Manulife news for WTA members

Recently I attended a meeting with Manulife, our WTA office staff, Darren Hardy (our Business Agent), WSD payroll and benefits staff and a representative from the Teachers Retirement Allowance Fund. The purpose of the meeting was to outline, with Manulife, some of the service concerns that we had with them as well as some of the programs and plans that Manulife had in the works.  What follows is some of my takeaways from those discussions.

  1. Manulife is moving away from accepting paper claims and is encouraging everyone to submit claims digitally. While this might seem reasonable in this day in age, some of our members and retirees that are members of the plan, may have some difficulty with this. Manulife assures us that their customer support services will be there via email and phone to aid us. An app is also available for smartphones and tablets that allow for claims submissions.
  2. Vitality app. Manulife will be rolling out a new program called Vitality. On the surface it appears to be a way of helping you live healthy by tracking your activity and offering rewards (Cineplex Odeon, Indigo, Tim Hortons and Garmin gift cards and coupons at this time). Manulife claims that Vitality is an “arms length” company from them and that information will be kept by Vitality. Insurance companies offering this kind of app is one way the industry can gather additional data and other information about the public. Regardless of the personal choice that WTA members make regarding signing up for this program, I think that serious questions need to be asked before individuals offer to share their personal information and data.
  3. Manulife seems to have a robust client service centre. While it seems to be counter intuitive to contact them when we have a concern or question about denied claims or coverage, they are very willing to respond to requests and offer support with regards to helping our members with navigating their website and online claims submissions. While we may not always agree with their decisions and criteria, they seem willing to listen. Contact Manulife at 1-800-268-6195 and https://www.manulife.ca.

The future of Extended Health Care benefits is going to be very interesting and we have a great team in place to help us navigate the myriad of issues and options. AON is a company that provides consulting services in relation to our benefit plans. Our employer has a dedicated staff person who is tasked with administering our Extended Health Care plan for active members and we have our WTA Administrative Assistant, Michael Krauss, who is the plan administrator responsible for the retiree portion of the plan. Also advising the WTA Group Benefits Committee is Darren Hardy, our Business Agent and MTS Staff Officer.

Winston Blakey
Chairperson, Group Benefits Committee