Supporting your workers with an employee health benefits plan is all the more important when times are tough, and operating in a pandemic certainly qualifies as a “tough” time. Health restrictions and changes to business operations can be stressful, but the right employee benefits plan can be a real source of support during these challenging times.
There are some elements of employee benefits that have been real game changers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re great benefits to begin with but are especially helpful right now.
1. Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
The foundation of an employee and family assistance plan is counselling. The plan’s goal is to remove barriers to counselling so employees and their families can access help when they need it most. At GroupHEALTH we offer the LifeWorks EFAP.
For many people, seeking out counselling is hard. Unfortunately, there may still be a stigma around mental health and counselling, and people often feel like getting counselling means they have somehow failed. As a result, even searching for a counsellor and setting up an appointment can be daunting. Having to wait for a call back or an initial appointment can be too much, and sometimes a person who needs help abandons the attempt.
LifeWorks removes this initial barrier. Employees can phone lifeworks 24/7 and receive confidential counselling and support, or have an appointment made for in-person counselling. It’s a single phone call that can take care of all the aspects of counselling. In addition, short term counselling is free for the plan member. This removes the financial barrier that can also discourage people from getting the help they need. Employees who access this service do so confidentially: even their employers don’t know who accesses counselling.
LifeWorks also provides a wide range of articles, videos and podcasts online, on demand. There are resources that address all aspects of life, including: health and wellness, eldercare, relationships, financial management, grief, anxiety and many more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to an EFAP has been a game changer. So many people are facing challenges that they have never faced before. Health restrictions and resulting changes to business operations have had financial implications for employees; they’ve caused anxiety and uncertainty; and they’ve put a strain on existing relationships. Since the pandemic began, employees who have access to an EFAP have utilized it more than ever.
2. Virtual Healthcare
Virtual healthcare means services that provide remote access to health professionals using telecommunications tools. Employees accessing virtual healthcare typically speak to a nurse practitioner or physician via telephone or video call. It’s secure, confidential and convenient.
Virtual healthcare can typically resolve 50% of primary care concerns that are usually addressed in a doctor’s office. Some of the services that can be provided via virtual healthcare include:
- Patient assessment
- Diagnosing medical concerns
- Writing new prescriptions and renewing existing prescriptions
- Making referrals to other healthcare providers or specialists
- Providing medical documentation
Accessing medical services from home removes the danger of physically interacting with others in the doctor’s office, and it’s very convenient. It’s also open 24/7. At GroupHEALTH, we partner with Akira to provide employee benefit plans with access to virtual healthcare.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, employee benefit plans with access to virtual healthcare have seen a significant increase in the number of employees accessing Akira. When it comes to employee health benefits, virtual healthcare has been a game changer during this uncertain time.
3. Disability Management Services
Disability management services provide support for ill or injured employees and their employers. At GroupHEALTH, disability management services are provided by the Disability Management Institute (DMI). An independent third party, DMI works with ill or injured employees to help them get back to work as soon as they’re able.
This means early intervention after just five days of absence, and regular communication during the injury or illness. DMI acts as the link between the worker and the employer, maintaining the employee’s privacy while conveying pertinent information to the employer. DMI is there to help an ill or injured employee with paperwork, scheduling medical appointments and eventually a return-to-work plan.
Disability management services are good for both the employer and the employee. The employer benefits from shorter disability claims, while employees benefit from support to get them back to work as soon as they’re able. Research shows that the sooner an ill or injured employee gets back to work, the more likely they are to have a full return to pre-disability health.
During the pandemic, disability management services have been a game changer. They have provided employees with ongoing support to keep them connected to the workplace – something especially important when many people are already feeling isolated.
For employers, the game changer is the money that is being saved. Many companies are struggling financially, so the money saved via shorter disability claims might make all the difference.
SmartRx is an employee benefits plan with built in cost containment tools for prescription drug claims. There are several SmartRx options, all meant to support employees with prescription drugs while also containing prescription drug costs.
Several of the SmartRx plans include access to a central dispensing pharmacy (CDP). A CDP dispenses medications from a central location and then delivers them via courier to the patient’s home or work. The CDP saves a plan money via economies of scale. This means lower drug costs, reduced overhead and minimum markup. The result is a lower prescription drug expense. Because prescription drugs get delivered, it’s also very convenient for employees.
During the COVID-19 , SmartRx has been a game changer for both employers and employees. For employers, it’s meant financial savings which are really valuable during a challenging time for businesses to operate. For employees, access to a CDP removes the need to physically visit a pharmacy for medication. Given the current situation and the need to remain physically distant from others, remote access to a pharmacy is a very positive thing.
Good Advice is Key
Does your employee benefits plan include these Game Changers to support you and your employees through a pandemic? If not, it’s time to look at what is out there. 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, prescription drug coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.