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The Cost of Chronic Pain, Depression and Anxiety in the Workplace

116 million adults in the US—more than the number affected by heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined—live with common chronic pain conditions.  Of those individuals, 20-50% experience comorbid depression in parallel to their chronic pain, and are 2-3x more susceptible to suicidal ideation and behaviors.

Over the last 3 years, we’ve conducted extensive research specifically around the relationships between chronic pain and comorbid anxiety and depression, and more importantly, how organizations like yours can reduce the associated downstream effects of chronic pain including absenteeism and high medical claim costs.  

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Biogen Working Parents Feel Supported with Onsite Child Care Center

At Biogen, we understand the importance of taking a proactive position on caregiving and offer solutions to support our employees as both a caregiver and someone who may need care. 

Employee Needs in a Competitive Industry
As with most working parents, juggling childcare needs and career responsibilities can be a daily struggle. In the competitive biotech industry, employers always needed and still need to recruit employees by providing a supportive culture that understands and meets the needs of employees where they are in their life…whether it be access to reliable, high-quality childcare or workforce education initiatives. 

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How To Overcome Social Determinants of Health in Musculoskeletal Care

The Institute of Medicine, in the 2001 landmark report Crossing the Quality Chasm, outlined six key aims for healthcare to focus on in the twenty-first century: a prime healthcare experience that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable. Although many of these goals have been at least partly achieved, one is lagging – health equity.

Healthcare is no more equitable now than it was twenty years ago. The divide between rural and urban communities continues to show itself in average life expectancy. Research shows that 33 states have seen at least one rural hospital close in the last 10 years, and it’s estimated that just over 30 million Americans live more than an hour away from trauma care. In urban communities, like Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, physical disability, disease prevalence, and mortality rates are significantly higher in zip codes with lower median household incomes.

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Are more health benefits better?

How employers can help ensure they are getting the value from their investment and employees are getting the value to their health

A lot more is asked of employers, particularly in terms of the workplace benefits they offer, including health care. As companies continue to recover from the variability in health care spending brought on by COVID-19, high-performing employers must look toward tomorrow as they execute on providing the best health care benefits to keep their workforces healthy, happy, and productive.

At one time, the primary health benefit that employers provided their workers was a health plan. Today’s health benefits landscape looks much different, with a myriad of plan options and point solutions offered to employees. This trend has only accelerated since the pandemic started. Employers must increase the perceived value of these new benefits by raising awareness and utilization and helping employees navigate their benefits. But how can employers do all this and administer these new benefits?

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A Deep Dive Into Student Loan Repayment Assistance

Student loans are back in the headlines with the announcement of targeted loan cancelation. With so much change on the horizon, you may be wondering how the new plans for student loan repayment impact Student Loan Repayment Assistance (SLRA). Is it still something employees need or want? Is it still a benefit employers should pursue?

Let’s take a refreshed look at the basics of SLRA, as well as some of the most recent data and most compelling reasons why adding an SLRA perk to your benefits package is as important as ever.

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Long COVID will be a top 10 medical cost driver within the next 3 years

What is Long COVID?

Long COVID is the persistent presentation of symptoms 4 weeks after a COVID-19 infection. There are over 150 different symptoms of Long COVID, but common symptoms include brain fog, fatigue, loss of smell, difficulty breathing, joint pain, digestive issues.

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Using Absence Programs to Attract & Retain a Flexible Workforce

It sounds counterintuitive — how can programs that enable time away from work possibly help companies dealing with labor shortages? Yet, a 2021 survey conducted by HUB International shows that 40% of participating companies indicated their leave of absence policies needed to be more enticing to attract and retain employees.1 Absence programs are an important part of the employee experience, and organizations can leverage their time-off policies and benefits to stand out among competitors, especially now that workers have more options than ever before.

In a Gallup poll conducted earlier this year, employees identified well-being, including work-life balance, as one of the most important factors when deciding whether to accept a new job.2  Time-off policies and other absence-related benefits help employees achieve work-life balance by providing income protection while taking time to care for themselves and/or their families — from a well-deserved vacation to a healthcare emergency and everything in between.

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Using Benefits to Navigate the Road Blocks Facing Today’s Human Resource Professionals

The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for shifting priorities and changing the way we work. The findings from our recent survey helped us understand what HR pain points and challenges professionals face in their daily lives, which will help guide future changes within this industry. Benefit Resource (BRI) conducted an extensive research project among 1000+ hiring managers to discover pain points they deal with day by day. These insights are crucial if you want to meet your company or organization’s performance goals. 

Managing cost increases can be challenging, but the underlying health plan will often be the key to reducing your costs. Position your benefits plans and the opportunities so employees pay for their increasing out-of-pocket costs. This can be achieved by offering a High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) paired with a Health Savings Account (HSA), taking advantage of Self-Funded Plans, sharing educational tools that provide cost transparency, like MyMedicalShopper by Talon Health Tech, or connecting employees to health experts. 

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Four essential components of a successful family-building benefit — Including mental health support throughout the journey

Research has shown that women facing infertility have comparable levels of depression and anxiety to women facing cancer, AIDS/HIV, and heart disease. And although discussing infertility has become less taboo in recent years, there is plenty of work to do to continue destigmatizing it. A more recent study looked at infertility patients’ reactions to treatments postponed because of COVID-19 — 66% reported infertility remained the largest stressor in their lives, causing them more distress than the global pandemic. It is no wonder that therapy calls suddenly tripled as well.

Infertility is emotionally taxing and there are many reasons relationships can get strained. Waiting for results, financing treatment, balancing work and office visits, and dealing with the side effects of medications can all add stress to interpersonal relationships. Sometimes family members and friends don’t understand or aren’t sure what to do. Often, the person going through treatment doesn’t want advice or to hear everyone else’s story, so they try to go it alone.

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Employer-sponsored Savings and Spending Accounts and Other Benefits May Minimize "The Great Resignation”

Like everything else, employee benefits, especially healthcare benefits, have been affected by the pandemic. With the extreme focus on health in the public space, consumers and employees are more engaged with their benefits, especially healthcare benefits, than ever before.  While the historic labor shifts across the United States currently being dubbed “The Great Resignation” are driven by a diverse range of factors, according to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, roughly half of those surveyed cited benefits as either a “major” or “minor” reason why they quit a job during 2021.

Employers should consider this to be an opportunity to reevaluate the benefits they offer. Well-designed health benefits plans can aid businesses in meeting their objectives by improving a company’s bottom line, as well as attracting and retaining the best talent. In this unique environment, here is some valuable information to help you evaluate your benefits offerings.

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Rookie Year: Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave

We are one year into eligible Massachusetts employees being able to apply for paid leave benefits under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program.  Although stats for the MA PFML Rookie Year have not been released yet, the first six months were telling:

  • Over 53,000 applications, with 23% being denied
  • 58% of applications were related to medical leave and the remaining for bonding, given that care for a family member with a serious illness was not yet a covered reason
  • Only 18 applications for military exigency leave and 6 applications to care for a service member
  • Employees aged 30-39 submitted the most applications (35%) and more than twice as many women applied for leave, compared to men
  • Average weekly benefits were $705.98 for family leave and $699.00 for medical leave
  • Turnaround times, once the Department of Family and Medical Leave (DFML) received all data including employer responses, took a median of 12 days to make a claim determination
  • Average duration of leave was 53 days (57 days for medical leave and 51.5 days for family leave)
  • Total benefits paid was equal to about $168 million (about $92 million for medical and $76 million for family leave)

While we await data for season of 2021, let’s dissect the highs and lows and see if MA PFML has a shot at Rookie of the Year!

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How pharmacies can help achieve health equity

Disparities in the U.S. health system have come into sharp focus over the past one and a half years, sounding an undeniable call to action. What steps will we take towards a more equitable health system? 

We must reimagine the future of care and solve the challenges that have hindered health equity in the past. Pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) are in an excellent position to lead the way by embracing the precepts of value-based care.

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How employee financial wellbeing can impact physical and mental wellbeing

Last January, Sam was one of 190 million Americans that made a New Years’ resolution. Her goal? Improve her physical health and get her finances in order. Sam started strong but by summertime, she found that financial issues were keeping her from achieving her goals. Sleepless nights spent anxiously thinking about debt were compounded by stress eating, and Sam avoided visiting the doctor because of the expense. As a result, her overall wellbeing suffered.

Sam’s story is just one example of how financial wellbeing can spill over into an employee’s physical and mental health. In the workplace today, many HR and benefits professionals are looking to address this link.

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Dependent Care FSAs: How they can support your employees

Working parents have been challenged with safety and health concerns and balancing work and providing care for children whose schools or daycares were closed for extended periods.  

Now that most schools and daycares have resumed in-person education, it might be time to reevaluate benefit options to support employees with dependents. One solution is to offer employees the opportunity to opt into a dependent care flexible spending account, or DC-FSA.

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Worthen Industries Creates a Wellness Culture that Achieves 80% Employee Engagement and Remarkable Outcomes and Savings

With the firm belief that healthy employees are happier, safer, and more engaged workers, Worthen Industries made wellness a top priority over a decade ago.

Worthen wanted a comprehensive wellness program designed to improve individual health and wellbeing, prevent chronic diseases, and positively impact the quality of life of its employees and their families. Worthen also strived to attract and maintain an engaged employee base to promote long-term productivity, employee retention, and health care cost reduction. Being self-insured, Worthen wanted to control insurance costs while also creating a more “adhesive” culture of wellbeing and camaraderie among employees spread out over multiple states. Not only did Worthen want wellness to be the common thread that ties everything together, they also wanted wellness and safety to be seamless and integrated. By any measure, Worthen’s wellness efforts have been successful.

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