One less-touted aspect of the Affordable Care Act is that it provides employers more tools for assisting employees with substance-abuse problems to seek help.
According to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 10% of America’s workers are dependent on one substance or another. The study also found that 3.1% have used illegal drugs either before or during a shift.
Also, 79% of heavy alcohol users have jobs, and 7% of them say they’ve had drinks while on duty.
Drug use and abuse have been on the rise — both illegal drugs and prescription painkiller abuse, the latter of which led a more than a 500% increase in people seeking treatment for addiction to doctor-prescribed opioids between 2007 and 2017.
As an employer, the costs are great if you have someone on staff who has a substance-abuse problem. It behooves you to ensure that the group health plan you offer your workers is comprehensive amid this growing problem.
Addicted workers have been found to have:
Some employers have tried to help employees tackle their addictions or abuse problems by implementing workplace prevention, wellness and disease-management strategies. These programs improve health, which lowers health care costs and insurance premiums and produces a healthier, more productive workforce.
Under the ACA, anybody covered by a health plan has access to substance-abuse treatment. That’s because the law makes such treatment one of 10 benefits insurance plans must offer.
The ACA requires health plans to pay for prevention and early intervention.
Health care plans also have to comply with a “parity” law, which requires them to treat mental health issues the same way they do physical diseases.
And, importantly, make sure your substance-abuse benefit is robust, and that it covers a full continuum of care.
A strong benefit would include: