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Integrating disability and health care programs can be a great way for benefits advisors to help employers control total benefits costs and improve productivity.

A good integrated program includes the following key components:

The health coverage administrators notify disability coverage administrators as quickly as possible about the potential for an employee to file a disability claim.

Disability nurses work with health care case managers to coordinate medical and return-to-work plans.

Disability and health care operations work together to ensure that employees make the most of resources available to them through their employers, such as disease management programs and employee assistance programs.

Heres a real life story about Nancy, an employee helped by an integrated program.

Nancy was a call center representative in her late 50s whose diabetes had led to severe vision damage. Her case manager enrolled Nancy in a disease management program, offered her a discount on a weight reduction program, and persuaded her employer to buy an extra-bright halogen lamp to help accommodate her limited vision. The lamp cost about $100, but no one could put a price tag on Nancys ability to continue to support herself.

Anecdotes are one thing. Statistics are something else.

Results from a recent study of integrated health and short-term disability plans at 156 companies show that the integrated plans really can cut costs and improve return-to-work outcomes.

is senior vice president and chief marketing officer at CIGNA Group Insurance, a unit of CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia. He can be reached at jaymenario@cigna.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, October 14, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.