Wellness Not the Focus of Health Benefit Plans

Only 36% of health benefit plan sponsors regularly receive an analysis of claims data

79% of health benefit plan sponsors look to benefit plan providers for guidance in developing plans

MONTREAL, June 3, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Compelling new data in the 2014 edition of The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey indicates that workplace health benefit plan sponsors (employers) are ill-equipped to develop strategic health benefit plans to respond to the future needs of employees. One out of two employees (53% of survey respondents) reports having at least one chronic disease as Baby Boomers remain the largest age group in the workforce. These needs are vastly different from younger Gen Y employees entering the workforce and looking for different, more flexible plans.

Health benefit plans are important to employees
While health benefits are important to all generations of plan members, with four in five (78%) reporting that the health benefit plan is an important factor when choosing a job (76% among Gen X and Gen Y, 80% among Boomers), only half (52%) of plan sponsors indicate that keeping employees healthy and productive is a main purpose of offering their health benefit plan.

"It is important that healthcare plan sponsors and plan providers* design healthcare benefit plans that respond to the needs of their employee populations," says David Willows, VP, Strategic Market Solutions at Greenshields Canada. "The goal of the plan should be to keep employees well, so that those involved (sponsor, provider and employee) do not find themselves with greater health costs and lost productivity."

Health benefit plan sponsors not tracking data
Survey data reveals that there appears to be a few problems in the communications between health benefit plan sponsors and providers. The first issue is that only one-third (36%) report regularly receiving an analysis of claims data from their plan providers (insurance company or advisor) to better understand the use of their plan. A further 20% report receiving this type of information occasionally. The second issue is that, of those who do receive this type of data, just half (49%) use it to develop targeted improvements to their plans.

"We believe the healthcare of Canadians in general would benefit from further partnership, information sharing and data analysis," says Jon Fairest, president and CEO of Sanofi Canada. "The same applies to employers and healthcare benefit providers. By regrouping and setting goals to optimize health and productivity, plan sponsors will reap the returns of reduced absenteeism, improved productivity and an engaged workforce that helps drive organizational success."

Absenteeism is an important issue
Data from The Conference Board of Canada indicates absenteeism cost Canadian organizations $16.6 million in 2012. Despite this importance, just four in 10 (40%) plan sponsors report formally tracking the absenteeism rate in their workplace, and only 17% work formally with their insurance company or benefits advisor to analyze absenteeism or disability claims. Indeed, 70% indicate they don't know what their absenteeism rate was for last year.

While employers express a desire to have plans that keep employees well, The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey data indicates that there needs to be a robust dialogue around the data. In fact, 79% of plan sponsors feel their plan carrier and/or benefits advisor should be playing a larger role in helping with their organization's wellness initiatives. When surveyed employers were asked who should be helping with overall health, wellness and prevention of disease programs for the workplace, 74% said insurers/plan providers, 64% looked to healthcare professionals and 52% to government.

"For employers, it's difficult to move past the typical initial conversations around health benefit plan cost containment," says Fairest, "but unfortunately those objectives do not address employee wellness needs. A strategic approach that integrates health and wellness programs into business strategies, and one that is guided by employee data and needs, makes sense not only from an employee engagement point of view, but also as a competitive advantage."

*Health benefit plan providers = are carriers (insurers), benefit advisors, brokers

Survey Methodology
The 2014 edition of The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey was initiated by Rogers Connect Market Research group on behalf of Sanofi Canada. The survey was conducted online between January 6 and January 13, 2014. In total, a national sample of 1,502 primary holders of group health benefit plans completed the study. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the age, gender and regional composition of the sample reflect those of the adult population according to 2006 Canadian census data. This survey was coupled with another online survey of 500 health benefit plan sponsors from across the country to bring employers' perspective on the issues at hand.

About The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey
The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey is Canada's premier survey of health benefit plans. It has a long history of capturing the opinions, concerns and behaviours of employees with health benefit plans. Now in its 17th year, the landmark survey continues to give voice to more than 1,500 plan members, and this year the survey of plan sponsors yielded the most responses ever at 500.

The study is not possible without the sponsorship of Sanofi Canada, and additional support from Desjardins Insurance, Manulife Financial, Medavie Blue Cross, Great-West Life Assurance, Green Shield Canada and Sun Life Financial.

Note to the editor: The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey is available for download at www.sanofi.ca.

About Sanofi
Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and the new Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi entities in Canada include Sanofi Canada (pharmaceuticals), Sanofi Pasteur (vaccines), Sanofi Consumer Health (cosmeceuticals, over-the-counter products and specialty care), Genzyme (rare diseases) and Merial (animal health). Together they employ close to 1,700 people across the country. In 2013 Sanofi companies invested $125.1 million in R&D in Canada, creating jobs, business and opportunity throughout the country.

Follow Sanofi Canada on Twitter @SanofiCanada.

SOURCE: Sanofi Canada

For further information:

Sanofi Canada
Catherine Cunningham
Tel. 514-956-6120
Catherine.cunningham@sanofi.com

NATIONAL Public Relations
Kristin Gable
Tel. : 514-843-2378
kgable@national.ca


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