Wellness programs often focus on managing health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol levels. Helping employees maintain good lung health is just as important.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate the costs attributed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are around $49 billion. Total absenteeism costs related to the disease are estimated at $3.9 billion, with 16.4 million workdays lost.
COPD is a group of diseases that block airflow and make breathing difficult. It includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Other common lung diseases are asthma, cystic fibrosis, pneumonia, tuberculosis and lung cancer. Combined, they have become one of the most common and expensive health care issues for group health plans.
Small changes in your office can have a big impact on these costs.
Smoking cessation programs
Smoking cessation programs are required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If you offer an ACA-qualified health plan, you must provide access to free tobacco cessation programs. This preventive benefit educates employees about the dangers of tobacco use. It also provides resources to help employees quit.
The flu is a serious respiratory illness. It's easily spread, and it can lead to severe complications for employees with compromised lung functions. The best way to prevent the flu and stop the spread of the virus is the flu shot. Offering flu shot clinics in the office is a great way to help employees stay healthy.
Indoor air quality improvements
Keeping the air in your office clean can eliminate common allergens and irritants.
- Tobacco-free environment: According to the American Lung Association, health issues from secondhand smoke cause more than 41,000 deaths each year. Establishing a smoke-free workplace can protect employees who suffer from asthma, respiratory infections and chronic bronchitis.
- Fragrance-free policies: Eliminating fragrances such as perfumes, colognes, aftershaves and scented lotions can help employees with allergies and chronic lung conditions breathe easier.
- Proper maintenance of HVAC systems: Maintaining air handling systems can help to remove dampness and mold in your office. These irritants can cause employees with asthma and COPD to have difficulty breathing. Work with your building manager to ensure your office has proper ventilation.
Creating a safe and healthy workplace for your employees can generate health care savings. If you have questions or need help establishing any of these practices in your workplace, contact your broker or benefits adviser. They can work with you to protect your employees’ health and reduce plan spending.