4 Ways to Help Employees with Chronic Pain

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By Capital Blue Cross –  THINK (Trusted Health Information, News, and Knowledge) is a community publication of Capital Blue Cross. Our mission is to provide education, resources, and news on the latest health and insurance issues.

Conditions that cause chronic pain can do more than hurt physically; they can also carry hefty mental and financial costs. But employers have options to help with all that hurt.

Its causes are too numerous to list. It can cripple a person’s body, state of mind, bank account, quality of life, and job productivity.

It’s chronic pain, and in so many ways it’s the hurt that keeps on hurting.

“Chronic pain’s causes are truly limitless,” said Dr. Jeremy Wigginton, Capital Blue Cross Chief Medical Officer. “The cause could be orthopedic, neurologic, or even cancer. But whatever triggers it, chronic pain takes a huge toll, and not just on the body. Coping with the challenges that come with constant pain mean its harm can often extend to people’s mental and financial health.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that those with chronic pain are four times likelier to suffer from depression or anxiety. And according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people with chronic pain carry twice the suicide risk.

Then there’s the pocketbook pain. Research published by the NIH concludes that people suffering from severe pain spend $7,726 a year – or $644 per month – more than people without pain.

Chronic Pain’s Many Costs

Those extra bills aren’t limited to an unfortunate few; chronic pain afflicts nearly 52 million American adults, according to the U.S. Pain Foundation. And the NIH says insufficient or unnecessary efforts to mitigate that pain account for more than half of the country’s wasted healthcare dollars.

All of which makes for bad math for U.S. businesses: The Journal of the American Medical Association calculates an annual hit to the U.S. economy that easily exceeds a half-trillion dollars.

Given the sizable swath of the workforce with chronic pain, it’s likely impacting someone at your company, which means your healthcare spend – and bottom line – is also suffering.

Contain the Pain

Employers may be able to help by considering these options:

  1. Offer flexibility: Many suffer spans where their chronic pain is more intense. Allowing remote work or flexible hours during those spans can make employees feel supported.
  2. Urge employees to take their regular breaks: Encouraging employees with chronic pain to listen to their bodies and take time to pause can help them recharge when the hurt is at its worst.
  3. Educate: We often cannot see what causes chronic pain, and the pain itself is invisible. So some employees may struggle to fully understand its impact on their coworkers. Educating your staff about chronic pain can help reduce stigma.
  4. Offer health plan options: This begins with a health insurance plan flexible enough to offer a variety of coverages and approaches to address an employee’s specific chronic pain.

Capital Blue Cross offers many members with chronic pain:

  • Network specialists that can help determine treatment recommendations;
  • Comprehensive pain-management program arrangements with respected regional providers;
  • Coverage of many prescription medications to manage the pain; and
  • Help in navigating a variety of available resources, such as transportation assistance.

“The key to managing chronic pain is identifying its true cause, and then navigating through what can be a confusing maze of care options toward the treatment that best suits the individual,” said Kathy Wolfe, Capital Blue Cross Senior Director of Care Management. “And that’s precisely what we help our members do here at Capital.”

You can find more useful articles at https://thinkcapitalbluecross.com/

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