It is very unlikely that your employees will stroll through life without any sort of health problems which is why you offer a comprehensive benefits plan. However, there are some areas of plan where men can be underserved.
This is in part due to behaviors. Women, overall, are healthier than men. This is in part due to a focus on preventative healthcare: a greater willingness to visit a physician, go for regular check-ups, and to reach out when struggling with mental health issues. As an employer, it is important that you provide the resources and supports to ensure that your male employees receive the care they need to deal with their respective health issues.
Here are three important areas where your male employees may need additional support.
Heart disease is the number one reason that men die. There are two main reasons for this, one being high blood pressure and the other high cholesterol. Both of these are manageable with regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and depending on the situation, medication. While your benefits plan likely covers the cost of prescription medications, a focus on wellness programs to provide preventative care is important to help manage and hopefully, prevent heart disease.
Programs that encourage physical activity, and a healthy diet as well as regular checkups and screenings are important. A Health and Lifestyle Spending Account can be used to provide financial support for gym memberships or other physical fitness activities. Dietician benefits can help with drafting healthy eating plans. And the use of online pharmacies or preferred provider networks can ensure that there is greater adherence to prescription medications. Encourage your employees to become proactive, not reactive so they can detect heart problems before they become more serious.
1 in every 9 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer throughout their lifetime. Prostate cancer is the cancer that men experience most frequently. Educate your male employees about how they can reduce their risk and if they are diagnosed, what supports are available. Encourages male staff to talk with their physician about a PSA test, which is a simple blood test to measure the level of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. This test is recommended for anyone with a family history of prostate cancer or over the age of 50.
It is also important to ensure that your organization has appropriate disability insurance in place in order to financially support any employee who must go off on medical leave. In addition, consider offering critical illness coverage which provides a lump sum payment to help defray the costs associated with a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease. See our blog on Prostate Cancer and How to Prevent It.
Nearly 1 in 7 couples have fertility issues. Infertility is traditionally seen as a women's issue, but that is false—men are the cause of 1 in 3 fertility cases. Starting a family is a big milestone in someone's life. We all know of a couple (or know someone who knows of a couple) who have issues trying to have a baby and had to go through the process of having a child the unconventional way. Not only is this a hugely stressful situation but it can have significant financial impacts With modern methods and through the use of new technology, treatment options have expanded. Depending on the cause, treatments for male infertility include medications, surgeries, and in vitro fertilization. Employers can provide support and financial assistance through the inclusion of benefits coverage for in vitro fertilization, adoption, and surrogacy.
While an overall focus on education and wellness—both physical and mental—will help to reduce or alleviate a number of the conditions outlined, financial support is not automatically covered in many benefits plans. It's important to review coverage with your benefits advisor to determine if your plan requires amending should you wish to provide additional support.
Choosing to provide additional financial support for your people may seem counterintuitive but in fact, additional benefits can lead to a healthier, more motivated, and in turn more productive employee for your organization.
For more information on men’s health resources, see here