By Greg Poulakos, President, Anthem Life, Disability and Absence
May is a month of observance for both Women’s Health Awareness and Disability Insurance Awareness, two topics that are closely related. After all, pregnancy is the leading cause for short-term disability claims, accounting for over 22 percent. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of leave for new mothers, but there is no requirement that it be paid leave, which often results in use of short-term disability benefits. Further, there are some new moms who may need additional time if they’re recovering from childbirth complications, a C-section or experiencing postpartum depression, which is why it makes sense to provide a comprehensive disability benefits package that gives them access to enhanced care during this time to improve health outcomes for both themselves and baby.
While the most obvious need for disability benefits is to provide new mothers with compensation while out of work to help with the associated costs of having a child and typical living expenses, Anthem believes disability insurance should provide mothers with much more than just income replacement. It should also offer resources to help women adjust to parenthood, and to help keep them at their healthiest during and after pregnancy. Disability insurance should also provide necessary support through recovery and their transition back to the workplace and be integrated with medical and dental benefits.
Our Anthem Whole Health Connection® – Productivity Solutions connects disability and absence management plans to broader health and wellness programs to help proactively identify health issues, avoid disability claims, and facilitate a quick and safe return to work. Integrating medical and disability products provides a clearer, more complete picture of the employee’s health, which allows us to process disability claims payments faster and refer them to the appropriate case management programs.
When we receive a pregnancy related claim, expecting moms who are eligible for the program are referred to our Future Moms program and assigned a nurse care manager with expertise in maternity care. This offers personalized support starting at the beginning of pregnancy and continuing after birth.
Participants are provided with education coaching, tools, and resources to help empower and support them during and after their pregnancies. This keeps them out of the hospital, reduces NICU admissions and helps keeps medical costs down. Most importantly, it can support the health of mom and baby, including 31 percent lower NICU spending, 10 percent lower C-section rates and 6 percent lower pre-term births compared to those not enrolled in Future Moms.
If there are any changes to the health status of the expecting mom during her pregnancy, the Anthem care manager receives an alert so they can intervene and ensure the mom-to-be gets the support she needs to support her and her baby’s health. This support is especially helpful for new moms as for any issues that arise during or after pregnancy; from gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and postpartum depression or if they need to meet with a lactation consultant.
Additionally, when enrolled in our Anthem Whole Health Connection® solution, new and expecting moms, as well as their household members, are provided with resources and services to help with the transition to parenthood that are free of cost and can be used without a claim attached. These services include access to counseling services in person, by phone, or through online video chat, advice on parenting, finding childcare, and budgeting as well as legal and financial consultations.
Mothers are an important part of our workforce and providing them with comprehensive benefits and resources to help them through the all-important journey of raising a child—physically, emotionally, and financially is just good business. This will not only increase their loyalty to and engagement with the company but will serve as a valuable recruitment tool for women looking to start a family moving forward. Click here for more information on our integrated solutions.