Employers can take steps to help manage their benefit costs without cutting coverage
June 2, 2011 – Waterloo – Manulife Financial has launched Health Management Services, extending its comprehensive approach to serving all aspects of Canadian employers’ group benefit needs. Health Management Services gives employers a new way of dealing with the challenge of managing their overall benefit costs. It offers them a unique and practical solution that takes the traditional approach of promoting employee health and wellness two steps further. It introduces the use of intervention techniques that have been proven successful at engaging employees in taking charge of their health, and it fully integrates this approach with all aspects of an employer’s benefit plan. Health Management Services can improve employee health, increase employee engagement and productivity, and aid in managing overall benefit costs – – helping to make the benefit plan financially sustainable over the long term.
“We know that benefit plans give employers an edge in attracting and retaining staff,” says Manulife’s Rick Brunet, Executive Vice President, Group. “But employers are seeking ways to manage the costs of these plans. Keeping plans affordable has typically meant reducing benefits or passing on more of these expenses to their employees. Together with group advisors we can offer plan sponsors an alternative that lets them start managing tomorrow’s benefits costs today.”
Understanding the Metrics of Employee Health
Health Management Services has several distinct features that make it unique in the benefits industry. It creates an analysis of group health data that gives employers an overview of key health costs and metrics for the common chronic diseases and risk factors in their employee population. It includes the Workplace Health Profile, Manulife’s proprietary assessment tool based on workplace health models promoted by Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and the National Quality Institute. In total, it gives employers a comprehensive assessment of all the dynamics that can impact their benefit programs.
“Employers don’t always consider the larger picture of workforce health and its impact on health and disability claims,” explains Christine MacDonald, Manulife’s Assistant Vice President of Health Management Services. “But it’s crucial to have this broad understanding. Employers need to ask themselves, what’s behind the data? Can we make changes that will help support our employees to be healthier, or safer on the job? Will these changes make a difference in our benefit plan costs?”
Manulife’s Health Management Services gives employers this complete perspective and makes it actionable, too. “The Workplace Health Profile helps us measure just how effective a company’s wellness program really is, and then maps out the overall health risks and diseases that company’s employees are experiencing, all the while protecting the privacy of individuals,” says MacDonald. “In combination with the aggregate data specific to chronic health conditions, it lets us build a tailored �roadmap’ and action plan that are unique to the needs of that company and its employees, with measurable results.”
Part of the success, she explains, lies in connecting employees at the right time with resources about their medical conditions, including wellness services that can help them take charge for change. This sort of intervention can shorten disability leaves, or help employees suffering from chronic health conditions to manage their symptoms more effectively. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 70% of health and disability benefit costs are related to six types of chronic disease: cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, digestive, cancer and mental illness. Many of these illnesses can be avoided or their symptoms better managed if people take steps to minimize their risk factors or manage their condition. And that can mean reduced absenteeism or medical and drug claims resulting from these types of chronic illness.
Health Management Services is currently available to Manulife Group Benefits clients with 400 or more active plan members. Plan sponsors may be interested in Health Management Services if they:
- have high drug and disability benefit utilization;
- are looking for assistance with the elements that drive benefit plan cost and utilization, or
- are asking questions like “What is driving my plan’s health benefit costs?” “Is my current worksite wellness program addressing the actual health risks present in our organization?” “What is the return on investment data on wellness initiatives?”
The Next Step: Positive Change for Healthy Employees
Manulife’s Lifestyle Health Coaching is one example of how people can take charge and make change. “Employee health is good business. We can help people act on their good intentions and finally be successful at changing habits that are putting their health at risk,” explains Brunet. “Lifestyle Health Coaching is very empowering: it gives people the attention and support of a personal coach who’ll help keep them motivated to change the things in their lifestyle that are damaging their health. These coaches are professionals in areas such as diet, nutrition and personal fitness. Lifestyle Health Coaching is a personalized and very effective way of helping employees achieve their goals for improved health.”
“We believe employers have a real opportunity to support employees who want to lead a healthier life, feel better, and in the process, take steps to manage the rising cost of health claims,” adds MacDonald. “Health Management Services and Lifestyle Health Coaching represent a new approach that helps everyone be successful.”
For more details about Health Management Services, Lifestyle Health Coaching or other Manulife Group Benefits products and services, please visit our website at www.manulife.ca/groupbenefits
About Manulife Financial
Manulife Financial is a leading Canadian-based financial services group operating in 22 countries and territories worldwide. For more than 120 years, clients worldwide have looked to Manulife for strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial decisions. Our international network of employees, agents and distribution partners offers financial protection and wealth management products and services to millions of clients around the world. We provide asset management services to institutional customers worldwide as well as reinsurance solutions, specializing in life and property and casualty retrocession. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were $478 billion (US$492 billion) as at March 31, 2011. The Company operates as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as �MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under �945′ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at www.manulife.com.