An aging workforce does not have to be a drag on employers medical costs and productivity. Benefit plans can focus on ways to keep these employees healthy and at work. This article looks at some of the ways employers can do that.
Disease Management: Medical advances and healthier lifestyles have enhanced and lengthened the lives of Americans considerably. But the longer people live, the more likely they are to develop a chronic condition, such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disorders.
That places a huge burden on employers who not only pay for costly medical coverage but also suffer when experienced workers cannot work productively–or, in some cases, cannot work at all.
One of the fastest growing cost containment strategies today–disease management– addresses chronic conditions by empowering participants to manage and improve their health more effectively. The tools for doing this include behavior modification, education and intervention by trained nurses.
While disease management is a relatively new medical management approach, its popularity has swelled significantly in the past decade to where it is now offered by most health plans in America.
In addition to making documented improvements in medical outcomes and quality of life, disease management has made a meaningful impact on medical costs. In most cases, employers see a return on their investment in the first year.
Case Management: Another common problem among aging workers is their ability to recover quickly after an injury or illness.
The duration of disabilities increases with age, doubling from four or five workdays lost for workers ages 16 to 35 to 10 days for those 55 and older, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Case management, a cornerstone of most employers work- and nonwork-related disability programs, takes on an even more critical role with aging workers.
For example, nurse case managers, who specialize in organ transplantation, cancer and heart disease, understand the nuances of treatment, recovery and return-to-work issues associated with these complex conditions. Therefore, they are able to review treatment plans, direct employees to appropriate levels of care, and provide vocational counseling that is most relevant and specific to that employee. The end result: a more concentrated return-to-work effort and decreased disability durations.
Health Education: Consumers are more empowered than ever when it comes to the availability of abundant health information, and the speed and ease with which they can access it.