Insurers see dollar signs in healthcare

You may soon be able to get a lot more than a massage and 75% off your next physio appointment with your workplace health insurance. 

Driving the news: Manulife is partnering with US-owned Cleveland Clinic Canada to provide health services to over five million work benefits holders in Canada. 

  • The insurer will tap Cleveland’s network of providers to offer coverage for a range of private healthcare services, from preventative care to mental health support. 

Why it matters: Canada’s healthcare system has been plagued by long wait times and lack of primary care, particularly since the pandemic, with no clear end in sight. Private companies see dollar signs in the opportunities to address those needs. 

  • One in five Canadians don’t currently have a family doctor, leaving millions of people to fend for themselves in a complex healthcare system.
  • Some services—particularly mental health care—have also seen a surge in demand but aren’t typically covered through the public systems.

Yes, but: Groups like BC Family Doctors have asked the government to control the surge in private, commercial interests in for-profit medicine (including Cleveland Clinic, Maple, and Dialogue), arguing that a growing private health sector pulls doctors and nurses—already in short supply—out of the public system.

Zoom out: Manulife isn’t the only insurer expanding into healthcare. Sun Life’s share of the healthcare pie has grown too, with the recent acquisitions of Pinnacle Care International back in 2021 and DentaQuest in 2022.  

Go deeper: Listen to our interview on why Canada’s healthcare system is breaking with Dr. Saad Ahmed on Free Lunch by The Peak.