EAP’s (Employee Assistance Programs) have been around for years, but they’re kind of “under the radar” for most folks. Since they’re not really “insurance” products, they are often taken for granted; many folks don’t even know that their employer (or group insurance) offers one. That’s a shame, really, because these programs can be quite helpful.
How helpful, you may ask?
Well, according to a recent study conducted by The Hartford, EAP’s can have a positive affect on disability claims. In fact, companies without an EAP had 6% of employees on disability leave annually, compared to just 2% of workers for employers that had, and whose employees used, EAP services.
For example, employers without an EAP had 598 short-term disability claims for musculoskeletal disorders (such as joint or back pain), compared to 312 claims for companies with an EAP. On average, workers with these disorders at companies without an EAP were off work about 3 weeks longer than those who used an EAP. Not only that, but employers without an EAP had 354 short-term disability claims for cancer, compared to 158 claims for those with one. And cancer survivors who used their company’s EAP returned to work almost a week sooner than those didn’t.
But it’s not just about physical disabilities: according to CorpCare (an EAP firm in Atlanta), about 1 in 5 of their cases involved marital or family problems. The most prevalent issue, though, is stress: ComPsych, an EAP based in Chicago, says that 40% of their stress cases cited workload, while another 34% had “people issues.”
So, why don’t we hear more about EAP’s? Well, part of the reason is that most of the time, when looking at medical plans as a whole, they take a backseat to the more commonly used benefits such as doctor visits and prescriptions. But that’s changing, too: more companies are using EAP’s to help train their employees in more advanced “people skills:” conflict resolution, job performance reviews, and workplace behavior. With the rise of EPLI (Employee Practices Liability) claims, such as sexual harassment and the like, such issues become even more urgent.
And there’s a more direct economic reward for doing so, as well: according to the Hartford study, the ROI (Return on Investment) for employers that use an EAP in conjunction with disability benefits is $2.93 for every dollar spent on the EAP and disability insurance.
Henry Stern, LUTCF is an independent insurance agent in Dayton, OH. A licensed Continuing Education instructor for Ohio and Kentucky, he has well over 20 years of experience in “the biz.” He blogs every day (or so it seems) at InsureBlog.