Aug 17, 2016

Cutting Workers Compensation Claims Through Mental Health Support

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Employers have a large opportunity to reduce absenteeism, cut workers’ compensation claims and improve staff engagement by adapting how they manage mental and behavioral health in the workplace. Behavioral health claims do not only affect the individual employee, they have a wider impact on the whole workforce, including the bottom line. For example, an employee who has a substance abuse problem could have a major vehicle accident while intoxicated on the job resulting in huge claim costs for the employer, and much more.

Companies are waking up to the costs of untreated mental illnesses like depression, which is linked to $44 billion a year in lost workplace productivity, according to the University of Michigan Depression Center. The center cites data suggesting that workers suffering from depression cost companies 27 lost work days a year.

Still, companies need to do better to push employee assistance programs (EAP), which typically offer workers help in resolving issues that affect their work performance and/or personal lives. Anywhere from 2% to 5% of employees typically use EAPs, according to several studies. Workers may be unaware of EAP programs or feel uncomfortable calling in, benefits experts say. Here’s where employers need to do a better job of educating employees about their benefits.

Comcast, an organization which has 1,300 to 1,600 behavioral health claims per year and pays millions of dollars in benefits, conducted an investigation into the nature of their claims. The company discovered that 60% of those employees being treated for a mental health or behavioral issue were not being seen by a licensed behavioral health expert. Instead, they were being treated by general practitioners who lacked the expertise to adequately address the issues.

In an attempt to cut disability and health claims, Comcast introduced an EAP providing a certain number of behavioral health visits at no cost to the worker. The organization is also hopeful that the program will have a positive impact on workers’ compensation claims.

As awareness around the impact of employee engagement grows, more organizations are realizing the importance of encouraging staff to become educated consumers who are more involved in their healthcare experience. The example we cited with Comcast shows how employers can institute change in culture leading to healthier staff, which will result in fewer disability and workers’ compensation claims.

The AWANE team believes strongly in a complete benefits program to not only help people stay productive at work, but also lead happier and healthier lives overall.

Contact us today to find out why hundreds of businesses in the automotive, roads, fuel, and related industries who are providing the best in class benefits for their employees choose AWANE.