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Posted by Annie Robichaud, June 12 2020
Plan Administration
Disability management: AGA can help you

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With the lockdown being relaxed, the economy gradually reopening and life slowly returning to some form of normalcy, there is increasing talk about the potential fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past few months, access to health care for physical and mental conditions has been considerably reduced. Surgeries have been postponed, paramedical specialists had to close their clinics, and several psychological support services were suspended. With the addition of stress related to the loss of income, isolation and work overload in some areas, the crisis aftermath will undoubtedly bring its share of challenges.

Consequently, many experts are expecting a surge in disability leaves over the coming months as the dust begins to settle. What can you do to limit the number and length of disability leaves in your business? AGA can help you on this front!

START WITH PREVENTION

As an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, providing your employees with value-added services makes a lot of sense. Why not expand your benefits offering by adding telemedicine or an employee assistance program (EAP)? With AGA and our AGA+ Administration Platform, it couldn’t be easier. The AGA Assistance EAP and the EQCare Virtual Clinic service can be implemented quickly, without having to deal with multiple providers. AGA manages and coordinates employee eligibility to such programs, using the information already forwarded for group insurance purposes through our Administrators Portal. Also, the cost of these value-added services will be combined with your group insurance premiums on a single invoice.


STRUCTURE YOUR PROCESS

Disability management cannot be improvised. You must set up clear policies and procedures for absence and disability management. If in doubt, do not hesitate to call on experts.

Once your policies are well established, they must be clearly communicated to everyone, and particularly to your managers who maintain contact with employees. Depending on your corporate and human resources management structure, it may be very helpful to provide training to your managers, as needed. They are often the ones who follow up and nurture a strong relationship with employees, thus minimizing disability or limiting barriers to return to work.

REMAIN IN CONTROL

The first step in your game plan is to take stock of the problems you need to address. How many of your employees are on disability? Why are they disabled? Are they all concentrated in the same sector? Is their return to work difficult to organize? Are there many relapses?

AGA can support you in performing a thorough diagnosis of your disability experience and provide you with an assessment of the incidence, cost, length and causes of absences. Specific analyses can be undertaken for each business unit, as required. This step will help provide an initial understanding of the situation, set priorities and decide on appropriate actions. Afterwards, these statistics can be updated on a regular basis to assess the improvements achieved and the things you still need to work on.


REGULARLY FOLLOW UP ON ACTIVE CASES

Communication is often key to a quick and successful return to work. Your AGA Advisor can schedule regular follow-up calls with your insurer to discuss ongoing disability cases. These calls often take place on a monthly or quarterly basis, but the frequency must be tailored to your needs. This is an excellent way to keep abreast of the status of your cases. Your experienced advisor will be by your side to ask the right questions, such as:  

  • What is the back-to-work prognosis?
  • Will there be any functional limitations?
  • Does the disability have multiple causes?
  • Can accommodations facilitate the return-to-work process?

This is also an opportunity to share your doubts, concerns and any other information relevant to the insurer’s assessment of the case.

ENCOURAGE THE USE OF PHARMACOGENETIC TESTING

For employees with a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, finding the right medication and dosage is often a long and tedious process. Given the fact that 50% to 70% of short-term disability leaves are due to such conditions, the trial-and-error period coupled with the undesirable side effects of medications can be very costly in terms of disability claims for your plan. AGA and our partner BiogeniQ can help you implement a systematic pharmacogenetic testing process that will enable your employees and their physicians to quickly identify a medication compatible with their genetic make-up. This process could shorten or even prevent some disabilities, improve your employees’ well-being and reduce the cost of your insurance premiums.

ARE YOU READY TO TAKR ON THE CHALLENGE?

Disability management is always relevant, but it becomes crucial in the wake of a global health and economic crisis. Businesses and their employees are beginning to turn the corner after facing many hardships. Keeping your employees healthy and on the job is vital to getting back on your feet.

Do not hesitate to contact an AGA Advisor who stands ready to support your disability management efforts.

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Diplômée en mathématiques, Annie Robichaud a été recrutée par une firme d’actuaire-conseil avant de se joindre à l’équipe d’AGA Assurances Collectives en 2015. Ces expériences lui ont permis de se familiariser avec la réalité d’employeurs de divers secteurs d’industrie et de tailles variées. Au sein d’AGA, elle est principalement responsable d’effectuer des analyses financières personnalisées pour la clientèle des grandes entreprises et met à contribution son esprit analytique en apportant un soutien technique dans les dossiers complexes.
Annie Robichaud