Suzanne Lucas

Controlling Costs: Dermatology

Most people know that you should schedule an annual checkup with your primary care physician and visit the dentist regularly for cleanings. But what about preventive skin care? Should your employees see a dermatologist, and if so, where do dermatology costs fall under your health benefits plan?

While dermatologists themselves recommend one annual visit for a full-body check at minimum, the Skin Cancer Foundation says you can get a full-body skin checkup as part of your annual physical with your general practitioner, who will then refer you to a dermatologist should something be amiss. So if you aren’t doing so already, encourage your employees to get annual physicals in order to catch problems early.

But whether your employees see their primary care doctor or a specialist, they need to keep an eye on their skin. The body’s largest organ, it does its job so well that we often forget that it needs medical attention, too.

Help Your Employees Protect Their Skin

While your employees should always look to an expert to investigate any possible signs of skin cancer or other serious issues, they should also know how to make a daily difference in the health of their skin. The Mayo Clinic outlines five areas where your employees can take control with preventive measures.

  • Don’t get scorched by the sun: While avoiding the sun is not the only way to prevent serious dermatological issues, it’s a crucial consideration. The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding direct sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Whenever you go out, generously apply broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 15 SPF every two hours — more often if you’re swimming or sweating. You can also protect your skin by wearing tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, pants and broad-brimmed hats.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking can affect skin by decreasing the flow of blood, while damage to collagen and elastin can result in wrinkles. The Mayo Clinic notes that smoking contributes to squamous cell skin cancer, not to mention a number of other serious health risks.
  • Cleanse your skin smartly: To protect your skin from everyday grooming and hygiene routines, avoid overlong exposure to hot water, which can wash away important skin oils. Certain strong soaps can be harsh on your skin, too, as can abrasive toweling off. Moisturizers containing SPF are a smart choice for daily skin treatment.
  • Eat well: As with smoking, the food you put into your body can affect its surface tissue. A healthy diet, which includes drinking plenty of water, can boost skin elasticity, reduce acne and keep your skin in overall better health.
  • Manage stress: High stress levels — including reduced sleep — can make skin more vulnerable to acne breakouts and other unwanted issues.

As an employer, consider how you can encourage healthy skin habits. If your employees work outside, have sun protection available for them. Do you offer smoking-cessation programs or stock plenty of water for your employees? What changes can you make — or benefits can you offer — to help your employees manage their stress?

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Dermatology Care and Insurance

No matter how well your employees take care of their skin, issues can occur. Encourage employees to call and ask before they set themselves up for surprise dermatology costs. If preventive skin care is covered, make sure your employees see dermatologists in your network.

All that said, looking at the numbers can help clarify priorities. After all, what’s more expensive — paying for an annual skin exam or developing skin cancer? The cost of treating skin cancer in the United States tops $8 billion per year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, and 1 in 5 people will develop some sort of skin cancer before age 70.

Preventive care and early treatment of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers can drastically lower the cost of treatment and keep your employees working. Don’t let them forget about their skin when they manage their overall wellness.

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This content is provided solely for informational purposes. It is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal, accounting, tax and/or other professional advisers.