Conversation with Christine Macdonald,
Owens MacFadyen Group Benefits
Happy July everyone! Time to relax and enjoy some outdoor time! Ah, the benefits of summer! Speaking of benefits – our spotlight of the month is on Christine MacDonald, Benefits Advisor with Owens MacFadyen Group (OMG Benefits Inc). Christine has over 25 years of experience working in various consulting roles in the financial services and HR/Recruiting industries.
Since 1995 Owens MacFadyen group has been providing its clients with comprehensive wealth management and benefits and pension consulting. The company excels at helping business owners determine what benefits work best for their employees and business. They assist businesses with 2 employees to over a 1000 employees to attract and retain the talent they need to succeed.
Attractive benefits employees love and use
A lot of times, says Christine, employees do not know they have certain benefits available to them. To address this issue OMG provides a very individual approach to benefits for each plan sponsor. They emphasize that benefits can be highly customizable to fit the needs of employees. As an example, Christine mentioned that many companies are concerned with the wellness of their employees. Many provide a paramedical coverage. That is a great benefit, but is it used? If only a small percentage does, perhaps this benefit can be revised to offer something that will benefit a larger group through health spending accounts. Companies can also offer a wide range of services that may be more relevant to employees; such as gym memberships, on-site fitness, and yoga classes, nutrition counseling or sponsoring an employee running or soccer team.
The type of drugs that are covered can also be customized in the health coverage. Specialty drugs are driving costs, and they work with clients to find the best solutions. They analyze the types of drugs in plans and offer solutions that may assist in reducing costs. For example, if there are high levels of cardiac drugs, perhaps initiatives around heart health education would be a good idea. The citation can change, and so should the benefit plan to reflect the diversity and address the needs of the employees.
Christine also talked about Health Spending Accounts (HSA) and their appeal to a wide range of employers and employees. It is because HSA gives choice in healthcare spending and provides reimbursement for a wide range of health-related expenses. Employees decide for themselves what makes sense for their families – eyeglasses, dental bills or physiotherapy. Eligible medical and health expenses are paid in full up to the funded by employer limit – no deductibles or co-payments.
Christine and her colleagues start with building a relationship with the business owners and key decision makers. Since they work with different size businesses the work gets very detailed and personal, from an employee health and benefits perspective. There are a lot of questions that are asked to determine what fits a company’s offering. Each of the OMG advisers has the support of 2 analysts. That is intentional because to make a sound suggestion for their clients it needs to be backed by data. By providing financial modeling, clients can decide which options are best suited to them based on their own real data.
How OMG supports and saves you money
Once the plan is designed, Christine and her team will be there to support and answer any questions a company owner may have about its benefits. When it is time to renew, OMG is in a strong position to negotiate contracts with a wide range of insurance companies because they collect their client’s data and analyze it to validate a case for their clients.
Christine keeps up with her knowledge of benefits and is always looking for new offerings and solutions so that their clients have the best to keep and attract their employees. She has been hearing a lot about global healthcare and executive health programs. Many companies, even smaller ones have a presence in different parts of the world and need to design benefits that fit their employees. Christine can help a global company provide their employees in different offices with health benefits coverage.
Access to care has been on her radar as well. Since wait times for certain procedures can be significant, she looks for providers to help clients get what they need quickly. She is seeing a shift in demand for these services and happy to make recommendations to companies like Health Vantis as a great solution. Christine has some valuable suggestions and solutions and as a trusted advisor her clients rely on her for her advice.
Christine can be reached by phone or email in her Halifax office:
Phone: 902 429 6400
OMG has offices in Toronto, Halifax, Moncton and Saint John.
July 24 is the International Self-Care Day
It symbolizes the benefits of self-care, 24/7. In 2011 the International Self Care Foundation (ISF) designated this day to promote self-care as a vital foundation of health.
Definition of Self-Care
Since there are many definitions of self-care, it can be confusing as to what to make of this day. How do you take care of yourself every day? There are so many interpretations and personal needs. In order to bring some clarity to the notion, ISF created 7 pillars of self-care.
- Health literacy – includes: the capacity of individuals to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions
- Self-awareness of physical and mental condition – includes: knowing your body mass index (BMI), cholesterol level, blood pressure; engaging in health screening.
- Physical activity – practicing moderate-intensity physical activity such as walking, cycling, or participating in sports at a desirable frequency.
- Healthy eating – includes: having a nutritious, balanced diet with appropriate levels of calorie intake.
- Risk avoidance or mitigation – includes: quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, vaccinations, practicing safe sex, using sunscreens.
- Good hygiene – includes: washing hands regularly, brushing teeth, washing food.
- Rational and responsible use of products, services, diagnostics, and medicines – includes: being aware of dangers, using responsibly when necessary.
What does self-care mean for you?
For people that are healthy and are free of any diseases, self-care is essential to keeping it that way. Watching your diet to maintain a healthy weight, exercising, moderate intake of alcohol are some of the tasks that we should be aware of in order to keep ourselves in good physical and mental health. Knowing when to seek help from a doctor or a specialist is very important as well. Yearly conversations with your primary health care physician should occur to bring up any health concerns and schedule any needed screen tests.
For those that are not so lucky, self-care becomes more complex in a way that the first step is to learn about your condition or disease and what is the right way to take care of yourself. Complex cases are not always clear and doctors do not always have an answer. Getting a second opinion may be an option to consider then. Support groups for your sickness may be a good way to share information as well as get someone who is going through the same thing to listen and provide their insight. As always, we advise you to discuss any treatments with your specialist.
It is no surprise that some of the self-care tasks are easy and some are very hard to follow. For example, smoking cessation can be very hard, but washing your hands is pretty easy. It is a personal responsibility of every one of us to take care of ourselves.
We put a list of resources to help you learn more and manage your self-care. Feel free to give us some feedback on those as we are always eager to hear from you!
- Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Health Library have a lot of information about different diseases and ailments.
- Headspace – a meditation app right on your phone.
- LoseIt! – a calorie counting app that lets you track what you eat and informs you what you have left for the day. The app lists many different restaurants and fast food meals. There is also a scanning capability of a new food.
- Fooducate – a nutrition app with over 250,000 of different foods. Also lets you track what you had during the day
- DailyYoga – great app for those who love yoga. In addition, provides meditation.
If you have a favorite health or fitness app or website please let us know! We love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us toll-free 1 877 344 3544.
Summer Fun Tips
1. Pack Lightly
2. Stay hydrated
3. Protect yourself from the sun
4. Bring board games
5. Be road safe
6. Swim in safe water – check your beach advisories