A unit of MetLife Inc. has set up the Disability Health and Wellness Connection program.

MetLife, New York (NYSE:MET), is offering the program at no additional cost to new and current group customers with 3,000 or more employees.

The program promotes use of an employer’s existing employee assistance programs, health and wellness programs, and disease management programs in an effort to help employees improve their health and overcome potentially disabling health problems, and to help employers understand the factors affect absenteeism and health plan costs, the company says.

In other absence management news,

- HealthNow New York Inc., New York, and Health Integrated Inc., Tampa Fla., say they have evidence that coaching by licensed mental health counselors and registered nurses with experience with behavior modification can have a dramatic effect on health plan enrollees who suffer from chronic physical health problems along with behavioral health problems.

For patients with a combination of physical and behavioral health problems, every dollar invested in counseling can lead to $3.84 in savings, the companies say.

Company researchers analyzed the performance of a 1-year-old counseling program and published the results in the May/June issue of Professional Case Management, a peer-reviewed journal.

The counseling program served 3,305 enrollees in a regional HealthNow New York health plan. The behavioral health counselors encouraged enrollees to take medicine properly, following their doctors’ treatments, lose weight when necessary, and exercise.

The program reduced acute-care facility admissions to about 24 per 1,000 patients, from 45 for a control group, and the number of visits to emergency departments fell to 53, from 72, according to HealthNow New York and Health Integrated.

- Reed Group Ltd., Westminster, Colo., has released version 6.1 of the MDGuidelines.com return-to-work guidelines.

The new release of the Web-based guide includes a text-only version for use with mobile devices. Reed also has updated much of the content, including Medicare fee data and hospital length-of-stay and cost data. It also includes new tables.