Employers underestimate numbers of employees facing chronic disease

By The IJ Staff | June 18 2019 01:30PM

More than half of Canadians who have drug plans at work have been diagnosed with a chronic disease or condition - a number that is underestimated by employers, according to the most recent edition of The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey.

The survey has uncovered gaps in knowledge that can help guide decision-making among employers who provide health benefit plans to employees. A persistent gap is employers' underestimation of the presence of chronic disease in their workforce, which suggests they may also underestimate the negative impact of unmanaged disease on productivity, says the survey.

“Providers of workplace health benefit plans can use these results to help drive new benefit offerings and wellness initiatives that focus on supporting plan members with chronic disease," said Michael Mullette, president and CEO of Sanofi Canada. "The past few years have seen positive growth in supports for mental health, which can serve as a model for other major chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

About 54% of employees suffer from a chronic illness

The survey found that 54% of plan members had been diagnosed with at least one chronic disease or condition, increasing to 69% among those aged 55 to 64. However, plan sponsors estimate that only 39% of their workforce has a chronic condition.

About 74% of employees would consent to pharmacogenetics testing so that physicians can prescribe personalized medications that are most likely to work well for them.

Some 45% of employers agree medical cannabis should be covered by their workplace health benefit plan, up from 34% in 2018. About 64% of employees agree that medical cannabis be covered.

Both employees and employers significantly underestimate the number of drugs covered by workplace drug plans, and overestimate the number of drugs covered by provincial drug plans.

Levels of support are high among employees (87%) and employers (84%) for a national pharmacare plan that fills gaps in coverage for Canadians who have no insurance or are underinsured, and does not affect workplace drug plans.

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