Getting Creative About Behavioral Health

dgb-behavioral-blog

With behavioral health conditions impacting one in five Americans, it’s no wonder we’re seeing more employers search for ways to provide members with better access to behavioral healthcare benefits.

Statistics show that many employees, including some that are insured, fail to get the mental healthcare they need. Because self-funded health plans provide plan design flexibility, some plans are taking bold steps to address this growing need. While many are using telemedicine to improve access and lower costs, some employers are treating out-of-network behavioral health treatment as in-network, enabling employees to pay the same amount for treatment regardless of which provider they use. Others are covering out-of-network behavioral healthcare services even when their plan doesn’t cover out-of-network services for other types of care.

When you consider that mental illness has become the greatest cause of disability claims in the U.S., it is not surprising that employers are looking for ways to help employees obtain the care they need.

Significant Action is Warranted

There is plenty of research to show that Americans are not getting the mental healthcare they need. According to Mental Health America, despite having health insurance, 56.5% of adults with mental illness received no treatment in the past year.

Another problem is that behavioral health treatments are rarely classified as primary care, and are regarded instead as specialty treatment. This makes people find an in-network provider, go out-of-network, pay higher out-of-pocket costs or avoid treatment altogether. Claims data from Collective Health shows that more than 40% of the 2017 behavioral health spend was out-of-network, which is many times the amount spent on primary or preventative care.

DGB-cfh-cta

Fighting Depression in the Workplace

dgb-depression-blogWhile awareness of mental health concerns in the workplace is increasing, studies repeatedly show that not enough employees feel comfortable utilizing mental health benefits. Furthermore, many employees are often unaware mental health benefits are even available. With more than 40 million Americans living with depression, it’s more important than ever to make sure the workplace is taking positive steps to address it. Here are positive steps your company can take:

Take a holistic approach. Addressing the many areas of wellness, including physical, financial and mental, equally can help employees feel safe enough to seek treatment through employer provided healthcare plans. Stigma is still a major barrier to access, but employers can encourage accessing treatment by putting the necessary emphasis on mental health and wellness. Providing an open space for conversation, information and support can increase overall employee mental wellness. And of course, extending benefits to all family members can prove extremely valuable.

Keep employees informed. Though your company may have excellent programs and benefits to address mental illness and depression, it’s possible that your employees are unaware of how to access them. When bringing the discussion of mental wellness into the public space it’s important that the tools and avenues to accessing help are made very clear.

Promote flexibility. Certain industries deal with more critical situations, such as safety concerns, fatigue or a high risk of injury. While there is no “off the shelf” solution to mental wellness, employers can play a major role in bringing mental health out in the open. And today more than ever, a company is only as healthy as its employees.

DGB-cfh-cta

What’s in a Wellness Program?

scaleThe thought of a corporate wellness program conjures up visions of apples and scales. The notion that wellness programs are built only to keep weight in check barely scratches the surface of what wellness can do. A well thought-out program takes the health needs of your employee population into consideration, but also envelopes the bigger wellness picture.

Supporting overall wellness is a carefully-orchestrated act that requires regular attention to a variety of topics beyond just diet and exercise. While these things are important, a great wellness program exceeds screening for health issues and takes into consideration the social, financial, spiritual, intellectual and emotional factors that make up overall well-being. Ignoring these and solely focusing on biometrics would be like trying to fix a broken pipe without turning off the water!

Wellness programs are fun!
Engaging activities are a great way to educate and motivate employees to make positive lifestyle changes. Creativity is king in corporate wellness. Delivering information in a meaningful way could utilize table displays, interactive presentations, health fairs and field days, one-on-one health coaching and much more.

Extracurricular activities during the workday improve employee morale and show that the company cares. The result is a happier, more productive and more engaged work force. A company that values employee wellness has a greater ability to attract and retain key employees, enhancing their business overall. Focusing a wellness program where employees need the most help has the potential to lower the cost of healthcare and reduce absenteeism and presenteeism over time.

A truly successful wellness program shifts company culture to a healthier place. It takes cooperation from all parties within the company to instill significant change in wellness culture. Creating a healthy and happy work environment is a daily affair that is within reach with the help of a professional wellness partner.

If starting a wellness program for your company has you scratching your head, call to set up a consultation with Corporate Fitness and Health! What works for one company’s employees may not work for another. Each program is tailored to the needs and budget of the group. Our experienced staff can help determine your company’s needs and develop a unique program designed with your employees in mind.

Does Your Organization Offer an On-Site Fitness Center? Here’s Why It Should!

Worksite wellness programs are becoming more popular these days, as companies increase their efforts to attract and keep top talent. A recent article in Employee Benefit News discussed reasons why companies are even starting to take worksite wellness one step further by offering on-site fitness centers.

This is a perk that all of us here at Diversified are fortunate to be able to utilize and enjoy! Our offices include a fitness room that offers yoga, spin classes, toning classes and more to all of our employees. Why do we think this is such a necessary benefit? The Diversified Group family of companies includes Corporate Fitness & Health (CF&H), our wellness consulting and services company, who believes that employee health is an investment. And, they know that when a company crafts and offers the right wellness program it can truly improve the overall health and productivity of its workforce.

Learn more about CF&H here! And, to learn the reasons why on-site fitness centers are becoming increasingly popular, read the full Employee Benefit News article below.

3 reasons employers are offering on-site fitness centers

This article was published on January 31, 2018 on Employee Benefit News, written by Ann Wyatt.

It’s no secret that employers are in a constant struggle for top talent. And, it’s only going to get tougher in the future. Current government statistics tell us the U.S. employment rate was 4.2% in September. That’s down by more than half of its peak of 10.2% in October 2009. At the same time, a large portion of the workforce will be retiring in the next 15 years. By 2030, every baby boomer will be 65-plus, which means a full 18% of the U.S. population will be at retirement age. That’s a lot of retirees — and a lot of jobs left to fill.

Essentially, there just aren’t going to be enough good people to fill all the open roles in the next 10-15 years. And that’s a serious problem for today’s modern business — one companies need to address. That’s why many organizations are offering up a slew of unique and useful employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees.

health-wellness

Photo Source: BenefitNews.com

Among those offerings are on-site fitness centers. Why are on-site fitness centers an increasingly popular employee perk? Three reasons come to mind.

1. Employees want a more personal touch. According to research, a vast majority of employees say a personal touch is important in their health, well-being and fitness program. That means employees are seeking access to “live experts” who are credible, engaging, easy to access and provide one-on-one support for their specific needs. Corporate fitness centers meet this need directly by offering up a physical space where employees can work with these coaches and fitness consultants to develop individualized plans to meet their unique health needs.

2. Convenience is everything. Nearly half of employees who are offered on-site fitness facility access chose to participate largely due to their convenience, inviting environment and low- or no-cost membership. After all, it’s a lot easier to get a workout in if you only have to travel two floors down on the elevator versus 10 miles in rush-hour traffic. Convenience counts for a lot with employees.

3. They help employees’ increasing need to manage stress. Employees are under more stress than ever before. The World Health Organization recently called stress the health epidemic of the 21st century. And, it’s costing employers significantly. One recent study found that work-related stress costs U.S. businesses $30 billion a year in lost workdays (some estimate it at $300 billion). On-site fitness centers can not only help employees better manage stress with a host of programs but they can also help employers make a dent in those lost productivity costs above.

Corporate Fitness & Health

More Work, Less Sleep

dg-healthAccording to the American Time Use Survey released recently by the Department of Labor, Americans spent more time working and less time sleeping in 2016 than in 2015. On average, men and women 15 years of age and older worked about 8 more minutes each weekday and slept for about 5 minutes less than they did in the previous year. Labor officials view this as an indication of a healthier job market. Millennials worked an average of nearly 5 hours per weekday in 2016, their highest level since 2011.

why-diversified-group

How Are You Feeding Your Heart?

feeding-your-heartFor those who simply cannot do without their favorite foods, here’s a list of the things that many of us love, but our hearts wish we would avoid.

Fast Food – Most of it has poor nutritional value, including plenty of fat, calories and processing.

Candy – Go with a small quantity of dark chocolate if you must have some candy, but the sugar just isn’t a good thing for your heart.

Ice Cream – Cardiologists warn that even small amounts of ice cream provide too much fat and sugar – it’s that simple.

Pastries – Few things taste better than cookies, pies and cakes but in high doses, the sugar, fat and gluten can lead to obesity.

Pizza – Pizza nights are tough to beat, especially in cities like Chicago and New York. But unless you make your own, using healthier ingredients, you’re consuming too much fat and salt.

Soft Drinks – These are simply full of sugar and while they may be refreshing on ice, soft drinks are lacking in nutritional value.

Processed Meats – Ham, bacon, hot dogs and other deli meats usually contain lots of salt, fat and even nitrates. Too much salt can boost blood pressure, another risk factor.

tpas-vs-asos-the-differences-matter-cta

Tailored wellness programs improve the bottom line

The article below was published on June 21, 2017 by Employee Benefit News, written by Alicia Kelsey.

Employer-sponsored health plans are taking up an increasing amount of real estate on companies’ operating budgets, and management has had to get creative in order to slow the rise in costs.

One creative solution that companies have turned to is a customized employee wellness program. By using data of the health of their population, enlisting industry specialists and vendors to help structure plans, and applying new technologies, many employers are seeing that tailored plans are surprisingly effective at managing costs.

“Tailored” is the key word when creating an effective employee wellness program. The first step is for an employer to know the health issues that their employees, and their spouses and dependents face. This is commonly done by asking plan members to complete a health risk assessment. Health reimbursement arrangements now include such details as average hours of sleep per night, nutritional and exercise habits, and biometric data including weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

dgb-treadmill

Image Source: benefitnews.com

The latter information in particular, introduced into the HRA process in the past decade, adds the critical physician component into health management. Typically collected by third-party vendors following doctor visits for privacy reasons, biometric details provide a superior snapshot of the overall well-being of a person. This data, when paired with advanced claims details and analysis, have vastly improved companies’ abilities to tailor their employee wellness programs to their employees’ needs. The more a company can perfect that tailoring, the more effective that company will be at managing costs and risks.

Technology has notably played a key role in improving the data available to companies and increased the participation and utilization of their wellness programs. Whereas physical activity was once self-reported, for example, a fitness device can now provide not only more accurate, but also more extensive information.

Similarly, programs can be administered online, increasing ease of use and reducing implementation costs. Many wellness companies have the ability to sync fitness activity from devices into their platforms so it can be managed all in one place.

It’s difficult for companies to manage all of this on their own, and it’s not a one-size-fits all solution. While there are many pre-existing program options out there, it’s better to tailor it to a company’s population. In the past decade, the number of options available has increased exponentially. Companies now have access to wellness tools of all shapes and sizes — arguably to an overwhelming degree. In other words, now is a good time for companies to look at their wellness programs and ask some sharp questions. Is the program tailored to the company’s employees? Does it meet the employer’s goal?

An effective program requires a concerted effort from the company’s leadership team. To incorporate a properly designed wellness program, a company must take time to determine both the needs of its employees and the goals of the company.

A third party — usually in the form of an insurance broker — can provide key assistance in these efforts by bringing in both the health claims data, benefits plan integration and an extensive knowledge of the wellness program options available. They have the ability to help the employer research and vet the right wellness vendor for the issues plaguing their population as well as fit it into the companies’ overall employee benefits strategy.

Wellness programs are no longer a stand-alone initiative. They are becoming more baked into the overall management of a company’s health population. With increasing healthcare costs, now is a perfect time for companies to revisit how they are managing their wellness program and what can be done to align it with their overall benefits goals.

Corporate Fitness & Health