Employee Benefits are Your Secret Weapon when Life Gets Tough!

By Trisha Chilton, BCCA Employee Benefits

As a Client Services Associate with BCCA Employee Benefits, my job revolves around helping companies and their employees with their benefits. I know how important my work is, but when  I started new jobs in the past, I often wondered whether the premiums were worth it. I am young and healthy, so is it worth the cost? I learned the true value of having employee benefits when, in a moment frozen in my mind, I heard the dreaded “c” word – cancer.

As a 47 year-old wife and mother of two with no family history of life-threatening illness in my family, there were no signs I would end up with this disease. I did everything right. I didn’t smoke, I exercised regularly, I ate well, and I breast fed my children. There was absolutely no reason why I would end up with triple negative breast cancer — the aggressive one with the not-so-great odds.

But I had it. And, after a very long year of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, so far, I have beaten it!

Looking back over my battle, the one thing that stands out, besides the support of my husband who I couldn't have made it through without, my family and my friends, is my employee benefits. We all think the same thing when we hear about someone falling ill with a critical illness like cancer. That’s awful, but that’s not going to happen to me.

It can.

I also never thought about what having a critical illness entails. Loss of wages for both my spouse and I, costs of medications not covered by Pharmacare, gas and parking for appointments, childcare costs for when you can’t get out of bed to care for your family. Not to mention wigs! Then there are post-treatment costs like physiotherapy, massage therapy, and chiropractors. The impact financially is IMMENSE and not something most people think about.

Until you need to.

Because of my Long Term Disability (LTD) coverage I was able to be off work during my treatments so I could focus on getting better. Because of the Critical Illness Cancer rider in my plan, I was given a tax-free payout which allowed my husband to also take time off work to take care of me. Because of my employee benefits, all of our energies went into my treatment and recovery instead of being stressed about paying for expensive medications, losing wages, or paying our mortgage. Because of my extended health coverage I was able to receive a very expensive white blood cell booster shot that enabled me to receive my chemotherapy on a more aggressive timetable than someone who didn’t have that coverage. Because of the Best Doctors program offered along with my benefits, I was able to get a second opinion on my treatment from leading specialists. It’s funny that most people spend more time shopping around for mortgages or cell phone plans than on their health.

I was fortunate enough to work for a company that offered wonderful benefits. The burden of an illness is hard enough without trying to find extra money or having to work during treatments or adding additional stress if you go into debt.

It is ironic that I work for a company that administers employee benefits for BCCA and SICA members and although I have always believed in using employee benefits plans, I am even more convinced of the importance now. Employee benefits are important and a privilege and this is just one example of why.

If your company is looking for an employee benefits plan, we might be able to help. Give my colleague Charlene a call at 1 800 665 1077 or email info@bccabenefits.ca


This article first appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of SICA's Construction Review Magazine. To read the entire magazine click here.

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