Health care costs in Canada have skyrocketed over the past 20 years. The average family paid up to 70 percent more in 2017 than they did two decades ago. At the time this article was written, the average Canadian allocated around $4,596 per year to health care.
In 2019, this has risen to around $6,666. In 2022, the predicted cost of healthcare is said to increase further from 4-7%.
Even though public health insurance plans cover a large part of these costs, you may not get as much coverage as you need. After all, it all comes down to what plan you choose and the type of coverage.
Some insurance policies only cover basic medical services. Others also pay for prescription drugs and/or dental coverage. Depending on your budget, you can also purchase extras, like unlimited drug coverage and vision insurance.
With so many options available, choosing one can be slightly daunting. Luckily, there are brokers in Ontario and throughout Canada who can help you navigate the world of insurance.
Health Insurance Options in Ontario
If you haven't reached out to a broker, let's dig a little deeper into understanding first understanding exactly how healthcare in Ontario works. This way, you're better prepared to discuss your options.
In Canada, healthcare is provided through 13 territorial and provincial publicly-funded systems.
OHIP, which stands for Ontario Health Insurance Plan, covers the Ontario province. All residents, regardless of their employment status, can receive preventive and emergency care under this plan.
OHIP covers a wide range of services, including doctor visits, hospitalization, foot health, and more. Some residents may be eligible for eye and dental health coverage.
However, these services may not be fully covered. Plus, you may or may not qualify for certain types of coverage under OHIP. That's where private health insurance comes in.
Many insurance companies in Ontario provide health coverage. Sun Life Financial, Manulife, Ontario Blue Cross, and Green Shield Canada are just a few. Some offer general health insurance, while others feature specialized plans, such as critical care services.
Depending on the type of policy, you may receive more or less coverage. Obviously, a more comprehensive plan will pay for a wider range of services.
Basic health insurance plans, for example, cover about 60 percent of the cost of prescription drugs, preventive dental care, and supplemental health care expenses up to a certain limit.
A standard plan may cover 70 to 100 percent of your healthcare costs plus vision, dental, and emergency travel medical services.
A more comprehensive policy will fully pay for supplemental healthcare and cover 80 percent or more of medication costs.
Navigating these options isn't easy. It requires a good understanding of each plan and its features. A health insurance broker can assist you and provide the information you need to make a smart decision.
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Do You Really Need a Health Insurance Broker in Ontario?
The short answer, is yes - you absolutely should use the services of a broker. Brokers assess their customers' needs and request multiple quotes from insurance providers. Some specialize in specific types of coverage, such as health or life insurance. Others deal with different types, from medical and travel insurance to business insurance plans.
Another advantage of working with a broker is the customized service. What that means is that a broker has extensive knowledge of many different insurance providers and their products. In turn, they provide the best possible options for each individual's needs. More to that, in the rare case that one is not satisfied with their plan, a broker is happy to revisit their concerns and recommend another.
Approximately 65 percent of Canadians have private health insurance. Some receive it through their employers. Others purchase coverage on their own.
If you fall under the second category, consider working with an insurance broker. Those who work in this field know the ins and outs of private health insurance and can recommend a policy that's right for you.
Besides submitting an application on your behalf and requesting insurance quotes, brokers can help you file claims. They also help you compare different policies and their options.
Insurance companies use industry-specific terms and technical jargon that you may not fully understand. There's also the fine print on each policy, which is packed with legal terms and special conditions.
An experienced broker will explain these things to customers and help them understand what goes into their policies. You'll know exactly what's covered, if there are any special conditions, and how much you have to pay.
Insurance Brokers vs. Insurance Agents
Insurance agents work differently than insurance brokers. Agents sell policies on the behalf of one or more insurance companies they represent. Basically, they act as intermediaries between customers and insurance providers.
A broker, on the other hand, is not affiliated with any company. He represents the customer and acts on his behalf.
These professionals request quotes from multiple insurers, compare them side-by-side and negotiate the premiums to make sure you're investing in a product that suits you perfectly. Typically, brokers work hard so as not to over or under insure their clients.
Find the Best Insurance Broker (or Agency) for Your Needs
Now that you know what a health insurance broker does, it's time to choose one that suits your needs.
Start by asking for references. Let your family and friends know that you're interested in purchasing private health insurance in Ontario. They're likely to know a broker who can assist you.
Check references on websites that feature online reviews, such as these ones. Good companies will often have a publication on their site that highlights why they perform well, why their clients are happy with them and what their commitment to satisfaction looks like.
Contact a few different brokers by phone or email. If you can meet them in person, that's even better.
A good insurance broker will inquire about your needs and offer personalized advice. They should be transparent and present you different coverage plans -- good and bad. Honesty and clarity are paramount.
Don't hesitate to ask questions. Try to find out for how long they've been in business, what gives them a competitive edge, and how they approach claims.
Also, make sure your insurance broker is licensed to do business in Ontario. Consider asking if there are any companies he would recommend and why. By all means, avoid brokers who use jargon.
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