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The Benefits Chef: Where is My Money?

Have you ever been in a restaurant and after your meal ended you were left waiting, for an uncomfortable amount of time, for your bill? Then when the bill finally arrives you feel so annoyed at the server that the experience has actually taken away from the meal you just enjoyed?

There are a lot of similarities between that dining experience and a plan member waiting for their claims reimbursement especially when the outcome is not what they expected.

Most plan members don’t take the time to thoroughly understand their benefits – at least not until they really need it. As plan sponsors we try to educate and inform. But because plan members don’t understand all of the plan rules, deductibles, co-pays, and co-ordination of benefits, the process of making a claim can leave them feeling confused, vulnerable, and well, waiting.

A very wise person once reminded me that every call from a plan member is really the same question – where is my money? Why was my dental claim declined (where is my money)? My prescription drug card doesn’t work (where is my money)? When will my disability claim be approved (where is my money)? How much physiotherapy coverage do I have (where is my money)? The truth is that benefits are an important part of the total compensation that employers offer to their employees. Plan members and their families rely on the reimbursement they receive. For many families, without their benefit plan, they wouldn’t be able to go to the dentist or to afford their medication.

Throughout my benefit administration years, I’ve heard someone after an upset “where is my money” phone call  from a plan member say something like: “well I don’t know what she was so upset about her claim was only $142”. I want to remind you that peoples’ lives are complicated; that the $142 could be the difference between that family buying groceries this week or not. Our role is not to judge the urgency of our plan members’ call for help based on the dollar value. Our role is just to help! It must be important to them or they wouldn’t be calling us.

As we move into the holiday season, we know that financial stress can have a profound impact on people; from work performance to both physical and mental health. How will you answer the “where is my money" call from your plan members? My Christmas wish for you is that you answer the call with kindness.

A little restaurant humor for your next holiday party - Did you hear about the new restaurant on the moon? Great food but no atmosphere.

Wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with kindness, 


Alana Shearer-Kleefeld is Director of Employee Benefits at 3sHealth and Volunteer Content Creator for CPBI Saskatchewan.

CLICK HERE to learn more about CPBI Saskatchewan!

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