by Anne Nicoll
While presenting the results of the 2015 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey in Halifax last month, I was able to demonstrate the importance of making proactive changes to ensure the viability of long-term health care plans. In fact, this year’s study reveals that while 93% of respondents are satisfied with their benefits plan, most want to be more informed in order to make better decisions when it comes to their health. With the emergence of chronic disease in an aging Canadian workforce, many employers and insurers will see this information as timely and important.
Analyze, understand and take action
It’s crucial to understand the impact of one’s benefit plan on health, productivity and absenteeism, analyzing the data from claims and using programs and establishing correlations between all these components. We must look at the whole picture to be able to make the necessary changes in an effective way.
For example, the 2015 study shows a significant gap between the perception plan sponsors have and the reality facing employees when it comes to chronic diseases (i.e. diabetes, arthritis, depression, asthma, heart disease, etc.). Plan sponsors estimated that 26% of their workforce suffers from chronic illness, when in fact 56% of employees replied that they were impacted by chronic disease or illness. This rate increases to 78% in workers who are 55 and older.
If nothing is done to improve the situation, the pressure on our health care system will become severe and, in the long-term, the same will become true for benefit plan viability.
Real solutions to lighten the burden
Investing in chronic disease and prevention is key to having a healthier and productive workforce. With this in mind, we announced a partnership with the Canadian Lung Association last November, which ties in to our Managing Chronic Disease program. This program empowers members to manage their asthma or COPD by working directly with our network of specialized health professionals. This is an example of an integrated approach that provides access to effective resources, combined with prevention and health and wellness options that breathe new life into health care plans.
The goal of our self-care approach to managing chronic disease is to help our members get better. Considerable data is available around this topic from the survey and insurers need to be willing to educate employers and work with them to implement supportive measures.
By carefully examining claims, we can understand the scale of the bigger problem and take action to support and impact the workplace and, ultimately, a company’s bottom line. Therefore insurers, benefit consultants and other stakeholders must communicate and work together to bring about change to the way we think and apply a rounded approach to benefit plans. After all, what truly matters is improving health outcomes for our employees and members.