Canadian HR Reporter

July 13, 2015

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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CANADIAN HR REPORTER July 13, 2015 NEWS 3 190 Reasons Membership with the Canadian Payroll Association is essential. Canada's 1.5 million employers count on payroll professionals to annually pay $865 billion in wages and taxable benefits, $290 billion in statutory remittances, and $163 billion in benefits - all while complying with 190 regulatory requirements. Start enjoying your membership today at Member Benefits Include: ✔ Unlimited access to the Association's #1 service, Payroll InfoLine This member service answers over 38,000 inquiries per year. ✔ Member pricing for Professional Development Seminars and Webinars Over 20 topics covered in seminars across Canada. ✔ Payroll Resources at and printed publications l Legislative Compliance Rates Sheet l Payroll Best Practice Guidelines & Checklists l Timely legislative updates via electronic e-Source TM 90 of Canada's top 100 companies count on the Canadian Payroll Association membership for their payroll compliance knowledge Employers looking for more answers around health benefit plans: Survey Rising numbers around chronic disease, paramedicals among concerns BY SARAH DOBSON ORGANIZATIONS that of- fer employee health benefits are looking for more information and analysis regarding the plans, ac- cording to the 2015 edition of the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey. Seventy-two per cent desire better reporting or evaluation of the ROI of the health and wellness program; 76 per cent want a better understanding of how the benefit plan affects health outcomes, pro- ductivity and absenteeism; 62 per cent want a better understanding of the claims data; and 68 per cent want a better understanding of connections between claims and utilization of programs. e desire for better reporting is fabulous, according to Marilee Mark, vice-president, market de- velopment, group benefits, at Sun Life Financial in Toronto. "It's only if you measure and you see objective information that you really get and maintain traction with offering these programs. So you're offering them in part be- cause you know employees want them but, wow, now you're offer- ing them because you understand that there's a strong link between your benefits program and how it's utilized and the cost of your benefits program and employee productivity. To link all those to- gether, that's terrific." Employers want to know if they are investing in the right areas. But they also know employees appreciate these kinds of wellness programs, said Mark. "So they're looking at 'How do I incorporate that in as part of my overall benefit offering?' and 'Can you give me information that suggests that I'm focusing on areas that are not only what em- ployees want but that can give us better results in terms of health?' I think that's really the driver," she said. "And I think there's an expec- tation that with technology, em- ployers are going to have better access to give them that data." What's difficult is trying to make the link between wellness programs and the health ben- efits, but that's something that's coming along, said Daniel Peak, senior manager, national, private payer strategy at Sanofi Canada in Montreal. "Today, with the rising costs, plan sponsors or employers are trying to see a better return on in- vestment of this investment." e conundrum is some plan sponsors don't understand what they don't know, so education is a big part of it, said Peak. "And those solutions… are not necessarily around cost-contain- ment solutions but more around solutions that will help around productivity, maybe tools to ana- lyze or plan a bit more to under- stand the disease case in their organization." e ROI on wellness and health management is difficult for em- ployers to measure but key to the success of any program, said Lisa Jandali, COO of TRG Group Ben- efits & Pensions in Vancouver. "Few employers can track that stuff well. It's a commitment and it's an investment in tracking with data in every way — absence, health-care drug utilization, all of it, productivity — some of that stuff 's hard to measure." But with technology, the more measurable items are easy to track and the carriers are also good at sharing data around health-care and drug utilization, she said. "What's emerging now, in my opinion, is the linkage between disability and absence data, drug data and EAP utilization, because it's when all those three things are strung together, you get a re- ally good understanding of what's happening in your organization and what EAP consultations and medication use might translate to as far as an absence or a disability." When you talk about ROI, it's important to take a broader defi- nition as opposed to just a finan- cial one, said Mark. "When you're looking purely at those that participate and the im- pact on benefits utilization, some of that takes time to see… you also want to factor, when you look at the wellness programs, is what is it doing for giving employees a sense of well-being — management of stress, for example." Chronic disease But plan sponsors and plan mem- bers are not making the link when it comes to their plans and the prevalence of chronic disease in the workplace, according to the Sanofi survey of 1,504 primary holders of group health benefit plans. While employers estimated about one-quarter (26 per cent) of their workforce has a chronic con- dition, 56 per cent of plan mem- bers indicated they have such a condition. ere's a big opportunity for providers to refocus their energy on chronic disease, said Peak. "ere's a disconnect there so we certainly think there's an op- portunity for everybody maybe to refocus at least on something they have control (over). Chronic disease is something that a plan sponsor can do something about, providers can do something about," he said. "When you talk about higher- cost biologics, there's not too much you can do about that be- cause, to be honest with you, the patient program is in fact sup- porting the patients around ad- herence… so there's not too much you can control there except not putting the drug on the plan. And that becomes another issue." On the other hand, compliance or adherence to medication is a big issue when it comes to chronic disease, said Peak, "and probably responsible for between 70 to 75 per cent of costs for plan sponsors and their plans." e prevalence of chronic dis- ease is growing, and at younger and younger ages, said Mark. "But the probability of having a chronic disease is higher as you get older, and as we have that de- mographic change a little bit in the workforce, it's going to be more prevalent for the next number of years because we have more peo- ple in the category that are likely to have a chronic disease," she said. "Many chronic diseases are not visible in the workplace, so that's where employers would under- estimate what the numbers are because I could have high blood pressure or diabetes and my employer would not know. And mental health is a chronic disease as well, cancer is increasingly a chronic disease." We're seeing the thin end of the wedge and it's definitely a demo- graphic issue, said Jandali. "And that's going to continue, particularly as employees post- pone retirement and stay in the workforce. So I think the screen- ing and the prevention and the coaching and the managing of this health risk, particularly in the chronic disease state area, is going to be so critical going forward." For employers concerned about the cost of screening, it's an in- vestment, no question, she said. LOOK > pg. 8 Credit: Luke MacGregor (Reuters) Clinical lead doctor Al Story points to an X-ray showing a pair of infected lungs in London in 2014. Chronic disease is prevalent in the workplace but plan sponsors are not making the link between disease and health benefit plans.

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