The Canadian life and health insurance industry paid out more than $113 billion in benefits from life and health insurance plans last year, up 17 per cent from 2020 and nearly $10 billion since before the coronavirus pandemic. This included payments for health insurance claims, life insurance and retirement.

Two-thirds of total insurance products were sold as part of group benefits plans in 2021. Indeed, 90 per cent of health insurance plans were offered on a group basis, most often as workplace benefits plans.

In 2021, health insurers paid out a record $40.8 billion in total claims, including prescription drugs and dental, up 11 per cent from 2020.

The breakdown for health benefits includes $13.4 billion for drugs, $9.5 billion for dental, $1.3 billion for vision, $1.1 billion for massage, $1.1 billion for other paramedical and $600 million for mental health.

Other substantial claims paid out included $7.2 billion for long-term disability and $1.6 billion for short-term disability.

Looking specifically at drug plans, the increased use of specialty drugs has been a driver of higher claims costs, according to the fact book, which noted year-over-year spend per plan member for specialty drugs increased by 6.8 per cent in 2021, compared with less than four per cent for traditional drugs. And specialty drugs now represent 29 per cent of total drug spend.