Take control of employee benefits costs by targeting these 10 conditions

By Higginbotham on December 27 , 2018

GettyImages-Doctors CT ScanWant to take control of employee benefit plan costs? One way is to target the health problems that drive up costs. IFEPB’s Workplace Wellness Trends 2017 Survey identified the health conditions that cost employers the most. Here’s a look at what they are and how to target them.

1. Diabetes
It’s no surprise that diabetes came in at number one. According to the CDC, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 84 million have prediabetes, which often leads to diabetes if not treated. Wellness programs can help identify people who are at risk and give them the knowledge they need to manage their health and even prevent diabetes from developing. The CDC provides a list of diabetes intervention options, including the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

2. Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, more than one-third of people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Providing quality cancer benefits is essential. Health Payer Intelligence explains that these benefits should include pre-cancer screenings, which can improve outcomes by catching cancer early.

3. Arthritis, back and musculoskeletal disorders
The CDC says that arthritis impacts 54.4 million U.S. adults and is a major cause of work disability. Whether people are working at a desk or moving heavy objects, ergonomic equipment can help prevent problems. Training employees how to lift properly is also important.

4. Obesity
More than one-third of U.S. adults are considered obese, according to the CDC, and obese people have annual medical costs that are $1,429 higher than the medical costs of non-obese individuals. According to WebMD, workplace wellness programs can be an effective way of encouraging weight loss.

5. Heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Because heart disease is often associated with obesity, weight loss programs may help. Stress can contribute to heart disease, so employers should make efforts to keep the workplace as stress-free as possible. This includes maintaining a civil environment and not overworking employees. Exercise can help employees relax and lose weight, so gym memberships and yoga classes are a good perk.

6. High blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, contributes to heart disease. The same wellness programs that help manage heart disease will also help with high blood pressure. Employees should also undergo screening so that high blood pressure can be identified and addressed early. Consider keeping a blood pressure monitor at your workplace so employees can keep their in check.

7. Depression and mental illness
Nearly one in five U.S. adults experiences some form of mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. To help, employers can offer strong mental health benefits and encourage employees to seek treatment without experiencing stigma. It’s also important to create a positive work environment where employees can balance work-life obligations. According to EHS today, research shows that wellness programs focusing on physical health may also improve mental health.

8. High cholesterol
High cholesterol is another risk factor for heart disease. As with hypertension, wellness programs that focus on diet and exercise, combined with regular screenings, can go a long way in managing cholesterol levels.

9. Smoking
Illnesses related to smoking cost the U.S. more than $300 billion each year, according to the CDC. Smoking cessation programs can give employees the support they need to quit. This can also help reduce the risk of heart disease.

10. High-risk pregnancy
According to UCSF Health, 6 to 8 percent of all pregnancies involve high-risk complications. Certain health problems, such as obesity and diabetes, can increase the risk of a high-risk pregnancy. So wellness programs that address these issues may also lower the risk of complications during pregnancy. Some women may need accommodations to reduce their work schedule, sit when needed or work from home. Employers must also be aware of laws that prohibit pregnancy discrimination, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

When it comes to controlling the cost of employee benefits, thoughtful plan design can make all the difference. Contact Higginbotham to learn more.

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