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Understanding the terms in your benefits plan

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Another year nearly over and out. Where does the time go? And what about those workplace benefits? It's time to use them before they expire. 

Many employee benefits plans include coverage for mental health services, but often, employees aren’t aware that it is there or how to access it. We want to encourage you to take a close look at your benefits plan to understand how to use it to take care of your mental health.

Accessing the help you need should never be a struggle or break the bank. To help you understand the ins and outs of your benefits, here are some helpful terms you need to know:

Extended Health Care Benefits
Extended Health Care (EHC) is a section of your benefits plan. This part of your plan includes all additional health services that the provincial government doesn’t automatically cover. Mental health services generally fall under this section. If you don’t see EHC services on your current plan, don’t worry. It may also be referred to as “Health Insurance” or “Health Benefits.”

Check out your benefits booklet for more information on how to use your EHC. 

Paramedical Expenses 
Traditionally, mental health services have fallen under the “paramedical” heading of your benefits plan. However, in recent years, many benefits plans have a separate section specifically for mental health services. 

At MindBeacon, our therapists have a range of qualifications and designations, including social workers, psychologists and psychotherapists. Your benefits booklet or web portal will outline which types of services are covered within your plan. If you’re still unsure, your HR department should be able to answer any questions. 

Typically, benefits mental health coverage in Canada ranges from $500 to $1,000 per year. Check to see what financial coverage yours offers. 

Premium vs Deductible
When looking at your benefits plan, it’s important to know the difference between a premium and a deductible.

A premium is the flat rate you pay every month for the benefits plan. This fee always remains the same, regardless of whether you’ve used your benefits that month. A deductible dictates the amount of money you may have to spend on a particular service before your insurance kicks in and begins to cover costs. 

Some workplaces will cover a portion, if not all, of your premium. 

You’ll also want to understand what a plan maximum is, which is the maximum amount your benefits plan will cover for a particular service. Check with your HR department for detailed information. 

In recent years, a new trend has also emerged and mental health coverage under the paramedical coverage umbrella has been taken away and included under a separate line item in the overall benefits offering. It’s important to note that MindBeacon services can fall under “paramedical” bucket, or it can fall under “mental health services.” Your HR department can let you know where you can find mental health support in your plan. 

Healthcare Spending Account
Healthcare Spending Accounts (HSA) are frequently part of employee benefits plans. Think of an HSA as an extra fund you can tap into (up to a maximum amount) that allows you to extend your coverage for the services you need. 

When you reach your Extended Health Care benefits maximum for mental health services, you can then tap into your HSA to cover additional therapy sessions or programs. Some benefits plans do not have mental health coverage, in which case you can use your HSA for MindBeacon services. 

Talk to your benefits provider or HR department for more information about how to use your HSA. 

Coordination of Benefits
If you’re married or in a common-law relationship, you may qualify for Coordination of Benefits. This is a provision that allows both people to access each other’s employee benefits plan. With this, you may be able to use your partner’s plan to cover any portion of your MindBeacon services that aren’t covered by your own benefits plan.

Your benefits plan has the coverage for you to start your journey towards a healthier mental state. If you have any other questions, we encourage you to reach out to your HR department or benefits provider for more information or visit our benefits page to have any other questions answered about this complex world.

MindBeacon is here to help with a variety of supports available in our Virtual Mental Health Therapy Clinic. If you are part of our Workplace Mental Health Program, please visit your company page for access to services covered by your program.

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Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.