Using comprehensive disability coverage to rein in benefit costs

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The highest rise in average per-employee health benefits costs since 2011 is predicted to hit employers this year. Inevitably, they will feel pressure to cut benefits costs, and indeed a recent survey by Mercer finds that 46 percent of employers will take steps to minimize benefits cost increases in 2018.

That pressure will roll downhill and reach advisers, as well, and the temptation will be to respond to clients’ demands to reduce the cost of their benefit packages by recommending products that decrease the coverage that an employer provides. However, when it comes to disability coverage, that isn’t the only option.

Comprehensive disability insurance can help employers reduce the overall costs associated with poor employee health. That’s because these programs take a different approach to employee absence and disability by considering the entirety of an employee’s situation—and not just their health condition. By addressing additional factors, such as another health condition or financial concerns that can delay a recovery, comprehensive disability insurance programs can help boost employee productivity while keeping an eye on costs.

These other concerns are often just as important as the medical issue that is preventing the employee from returning to work. Left unaddressed these factors can inhibit the employee’s full recovery and lead to further absenteeism or presenteeism—all of which can undermine a company’s productivity. A holistic approach to disability management takes these other factors into account when determining how best to help the employee remain on the job or return to work following a leave of absence.

A comprehensive disability carrier can help your clients identify the most appropriate resources for an employee’s specific situation. Some carriers provide consultants to engage with employees to better understand what factors may be prolonging their recovery, as part of developing a return-to-work or stay-at-work plan. Emotional and behavioral support, creative accommodations and coordinated benefits can dramatically shorten a recovery period.

Some carriers will also help an employee make the best use of other employer-sponsored benefit programs to ensure full utilization of all available resources. This can include help with navigating the complexities of the health care system and taking advantage of the various disease management, wellness and employee assistance programs that may be available.

Advisers don’t need to sacrifice coverage to help their clients reign in their benefits costs. Comprehensive disability management that accelerates recovery by providing for an employee’s specific needs will increase workplace productivity and reduce the medical costs associated with a prolonged condition.

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Benefit management Healthcare benefits Benefit strategies Benefit communication Voluntary benefits Health insurance Healthcare costs