Human Resources News & Insights

Reducing employees’ cancer risk

There’s no other employee health threat that costs organizations more – in both financial and human terms – than cancer.

The average expected employer cost for a newly diagnosed cancer patient’s treatment is $83,084.

What’s more, typical wellness programs (which often focus solely on lifestyle-related health problems) have little effect on preventing cancer. Lastly, cancer is also the No. 1 cause of employee absences of 30 or more days.

Some good news

Employers nationwide have put their heads together and issued a series of four concrete action steps any firm can use to fight cancer among employees and their dependents. The employer coalition, called the CEO Roundtable on Cancer, recommends:

  • Employee health-risk assessments. This is the most important first step of getting any cancer-prevention program off the ground. The assessments should look both at family history and lifestyle issues such as smoking.
  • Cancer screenings. Best practice is to pay the cost for your at-risk employees to get screened for everything from skin to colorectal cancer. If even a single case is diagnosed early, it can prove to be a big money – and grief – saver in a very short period.
  • Employee cancer education. Companies need to let employees know cancer prevention is a major goal for everyone at the company. Employee education has a cumulative effect, so plug your cancer-prevention resources early and often, and
  • Selective use of health coaches. If you can’t afford a wellness program that gives everyone access to a health coach, consider a coach for people with three or more risk factors on
    a health-risk assessment.

Whatever you’d pay for these services would be far cheaper than a single preventable cancer case at your organization, finds the coalition.

Consider accreditation program

In conjunction with the American Cancer Society, the CEO Rountable coalition created a “Gold Standard” accreditation for firms that establish and enforce these and other key prevention policies.

Other key steps: banning smoking on your premises and having smoking cessation, diet and nutrition programs. Long-term, accredited firms could enjoy premium discounts as health insurers begin to recognize the certification.

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  1. I would add that a health and wellness coach professional who works on-site and in small groups is a very efficient way to help employee health in both short and long term. Coaching sessions can also be held on the telephone with great results, all from the comfort of one’s familiar surroundings. from Tatiana, founder, owner, BodyVision SL health coaching.

  2. Melissa Dockstader says:

    What is the cost of something like this to a small business of 28? What do you teach, the truth or what the FDA approves?

  3. It’s too bad that companies don’t pay more attention to this. I, along with 2 of my finance co-workers, all with offices next to each other ended up getting the same rare cancer from the place that we worked at. Unfortunately, no legal person will consider our damages – even though the company was a piece of a large French global conglomerate which specializes in building products.

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