For many people, worries at home inevitably become worries at work. This is especially true when it comes to healthcare costs, an increasingly significant source of stress for millions of people. A 2017 Gallup survey found that, for 17% of Americans, healthcare is the greatest source of financial concern—higher than even college expenses, housing, and low wages. That concern is understandable, given that the sudden onset of serious illness can impact the finances of unprepared families.
But stress about healthcare costs can also cause its own medical problems. Stress and anxiety are linked to a variety of chronic illnesses, including migraines, insomnia, and heart disease.
This is a reality that can have a significant impact on the workplace. Greater workplace anxiety and the associated costs of stress could mean higher turnover, lower productivity, and more lost work time. For a third of employees, stress over personal finances is bad enough that it distracts from their day-to-day duties, according to a study from the Center for Financial Services Innovation. In total, job stress costs the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.
Employers can help their employees navigate these challenges. Keeping workers healthy means understanding and addressing any personal challenges that affect their well-being—particularly worries about healthcare costs. Here are some benefits your company can offer to help close the healthcare financial gap.
Health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) and healthcare savings accounts (HSAs) have become increasingly popular among smaller-and mid-size companies in recent years. In 2017, 9% percent of employers offered HRAs, while 17% offered HSA-qualified high-deductible health plan.
That growth makes sense, given that these plans are a win for both employers and their employees. The bottom line: These accounts can help employees worry less about finding the money to cover copayments for doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and other health-related expenses. This gives employees more peace of mind, especially since health savings accounts are theirs to keep if the money isn’t spent.
During health plan open enrollment, employers should also consider offering employees the option to enroll in group supplemental insurance coverage. This coverage provides additional financial protection and can help covered employees pay for out-of-pocket health care costs, without requiring additional contributions from the employer.
Short-term disability insurance: Protection for when employees are prevented from working due to a covered injury or illness
Experiencing a disabling injury or illness is more common than most people think. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, more than one in four 20-year-olds in the US will become disabled before reaching retirement age. The most common reason for short-term disability claims is pregnancy, which gives women an even greater need for financial protection. The number two cause? Joint disorders and musculoskeletal issues, like those affecting the lower back, knees, and hips.
This is the idea behind short-term disability insurance, which pays a portion of a covered employee’s income if they experience a covered disabling injury or illness—usually for a period of 3 to 6 months (varies by plan). It’s a solution for people who want additional protection or who may not have enough emergency savings to self-insure—four in 10 adults would not be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense.
At a time of increasing uncertainty in the healthcare system, workers are eager for more ways to protect themselves and their families. This creates new opportunities for employers. Offering well-rounded employee benefits packages means helping employees minimize their uncertainty. Not only does this help keep current employees happy and healthy, but it’s also a powerful way to retain and attract talent. Workers today don’t just want a paycheck—they want financial well-being.