Three-quarters of Canadians want integrated health resource; Manulife Announces Health Service Navigator

Manulife Financial launches Health Service Navigator(TM) to help Canadians become proactive health care consumers

WATERLOO, ON, Dec. 12 2007 – In a survey for Manulife Financial, a decisive 74 per cent of Canadians who responded said they would be interested in an integrated, reliable service that provides information and assistance on the variety of health care services available and how to access them. To meet this need, Manulife Financial Group Benefits, a leader in Canadian group life and health insurance, is offering Health Service Navigator(TM), a new service launched today to help group plan members and their dependants access health information to cope with a critical, chronic or occasional health event.

“Canadians have told us they want this service,” explains Rick Brunet, Executive Vice President, Group Benefits, Manulife Financial. “Now members of our group benefits plans can quickly access a consolidated credible health information and resource portal so they are better equipped to actively participate in navigating the spectrum of health care resources.”

This one-stop service provides a wide range of the latest health care information and resources and, where appropriate, it enables users to gain access to ‘world class’ second opinion services. Health Service Navigator is accessible to Manulife Group Benefits plan members and their dependants, through the Internet or by telephone.

“The resources they can access range from physician and health facility search capabilities, to provincial and territorial guides and a chronic conditions centre,” adds Marilee Mark, Vice President, Group Benefits Marketing. “The service also features information articles on topics such as wait times, patient advocacy and managing your health and support team.”

“I am encouraged that Manulife is launching a product that supports enhanced patient navigation,” notes Michael Decter, co-author of a Canadian user guide on accessing medical care, Navigating Canada’s HealthCare. “More informed patients are part of the solution to the challenge faced by health services as our population ages and the incidence of chronic disease increases.”

“Integrated and reliable health care information is definitely a gap,” continues Ms. Mark. “Our survey revealed that Canadians have relied upon a number of sources, from friends and family to web sites, some with little or no affiliation to legitimate research, upon which to base decisions about handling their health care needs.”

Although 89 per cent of those surveyed said they likely would get information and assistance from a family doctor, the study found 73 per cent would turn to family or friends, while 61 per cent listed the Internet as their information source.

Health Service Navigator was developed in conjunction with AccelMD, a leading supplier of healthcare services and solutions. AccelMD’s partners include Novus Health and the second opinion provider, WorldCare Inc. WorldCare’s partners include the WorldCare Consortium, consisting of Children’s Hospital Boston, Duke University Health System, Partners Healthcare System, consisting of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, and UCLA Healthcare.

The poll by Maritz Research was conducted with 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and older between August 9th and August 15th, 2007. The results have a margin of error of +/- three per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About Manulife Financial Group Benefits

Group Benefits offers plans to complement and supplement provincial health plans, Workers’ Compensation, CPP/QPP, and other programs.

More than 16,000 Canadian businesses have entrusted their employee benefit programs to Manulife Group Benefits. We provide coverage for businesses of all sizes, from two employees to Canada’s largest employers. An industry leader in electronic services and transactions, Group Benefits provides a broad range of coverage including health and dental care, emergency travel assistance, short and long term disability, group critical illness, absence management services and wellness products, flexible benefits plans, life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment coverage.

About Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial is a leading Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 19 countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily through John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$399.0 billion (US$400.5 billion) as at September 30, 2007.

Manulife Financial is one of two publicly traded life insurance companies in North America whose rated life insurance subsidiaries hold Standard & Poor’s Rating Services’ highest “AAA” rating and Moody’s Investor Services’ second highest “Aa1” rating, both representing financial strength.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘0945’ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at

About AccelMD:

AccelMD strives to raise health awareness by providing an exceptional portfolio of results-driven health care and wellness solutions to improve health and enhance the quality of life for individuals, groups and organizations. Our products help manage and reduce health care costs while increasing organizational health and employee productivity. In addition to larger groups, AccelMD also offers innovative health memberships for individuals and families, ready to assist members who choose to pursue timesaving condition diagnosis or treatment options in the United States, regardless of age, health history or present state of health.