Too many Canadians are underestimating out-of-pocket health costs. Health events are a fact of life but resisting that reality could lead to a stack of unexpected medical bills.

Planning for health expenses is just as important as buying a house or saving for retirement. In fact, health and wealth planning go hand in hand. With Sun Life Financial’s provincial health care funding guides, you can help your clients map a coverage route that navigates around potentially pricey health events.

The guides make it easier to understand the difference between what’s included in government and typical employer health plans, and what individuals are expected to pay for themselves. The guides outline some of the coverage options, personal costs and other considerations for 6 common health events and services: disability, home care, long-term care (nursing home), palliative (end-of-life) care, prescription drugs and travel emergency medical.

Health always matters most

Canadians strongly identify with their health-care system. We’ve enjoyed comprehensive coverage of hospital stays and physician services for decades. When we’re faced with health care costs — which can be surprisingly expensive — we’re caught off guard. And these costs are only going up. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there’s been a six-fold increase in health costs over the last 30 years. That means clients without personal health coverage, critical illness or long term care insurance may soon have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for extra medical services.

Did you know?

Many people expect to pay nothing for health services. The 2014 Sun Life Canadian Health Index revealed that:

  • 79% of Canadians assume they won’t have to pay for a long-term care residence stay,
  • 89% don’t expect to pay for psychiatric treatment, and
  • 74% don’t realize they will need to contribute to the cost of physiotherapy.1

The reality? Out-of-pocket health costs are much higher than many people think. If Canadians aren’t saving for health expenses when the unexpected happens, the money will have to come from somewhere — and the risk of a huge retirement savings drain could be devastating.

Planning and paying: a shared responsibility

Government and employer health plans provide complementary coverage for many health-related expenses. Each province makes its own decisions about coverage, which may change with elected officials, larger deficits, shifts in demographics and higher rates of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, certain cancers and dementia.

Share Sun Life’s provincial health care funding guides with your clients as a way to open the door to health insurance conversations. By talking about real life and real goals, you can use the guides to help clients develop a holistic plan that includes health expenses.

To learn more about Sun Life’s provincial health care funding guides, visit Who pays for health care? and select the province of your choice.

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1 2014 Sun Life Canadian Health Index