Should you care?
Yes, if it affects your company and your costs—and it most likely does.
According to a new study by Cigna, a global health service company, disability claims related to obesity increased by 3,300 percent from 1993 to 2012. That's an increase of 3,300 percent, based on an analysis of 1.56 million claims.
Part of the reason? Over the last 20 years the number of obese Americans has doubled.
And not only have short-term disability claims increased, but so have employee absence and related medical claims. Obesity is contributing to a slowdown in workforce productivity.
So what can you do to keep your company productive while protecting your bottom line? Think beyond wellness programs—which certainly help, by encouraging exercise and healthy eating—and look at the big picture. There are other factors that can lead to obesity, and you can help with those as well. How? Start by looking at what your benefit package offers.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Does your company offer one? If employees know that these services are confidential, they may be more willing to discuss the issues contributing to their weight and other health problems. Encourage employees with a record of increasing absenteeism or a high number of health claims to take advantage of your EAP counselors. Cognitive therapy is proving very effective, both in terms of better employee health and lower employer costs.
Increased Screening: Regular health screening can help prevent minor employee issues from developing into major, debilitating health conditions, such as obesity. Not only can you easily offer employees a quick screen for blood pressure and cholesterol, you may also find providers who will screen for depression, stress levels, adherence to medical management or pain management, and decreased use and abuse of narcotics and alcohol. This should lead to lower inpatient and outpatient days, lower emergency room usage, and decreased absenteeism.
Effectively managing obesity-related disability requires a proactive approach, where you try to identify and address relevant variables, including mental and behavioral health. Keeping these factors in mind when designing your benefits program will pay off down the line.
How can CPP help you?
If you're looking for more suggestions on how to begin or improve your employee wellness program, we offer tips here. If you're looking for a better rate on disability insurance, we offer that, too—just give us a call at (888) 237-5800.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.