Disability insurance: Your financial safety net

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 58, No. 5, June 2016, Page 280 News

In the pursuit of practising medicine, you have made many sacrifices. Following your perseverance throughout medical school and residency, your most valuable asset is the ability to work. If your circumstances changed due to a disability and you found yourself unable to practise medicine, would your family be financially secure?

Data from Statistics Canada indicate that 18.3% of working Canadians in the 45 to 64 age bracket identify as having a physical, mental, or other health-related limitation to their daily activities. The top five reasons for claims among physicians are accidents, musculoskeletal disorders, psychological disorders, cancer, and circulatory disorders.

These categories span a broad range of potential disabilities. A physician would likely recommend that a patient with one of these conditions take time away from work, as needed, to further their recovery and increase their quality of life. If you were to find yourself with a limitation, would you have the freedom to follow your own advice?

Your health circumstances may change when you least expect it. While you decrease your workload due to illness or injury, you may find your savings diminishing or your line of credit ballooning as you care for personal and professional expenses out of pocket.

Many assume that there are government-funded programs in place to assist you in the event that you become disabled. The Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits may be available to you if you have paid into CPP for 4 of the last 6 years. However, the maximum monthly disability benefit is $1264.59. This amounts to only $15 175.08 annually, well below both the minimum wage and the living wage in British Columbia. To ensure your financial well-being, supplemental disability insurance is a necessity.

Physicians’ Disability Insurance and Disability Income Insurance

Disability insurance helps you plan for your family’s needs in the event that you are no longer able to work or your workload is significantly decreased due to a disability. The provincial government funds the Physician’s Disability Insurance (PDI), but coverage is not automatic: you must apply and provide proof of good health. The PDI plan provides a maximum $6100 monthly benefit, based on your income. Additional disability insurance is also available to increase your benefit amount and fill any gaps in coverage.

Residents’ Disability Insurance

BC’s medical residents are provided with health coverage through Resident Doctors of BC. Due to recent collective bargaining outcomes, Resident Doctors of BC is no longer able to provide disability insurance for residents, and has, instead, instated a requirement for residents to hold disability insurance independently.

In order to fill this need in the resident community, Doctors of BC has enhanced the Resident Disability Insurance plan. Residents transitioning into practice have 90 days from the end of residency to convert their resident coverage to the Member Disability Insurance plan without having to provide proof of good health.

Newly practising physicians are also eligible to enroll in the provincially funded Physicians Disability Insurance plan without proof of good health provided that, as residents, they held a minimum $2000 monthly benefit in the Doctors of BC Resident Disability plan for at least 12 months.

Planning for the unplannable

If you were faced with a disability, with an appropriate disability insurance plan in place, you would be able to take time off work and focus on your health and well-being while ensuring that your hard-earned savings and your family were protected.

Doctors of BC has noncommissioned insurance advisors available to help you find the best plan for your career stage and financial situation. To arrange a complimentary insurance review, contact insurance@doctorsofbc.ca or 604 638-7914.
—Caleb Bernabe
Insurance Administrator

Caleb Bernabe. Disability insurance: Your financial safety net. BCMJ, Vol. 58, No. 5, June, 2016, Page(s) 280 - News.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

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