Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Employee Wellness and Cancer

We in the corporate wellness world know all too well how much cancer costs employees and organizations, both in financial and human terms.

Some quick stats, from Bill Melzer at HR Benefits Alert:
  • The average expected employer cost for a newly diagnosed cancer patient’s treatment is $83,084
  • Cancer is the No. 1 cause of employee absences of 30 or more days
But now, Meltzer notes, a new coalition called the CEO Roundtable on Cancer has come up with four steps that any organization can take to fight cancer amongst employees and their dependents:
Employee health-risk assessments. This is the most important first step of getting any cancer-prevention program off the ground. The assessments should look both at family history and lifestyle issues such as smoking.
Cancer screenings. Best practice is to pay the cost for your at-risk employees to get screened for everything from skin to colorectal cancer. If even a single case is diagnosed early, it can prove to be a big money—and grief—saver in a very short period.

Employee cancer education. Companies need to let employees know cancer prevention is a major goal for everyone at the company. Employee education has a cumulative effect, so plug your cancer-prevention resources early and often, and

Selective use of health coaches. If you can’t afford a wellness program that gives everyone access to a health coach, consider a coach for people with three or more risk factors on
a health-risk assessment.
The bottom line? Whatever the price of these services, it’s far less than a single preventable case of cancer case will cost your organization.

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