Health care and the world of employee benefits have been in a state of uncertainty for many years, since long before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect. From political controversy to social media backlash, the general public feels disconnected, disenfranchised, isolated, pessimistic and just plain discouraged. Elected officials in Washington have grown increasingly polarized, and it seems that for every step forward, we take three steps back. But through all the changes and obstacles, employers have continued to push for changes that reduce health care costs and make life better for their employees.

While employers are still concerned about the bottom line, their focus has broadened to include the overall health and well-being of employees and their families. And with good reason. Anxiety and depression have become leading causes of medical expense, while absenteeism and lost productivity are eroding the bottom line. Critical issues like suffering, obesity, and opioid abuse and dependency affect employees beyond the four walls of the workplace and find their way into the workplace through productivity loss and health issues. Consider this: Opioid dependency costs the United States economy $12.4 billion annually in lost productivity alone. Obesity abounds in and out of the workplace — nearly 40 percent of American adults are obese. And nearly 40 million Americans are caregivers for adult family members. Most, if not all, employers can personally relate to one or more of these issues.

As a result, brokers, their employer clients and HR professionals are looking at employee benefits through a new lens driven by the idea that a company’s bottom line and compassionate leadership are not mutually exclusive.

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