Cypress U | October 30th, 2018
An employee assistance program is designed to help members address mental and behavioral health concerns. EAPs offer help with a wide range of issues – providing short term counseling for stress, anxiety, depression, or even substance abuse and relationship issues. Additionally, EAPs can include other work/life benefits like free legal consultations, financial consultation, or even finding a dog sitter for a weekend getaway.
There are three basic types of employee assistance programs:
Embedded/Affinity Programs – These are “thrown in” for free with another line of coverage. They are, on average, underwritten on an annualized utilization rate of 0.25% – an incredibly small number. This means that out of 1000 members, less than three use the EAP every year.
Carrier-based Programs – These are offered by big carriers like United, Blue Cross, Signa, and Etna. While they may be utilized more, these carriers have no incentive to resolve cases within the framework of the EAP. There’s no coordination between the EAP and the other components of the plan.
Specialty/Third-party Programs – These programs include those that we use at Cypress. It’s a mix of companies that provide everything from global programming to small, regional hospital systems. The benefit is that since more of these companies provide only EAP services, they’re well-practiced in running the program as efficiently as possible, leading to more effective care for the member.
What’s the benefit of including an Employee Assistance Program in your self-funded plan? As of 2016, 26% of Americans were deemed to have a diagnosable mental health disorder. For comparison, that’s more than diabetes and cancer combined (at 9% and 4.5%, respectively). Plus, that 26% is only a measure of mental concerns, to say nothing of other common behavioral health concerns like relationship issues, stress, and substance abuse.
Most EAPs help employees address these personal and work-related concerns, getting employees the help they need in order to overcome their problems. Aside from impacting the employees’ lives, these issues affect the employers in the form of productivity decreases, lesser supervisor competency, and overall engagement while at work. However, many don’t realize the impact on human capital costs, largely through the effect of absenteeism and turnover.
Employee Assistance Programs, if implemented correctly, can fill the gap of behavioral health that exists in most cost containment strategies. Behavioral health accounts for 7.3% of health care spending each year – that’s $135 billion. This is nearly as much as the amount spent on heart disease and cancer combined. With such a huge amount of money going towards such a common problem, it’s important that your plan have a strategy in place for addressing these claims.