Plan members appear to feel less entitled to use their health benefit plans “as much as possible,” and those with health spending accounts (HSAs) are much more likely to be positive about the quality of their plan. On the flip side, members in poorer health are less likely to be positive.

Health benefit plan use

These are among the findings from the 2020 SANOFI CANADA HEALTHCARE SURVEY released in June. When asked to choose from two statements describing how they view and use their health benefits, just 22% viewed it as extra compensation and “try to use it as much as possible to get their money’s worth,” down from 35% in 2016.

Among the remaining respondents, 60% viewed health benefits as “a way to help take care of health, and try to use it only when sick or to prevent illness or injury,” up from 43% in 2016, and 18% viewed it both ways.

Given that the survey was conducted in January this year, it will be interesting to see if next year’s survey reveals that feelings of entitlement have dropped further due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One in five (20%) members described their overall plan as excellent and about half (48%) describe it as good. The remaining 32% felt it is adequate (28%) or poor (4%). Plan sponsors were more positive about their own organization’s health benefit plan, although not remarkably so: 28% described it as excellent, 52% as good and 20% as adequate (less than 1% indicated it is poor).

Plan members with HSAs were much more likely to describe their plan as excellent or good (78%) compared to those without HSAs (61%). The survey also found that among plan members without HSAs, 82% would like to have one as part of their health benefit plan.

Year after year, the survey has found that plan members in poor health are less positive about their health benefit plans, suggesting that these offerings fall short for those who need it most. Just over half (54%) described their plan as excellent or good, compared to the overall average of 68%. Similarly, 49% agreed that it meets their needs extremely or very well, compared to the average of 57%. About one in three plan members in poor health (36%) expected that their plan will meet their needs in five years.

The 2020 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey captures the opinions of plan members and plan sponsors in four main areas: wellness, health benefit plans, prescription drug plans and future considerations. This is its 23rd year of publication.


This article is part of The Benefits Alliance Take 5 for Health Benefits. Take 5 is a quarterly initiative that provides a deeper look a the employee benefits space by providing examples, research and case studies on what’s working for employers in Canada.