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Only 22% of plan sponsors know what’s driving plan costs!

Only 22% of plan sponsors know what’s driving plan costs!

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The recently released 2020 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey indicated that only 22% of plan sponsors know what medical conditions are driving their plan costs. We are surprised and disappointed with this major gap in knowledge of plan performance. Understanding your employee population and their plan usage provides opportunities to influence behaviour, increase employee appreciation and engagement, and maximize the value of benefit plan spend.

Unique position

While there are many medical conditions, such as cancer, that are beyond the control of plan sponsors, employers are in a unique position to influence the factors that contribute to many chronic conditions— and never more than in the current environment.

Overall, good health seems to boil down to a handful of categories. Studies have shown maintaining good health is dependent on eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, being physically active, getting adequate sleep, not smoking, and minimizing stress. Wellness programs that focus on these behaviours have been shown to increase the productivity of employees and, in turn, the profitability of the company. Encouraging healthy changes through communication campaigns or employee challenges can have an impact on the drugs used for everything from tummy troubles to mental health.

Gaining deeper insights

In addition, prescription drug claims are the single main driver of cost under most benefit plans in Canada. Most of these drugs can be linked to a disease (or disease class). So knowing what conditions are being treated can only help pinpoint employer actions and information that can make a difference in plan costs.

Knowledge of the drivers of drug utilization can pinpoint special concerns in a specific location or department. Multiple employees working on the same assembly line could be suffering from repetitive strain injuries due to the misuse of equipment. A spike in anti-inflammatory drugs for a specific class or cost centre can give some insight into possible training issues.

Of course, there is a lot of information hidden in the claims under your benefit plan, aside from just the drugs. A spike in short-term disability claims could indicate dissatisfaction in your employee population. An increase in paramedical practitioner claims could reflect poor ergonomics in the home office set up. Tailored messaging and relevant actions have the best chance of changing behavior and impacting plan usage.

Addressing employee needs

Employees place their trust in their employers, which makes the workplace an excellent source of information for topics as personal as health challenges. With the onset of the pandemic, this need has intensified as we all are facing change and uncertainty on a massive scale and employers have been called on to communicate more than ever to ensure pandemic-related business information is disseminated and health and safety instructions are followed.

Through your benefits programs you have the opportunity to help employees improve their lives and those of their families, while mitigating your plan costs and improving productivity, engagement, and profitability.

Data is a great tool; be sure you know what the data is telling you.

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