The nature of work has changed – has your health benefits plan?

The need for benefits as flexible as you are

From the rise of telecommuting and flexible work-from-home arrangements to the end of the 9-to-5 workday, the norms of the modern workforce have transformed dramatically over the last half-century thanks to large-scale shifts in the generational makeup of the workforce.

With baby boomers entering retirement en masse and millennials now constituting the single largest group in British Columbia’s workforce, these shifts have had significant impacts on the ways we work, what we expect of our employers and what we value in a workplace.

Independent, self-employed workers in British Columbia are often choosing contract jobs and short-term “gigs” over permanent workplace positions. Increasingly – for both millennial and boomer-aged Canadians – flexibility has become the most important value, as reflected by the growth of this “gig” economy that employs about 18% of British Columbia’s workforce,according to a 2018 Vancity report. Contrary to popular belief, this new part-time economy is made up of not just millennials, but also a growing number of retiree-aged workers who have turned to freelance work to supplement their retirement income.

While increased flexibility brings new autonomy to choose when and how they work, it can mean less security for workers who find themselves without the traditional health benefits packages that come with permanent jobs. Nine out of 10 independent workers surveyed say that access to extended health and dental plans is important to them, yet half do not have access to them currently.

Insufficient health coverage isn’t a problem exclusive to those workers who make up the gig economy – a growing number of retirees in British Columbia find themselves in the same troubling situation. Previously dependent on their employer for health benefits, roughly half of all British Columbians entering retirement will find themselves without a pension health plan, as many B.C. employers no longer extend health plans to their retired employees.

Thankfully, due to modernized health benefits plans, British Columbians do not need to choose between flexibility and security.

As the largest direct-to-consumer health insurance provider in British Columbia, Pacific Blue Cross has proactively worked to develop and modernize its product offerings to meet the unique needs of this changing workforce: from the growing cohort of retirees to the independent contractors, and the overlap between the two.


Extended health benefit options for the self-employed

With the second-largest population of self-employed workers in the country, British Columbia’s growing gig-economy workforce needs a flexible health benefits plan on par with the level of coverage offered by a traditional employer.

To develop a benefits plan tailored to the unique needs of the self-employed or gig-economy worker, Pacific Blue Cross partnered with local company Vancity, a credit union with a long history of serving entrepreneurs and small businesses, to launch the Vancity Member Health Benefits Plan.

The plan’s architects engaged a community of entrepreneurs and small businesses to help build a modular and flexible plan – designed by workers for workers – that can be customized to meet every individual’s needs, providing smaller employers with more flexible coverage than traditional business plans and more robust coverage than individual plans.

With the largest network of health providers in the province, time-strapped entrepreneurs and small-business owners need not worry about submitting a claim or paying up front; providers will bill the plan directly so you can focus on what’s important: your hustle.


Flexible health benefits plans for retirees

As seniors continue to live longer into their retirement, the increased likelihood of developing chronic degenerative conditions may mean extended periods of informal care, and more sustained out-of-pocket costs.

While B.C.’s health-care system covers primary health costs, additional expenses incurred by prescription drugs, registered therapists and dental and vision care are not covered – and many retirees are surprised to find just how quickly these costs can add up.

In recognition of the long-term nature of senior medical care, the Pacific Blue Cross Retirement Health Benefits Plan was designed to accommodate changes in retirees’ health-care needs. The first of its kind to allow members to modify their coverage on an ongoing basis, the plan allows members to adjust their health, prescription and dental coverage depending on their changing individual care needs.

Another differentiator of the Retirement Health Benefits Plan is its coverage of prescription drugs. Knowing that pharmaceutical costs often constitute the bulk of health expenses in retirement, and given the increasingly high costs of drugs entering the market, the plan offers the highest level of prescription drug coverage of any personal health retirement plan to help you get the lowest prices in retirement.


To learn more about how Pacific Blue Cross has modernized its product offerings to meet the changing needs of today’s workforce, visit