Tuesday, January 24, 2017

EAP Integration Redefined By Mark Attridge in EAPA Journal: Now Let's Run With It

"EAP Integration" should never have meant an EAP mixed with Behavioral Health Care Insurance Benefits. (This was likely an insurance company lexicon concoction from day one.) But, finally, one EAP author has redefined the term, and with some solid discussion of research, unwittingly caused a crack in the wall that could lead to an EAP renaissance.

Certainly, you know that the Property Casualty (P-C) insurance is a world away from Health Insurance and their managed behavioral care partners, correct? P-C insurers are rich--health insurance markets pale in comparison--folks like Lloyds of London, AIG, and Hartford. These folks worry about a fire burning the building down where your EAP office is located. They also worry about things like lawsuits for wrong termination, automobile and truck wrecks, lawsuit payouts for harassment, racial discrimination, and endless workers' compensation payouts. Lawsuits for trips and falls, employment practices liability, and payments for theft of tools--yep, they insure against these types of losses too. And workplace violence, when it happens, and families sue over their grieved relatives...who pays? It's not United Healthcare. It's these big boys with P-C. They have deep pockets, but they need people like, well, EAPs. And they need everything from the Core Technology that you can throw at them. There is only one problem: They don't know you exist!

Now stick with me on this post.

While managed behavioral health care wants one thing from an EAP--assessment and help with avoidance of access to the employee's insurance afforded by the behavioral health plan, a property casualty insurance company would want everything it could possibly wring out of your EAP in order to target as many behavioral risk exposures as possible in an effort to prevent payouts for insurable and "compensable" losses. Human behavior in the workplace contributes to many liabilities and exposures, and all of these risks are born by insurance premiums. They also come with high deductibles--like $25-$50,000 for a lawsuit associated with sexual harassment that the employer must pay first.

Back injury and lengthy periods of time out of work, the P-C pays. Sexual harassment by a supervisor? Yes, the P-C pays the $5 million out of court settlement--and the large jury awards when they happen. A lawsuit for ruining a career with a wrongful disciplinary action? P-C forks over the cash. Insuring Lady GaGa's for being suspended from the sky-ceiling of the Super Bowl (if permitted) -- P-C Insurance!

Now imagine a well integrated EAP able to educate supervisors, detect emerging risks, and go anywhere within an organization (integrated EAP!) necessary to engage and discover, educate, and train, assess and consult, and all with the purpose of reducing losses. How much might this sort of "human factors exposures prevention" be worth? This is REAL EAP folks.

My guess is a lot, because the stakes are enormous. This is could also be a renaissance for EAPs. After all, about 800 members show up at a typical International EAPA Conference, while over 3000 were showing up in 1986 over 30 years ago. The field is not progressing by this definition. ("I'm just sayin'.")

It's time to engage this tremendous and financially liquid world of P-C. There are thousands of brokers nationwide. They know nothing about EAPs (other than the phone number on the back of their insurance card in the event the member has an alcohol or psychiatric issue.) There is a potentially wide open avenue for EAPs to grow and flourish in ways that have not been seen for quite awhile.

Write me at publisher@workexcel.com if you think I am off base about all this. I wouldn't have written this much except for one thing: In 1993, I went to one of the most competitive EAP markets in the U.S. (Denver) and I engaged with a property casualty insurance broker there. I trained insurance agents all about EAPs for about three hours. A week later, I returned and picked up three checks from three different companies averaging 100 employees who had never had a comprehensive EAP. Yes, two weeks later - three company contracts for comprehensive EAPs.

I then flew to Baltimore, MD to the corporate headquarters of billion dollar NSF&G (they closed down soon after) and within their boardroom made a presentation to begin an EAP division. They listened, but their staff turned over, and my funding ran out. But this opportunity is still sitting out there for the EAP field to consider. At least, that is my belief.

Mark Attridge's (hats off to him) awesome article in the Jan 2017 Journal of Employee Assistance discusses the obvious difference between a free EAPs and a for-fee EAPs, and the 400% improved utilization that one can expect from the latter. Mark in my humble opinion appears to shy away from calling these "managed-care driven EAPs." This is a disappointment and the elephant in the living room that is stepping (squashing) the EAP field. Marks research is solid content for EAPs seeking a new home in the risk world--one where they will be full appreciated, as well as traditional EAP marketing. See my 2002 article on this topic here that discusses these issues more directly entitled, EAPs Help Limit Behavioral Exposures from the NATIONAL UNDERWRITER INSURANCE MAGAZINE.