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Risk Management
Friday, February 1, 2008
Holding it together

Corporate South Africa is fast realising the benefit and importance of utilising sick leave management as the basis for their integrated risk management strategies.

This is today being integrated with medical aid and insurance information to provide a holistic view of employee absenteeism. This allows employers to pre-empt and combat the development of acute, treatable medical conditions becoming chronic conditions, thereby ensuring improved productivity and fewer costs to the company.
“The cost of absenteeism through the reduction of employee time spent at work and increasing claims from medical aid, disability income and critical illness policies, can greatly affect the profitability and bottom line of any business,” comments John Schoonbee, medical officer at RGA Reinsurance Company of South Africa. “However, through effective sick leave management that correlates information from insurance and medical aid claims with company human resource information, employers will be able to manage employees back to work sooner by ensuring they receive the correct treatment and reducing the risk of long term absenteeism or subsequent disability income claims.”
For example, an employee who is continually absent due to hypertension, but only receives a short term treatment from a prescribed course of medication, will continue to suffer from this condition. Should it persist, such a condition could lead to a stroke, resulting in prolonged time off work, with related insurance claims or, in a worst case scenario, the loss of that employee’s experience and skills. In such a case the need for the employer to hire and retrain a new employee will add to his costs.
“For integrated risk to be successfully implemented employers need to buy into the concept and they need to commit to working with their insurer and sick leave management specialist to ensure all relevant information is received and submitted in a timely manner,” asserts Mr Schoonbee.
“This will require an internal resource to champion and properly manage this process. Insurers also need to look at opening their often closely guarded client relationships to third party sick leave management specialists, in order to ensure the successful implementation and development of these projects. While, some insurers currently offer integrated risk products with sick leave management included only as an additional benefit, employers need to realise that sick leave management is the thread that holds the integrated risk model together,” he concludes.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:21.1 1st February, 2008
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