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8 Posts authored by: Aetna

By Dr. Thomas Parry


Several years ago, I had a prophetic conversation with an executive responsible for managing all the absence programs for a 60,000-life financial services company. She told me that during the previous week, the CEO of her company had asked her: “What are we getting as a business for all this money we’re spending on health and related benefits?” She said to me that she knew exactly how much the programs cost but had no idea what value they added to the business. But then she added something interesting: “If I can’t answer his question, I look like a non-essential administrative function in my organization.” I am not sure if it was related, but she retired the next year.


As employers evaluate the future of health benefits for their organizations, two fundamental truths stand out for every benefits professional. First, health care is changing. Whether employers decide to provide employee health benefits through private or public exchanges, exit the health care system and pay requisite fines, invest in workforce health, or completely turn health decisions over to employees, the approach to health care benefits will never again be the same. Second, senior business leaders need highly-performing, productive workforces so that their companies can remain competitive. The challenge to benefits professionals is how to make the transition from health-as-cost to health-as-business value given these changes.


We find that benefits professionals in employer organizations understand these new realities conceptually, but when it comes to engaging in a conversation with senior business leaders in their organizations, they often get stuck for two reasons: 1) They typically lack the data to create a business case for workforce health improvement. 2) Their company is organized in benefit silos with more incentives to shift cost and risk to another internal program area than to work together for the benefit of the company as a whole.


So what is the economic impact of workforce health for employers? IBI researchers developed a statistical model that provides such estimates for the employed population.


Let’s use as an example a 10,000 life hospital system. Typically, this employer would equate the costs of health with health treatments and pharmacy expense. In this case, we would expect those costs to be about $33.7 million annually. However, when we include all the costs of health — lost work time, reduced performance and the associated productivity consequences — the total economic impact of health jumps to $70 million. We arrive at this figure by estimating wage replacements for absent workers at a total of nearly $13 million, and lost productivity associated with absence and reduced performance at an additional $23.6 million.


As benefits professionals proceed they must understand that regardless of their company’s decisions about financing health care, the lost-time and lost productivity consequences of health can never be fully shifted outside of their organizations. They also need to make the business case for health improvement in economic terms to their senior business leaders.


With all the focus on the cost of providing employee benefits, it is easy to overlook the potential value of those benefits if they can protect and improve employee health. Better coordination, relevant data and timely information can go a long way toward objectively evaluating the true cost – and value – of employee health to employers.


Four steps to get started:

  1. Step 1: Meet with your benefit-program counterparts and identify what data are available across programs to start to make build your business case.
  2. Step 2: Align interests across programs and move beyond compartmentalizing them to demonstrate the collective value of your programs to the business.
  3. Step 3: Put future data collection approaches in place that include leading indicators of health (such as biometric and health risk information); indicators of health care treatment (such as how and where care is delivered); and lagging indicators (such as cost, lost time, performance and productivity) so you can track changes associated with your interventions over time.
  4. Step 4: Let your vendor partners know exactly what data you need and why, and have them work in partnership to support your company’s health and productivity objectives.



About the Author: Dr. Thomas Parry is President of the Integrated Benefits Institute. He directs IBI’s activities and stewards its research agenda. Before co-founding IBI, he served 11 years as Research Director at the California Workers’ Compensation Institute. His research at CWCI encompassed a wide variety of topics in workers’ compensation, including medical treatment patterns, vocational rehabilitation costs and effectiveness, legal costs and trends, medical utilization, mental stress claims, and physical therapy patterns of care. While at CWCI, Parry was engaged in some of the earliest research and analysis on 24-hour coverage and integrated benefits.

Reprinted with permission from the author and Aetna. For more information see

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Aetna Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aetna Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aetna

Content provided by Aetna for the exclusive use of Bank of America and the Small Business Community


What’s the easiest way to strengthen your business? Have healthy employees! It sounds easier said than done, but investing in a workplace wellness program (WWP) can get you and your employees on the right track toward living healthier lives. You’ll save on more than health care costs, too — even if you don’t offer health insurance.


WWPs have been proven to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism, disability costs and employee turnover for small employers.1 These indirect cost savings at least doubles those of health care spending — and those savings continue to grow year after year as employees become healthier and happier.1  Yet so many small business do not offer a workplace wellness program.


The advantages can help knock down any barriers that might prevent you from implementing a program.




Perceived expense threatens cash flow

Note the word “perceived.” The fact is, programs can cost little to nothing when you leverage the right resources.

Fewer layers of management make leadership more visible

Imagine the impact when everyone shares the same experience of commitment, struggles and successes to healthier living

High turnover can stifle a program’s success

Employees need to stay long enough for the program to make a difference. But, health promotion can be a strong recruiting tool and WWPs can help to reduce employee turnover.1

Fewer work locations make customization easier

Studies show tailoring programs to the unique needs of a population works. An intimate work location is better able to custom design a program using onsite and community resources.

Privacy is hard to maintain in small populations

You can take advantage of HIPAA-compliant resources, including programs that may come with your health insurance plan.

Change is more evident with small populations

Positive health changes are magnified in smaller social circles and close proximity to peer support.


Work with your employees to create a program they can get excited about

  • Talk openly with them about why you want to start a wellness program.
  • Find out their needs and wants. Ask for their ideas for tailoring a program they’ll use.
  • Offer incentives that are meaningful to them. Incentives don’t have to be costly. You can reward employees with first choice in vacation time, extra days off, access to seminars and more. Let them share their ideas.


To learn more about WWPs, visit

Learn more about Aetna insurance solutions


1 Partnership for Prevention. Leading by Example: The Value of Health Promotion to Small- and Medium-Sized Employers.  (As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control). Accessed July 28, 2014.


2 CDC. Workplace Health Promotion – Making the Business Case. Available at: Accessed July 29, 2014.


Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).


©2014 Aetna Inc.

  1. (9/14)

Content provided by Aetna for the exclusive use of Bank of America and the Small Business Community


Offering employee benefits has always been about attracting and keeping quality employees — without breaking your budget. It’s also important to help employees live a healthy life.


So, you want your health insurance plan to be affordable for both you and your employees. And it should include health and wellness features.


When shopping for a health plan, compare monthly payment amounts and consider how much you will contribute. Is it affordable to you? Is it affordable to your employees? Your plan should be attractive enough so employees enroll. You may have to meet a minimum enrollment quota before you can offer the plan.


Besides the premium, how much will employees pay when they receive health care? Is there a deductible? How much is the copay or coinsurance? Network plans help to keep out-of-pocket costs lower. If the plan has a network, are most local doctors in it?


Consumer-directed plans are gaining popularity because of their lower premiums. But, their higher deductibles can be scary to employees. You can offer a fund to help employees pay that deductible. There are several fund options available, with tax benefits — for you and for your employees — depending on the type of fund. Be sure to show employees all the cost-saving opportunities that consumer-directed plans provide. Employee education is key to successfully implementing this type of plan.

Health and wellness

Many health insurance plans now offer 100% coverage for preventive care, like regular checkups, immunizations and certain cancer screenings. You can also find health plans that have built-in wellness programs and features at no extra cost.


Wellness programs can be simple, like discounts to fitness centers. Or they can be complex like giving incentive rewards for taking a health assessment, or allowing high-risk employees to work with a health coach or disease management nurse.  There’s a wealth of options available, so keep your eyes open when reading plan descriptions as you shop.



Learn more about Aetna insurance solutions


Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).


©2014 Aetna Inc.

  1. (8/14)

Content provided by Aetna for the exclusive use of Bank of America and the Small Business Community


A healthy business starts with healthy employees. After all, healthy employees generally cost less to insure. But small employers reap even more with indirect benefits. Healthy employees are more productive on the job. They’re absent less often. And they tend to be happier with their job, which means less turnover and training. That’s why workplace wellness programs are gaining popularity.


No budget? No problem! Here are 5 ways you can promote good health in your workplace right now:

  1. Be a good example – Your employees look up to you. Show them that you value good health by practicing it yourself. Workplace wellness best practices almost always include visible leadership support as a priority.
  2. See what your health plan offers – Your health plan may have extra benefits to help employees stay healthy. Contact your plan administrator to make sure you’re taking advantage of any wellness programs offered by your health plan. And make sure your employees understand how to use these programs. If you don’t get it, they won’t either. Be sure to ask questions.
  3. Start a walking challenge – Provide pedometers to employees, or show them how to search for and download any of the many pedometer options available for smart phones. Put a chart in the office for everyone to track their steps. Then, you can offer a prize to the person who gets the most steps each month.
  4. Encourage full lunch breaks – People tend to make unhealthy choices when they’re in a hurry. Talk to your staff to be sure they are getting at least a half hour to eat lunch.
  5. Offer healthy foods at work – If you have a vending machine or cafeteria, make sure you have healthy food options. You can also have a local farmers market deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to the workplace.




Learn more about Aetna insurance solutions


Source: Workplace Wellness Programs Study, Final Report; Soeren Mattke, et al; the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2013;, last accessed June 1, 2014.


Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).


©2014 Aetna Inc. (7/14)

Content provided by Aetna for the exclusive use of Bank of America and the Small Business Community


Keeping good employees helps your bottom line. You’ll pay less for training and recruitment. And long-term employees have higher productivity rates. You’ll also be able to keep the most talented employees rather than losing them to your competitors.


People keep their jobs when they’re happy with their work environment. Offering a competitive salary and benefits package is the first step.  But how do you keep your employees happy without breaking your budget?


Here are some easy — and FREE — ways you can reduce employee turnover:

  1. Hire the right employees – In addition to being qualified for a position, new hires should have a personality that will mesh well with his or her coworkers.
  2. Be flexible – While structure is good, you should be understanding of your employee’s personal needs. Give your hourly employees more freedom to schedule their own hours. Or, if possible, allow employees with a long commute to occasionally work from home.
  3. Give praise – It’s easy to only give special attention to others when they do something wrong. But remember to focus on the good, too. Send a simple email or card when someone is doing a good job. It will go a long way.
  4. Set clear goals for career paths – Your employees want to know they have the opportunity to advance in your company. Be straightforward, and let them know exactly what steps to take toward a higher position. And, as always, keep your promises.
  5. Get to know your employees – People enjoy work more when they feel a personal connection to their coworkers and managers. Ask your employees about their lives. Playing a monthly “get to know you” game is a great way to break the ice.





Learn more about Aetna insurance solutions


The Wall Street Journal. Apr. 7, 2009. How to Reduce Employee Turnover. Available at: Accessed May 6, 2014.
The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. N.D. Increase retention and reduce turnover. Available at: Accessed May 6, 2014.

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).


©2014 Aetna Inc. (6/14)

Provided by Aetna

When you own a business, sleep can become a valuable commodity.

How many times have you tossed and turned, hashing over the events of the day? Or stayed up past midnight on the computer, trying to resolve a billing issue?



We all have a bad night every now and then. But when you don’t get six to eight hours of sleep most nights, it can take a serious toll on your life – and on your business.



Here are five reasons why sleep matters.

  1. Your memory is better
    “Now where did I put those invoices?” “Did I place that order or not?”
    Scientists have long known getting a good night’s sleep helps us learn and remember.
    And, obviously, poor memory can turn into lost time – and money.

  2. You are less accident prone
    Sure, accidents happen – but experts agree, when you cheat sleep regularly, you are likely to have more lapses that turn into accidents.2
    Trip over a stepladder and fracture an arm – and suddenly you face losing a day’s receipts or profits.

  3. You are better at problem solving
    Studies show that people are more creative in their problem solving after getting a good night’s rest.

    Ever have a problem that has bugged you during the day – only to “sleep on it” and come up with a solution the next morning?
    Solving a problem can mean saving your business money. Lots of money. 

  4. Your moods are better
    Ever snap at a customer and regret it later? Lack of sleep can make you moody or irritable – and more likely to say something you really shouldn’t.  No one should ever lose a sale because of a lack of zzz’s.

  5. Your overall health is better
    The studies here are scary. Lack of sleep can lead to heart disease, obesity and a weakened immune system.

    Any of these can mean expensive trips to the doctor – or the emergency room.
    If you stay healthy, your business has a better chance of staying healthy, too.



Learn more about Aetna insurance solutions.

1. Miller M.D., Michael Craig. How Sleep Affects Learning and Memory, InteliHealth, Sept. 24, 2012. Available at Accessed November 10, 2013.

2, 3, 4, 5  Six Reasons for Good Sleep. InteliHealth, Sept. 6, 2010. Available at Accessed November 10, 2013.

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).

This material is for information only.  Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date; however, it is subject to change.

Doctor-Portrait2.jpgProvided by Aetna

As a business owner, you may want to know what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means for your company.

A good place to start is this page on that provides an overview of health insurance exchanges. This page includes an easy-to-understand video to help you navigate the complex and changing health care insurance landscape.

As you’ll learn from the video, ACA has its own special language.

One way to keep up with the health care law is to familiarize yourself with these terms.

Public exchanges:
Think of these as online insurance shopping centers. Everyone can use them. And shoppers with a limited income can get financial help from the government. Many states are setting up their own public exchanges, while others are relying on the federal government. Public exchanges become effective October 1, 2013. Plans go into effect January 1, 2014.

This stands for Small Business Health Options Program. This is an online insurance shopping center for small business owners like you. SHOP plans offer four standard levels of coverage, from bronze to silver to gold to platinum.

SHOP employee choice model:
This means your workers have a choice of health plans to choose from. This part of the law is delayed until 2015 because of start-up issues. Until then, you will be able to choose a single plan from SHOP, similar to the way you do now.

Guaranteed issue:
This means everyone can get health care insurance. Health care insurance companies will have to offer coverage to anyone who applies – regardless of past or present medical conditions. This part of the law starts January 1, 2014.

Individual mandate:
This means everyone has to get health insurance coverage – or pay tax penalties. This part of the law also starts January 1, 2014.

Medical loss ratio (MLR): This is the minimum percentage of  premium dollars a health insurance company must spend on the reimbursement of certain medical costs. The health reform law requires insurers in the small group and individual markets to have an MLR of 80 percent.

Preventive care: Most insurance plans now must pay 100 percent of the cost of preventive services. This long list includes HIV testing, well-woman visits and diabetes screening.

Grandfathered plan: This means a health plan that was in place before March 23, 2010. A grandfathered plan does not have to meet some requirements of ACA.

Non-grandfathered plans: If your health plan became effective after the health care law was signed on March 23, 2010, or if your plan existed before ACA but later lost its grandfathered status,  then your plan must meet all of the health care law requirements.

Accountable Care Organization: This is a new model for delivering health care. It offers doctors and hospitals financial rewards for providing quality care while keeping costs down. The hospital is rewarded not necessarily for each transaction completed, but for improving the health care status of its patients.

Learn more about the Affordable Care Act with Health Reform Connection.

Learn more about Aetna insurance solutions


Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).


©2013 Aetna Inc.

White-in-article.jpgAre you a business owner with 50 employees or fewer? Are you unsure how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affects you and your business?

Here are seven features of the ACA that every small business owner should know:

  1. Starting January 1, 2014, health care insurance companies will have to offer insurance coverage to any individual who applies, regardless of past or current medical conditions.
    This means everyone can get health care insurance. We call this part of the law “guaranteed issue.”

  2. Starting January 1, 2014, everyone has to get health care insurance – or pay a tax penalty for not having coverage.
    There are a few exemptions, but for the most part, everyone has to get coverage – or pay penalties.

  3. Most insurance plans are now required to pay 100 percent of the cost of many preventive services.
    The list of these preventive services is long. It includes mammograms, HIV testing, well-woman visits and diabetes screening.

  4. Starting in October 2013, online insurance shopping centers known as exchanges (or marketplaces) will make it easier for consumers to get coverage.
    Everyone can use these exchanges. But shoppers who qualify based on their income can get financial help from the government.
    Many states are setting up their own online exchanges. Other states are letting the federal government set up and run these exchanges.

  5. Starting in October 2013, small businesses will be able to shop at online insurance centers through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).
    This new program can provide you with new options when shopping for a health plan.
    SHOP plans will offer four levels of coverage: bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

  6. The government announced in July that one portion of SHOP is being delayed a year.
    That portion is the “employee choice model.” It would have given workers a choice of health plans. The government has delayed it because of start-up issues.
    Instead, you will be able to choose a single plan from SHOP. This will be similar to how you buy health benefits for your employees today.
    You can learn more by going to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Insurance Marketplace.

  7. The new law offers potential increases in tax savings for small businesses.
    Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the small business health care tax credit can cover up to 50 percent of what you pay toward premium costs for low- to moderate-wage workers. Since 2010, the maximum credit has been 35 percent for small business employers.
    Not sure you qualify? The IRS offers guidelines. You can also estimate your potential tax credit by using this calculator.*


Additional resources:


*  This tool is not intended to provide tax or legal advice. You should not rely on the information provided without first consulting a tax professional on any questions you have relating to your unique circumstances

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).

©2013 Aetna Inc.

14.22.300.1-Aug (8/13)

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