A growing number of employers are becoming aware that workers are providing greater hands-on support to aging parents and other family members — and that employers can help through employee benefits, according to the report, “Caregiving Growing in Importance to Employers,” by the Northeast Business Group on Health in collaboration with AARP. NEBGH surveyed benefits managers from 129 U.S. employers and found that two-thirds (66 percent) agree that during the next five years, caregiving will become an increasingly important issue to their workers. Nearly half (45 percent) say caregiving benefits are within their top 10 priorities for employee health and benefit issues, while 12 percent say it’s within their top five priorities. However, 32 percent say they are unable to address the issue, and 11 percent say it’s not even on their radar.
Many employers recognize the burden that caregiving employees shoulder: A new survey by the Northeast Business Group on Health (undertaken in partnership with AARP) finds that more than three quarters of the 129 mostly large employers surveyed agree that caregiving will grow in importance to their companies over the next five years. Respondents cited increased productivity, decreased absenteeism and reduced healthcare costs as the top drivers that would make a compelling case for investing in benefits that would make them “caregiver friendly” organizations.
The workplace can play an important role in diabetes management, said Dr. Jeremy Nobel, medical director at the Northeast Business Group on Health. Workplaces have historically relied on weight control programs and screening for diabetes management. “Those have some value, but they’re not what they could be,” said Nobel. He suggested a more personalized approach to weight control. Digital solutions are one way to make this individualized approach easier.
New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania have recently done New Jersey a favor. The state’s neighbors have flashed a warning sign that the Garden State would do well to notice. In the past month, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania health insurers taking part in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace have filed their premium rates for 2018. The increases are staggering. They are part of a national trend that New Jersey will soon fall victim to if the debate over health care is not resolved quickly in our nation’s capital.
With employers footing a major part of the nation's massive diabetes-driven $300 billion medical bill, new digitally based workplace programs are showing progress in managing those costs and improving employees' lives.
"First and foremost employers want a healthy birth," said Emily Sasser, special projects manager at the Northeast Business Group on Health, which offers employers in the region resources for managing employee benefits. In their efforts to keep costs down at the point of birth, employers are working to direct women to quality providers who can help them reduce risks during pregnancy. They're also becoming "laser-focused" on reducing C-sections, Sasser said. Maven has worked to tap into these concerns. The app offers additional support to those at high risk for complications and dispenses information on C-section rates at local hospitals and facts about what constitutes a medically necessary C-section when a user is developing a birth plan, Ryder said. Still, the company faces growing competition in the pregnancy-tracker market. "In the last three years, it's really exploded," Sasser said.
Employers who embrace a digital approach to combating diabetes in the workplace can not only provide employees engaging opportunities to help manage the condition, but also take advantage of cost-saving measures. A recent pilot program within a segment of employees at Mount Sinai Health System integrated Livongo for Diabetes, an interactive blood glucose monitoring system, and showcased significantly enhanced connection and engagement between employees and health services. Additionally, it showed “timely, secure and convenient collection of data that can lead to improved clinical care,” according to a new report from the Northeast Business Group on Health.
More than one in six U.S. employees has a secondary job their employer might not know about: informal caregiving for a relative. As the older adult population in the U.S. is projected to nearly double in size by 2050 from 48 million to 88 million, employers need to expect that employees might be distracted with the financial and emotional burden of caring for a relative and are looking for support in the form of peer support groups, medical tools, flexible schedules and more. In fact, 23% of employees are spending 41 hours or longer each week caring for a relative, according to a new report from the Northeast Business Group on Health. On average, employees spend four years in the role of caregiver and 24 hours a week providing caregiving assistance.