Employee Health Benefits
Employers may have a hand in preventing childhood obesity
Thursday, 22 September 2011 16:00In addition to the fact that overweight or obese children can increase the cost of employee health benefits when a worker has family coverage, the public health issue can also have an impact on the future workforce.
The nonprofit organization National Business Group on Health reports that employers can do something now to help encourage families to become healthier by influencing parents to lead a lifestyle of eating right, exercising and lowering their stress levels.
"Parents have an enormous impact on the childhood obesity epidemic. A child under the age of 5 is at least three times more likely to become obese if one parent is obese. The chances skyrocket if both parents are obese," said Helen Darling, the nonprofit's president and CEO.
Previous studies have shown that parental stress can have a negative impact on a child's mental well-being, which may lead to behavioral issues or the development of unhealthy habits.
Employee wellness programs that provides take-home tools and resources to reduce stress may help encourage the use of healthy anxiety management techniques for the whole family.
Study reveals lack of adequate mental health insurance benefits for medical students
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 16:00Students in medical school are often under a lot of pressure due to heavy workloads, loan debt and concerns regarding getting a residency or job after graduation. As a result, they may have a significant need for mental health or substance abuse services.
However, researchers at the Cambridge Health Alliance conducted a study which reveals that healthcare benefits offered by schools are often inadequate or require students to pay high out-of-pocket costs for care.
"Given that medical students are often leery about seeking treatment in the first place, requiring students to pay huge co-payments or coinsurance for mental health or substance abuse treatment might foreclose obtaining needed psychiatric care," said senior author J. Wesley Boyd. "This is bad for the students and bad for patients."
The study revealed that fewer than 22 percent of the 115 schools examined provide complete coverage for students. Moreover, they found that co-payments were often as high as $20 to $25 per office visit, and coinsurance rates averaged about 20 percent.
Results of this study suggest that students in medical school may be in need of tools and resources for stress management and healthy living, in addition to improved health insurance benefits.
Top companies make adjustments for workers during tough times
Monday, 22 August 2011 16:00In a climate of rising healthcare costs and heavy responsibilities being put on workers due to the slow economy, small adjustments can help organizations strengthen employee performance while keeping employee health benefit costs low.
Principal Financial Group examined the aspects that make organizations successful during difficult times.
Top companies "understand the direct connection between well-rounded benefits, a healthier, happier workforce and a better bottom line. That's what sets them apart from other companies in both the best and worst economic times," said Luke Vandermillen, VP of Principal.
One shift that well-performing companies have been making is to help workers tailor their insurance packages to suit individual needs, as well as share in the cost of benefits. Additionally, engaging and educating staff members on how to best use their benefits may be a key factor in keeping costs relatively low.
Additionally, the company announced that successful organizations have been using employee wellness programs to get to the root of benefit costs: staff health. Improving workers' mental and physical well-being has been shown to be an effective way to reduce insurance expenditures.
Employee enrollment in company health plans increases
Wednesday, 03 August 2011 16:00Research by consulting firm Mercer indicates that employee enrollment in company healthcare plans has increased by an average of 2 percent in the year since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed, extending coverage for dependents to include employees' children up to the age of 26. Almost a quarter of companies surveyed indicated that enrollment had risen by 3 percent or more.
“Employers have already been facing average increases in per-employee health benefit cost of about 6 percent annually for the past six years,” said Tracy Watts, a Mercer consultant. “Adding enrollment growth on top of that puts a real strain on their budgets.”
Another provision of the law requires employers to enroll full-time employees when hired or when they meet eligibility requirements, which is projected to cause another 2 percent rise in enrollment.
This change and several others will take effect in 2014, and many employers are anticipating the possibility of a cost increase, although 15 percent indicated they were already in compliance with the new provisions an their costs would be unaffected. Less than 10 percent said they were likely to drop coverage due to the changes.
Many companies have recently begun investing in employee wellness programs and initiatives meant to increase overall staff health, since promoting well-being may decrease insurance and overall costs by emphasizing wellness and preventive measures.
Improved employee health benefits may reduce turnover
Tuesday, 26 July 2011 16:00As the cost of living creeps up, employees may be valuing their pay and benefits more than other job aspects, according to the Chartered Institute of Personal Development's (CIPD) recent Employee Outlook survey.
The research revealed that employees name their health benefits and salaries as the number one reason they would consider moving to another job, with 54 percent citing monetary reasons as a motivator to change companies.
By contrast, last year's survey revealed that the top reason for moving to another position was job satisfaction.
This shift in motivating factors may also reflect an increase in workplace stress.
“Besides being more likely to want to leave for more pay elsewhere, workers with financial difficulties are also more likely to report being under stress at work and are typically less satisfied with their jobs," said CIPD spokesperson Ben Willmott.
He added that chronic stress can potentially increase employee absenteeism as well as harm a worker's mental and physical health.
Results of this survey suggest that employee wellness programs aimed at reducing workplace stress and improving staff health may help retain workers.
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