January 2024 eNews

January 2024 eNews

In this issue:

  • Equitable scores high marks with group advisors*
  • REMINDER: Equitable's National Biosimilar Program starts in March*
  • 2024 dental fee guide updates*
  • Homewood Health wins HR Reporter Reader's Choice award for EFAP excellence*
*Indicates content that will be shared with your clients.

Equitable scores high marks with group advisors*

Equitable ranked first for operational service among major group insurers in a recent study of Canadian group benefits advisors.  

NMG Consulting, a leading global consulting firm, conducted in-depth interviews with 146 Canadian group benefits brokers, consultants, MGAs and third-party administrators between May and August 2023 for its annual Canadian Group Benefits Study. Based on these interviews, NMG ranked group insurers in six categories, ranging from operational management to technology.

Nationally, Equitable ranked among the top three in five of the six main categories, including number one for Operational Management:
Category Ranking
Operational management 1st
Initiatives (including seminars & training) 2nd
Technology 3rd
Underwriting & claims management 3rd
Relationship management 3rd

“Advisors regard us highly in many categories. That’s a testament to our mutual status and ability to focus exclusively on our clients and advisor partnerships,” said Marc Avaria, Executive Vice President, Group Insurance Division. “We are truly working together to build strong, enduring and aligned partnerships with our clients and advisors.”
“We’re delighted with these results and are committed to continuously advancing our delivery of a better benefits experience for our clients and advisors,” added Avaria. 

More highlights from the latest NMG survey

Nationally, we ranked first in seven subcategories in Operational Management, including:
  • Overall service to intermediaries,
  • Overall service to plan sponsors,
  • New quote process,
  • Plan implementation,
  • Renewal process,
  • Accuracy and timeliness of reporting and billing, and
  • Administration quality and responsiveness
In Underwriting and Claims Management, we finished in the top three for flexibility of underwriting (2nd).

And we were rated strongly in Technology, finishing in the top three for:
  • Overall technology for Intermediary (2nd)
  • Member experience (3rd)
  • Quality of technology for the plan sponsor (2nd)
  • Quality of mobile application (2nd)

REMINDER: Equitable's National Biosimilar Program starts in March*

In October 2023 we announced the upcoming launch of our national biosimilar program. Starting March 1, 2024, we are expanding our biosimilar switch initiatives to provide a single, nationwide** program.  

Why we’re making the switch 

Over the past few years, most provinces have introduced policies to delist some originator biologic drugs. They require most patients to switch to biosimilar versions of those drugs to be eligible for coverage under their public drug plans. Soon, it is expected that all provincial drug plans will cover only biosimilars. 

Equitable’s National Biosimilar Program simplifies drug plan coverage by replacing our provincial programs. It also protects clients from additional drug costs while offering access to lower-cost biosimilars deemed equally safe and effective by Health Canada.  

How will this affect clients' drug plans?

Because we have already introduced biosimilar switch initiatives in most provinces, the impact of this change will be minimal. It will primarily affect plan members in provinces or territories where we haven’t already required the switch to biosimilars. It will also affect plan members who are taking biosimilars that were not originally included in the switch initiative for their province.     

Regardless of where they live, plan members across Canada will no longer be eligible for most originator biologic drugs if they have a condition for which Health Canada has approved a lower-cost biosimilar version of the drug. Plan members already taking the originator biologic will be required to switch to a biosimilar version of the drug to maintain coverage under their Equitable plan. We will support their transition with education, personalized communication, and resources.  

Advance notice for plan members

We contacted affected claimants in early December to give them enough time to change their prescriptions and avoid any interruptions in their treatment or their coverage.     

If you have any questions about this change, please contact your Group Account Executive or myFlex Account Executive.     
 ** Excludes plan members in Quebec who participate in a separate provincial program.

2024 dental fee guide updates*

Each year, Provincial and Territorial Dental Associations publish fee guides. Equitable uses these guides to help determine the reimbursement limits for dental procedures.

For your reference, you may wish to refer to the 2024 list of the average dental fee increases for general practitioners.

Homewood Health wins HR Reporter Reader's Choice award for EFAP excellence*

Equitable is proud to congratulate our Employee and Family Assistance Plan (EFAP) partner, Homewood Health®, for winning the Canadian HR Reporter 2023 Reader’s Choice Award in Employee Assistance Plan services. Homewood’s EFAP provides confidential support for a range of health, family, money, and work issues through face-to-face, phone, email, chat, or video counselling. The award recognizes their high standards in counselling and mental health support services. 

The annual Reader’s Choice Awards identify organizations that provide outstanding expertise and services for HR professionals and employers across Canada. Those organizations provide valuable information on useful, innovative HR and employee benefits products and programs, in categories such as recruitment, mental health services, employee engagement programs, and more. 

Sharing Homewood Health with your clients 

Since 2019, we have worked with Homewood to provide mental health services for Equitable benefits plan members. 

Your clients can access Homewood Health’s award-winning EFAP for an additional fee by adding it to their benefits plan. Services are available 24/7, 365 days a year. 

All Equitable clients also have free access to Homewood Health Online in their benefits plan. Homewood Online provides a variety of helpful wellness resources, including: 

  • Homeweb, an online and mobile health and wellness portal, 
  • Health Risk Assessment, a group of assessment tools to help plan members identify and overcome health and wellness barriers, and  
  • Online Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) through Sentio to manage symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.  


To learn more about Homewood Health’s services, contact your Group Account Executive or myFlex Account Executive.