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How Manulife Is Transforming Employee Health through Proactive Care

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Ashesh Desai

Head of Group Benefits, Manulife Canada

Manulife is helping Canadian workers to navigate an often complex and increasingly stretched health care system using a preventative health approach. 

Manulife Group Benefits isn’t just about paying claims anymore. 

As an industry leader with approximately five million Canadians covered by its group benefits plans, Manulife is evolving from a traditional claims payer to a health partner focused on employee health outcomes and advancing digital health technology. Today, Manulife is helping to lead the future of employee and organizational health by providing Canadians with innovative health solutions that go beyond traditional insurance coverage.


Delivering the future of employee health care

Working Canadians face a myriad of health issues that affect their ability to perform their jobs effectively, resulting in absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased health care costs. 

Our data demonstrates that on average, about 48 days are lost per employee each year due to health-related absenteeism or presenteeism,” says Ashesh Desai, Head of Group Benefits at Manulife Canada. “Our data also shows that 40 per cent of people aren’t doing the recommended amount of physical activity and that 46 per cent are experiencing at least one work-related mental health risk factor. Just paying claims isn’t going to help these issues.”

The team at Manulife decided to take a more proactive approach to supporting Canadians on their health care journeys. 

Creating a culture of health and wellness

One of the ways Manulife is achieving this goal is by focusing on helping Canadians manage personal health issues and navigate Canada’s complex, often-disjointed health care system with a focus on prevention. 

We’re focused on prevention, timely intervention, and supported recovery by helping offer the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

“We’re in a very unique position,” says Desai. “We receive and process a lot of claims for people, so we have an opportunity to connect with them every time a claim is processed to understand the impact of that claim. As a result of what we’ve learned, we’re building an innovative and proactive care model. We’re focused on prevention, timely intervention, and supported recovery by helping offer the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Manulife’s innovative new care model integrates all its offerings, from wellness and disability programs to pharmacy, dental, and beyond — bringing it all together into one place that’s accessible and personalized.

The benefits of a personalized approach

From personalized medicine programs to accessible resources to prompt guidance based on individuals’ health data trends, Manulife’s preventative approach is all about promoting healthy lifestyles, providing access to information and support, and addressing health concerns early, to help reduce the likelihood of more severe health issues down the road. Going far beyond traditional benefits, the proactive care model aims to create a culture of health and wellness that supports employees at every stage of their health journey — including prevention, intervention, and recovery. 

The approach also focuses heavily on accessibility. “We know that most working Canadians want their employers to make it easier for them to digitally access their health care benefits all in one spot,” says Desai. “No one wants to go to multiple spots to access their claims, how much coverage they have left, and so on. We’re very focused on making lives better and making decisions easier, and we’re very focused on enhancing our digital capabilities.” 

Health Trends Employers Need To Watch

Manulife curated this infographic in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic Canada. Understanding health trends and the needs of your team, allows you to invest wisely in your benefits and invest in the health and well-being of your employees as well as curb absenteeism and improve productivity.  

The health of your employees should be your top issue of business. 

Use these trends to start a conversation at your next leadership meeting.

There are key groups of conditions driving benefits use and disability claims: 
Canadian workers are using their benefits plans to get help with 
mental health, musculoskeletal,
and cardiovascular
system conditions
 more than any other chronic conditions. 

(Manulife data: 2022)  

Canadian workers on 
long-term disability
By long-term disability claims of Canadian workers (primary diagnosis)
Employers can influence employee health, including mental health:
46% of employees
have a work-related mental health risk factor including work and life responsibilities feeling out of balance, and/or lack of involvement and influence in how work is completed. 

Manulife Wellness Report, 2022

A significant number of employees have difficulty accessing primary care, which can delay timely diagnosis, treatment, or follow-up for acute and chronic conditions:
1 in 5 
Canadian employees can’t find a
family doctor. 

Health Care and Public Opinion, CLHIA, 2023

Less than half or 43% 
of adult Canadians can get a timely appointment with a family doctor.

Health Care and Public Opinion, CLHIA, 2023

Employees want to work with companies that offer innovative benefits.
70% say virtual care would help them be proactive
with their health and mental health, as well as their family’s health.

Dialogue/Environics, 2021

82% of Canadian workers
think employers should provide virtual care services for their employees.

Dialogue/Environics, 2021

Want to learn more about what the future of employee health care means for your business or organization? Contact your advisor or Manulife representative or visit to learn more.


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