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May is Mental Health Month: Care for yourself and others with expert support

LifeSpeak

The past couple years have been like nothing we’ve ever experienced, and new challenges are constantly emerging. Many of us are running on empty and only beginning to regain emotional balance. We need to take care of ourselves, and also remember to be empathetic to the struggles of those around us.

The month of May marks the start of Mental Health Month. To help you support yourself and your loved ones, LifeSpeak’s resources on empathy, supporting coworkers and diverse communities, developing resilience and more are available. Their experts will highlight the topics of depression, stress and sleep and stress at work.

On May 25 at 12:00 p.m. ET the Ask the Expert web chat by Jennifer Mervyn addresses how to Include Mental Health in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion* Conversation

Check out your LifeSpeak platform now! Log in using the Group Account option. The password is "wellness".

*The United Church of Canada uses the language "Disability, Accessibility and Inclusion". 

LifeWorks:

Canada’s Mental Health Week took place from May 2-8. To mark the occasion, LifeWorks launched a new microsite The Ambiguous Side of Mental Health. Filled with free resources, the microsite explores the subtle signs that mental health is declining, leading to adverse effects at home and work, and ways to improve your mental wellbeing.

Coming soon: Join LifeWorks as they connect with people sharing their stories of resilience, interview experts and delve into topics that matter most — like Finding Self-Worth, LGBTQ+ Wellbeing and Allyship and Combatting Depression. Click here for a sneak peek.

Building Resilience in Uncertain Times: this pre-recorded session reviews how feeling like having little or no control during difficult events is normal, and how coping mechanisms can help manage these stressful situations.

UCRD

Learn how to use your faith as a guide through uncertain times in Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark at the United Church Bookstore. Through this book Taylor is your guide through a spirituality of the nighttime, teaching you how to find your footing in times of uncertainty and giving you strength and hope to face all of life’s challenging moments.

May 3, 2022

May 5 - LifeWorks Free Webinar for Mental Health Month

Canada’s Mental Health Week is happening from May 2-8. To mark the occasion, LifeWorks Learning is offering a free webinarNo One Left Behind – Exploring the looming mental health crisis by bridging the care and inclusion gap. On May 5 at 11:00 am ET, their panel of experts will discuss how the barriers to mental health care leave people feeling isolated. Given the current state of the world, the number of people struggling with various mental health challenges is staggering. The system of public services, employer services and health benefits can often feel confusing and fragmented contributing to the lurking mental health crisis. As a result, people are left behind and feeling alone, and LifeWorks are committed to solving this problem. It’s time to reframe and transform discussions around mental health and the spectrum of care!

April 25, 2022

PocketPills and Green Shield Canada’s Managed Formulary

PocketPills is an online pharmacy service that can help manage your medications and the cost of your prescriptions. This is an optional offering that you may select. Through PocketPills both employers and employees of our plan will see significant savings. With lower costs per prescription, claims amounts will be reduced, resulting in lower out of pocket expense for plan members, better claims experience, and possible future premiums cost-savings for employers.

All drugs newly approved in the Canadian market are evaluated by a Green Shield Canada (GSC) committee of pharmacy experts before being added to the formulary for reimbursement. Drugs are assigned to one of three categories: “covered,” “not covered,” or “prior authorization required.”

  • Covered drugs are full benefits of the plan.
  • Not covered status are drugs that provide no additional therapeutic value over those already listed in the formulary or no cost advantage when compared to existing alternatives.
    • Plan member may pay the full drug cost or consult their prescribing physician about alternatives.
  • Prior authorization required is assigned to drugs considered a second-line therapy or are high-cost specialty drugs with potential for inappropriate prescribing and use.
    • Plan member must meet specific criteria to access benefits; first-line therapy must appear in claims history for auto-approval and/or the prescribing physician completes a special authorization form indicating therapeutic need.

This type of formulary management balances the need of plan members to have access to medically necessary drug therapies with plan sustainability. Consult with GSC for more detailed or specific information. More information on drug coverage can be found in the Benefits for Active Members: Summary of Coverage located in the Document Library.

For prior authorization drugs, PocketPills pharmacists would not be able to dispense the medication. It would get flagged at adjudication, at which point the pharmacist would reach out to you to discuss and identify whether you are eligible or not―therefore, no surprises for you! Just a reminder, if you had an existing prescription that was covered by Green Shield Canada prior to January 1, 2022, your drug has been grandparented in to the Active plan. Only new drugs prescribed after January 1, 2022, are subject to the managed formulary criteria.

It is important to check the Plan Member Online tool offered by GSC to find out whether your drug is covered or will need prior authorization. It can be found under the “Your Health Benefits” heading, then select the “Drug” tile. You’ll be able to find out

  • whether a drug is covered under your drug plan
  • if you will need to pay a copayment (and if so, how much)
  • if the drug needs a physician’s authorization (and if so, whether your doctor can print the authorization form directly)

Enter the name or DIN number of your drug, then select who the drug is for on your plan.

A few tips

  • Drug Name: you must enter at least the first three letters of the drug name. For example, if you enter “Tyl” for Tylenol, then all drug names that begin with “Tyl” will be displayed.
  • DIN: to search by DIN, the full DIN must be entered for the search tool to display the drug.
  • Select Participant: some drugs have use restrictions based on things like your age. This is why the tool will ask who the drug is for under your plan.

To access the tool, you will have to register for an account with GSC everywhere. If you had an account on the previous site, you can log in with exactly the same username and password you used. If you haven’t registered, this video guide walks you through the registration process.

You can also call the Green Shield call centre and check with an agent: 1-888-711-1119.

If you have any questions or want to learn more, please e-mail Benefits@united-church.ca.

Links
April 4, 2022

Thriving in a Digital World

LifeSpeak

Technology is supposed to make life easier—so why does it create so much stress?

It can seem like the digital world introduces two new problems for every one it solves. Social media helps us stay in touch with friends and family, but promotes insecurity and loneliness. Laptops simplify everyday tasks, but induce back and neck pain from hunching over a screen all day.

We need the right tools to make sure the digital world works for us, not against us. This month, LifeSpeak’s experts will help you survive and thrive with resources on reducing screen time, mitigating loneliness, overcoming tech addiction and more. They’ll help you decode common challenges and build a healthier lifestyle.

On April 20 at 12:00 p.m. ET the Ask the Expert web chat by Nina Hersher addresses how to protect your mental wellness when using technology.

Check out your LifeSpeak platform now! Log in using the Group Account option. The password is "wellness".

WorkHealthLife

Technology has expanded to the counselling world, opening up opportunities for people to access mental health services from the comfort of their own home. Here are some great articles that highlight the positive steps in our digital world:

On the other hand, there are so many different types of social media – Facebook, Instagram, TikTok – that may have a negative impact on our mental health. These articles touch on social media and reminds us not to take it too seriously:

These articles, and more, can be found in the Health & Wellbeing tab, under General mental health. WorkHealthLife also offers online group counselling to support you during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

  • Anxiety: This Online Group is designed to support you with the anxiety you are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Parenting: This Online Group is designed to support you in parenting your school age child through the COVID-19 pandemic

UCRD

Learn to step back and unplug from the digital world to make space for rest in your own life through author David Shepherd’s journey to reclaim Sabbath. Written as a diary, Seeking Sabbath, follows Shepherd as he decides to practice the discipline of a day of rest each week over a six-month period.

January 27, 2022

Fact Sheet: Augmenting the Active Member Health and Dental Plan

Are you looking to augment the Active member health and dental plan? Here are a few things to consider:

The United Church plan, the United Church rates

  • Our plan’s premium is 100% employer paid. Your employer pays 7.77% of your pensionable earnings for the Active benefits plan, of which 5.96% is for health and dental coverage. These rates change annually and will be posted on the Pension and Benefits deductions page mid-December.
  • You do not have to complete medical or health questionnaires to enroll in our benefits plan.
  • We pay for expert advice to design and manage a plan for our members.
  • We do not pay commissions on insurance or services we purchase for the plan – this may not be true of third parties selling individual plans, including affinity groups.
  • The rates we charge reflect the anticipated costs of running the plans and there is no profit margin.

Other plans

  • Will include a profit margin and possibly commission.
  • Will not integrate with our plan. They will be designed to provide coverage where there is no employer sponsored coverage, and will essentially, in many cases, simply duplicate our plan’s coverage, not augment it.
    • For instance, our insurer (Green Shield Canada) can offer such individual supplemental plans but our analysis found them to represent poor value for money.
  • Some options offered in the market or by affinity groups are actually ‘conversion plans’ and are only available to people who lost coverage under their employer sponsored plan. Members who were previously enrolled in the “Optional Health & Dental Plan” did not lose health and dental coverage – access to the additional coverage afforded by the Optional plan was lost.

Can I opt-out of the United Church Health & Dental Plan?

  • Our plan does not allow waiver of coverage unless you have another privately sponsored plan from other employment or a spouse. (Please note, it does not save any premiums because core benefits are assessed as one benefit, fully paid by the employer.) Full participation is an integral part of the Active plan.
  • We offer a broad plan to provide benefits to our members that are affordable to employers while still protecting members against catastrophic hardship.
  • The Active plan is largely employer paid and includes a number of valuable benefits:
    • Employer Paid
      • Health and Dental Coverage
      • Life insurance
      • Dependent Life Insurance
      • Accidental Death & Dismemberment
      • Employee and Family Assistance Plan
      • Restorative Care Plan
    • Employee Paid
      • Long Term Disability Plan (employee paid is the common practice, allowing any benefits collected to be tax free)
Links
January 25, 2022

PocketPills

As Omicron cases continue to spread across the country, the health of you and your families is more important than ever. PocketPills, Canada’s leading digital pharmacy, can help you get the care you need from the comfort and safety of your own home by easily filling prescriptions online with fast, free delivery.

PocketPills, Canadian and Vancouver-based, is an online pharmacy service that can help manage your medications and the cost of your prescriptions. This is an optional offering that you may select.  Through PocketPills both employers and employees of our plan will see significant savings. With lower costs per prescription, claims amounts will be reduced, resulting in better claims experience and possible future premiums cost-savings.

PocketPills offers:

  • The convenience of filling your prescriptions from the comfort of your home
  • Your medication sorted by dose into easy-to-open packages (PocketPacks)
  • Coordinate with your doctor to renew your prescriptions so you have them on time
  • Fast and free medication delivery, contact-free, across Canada (some restrictions may apply)
  • Low $7 dispensing fee
  • Automatic refills and renewals
  • A team of pharmacists that you can call or text if you have questions
  • In British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario, you can access their Canadian telehealth network to consult a doctor - just make an appointment and get connected over the phone. Get or renew a prescription online from the comfort of home, and doctors are available 7 days a week. It is fully covered by your provincial health plan, all you need is a valid health card.

PocketPills is a fully optional program. Local pharmacies can be an important resource. If you are satisfied with your current pharmacy, you may continue filling your prescriptions there under the United Church plan.

To facilitate a better user experience, PocketPills is collaborating with Green Shield Canada to provide a streamlined and seamless experience for our members.

Links
January 10, 2022

Retiree Benefits

A letter from the General Secretary, Michael Blair, was sent to all retirees on November 22, 2021 that outlined recent discussions and decisions about benefits for retirees of the United Church. You can review the General Secretary's letter here.

If you are a retired member of the United Church and did not receive this communication by email or Canada Post, please contact UCCBenefitsNews@united-church.ca to provide your current information so we can update our records.

 

Links
January 1, 2022

Health and Dental Benefits for Active Members: Plan Summary

The plan summary for the Health and Dental Benefits for Active Members, effective January 1, 2022, is now posted on the Group Benefits page, under Life, Health and Dental, Disability Benefits. Please note, this plan summary is subject to a final review by external consultants. If you have any questions, please email benefits@united-church.ca. The General Council Office will reopen on January 4, 2022.

Links
November 2, 2021

Additional Information on the Group Benefits Plan Changes

As we try and uphold our commitment to you by providing more information about the Benefits Plan changes, please visit the Group Benefits page, under Life, Health & Dental, Disability Benefits. The formal benefit plan text document is in development and will be published when finalized, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, what you need to know is in the following:

  • FAQ
  • Comparison Chart
  • Benefits Plan Video
  • Benefits Plan Summary (coming soon)
Links
October 20, 2021

Group Benefits Change

Further to the announcement of changes to the group benefits plans, a letter has been sent to all plan members with more detail. It can be found in the Document Library, under Benefits Administration.

A Comparison Chart of the changes and an FAQ are also available on the same page with more information.

If you have any questions about these changes, please contact Benefits@united-church.ca. Due to current workloads, the Benefits Team will only be accepting questions by email at this time.

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