group benefits through my work. What are the risks and benefits of having a personal insurance policy as well? How does this change if I have a disability including mental health? 

Having coverage through work is a great start, but there are often limitations. These limitations can include your Long Term Disability (LTD coverage) benefits being taxable, the benefit period for your LTD coverage lasting only for two years instead of lasting until age 65, and gaps that may reduce your benefit. Group life insurance is not owned by the employee. This means that if you decide to change jobs, you will lose your coverage. With a personally owned plan, no matter where you are, your coverage remains in force. Under Long Term Disability in your group benefits, some group plans include exclusions for mental health related disability claims. It’s important to have an advisor to look into your group plan and review the contract. LTD insurance through your employer is rarely full coverage. This means if you were to become disabled, there would be a gap in coverage from what you are currently making, to what you are insured for. In addition, the definition of what is deemed totally disabled may last only for two years. Beyond that, the insurance company can deem you fit to work in another role, and can effectively force you back to work. When a policy is owned individually, disability benefits are easier to claim and it is easier to stay on claim, as long as the insured is totally disabled in his or her regular occupation, and has a disability that hinders them from performing even basic work.  If you own your own individual disability plan, you are in control, and based on the definition of your plan, cannot be forced back to work (provided you are under doctors care who is following the best practices for treatment of your mental illness).

Individual policies are perceived as being expensive. Work/group polices are frequently perceived as less expensive because in many cases the employer’s paying part of the premium or has tailored the policy to limit benefits. All people care about is if they “have” a policy at work. It’s important to know that you can build plans that suit your needs and budget. If you have a disability plan through work, speak to an Insurance Advisor and have your advisor explain to you the details of your coverage. 

4. I am an entrepreneur working with a small team. What plan would we look for to best support employee health and wellness? 

It’s important to be working with an advisor who understands the culture and demographic of your company. Someone that is relatable to the employees will more likely understand what they want, and what may help attract other qualified workers. Flexible plans, such as health spending accounts, have become increasingly popular as employers try to attract new young employees. Millennials place a much greater priority on mental health services, such as counselling and support groups, than their predecessors did. Insurers are starting to come out with incentive programs that reward customers for practicing health behaviours and wellness programs, including smoking cessations and biometric screening, which measures blood pressure, and help track overall employee health.

5. What happens if I return to work part-time after making a disability claim. Am I still eligible for Long Term Disability?

The ability to work in some capacity either precedes or follows a period of total disability impacting your eligibility to make a claim. With group insurance, generally speaking, most plans do not include partial disability- in order to claim and stay on claim, you will have to be totally disabled. Some of the newer plans may include partial disability but you would need to double check your policy or speak to an Insurance Advisor to find out. With your own individual disability policy, if your disability causes a 20% or more reduction in your earnings and you are still under the care of a physician, you are entitled to collect a percentage of your monthly benefit. You are also eligible for partial benefits in a few different circumstances, and may be able to receive half of your monthly benefits. This depends on whether you are unable to perform your occupation at least 50% of the time normally required. This means that if you can only do your job for 50% of the time, you are still eligible for 50% of your monthly benefit.

Discussing disability insurance may be daunting, and less exciting than Life Insurance, but it’s important. For most of us, our income is our single greatest financial asset, and disability insurance protects the loss of that asset.


Have you spoken to your Financial Advisor about how to improve your insurance plans to better support employee mental health? Any tips to share?

Do you have any other questions for Justin? Leave a comment below, or contact him directly at justinbader@millennialfg.com. You can also visit www.millennialfinancialgroup.com.