Work plays an important role in our lives. In addition to the income associated with work, for many cancer patients, our occupational role is an important part of our identity, and our workplace is part of our social interaction. Many people feel a sense of satisfaction in being productive and in contributing to a collective effort in the workplace. Taking time off work to care for your health and treatment can bring a range of feelings and reactions, as can the prospect of returning to work.
As a follow up to the webinar on November 17, 2018 on Cancer in the Workplace – The Gradual Return to Work Process, I wanted to address three important questions that were asked but unfortunately I did not have the time to answer.
If LTD is denied due to pre-existing condition clauses and the employee has maxed out employer-sponsored STD (e.g. 26 weeks), can they apply for EI Sickness Benefits or not because they already got a benefit longer than the EI benefit?
As long as the employee has not returned to work and they still medically qualify (e.g. they are still sick or injured) they can apply for EI Sickness benefits. As long as the employee has worked 600 hours in the last 52 weeks and they have made contributions to the program they would be eligible for benefits.
Employees often get frustrated with delays in payments due to doctors submitting medical forms late and insurance companies making decisions. What would you recommend to employers to best support the employee?
In helping to support your employees please discuss with them who the best medical physician or nurse practitioner will be for completing their medical forms. The employee can choose the medical practitioner in some cases – it does not have to be a specialist. Specialists usually have lengthy waiting periods to access an appointment. If the person is able to access their General Physician this may be the best route to pursue, as long as medical evidence can be given about the specific illness or injury.
What are your recommendations for employees who need medications that not covered by their benefits plan? Are there programs out that that support this?
Once a condition is diagnosed the person is now viewed as having a pre-existing medical condition. I often suggest Alberta Blue Cross Non-Group coverage. This is guaranteed coverage – meaning that the person applying for coverage does not need to submit medical information. I would suggest for anyone looking into this type of coverage that they look through the drug formulary list to ensure that the specific drugs they are needing are covered before they begin paying premiums.
Returning to work is a complicated process so the more information that employers and employees have the better. Please always refer to the disability policies (STD/LTD and Extended Health Benefits) for specific information.
Wellspring is a network of community-based support centres offering programs and services that meet the emotional, social, practical and restorative needs of people living with cancer and those who care for them. All Wellspring programs, services and resources are offered free of charge and without referral. Our vision is: No one has to face cancer alone.