How Do Fitness Reimbursement Plans Work?

How Do Fitness Reimbursement Plans Work?

Physical fitness reduces the risk of many medical conditions that decrease quality of life and increase the health costs for many Canadians. It makes sense from a financial and public health standpoint for Canadian insurance companies and businesses to invest in the long-term health of Canadian workers. Fitness reimbursement plans are part of that effort.

What Are Fitness Reimbursement Plans?

Fitness reimbursement plans incentivize workers to pursue activities that promote physical fitness, such as buying a gym membership, enrolling in fitness classes, or buying a set of exercise equipment.

Does the Canadian Government Cover Fitness Costs?

Government health insurance in Canada does not cover fitness costs, leaving it up to private supplemental insurance to fill the gap. Employers have a role to play in promoting fitness by offering fitness reimbursement.

The Fitness Reimbursement Process

Typically, the reimbursement process begins when the employee buys a qualifying fitness product or service. Employees must document that they made the purchase and use it to promote their health.

Various fitness reimbursement plans have different ways to monitor compliance. For example, the HR department could ask for receipts or proof of attendance. 

Striking the right balance between diligence and micromanagement is crucial to encouraging participation in the program. If HR does not verify that employee purchases are eligible for reimbursement, the risk for fraud and abuse increases. This is unfair to employees who play by the rules and make eligible purchases.

On the other hand, if the requirements to obtain reimbursement are too stringent or onerous, employees won’t bother. Sticking with a fitness program already requires motivation. Employers and insurance companies don’t do any good if they punish fitness-minded employees by saddling them with a mountain of paperwork.

Choices When Setting Up Fitness Programming

You have many options when arranging a fitness program for your employers. When setting up a program, your choices will influence your employees’ enthusiasm for the program, the cost of coverage, administration costs, and the impacts on employee health.

Consider these questions when you speak with a Group Enroll representative, who will coordinate with their insurance company partners to tailor a group policy to your organization’s needs. You and your employees might find it beneficial to discuss the issue before calling Group Enroll to incorporate their ideas into the consultation.

Integration With Your Existing Payroll System

Some employee fitness reimbursement plans do not go through the payroll system. Instead, collecting receipts and documentation involves a separate claims processing system. 

Discuss the prospect of processing fitness reimbursement through your payroll system with your HR or payroll management.

Integration with payroll is generally more efficient because you do not need redundant employee files. Neither do you have to worry about payroll and insurance claims being out of sync if the status of an employee changes. 

However, if your existing payroll system is complex or you outsource your payroll to a third party, it might be more efficient to handle fitness reimbursements and other insurance reimbursements separately.

Determining Eligible Expenses

When deciding on a group insurance plan, be sure to understand the scope of the plan’s coverage. 

Many fitness reimbursement plans cover gym memberships, group training sessions, or personal trainers. Some fitness reimbursement plans cover the cost of home exercise equipment. Plans might or might not cover active participation in sports leagues, travel to fitness retreats, and other related activities.

If employees have questions about specific fitness expenses, encourage them to raise their concerns before you set up a reimbursement program to ensure their preferred mode of exercise.

Processing Expense Documentation

Some fitness reimbursement plans are more stringent than others about the documentation they require from employees before the insurance company authorizes reimbursement. A policy with a less stringent policy is likely to have higher costs. However, those higher costs could translate into greater benefits when more employees participate in the program.

An online portal for submitting fitness documentation is one way to streamline the process and reduce administrative costs. Employees could take pictures of their gym attendance records or forward them to your payroll department for processing. Ensure that whatever process you use maintains the security of private employee data.

Finding Health Coverage Plans That Offer Fitness Reimbursement

According to a report by Benefits Canada, many Canadian employees make fitness a high priority in their lives and have used fitness to re-establish their daily routines after the disruption of COVID-19. However, they might not be financially able to pay for fitness equipment and services and might not know where to turn.

An employer-sponsored fitness reimbursement plan is one way to give your employees the guidance and resources they need to get their lives back on track. While we cannot guarantee that a fitness reimbursement plan will succeed, in many cases, the positive effects ripple through the workplace.

Wellness Program Ideas for Small Businesses

Learn how a wellness program promotes a healthy workforce, recruits health-minded employees and improves retention rate.

Get Health Insurance Rate Quotes With Group Enroll

Group Enroll is an insurance broker that helps employers set up group employee insurance plans. We partner with reputable insurance companies across Canada to provide competitive quotes for insurance plans that meet your employees’ needs.

The process is simple. Once you fill out a quote request form on our website, we will contact you to find out about your business and what your employees need. We will get back to you with an insurance quote in a few days. 

If fitness reimbursement benefits your employees, we will ensure that the plan options we receive from insurance companies include fitness programming.

In addition to health insurance plans, Group Enroll obtains quotes for life insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance, and other types of insurance related to employee health and quality of life.

Submit requests for group insurance quotes using our online quote request form. Reach us by e-mail at [email protected], or send physical correspondence to 10 Great Gulf Drive, Unit 5, Vaughan, ON, L4K 0K7.

Individual Health & Dental Plans

Do You Need a Group Benefits Plan? can quickly help you save money by comparing major group health insurance provider rates across Canada.

More Articles