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Peter Bocking

 Tags: Mental Health

Your drug plan is a big part of your employee benefits package. Prescription medications can help employees treat physical ailments, but they can also help treat mental illnesses. Both types of illnesses are equally important in the workplace. After all, if employees aren’t feeling well, they won’t do their best work and may need to take sick days.

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To protect your employees and your business, develop a drug plan that supports your employees’ mental health, not just their physical health. Small changes to your existing drug plan can make a big difference in employee mental health. To start supporting your employees, consider making these changes to your drug plan.

Raise the Cap for Your Drug Plan

To control costs, some employers have placed caps on their drug plans. Typically, these caps range from $5,000 to $10,000 per year. For employees who don’t have many health issues, that could be more than enough. Employees who have serious chronic conditions could quickly hit the cap and become unable to pay for their specialty medications. To support employee mental health, consider raising—or even removing—the cap on your drug plan.

People with chronic conditions have twice the likelihood of experiencing depression or anxiety when compared to people without those conditions. Making it easier for these employees to pay for their necessary medications can help them feel better, both physically and mentally.

Budget-conscious companies may worry about raising the caps on their drug plans. To help keep costs under control, you can focus on reducing waste on traditional medications. These medications make up 98 percent of claims, according to Benefits Canada. Wellness programs that encourage healthy lifestyle habits, like exercise and healthy eating, can help keep these claims under control.

Include Coverage for Addiction Treatment

Many prescription medications are available to help treat addictions to alcohol, nicotine, opiates, and other substances. These medications can help reduce cravings to substances or minimize withdrawal symptoms. Drug plans don’t always cover these medications. In some plans, these medications are considered lifestyle drugs and are excluded from coverage. This can be a problem for employee mental health.

Substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses often occur together, though it’s not clear if one disorder causes the other or if both are caused by underlying factors. To support employee mental health, make it easier for employees to pay for their addiction treatment medications. Check with your insurance carrier to see if these drugs are covered in your plan. If they’re not covered, try to add them.

By providing coverage for these medications in your drug plan, you can help your employees get the treatments they need. Treating substance abuse disorders may help lessen the severity of mental illnesses or make those illnesses more treatable.

Simplify the Claims Process

Sometimes, using a benefits plan can be complicated. Employees may need to have their prescriptions filled at certain approved pharmacies or may need to submit paper claims to be reimbursed. These policies can help reduce costs for employers, but they can also add more stress for some of your employees.

Employees who are experiencing mental illnesses may not have the energy to travel to an approved pharmacy or submit paper claims forms. They could end up not taking the medications they need because of these obstacles.

To help these employees, work with your insurer to make the claims process as simple as possible. Many insurers are now offering online claims access, so employees can submit claims more easily. If you currently use a preferred pharmacy network to reduce costs, consider letting employees fill their prescriptions at the location that’s most convenient for them.

By making changes to your existing drug plan, you can better support employee mental health. If you need help adjusting your drug plan, don’t hesitate to partner with a benefit specialist firm. These firms can help you understand your options and make the right choices for your company and its employees.

 

The-Small-Business-Owner's-Guide-to-Employee-Benefits

Peter Bocking

Peter worked as a Financial Advisor for a few years before joining HMA 7 years ago. He has grown into the capacity of a true Benefits Consultant in that time, and now proudly owns the firm along with his Business Partner, Barry. They have 19 amazing, specialized staff and they’re growing steadily as the specialists to turn to with over 30 years in the Benefits industry. He is a Group Benefits Associate (GBA) and is working on completing his Compensation Management Specialist (CMS). Peter loves spending time with his family. They give back to the community they live and work in. He is a proud member of Rotary and he is heavily involved with various other charitable and not-for-profit efforts. If you can’t find him around town, he’s probably singin’ a few tunes with guitar in hand.
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