Caring for Alcohol Use Disorder is an Essential Part of Employee Benefits

In recognition of Employee Benefits Day this week, hosted every year by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans, we sat down with our senior vice president of business development, Debbie Dexter, to discuss alcohol use and treatment options in the workplace.

Debbie joined Annum after nearly two decades at Aetna in various senior sales, account management and data analytics roles. During her tenure, Debbie was responsible for managing some of Aetna’s most complex customers, including Costco Wholesale, Stanford and Amazon.

Why is treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder missing from so many employee benefit packages today?

DD: Large employers know that heavy drinking is a problem for the health and well-being of their workforce, but until now they haven’t had the option of a single national solution that can securely and privately deliver affordable and quality treatment directly to the person that’s quietly in need.

What is one thing you wish employers knew about treatment for heavy drinking?

DD: I wish employers knew that their employees want them to offer care for heavy drinking. In fact, according to our recent national survey, 90 percent of full-time employees would support their employer offering free, confidential consultations and support around alcohol use.

What are the big trends you’re seeing in employee benefits right now?

DD: I see that employers are evaluating their overall wellness offerings to make sure they have coverage for stress management, weight loss, sleep health, etc. It’s time employers see alcohol support as part of that complete package. There is an opportunity to address an issue that contributes to the development of chronic disease, several cancers, and overall increase in health care costs.

That sounds great, but aren’t all these new programs costly for employers?

DD: I can see how you’d think that, however employers can see significant savings in increased work performance and reduced health care costs. Especially when it comes to heavy drinking, our national survey found that 28 percent of full-time employees say they have at least one coworker who they think might have an issue or problem with alcohol. And consistent with other published data, our survey found that 3 out of 10 workers binge drink monthly. Keeping affordability in mind, Annum’s services are billed on a per participant, per phase of treatment basis. Annum takes full responsibility for engagement and sustained engagement over time.

Anything else you’d like to add?

DD: Offering robust health benefits is such an effective way to demonstrate to your employees that you truly invest in them. 23% of employees surveyed want to cut back on drinking alcohol.  Unfortunately, most employees reported that they are unsure about what their employers offer for workers who need help with a drinking problem. Send a message that you acknowledge that every workplace is impacted by alcohol in some way and that you’re here to enable your employees to make healthy choices and succeed.

If you’re interested in offering confidential, evidence-based treatment for heavy drinking, click here to learn more about Annum.