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Future of Health Care

Manulife Group Benefits: So Much More than a Traditional Claims Payer

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Ashesh Desai

Head of Group Benefits, Manulife Canada

With a benefits plan powered by Manulife, every action can help build towards a healthier future.

For decades, Manulife has been one of the most recognized and well-known Group Benefits providers in Canada, serving approximately five million members through its group benefits offerings. But today, Manulife is in the process of transforming its Group Benefits practice to be more than a claims provider, but a true health partner as Canadians navigate their ever-growing, complex and unique health needs.


“In the past, people just saw us as the company who pays their employee benefit claims,” says Ashesh Desai, Head of Group Benefits at Manulife. “Today, we’re on a mission to become so much more than that; to partner with our members throughout their health journeys and provide the care and support they need, no matter what life throws at them.”

“By focusing on prevention, intervention, and recovery, we’re finding innovative ways to improve Canadians’ health, helping them live longer, healthier, and better lives,” he says. “One part of this is the evolution of our digital technology. We’ve made a number of exciting investments to make it easier for our members to get more health out of their benefits.”

Unique health insights

Manulife is also increasing its value as a health partner through the unique health insights it’s bringing to the market. Using its access to vast amounts of aggregated and unidentifiable claims data, Manulife is able to identify emerging health trends in Canada.

“Outside of the Canadian government, Manulife has one of the largest sets of Canadian health data in the country,” says Desai. “We receive and process a lot of claims for Canadians — millions every year. In partnership with our medical director, Cleveland Clinic Canada, we’re able to analyze our data to better understand the state of Canadians’ well-being, and better understand where we can help.”

In recent months, the insurance company has been sharing health insights publicly to help Canadians and employers make better decisions about workplace wellness. Manulife also aims to keep government and health agencies informed of current health trends.

The power of data

Earlier this year, Manulife released new data around the number of adults seeking treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The company’s claims data was showing the number of unique claimants for ADHD medication, ages 18 and over, grew by 24.5 per cent from 2021 to 2022. This is compared to the average claimant growth of 15.3 per cent from 2017 – 2021.

Working with Cleveland Clinic Canada to analyze the reason behind this increase in claims, Manulife was able to alert Canadians about a growing health trend and help employers understand what it could mean for their workplace.

More than just a traditional claims payer, we’re rapidly evolving to become a true health partner to the millions of Canadians we proudly serve.

Manulife has also released data that shows that the number of Canadians who are getting treatment for mental illness and diabetes has been steadily increasing.

Overall, the number of individuals making claims for mental health treatment grew 8.6 per cent in 2021 and another 4 per cent in 2022. Manulife’s data also found that the number of people claiming diabetes treatment grew by 7.7 per cent in 2021 and increased another 8.2 per cent in 2022.

Manulife has released a Special Report on Mental Health as well as a Special Report on Diabetes for employers to help them better support their workers with these common health conditions.

Empowering Canadians

“Every claim we handle is an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of our customers,” says Desai. “We’re using our learnings to help us deliver an innovative and proactive care model spanning prevention, intervention, and recovery. This model integrates pharmacy and wellness programs to help ensure members have access to the right care, at the right time, in the right way.”

By focusing on prevention and providing access to tailored programs, resources, and guidance, Manulife is helping communities across Canada be more resilient, prevent disease, lower health care costs, and facilitate economic opportunity.

“We’re focused on empowering Canadians to manage their personal health challenges and helping them navigate all stages of the health care journey,” says Desai. “We help Canadians manage physical, emotional, and mental health, and help employers support their people so they can achieve the goals they aspire to reach — personally and professionally.”

Next-generation health technology

In 2024, Manulife will launch new digital experiences that integrate health, wellness, and benefits. The goal is to make it even easier for their customers to get more health out of their benefits.

The digital enhancements are part of a partnership with Canadian tech start-up, League, and will help power a new personalized and digital health care experience that is fully integrated with Manulife’s group benefits ecosystem.

“The enhanced Manulife Mobile will leverage human-centered design, personalization, and incentives to help motivate and guide members to reach their wellness goals,” says Desai. “It will help them improve their health, connect with care, and manage benefits with ease.”

With this ongoing stream of innovation and exciting initiatives, Manulife is on a clear mission: to be a leading health partner to all Canadians.

“And we’re only just getting started,” says Desai.

Learn more at manulife.ca/employeehealth.

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