4 Must Haves for an Employee Health Benefits Plan
The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate what is working for your business and what is not. The same is true for your employee health benefits plan. If you don’t feel like your benefits plan is effectively supporting your employees and your business, review your plan to ensure it contains these important “must haves.”
Including virtual healthcare in your employee health benefits plan is an important way to improve the accessibility of healthcare for your employees. Virtual healthcare uses technology as a tool to remotely connect your employees to physicians and nurse practitioners. Usually, a smart phone or tablet are used. It’s both convenient and effective as it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Virtually healthcare can address many of the concerns that typically bring someone into a doctor’s office. The virtual healthcare team can:
- Diagnose illness
- Write prescriptions
- Order bloodwork
- Make referrals
- Facilitate in-person visits
One of the most valuable ways that virtual healthcare can support your employees is by removing barriers. Travelling to a doctor’s office requires time and money. It usually means your employees have to miss work to visit the doctor, and/or they may have to pay to commute. This can be a deterrent for some employees; instead of scheduling an appointment they put off seeing a doctor to address their medical concern.
A delay in addressing a medical concern can have a number of impacts. Your employee’s productivity may suffer if they are attending work when they are feeling unwell (sometimes called “presenteeism”). Even worse, many illnesses and diseases are more effectively treated in the early stages; a delay in treatment may result in an adverse outcome.
In today’s modern landscape where technology is part of so many facets of life, virtual healthcare just makes sense.
2. Disability Management Services
Experiencing a disabling injury or illness is hard (both mentally and physically). Employees who experience one have to focus on their health while at the same time navigate the disability claim process. It can be a challenge. The solution is to embed disability management services into your employee health benefits plan, so when a disability claim is initiated, support is ready and waiting.
Disability management services mean a specialized independent third-party manages the disability claim and works with your company and your ill or injured employee. For most employees, the disability claim process is new to them; disability management services encompass both emotional and practical support for this difficult time. This means your employee has help filling out paperwork, coordinating medical appointments and identifying next steps. The case workers also act as an intermediary between your company and the ill or injured employee, relaying non-confidential information to both parties so the employee remains connected to the workplace.
One of the best reasons to include disability management services as part of your employee benefits plan is that the case worker will create a customized return-to-work plan for your employee. The return-to-work plan incorporates the functional capabilities of the worker, to help them get back to work as soon as they’re able. This is good for your company because it can help lower the cost of the disability claim, but it’s also good for your employee. Research shows that the sooner an employee returns to work after an injury or illness, the higher the probability that they will return to pre-disability health.
If you don’t already have disability management services as part of your employee benefits plan, this “must have” can really support your employees and your company.
3. Employee and Family Assistance Program
Including an Employee and Family Assistance program (EFAP) in your benefits plan is a “must have” to support the mental health of your employees. An EFAP can be accessed 24/7 by telephone or online. It includes free short-term counselling and support, and can help connect employees to important resources for mental health.
An Employee and Family Assistance program is a “must have” because it helps remove many of the barriers employees face to getting help for mental health. Locating and setting up an appointment with a counsellor as well as the financial hardship associated with the fee to see a counsellor are removed from the equation. Instead, the employee has a single point of contact where they can receive counselling immediately and be scheduled for future sessions. It makes it easy to get help; this is so important because obstacles to reaching out for help may discourage the employee from doing so.
Supporting employees so they can be healthy (mentally and physically) will pay off for your company and your conscience.
4. Prescription Drug Management
Building a prescription drug management strategy into your employee benefits plan is a “must have” to support your company’s ability to sponsor the plan over the long term. There are many ways to manage prescription drug costs while still supporting employees with the medications they need. The most effective drug management strategies focus on trimming waste in drug spend.
Employees still need to be supported with coverage, but it doesn’t make sense to pay for the most expensive drugs when there are lower-cost (but equally effective) drugs available. Most prescription drug management strategies involve using a drug formulary to cover lower cost options before coverage for higher cost drugs is approved.
Incorporating a central dispensing pharmacy into the plan can also be an important cost control mechanism. This means prescriptions are dispensed and couriered from a central location which results in lower markup and dispensing fees. It’s also very convenient for employees. Those on maintenance medication have their prescriptions delivered to their home or office, eliminating the need to travel to a pharmacy. It’s win/win for your company and your employees.
Good Advice is Key
Does your employee benefits plan have the right elements to support your employees and your business? If not, it’s time to consider making a change. Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.
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