The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have forced employers and their benefits advisors to pay more attention to critical incident assistance programs.
For about $25 per employee per year, or about 0.6% of the cost of a major medical plan, an employer can buy an employee assistance program that offers crisis support services along with counseling and referral services for troubled employees.
A good EAP can arrange a “stress debriefing,” or group counseling session, for employees affected by a major disaster.
Adding a work-life assistance hotline that can give detailed advice on locating emergency help costs about $10 per employee per year, and adding a “concierge service” that actually does some of the legwork itself costs about $20 per employee per year, experts interviewed estimate.
Traditionally, benefits brokers have thought of crisis support programs as a tiny, obscure sliver of the benefits package.
The few companies that buy a concierge service usually buy it to help high-paid workers cope with 80-hour work weeks, not to help employees survive major disasters, says Greg Bayer, president of the workplace behavioral unit at Magellan Health Services Inc., Bethesda, Md.
“The broker-agent distribution channel is probably not aware of [the concierge service], by and large,” Bayer says.