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.