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Investing in mental health is a win-win

February 21, 2017

With the ever-increasing stress levels that are carried by employees, it is becoming more important to ensure that employees are able to better care of themselves.

An average company will spend nearly 90 percent of its resources on its most important asset: its people. For each employee who is battling a mental health condition, tremendous costs are created, and significant opportunity missed.

What’s the cost?

In the United States alone, the World Health Organization estimates that the mental health conditions cost employers upwards of $100 billion, with 200 million days lost to work annually.

How are the costs divided?

These costs could come in a variety of areas from simply not showing up to work for any reason (absenteeism), or showing up to work without being able to perform meaningful work (presenteeism).

Absenteeism

What’s more, employees who are battling these issues will often encounter a host of other health conditions related to their behaviors. As behaviors begin to deteriorate, and happiness levels start to sink lower on the job, it can create a wide range of other health implications. There are many studies further connecting the dots between overall mental health and chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and other heart-related issues.

A typical business spends a significant amount of money on health insurance, with many companies contributing a larger portion. If employees are not healthy due to stress, anxiety, depression, or any other behavioral related issues, this only reinforces the premiums to continue rising at unsustainable rates.

Estimates point to average premiums increasing anywhere from five to 40 percent annually in America, rising faster than working wages.

One of the most important segments of customers for American health insurers are employer groups. In the increasingly competitive marketplace, insurers are always searching for innovations that can help set themselves apart from others in the marketplace, improving the health of their members, while driving down overall healthcare spending. Employer groups are searching for insurers that can maintain a robust network of providers, providing the best possible customer service, and most importantly those that can be cost competitive.

Some insurers are starting to invest their own resources to try and find or create their own solutions. At the most recent quarterly report from insurance giant Aetna, leadership noted,

““We are continuing to make investments in digital tools and differentiated care models to provide our members with access to simple, high-quality affordable products that help them achieve their best health.”

Does it make sense for large, bureaucratic organizations to try and innovate to create solutions in the market, or does it make more sense to harness existing, proven innovative solutions to quickly make an impact in the marketplace?

 

Insurers inherently exist to mitigate risk, so any subtle change to the status quo must:

  • Be a proven solution with a demonstrated track record of engaging people
  • Be able to demonstrate its value through black and white data analysis as there have been too many investments in recent memory that have resulted in lackluster outcomes
  • Finally, any solution that insurers chose to harness must have the ease and flexibility to combine the latest in technology, coupled with the ability to drive down costs for employers.

 

What could business leaders do about mental health?

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