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Rising health-care costs are prompting more employers to become involved in helping employees manage and take responsibility for their own health. A survey of 1,050 major U.S. employers by Hewitt Associates LLC, a management consulting firm in Lincolnshire, Illinois, found 88 percent of major employers have introduced some form of health management program to promote health, prevent unnecessary risk or intervene in the early stages of disease. The study found health management programs typically include at least one of the following:
- Education and training. New approaches to education and training might include individual counseling on treatment compliance (for diabetes or asthma, for example) or lifestyle habits that contribute to chronic or acute conditions.
- Health risk assessments. These include medical tests such as cholesterol or blood pressure checks.
- Financial incentives and disincentives. Incentives range from reimbursing employees for participating in smoking cessation or weight-control programs to monetary rewards for taking part in health-risk appraisal or fitness programs. Disincentives, which help pay for added costs associated with poor health habits, include charging employees who use tobacco higher medical or life insurance premiums.
Business bankruptcies are often lengthy, complicated procedures that can take years to settle. If you are a creditor in a bankruptcy, don't assume you'll never see your money; stay in touch with the bankruptcy trustee until the final distribution is made.
This is especially important if you move. "It's your responsibility to make sure the court has a current address," says Wanda Borges, a New Hyde Park, New York, attorney and member of the Commercial Law League of America, a creditors' rights organization.
The payoff could be substantial. "Every once in a while a trustee will find hidden assets," Borges says. "It could be two years later, and suddenly a zero-asset case will yield a 45-cent [on the dollar] distribution." If creditors can't be found, the funds are simply deposited into the U.S. Treasury as unclaimed.
To notify the trustee of a change in your address, simply send a letter to the trustee and the appropriate court's clerk, and ask for an acknowledgment. It then becomes the trustee's responsibility to see that you get your share when the bankruptcy is settled.
If you've ever had an employee conflict escalate into a physical confrontation, you know firsthand that the serious social problem of on-the-job violence also poses a significant threat to companies unprepared to deal with its financial implications. To help, Cigna International has introduced insurance covering both victims of workplace violence and their employers.
"Homicide is the second leading cause of death in the American workplace," says David Samuel of Cigna International in Chicago. In addition, Cigna researchers have determined that more than 1 million employees nationwide were attacked at work in 1994. The aggregate cost of workplace violence in the United States is about $4.2 billion annually.
Cigna's policy reimburses the employer for loss of business income and for public relations expenses required to restore the company's image after an incident of violence occurs on company property. It also covers the victim's medical expenses and salary if he or she is unable to work after an assault, covers the cost of temporary replacement employees, pays for temporary security measures, reimburses victims, witnesses and other co-workers for counseling, and more.
"[Violent] incidents are not restricted to large, multinational corporations," says Samuel. "In fact, most incidents occur in smaller companies."
For more information, contact your local insurance broker, or call Cigna International at (800) 950-6164.
Wanda Borges, c/o Teitelbaum, Braverman & Borges, (516) 365-3838, fax: (516) 365-3261;
Cigna International, 525 W. Monroe, #1900, Chicago, IL 60661, fax: (312) 648-7595;
Hewitt Associates LLC, 100 Half Day Rd., Lincolnshire, IL 60069, (847) 295-5000.
Jacquelyn Lynn is a business writer in Winter Park, Florida.