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March 28, 2012

EAPs – A Benefit You May Want to Check Out

Monday’s blog alluded to the reality of the high cost of providing health insurance benefits to employees.  As a result, many medical insurance plans are being redesigned to include higher deductibles and copays to counteract the increase in premiums.  Employers still want to provide a well-rounded offering of benefits to employees, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so without affecting the overall budget.

A benefit worth checking out is EAPs – Employee Assistance Programs.  EAPs have been around for decades, but have generally been used as a resource to help workers with substance-abuse issues on a confidential basis.  That is no longer the case.  EAPs are getting a makeover, partly as a result of employers concern about everyday stress in employee’s lives.  According to Stella Antonakis, senior associate of total health management at Mercer, “It’s everything under the umbrella of behavioral and mental health.”

So how can an EAP help?  Below are a few of the services they provide:

  • Find affordable child care or elder care
  • Financial services, such as refinancing a mortgage
  • Sort through health care costs
  • Referral for tax accountant
  • Legal services
  • Planning a wedding
  • Health and wellness services
  • Management training

The reason EAPs are so attractive as an “add-on” benefit is that they are relatively cheap for employers, costing about $1 to $3 per month.  However, the utilization of services is only 2% – 6% of the employee population.

As an employer, if you have an EAP, it may be a good time to re-educate your employee population about the vast array of services that can be provided.  Many mental and behavioral issues in an employee’s life affect their worklife and productivity.  If you don’t have an EAP, it may be time to explore adding one as an additional inexpensive benefit which could provide valuable services to your employee population.  For more information, click here.

EAPs Modernize, But Employees Are Slow to Catch On

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