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May 20, 2022

Choosing the right employee benefits for health and well-being

In today’s job market, employers need to provide more than competitive wages to attract and retain the best talent. They also need to offer different types of employee benefits that support a range of personal needs. By exploring and adopting new, personalized benefit options, employers can help keep their workforce happy, healthy, and well.

This guide will help employers understand the basics of employee benefits and ways to create a successful employee benefit program.

Table of Contents

What are employee benefits?

Employee benefits are tangible and intangible compensation that companies of any size can offer their employees beyond regular salary or wages. A vital part of the overall compensation package, employee benefits can help organizations support their employees’ physical, financial, and emotional well-being, while attracting and retaining top talent.

Types of employee benefits

Traditionally, companies have offered these employee benefits:
  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement plans
  • Disability insurance
These days, employers are now also offering these benefit options:
  • Work benefits, including:
    • Flextime, and remote or hybrid work models
    • Skills development
    • Complimentary meals
    • Recreational activities

  • Health, well-being, and lifestyle benefits, including:
    • Wellness programs
    • Fitness classes and reimbursement
    • Healthcare point solutions
    • Employee assistance programs
    • Childcare, grocery, and legal services
    • Pet-friendly offices
  • Financial benefits, including:
    • Retirement savings plans
    • Paid time off (PTO) and leaves of absence
    • Bonuses, commissions, and shares
    • Advisory programs
    • Transportation reimbursement
    • Tuition reimbursement and student loan assisstance
    • Pet insurance

Employee benefits examples

Companies are legally required to offer employees Social Security, Medicare, federal and state unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance. Not required but usually expected options include retirement savings plans and disability insurance. Some companies go further yet and offer employee benefits such as pet insurance and, more recently, options for permanently remote workers.

Popular employee benefits

Employees are seeking greater flexibility and personalized options in their benefit offerings, such as flexible working hours for their childcare needs, vacation carryover or PTO, and both onsite and remote working options. At the same time, bedrock benefits are still important. In fact, 84% of U.S. workers value benefits such as life and disability insurance, and voluntary benefits such as hospital indemnity and critical illness insurance.

When promoted externally—especially now, during the Great Resignation—a full, flexible benefits package with remote and hybrid work options can go a long way in attracting candidates. Further, companies that recognize the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on their workforce have begun to offer programs that address their workforces’ mental health.

Healthcare benefits

Most U.S. companies offer their employees healthcare benefits. In fact, in 2020, nearly 90% of all companies and virtually every firm with more than 1,000 employees offered health insurance to at least some of their workforce and families, covering approximately 157 million people in the United States.

Point solutions

Employers often use point solutions to fill any gaps left by standard healthcare coverage. Examples of healthcare point solutions include lifestyle management services and health support services such as those for diabetes, autism, or cancer. Point solutions can enhance healthcare quality and the member experience while lowering costs for companies and their workforce.

While innovatively supporting employees with specific medical conditions, mental health concerns, and behavioral health concerns, employers also implement point solutions to overcome the financial burden of inadequate coverage. This burden can be exceptionally high for the most-acute diseases that require specialty expertise while incurring the highest treatment costs.

The purpose and importance of employee benefits

What is the importance—i.e., advantages—of offering employee benefits? Quality, flexible health and well-being benefits are helpful to employers and employees because they competitively support top talent attraction and retention, and a healthy and thus more productive workforce. Though the cost may be high—for both the companies and their employees—they can be worth the price.

In total, U.S. businesses spend $950 billion on healthcare benefits for their employees and dependents each year. The cost of health insurance nets out to a yearly average of $7,470 for an individual and $21,342 for a family. Employers pay an average of 92% of that cost, amounting to 8.2% of the total compensation paid to workers. Employees then pay the balance as well as any deductibles, copays, supplementary insurance, and all costs above a set cap.

When employees aren’t adequately covered, they often put off or forego treatments they can’t afford, which can dramatically impact their health, quality of life, and lifespan. Along with the human cost, employers pay a steep hidden cost in lost productivity from absenteeism, presenteeism, illness, and side effects from treatment that can lead to errors and accidents on the job, and lower morale among coworkers who need to compensate for the affected employee’s lapses.

Consequently, employers pay $575 billion a year for poor health in sick days ($151B), short-term disability ($42B), long-term disability ($29B), family and medical leave ($26B), workers’ compensation ($116B), and impaired performance attributed to chronic health conditions ($211B), while losing 1.5 billion days in productivity.

Employee benefits tools and technology

What good is a comprehensive benefits package when employees don’t even know what they’re getting? 35% of employees don’t fully understand the benefits they selected during open enrollment, and that number jumps to 54% for millennials. This lack of knowledge explains why most working Americans want more education and tools on their available benefits. In fact, two-thirds of employees would welcome help and guidance on their benefits from their employer throughout the year.

Employees who understand all of their options are more likely to feel empowered by their company, collaborate with their coworkers, feel a greater sense of job security, and stay at their jobs longer.

Employers can also leverage technology and administer their benefit programs to meet employees’ unique needs. For example, certain solutions can enable employees to cover an emergency with their PTO vs. their 401(k) funds, potentially saving substantial penalty costs. Without added financial stress, employees show better health and greater job performance.

Employee benefits for cancer patients, and why they’re important

27 out every 100 employees will get cancer and undergo treatment at one time or another. In addition, nearly 5% of workers with a history of cancer undergo long-term treatment and follow-up, and face a risk of recurrence.

Cancer expenses are one of the top three medical-expense categories for employers. Specifically, cancer can cost employers $103.8 billion for care plus $123 billion in absenteeism and lost productivity.

Furthermore, cancer costs are rising. In 2018, Americans undergoing cancer treatments paid $5.6 billion for their treatments out of pocket, and that amount is expected to increase by 34% by the end of this decade. Cancer is also the leading trigger of long-term employee disability—breast and lung cancers represent about 30% of disability claims, and all cancer results in more than 33 million disability days a year.

Because cancers, especially complex and rare cancers, present such a high financial burden, cancer care–focused employee benefits make a lot of sense. Many employer-sponsored health plans offer basic cancer coverage as part of their larger offering, but these plans commonly lack comprehensive cancer support and instead offer only expert medical opinion (EMO) services.

With a dedicated employee benefit of comprehensive cancer support in place, employers can minimize the cost and burden of cancer to their companies and employees. In fact, companies that offer benefits tailored to those with cancer see higher productivity rates and a rate of 97% of survivors returning to work.

What to look for in a cancer support program

Different cancer benefits can help employees get on the right course of treatment early on for the best outcomes possible. These include:

Access to expert case reviews

Today, the pace of oncology innovation doubles every 73 days, compared to doubling every three to five years in 2010—yet 76% of U.S. oncology practices employ just one to five oncologists. Considering these community oncologists are managing many types of cancer every day, they can benefit from the support of subspecialists who focus on the latest advancements.

An expert review of any cancer case, including complex and rare cancers, can connect employees and their community oncologists to cancer experts with National Cancer Institute (NCI)–Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. With deep knowledge in the latest research, discoveries, and treatments, these specialists can provide insights that community doctors may use to optimize treatment plans.

Access to clinical trials

Clinical trials provide treatment at no cost as well as produce medical breakthroughs that become the next standard of care. When those with cancer haven’t responded to other courses of treatment, clinical trials are often their next best option.

At the end of March 2022, 40,848 FDA-approved cancer-focused clinical trials were underway. By connecting to subspecialists knowledgeable in the newest trials available and plugged into far-reaching research networks, community doctors can match their patients to the options best suited to their needs.

Access to emotional support

Cancer care often doesn’t include support for mental or emotional health despite the tremendous psychological toll a diagnosis can take on patients and their families. Major depression affects approximately 15% to 25% and anxiety affects about 44% of people with cancer, and it doesn’t end with remission. Approximately one-fifth of cancer survivors experience symptoms of depression, and three-quarters experience symptoms of distress.

Along with addressing emotional issues, psychological support is an important tool in fighting the disease itself. In a study with 50,000 veterans treated for lung cancer, those who received mental health treatment lived substantially longer than those who didn’t.

Access to a cancer navigator

Confusion, fear, and uncertainty over what to do next can all accompany a cancer diagnosis. While addressing the many questions and concerns, nurses and subspecialists can help patients feel supported as they navigate the unwanted cancer journey.

Cancer support program implementation and management

To properly implement a cancer support program, the service provider can work in tandem with the client company to determine how to strategically plan the program launch and then engage employees.

The service provider should understand the company’s key partners who will champion the program and other internal parties who will play a role in the program’s administration. The company and service provider should also evaluate the available resources that can support the launch and the different communication channels they’ll use to promote the program.

The service provider and client should additionally determine specific strategies and deliverables that will help sustain awareness, drive member engagement, and boost employee satisfaction. The provider may distribute a marketing toolkit with digital ads, brochures, videos, and postcards that the company can use to spread awareness, and a custom website to provide additional information for employees who want to learn more.

Following implementation, the service provider and company should continue to work together to optimize member utilization and troubleshoot any issues.

AccessHope’s unique and innovative employee benefits

Companies offering unique, personalized employee benefit options beyond those in a traditional package see clinical, financial, and humanistic returns on their investment. AccessHope provides the market’s most sought-after employee benefits of cancer information support services available today.

AccessHope was created to connect employees with cancer and their community oncologists to leading expertise from NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. These cancer centers have met rigorous standards for transdisciplinary, state-of-the-art research focused on developing new and better approaches to preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer. Currently, only 20% of cancer cases are treated at one of the 52 NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.

Realizing that many people face geographic, financial, and other barriers to world-renowned cancer expertise, AccessHope developed a revolutionary model that offers U.S. employers the benefit of cancer support services for their eligible employees. Employees can contact experienced nurses for compassionate support along their cancer journey and connect their community doctors to NCI-level subspecialists. Leveraging knowledge in the latest research findings and any suggested medications, tests, or clinical trials, our subspecialists provide recommendations to community doctors, which they may use to optimize their patients’ treatment plans.

By democratizing leading cancer expertise, we’re closing the cancer knowledge gap while leveling cancer health disparities across the country. Employees don’t need to travel to take advantage of the cancer support services, so they can stay close to home with their local support system of family and friends. As services that equalize access to cancer support, they also promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as employee benefits for anybody with cancer, whoever they are and wherever they live.

Currently, we serve 3.3 million members employed by 80 clients, including 21 Fortune 500 companies, across 24 states and Washington DC—enabling better cancer outcomes, improved productivity, lower costs, and higher value.

Find out more about how you can offer our benefits for employees with cancer across the country.

 

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