I have recently read the Mercer white paper regarding the future of the Canadian healthcare system and here is my summary of what to expect over the next few decades and it’s effect on employee benefits. Healthcare spending approaches 50% of some provinces’ total budgets, something must change. The system has changed little in the past 50 years. Add in the cost pressures from an ageing population and government will be forced to reduce coverage, extend wait times and remove the “free” aspect of universal care. What can employers do to get ahead of the coming challenges? No one knows what the healthcare landscape will look like by 2025, but you can be assured that it will cost more. Understand the interplay between your private plan and the public system ad begin internal discussions to get out front of the pending of the pending ‘train wreck”.Employers will need to make decisions in terms of picking up some elements that the government no longer covers. If not mandated, do you step in and fund the gap? Do you cost-share with your employees? When the public plan shrinks, make certain that your plan doesn’t include provisions to automatically pick up the difference. You might elect to do so, but protect your plan by ensuring the correct wording that clearly stipulates responsibilities from all parties. There are many specialty vendors and advisors that have created niche products and services that help businesses save money, improve the quality of care and enhance patient/user experience. Their numbers and expertise will increase exponentially over the coming years, providing new technology, thinking and improved client service.