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“Top-notch” insurance coverage benefits Saskatchewan health system, especially during pandemic
The insurance coverage the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has had in place since 12 former health regions merged into the one authority has led to many benefits, most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These benefits include standardized and consistent insurance across the province’s health-care system, a more efficient claims process, and a more favourable insurance policy with better pricing, higher limits, and health-care-specific coverage.
The vast majority of eligible Saskatchewan health-care partners have joined the contract and also benefit from this coverage.
The advantages for the SHA and for partners from this arrangement come from both the SHA’s size as well as the business model of the insurance provider. After successfully bidding during a request for proposal process, the Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada (HIROC) provides the contract.
HIROC’s mission is “providing insurance, risk management and innovative solutions supporting safety and collaboration in healthcare.” The not-for-profit organization is a niche insurance provider focusing on the Canadian health-care system. HIROC is also what is known as an insurance “reciprocal,” which means it is governed by its subscribers, over 700 diverse health-care organizations in Canada.
“This model might sound familiar to a Saskatchewan audience,” says James Haney, Director of Insurance Services at the Saskatchewan Health Authority. “Think of your local co-operative gas bar or credit union. The Saskatchewan Health Authority and its partners are subscribers to and owners of HIROC.”
Learn more about the organization here.
The crucial role of health-care insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic
There is no doubt that having an insurance provider dedicated to health-care and its subscriber members sped up our response to the pandemic at crucial junctures.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented stress on the Saskatchewan health-care system. As issues have arisen, the pandemic has also demanded that the health-care system respond quickly. Insurance coverage is a crucial component of a rapid response. As a proactive partner, HIROC leapt into action supporting its members with over 22 COVID-19 bulletins published. These bulletins take the most frequently asked questions regarding coverage, safety trends, and policies and procedures and sharing them widely across the reciprocal.
“There is no doubt that having an insurance provider dedicated to health-care and its subscriber members sped up our response to the pandemic at crucial junctures,” Haney explains. “HIROC is a very supportive partner during these rapid efforts. Being in the thick of massive changes – think new vaccines, huge increases in supplies needed, setting up rapid testing and vaccination centres, and so on – our coverage had to be and was in place without hassle. Lives were depending on it.”
The benefits for partners and patients
HIROC is a very supportive partner during these rapid efforts. Being in the thick of massive changes – think new vaccines, huge increases in supplies needed, setting up rapid testing and vaccination centres, and so on – our coverage had to be and was in place without hassle. Lives were depending on it.
The new insurance model used in Saskatchewan after the amalgamation of the 12 former health regions into one single health authority brings many more benefits to the province’s patients and families.
“Every former region had a different approach to insurance,” says Haney. “When the SHA was formed, we consolidated all insurance coverage into one comprehensive package. There are numerous benefits to this approach. We use our bulk size to get very favourable insurance terms, coverage, and pricing. Our eligible partners also benefit from our size and the united approach to insurance.”
85 per cent of eligible health-care organizations have joined the SHA insurance program.
The insurance that HIROC provides includes three main policy lines that cover liabilities, property and equipment, and volunteer travel and accident. What is covered underneath these three main policy lines? Things like slips, trips, and falls, lawsuits, crime, theft, construction, and more. HIROC’s costs as a reciprocal are lower than for-profit insurers. HIROC is also focused on Canadian health care and deeply values knowledge sharing across the system, all with the goal of seeing those lessons learned scaled right across the country for the benefit of patients.
“HIROC also offers the SHA and its eligible partners two very important lines of insurance not available in the market: cyber security and coverage for communicable diseases, such as COVID-19,” says Haney. “These two sets of coverage are lynchpins for health-care organizations.”
HIROC’s ownership model and focus on health-care also means that it is not surprised by the changing nature of health-related claims, explains Haney: “In our experience HIROC has gone out of their way to offer and extend coverage. In this case, the health-care subscriber and the insurer’s interests are aligned.”
“Overall, this top-notch insurance model is an excellent and an extremely efficient use of public resources.”