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Approaches that Sped Workers’ Return to Work

Employees out on short-term disability are likely to miss less work and have a higher return-to-work rate when their employers have integrated medical and disability programs, two studies have found.

January 9, 2009
Related Topics: Benefit Design and Communication, Health and Wellness, Compensation
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Employees out on short-term disability are likely to miss less work and have a higher return-to-work rate when their employers have integrated medical and disability programs, according to internal studies conducted by two health insurers.

    In 2005, Aetna analyzed claims incurred between April 2003 and January 2005 and compared short-term disability durations of evenly split groups of members: one with only an Aetna disability policy and the other with an integrated Aetna medical and disability program. Aetna found that the duration of short-term disabilities for members with an integrated program were 4.5 days less than those with only a disability policy. Additionally, the study showed that while 5 percent of disability-only members moved from short- to long-term disability, only 2.2 percent of members with an integrated plan did so.

    Likewise, a 2007 Cigna HealthCare analysis of individuals covered by the insurer’s integrated medical and disability programs showed that those who took short-term disability leave were 37 percent more likely to return to work compared with members in nonintegrated disability-only plans.

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