by Sally Pace
If you turned on a tv last week, regardless of your particular location, you likely saw images of our headquartered city flashing across the screen. Tragedy struck Memphis multiple times by several evil-doers in ways no one could imagine. There were a host of speculations about the perpetrators and investigations continue today. While it will be weeks, maybe months, before justice is served and truths are uncovered, there is one ultimate truth that leads this story to be shared in our newsletter.
This may seem like an odd topic to address in a publication developed for the employee benefits arena, but keep reading. The root cause of most criminal activity is poverty. This doesn’t mean abject poverty, either. Earlier this year, Harvard Business School Report posted an article addressing the fact that “forty-four percent of American workers are employed in some of the least appealing or most dangerous jobs available, typically for low wages with little prospect for advancement.” Read that last part again – with little prospect for advancement. This is a harrowing thought, and it gives a glimpse inside the cycle of hopelessness that can lead to a backward spiral.
But while almost half of all employed Americans are in low wage or unappealing jobs, they still show up for work. As benefits leaders, we have an opportunity to help enhance their lives. Memphis is not too different from any other metropolitan community, where block after block of fringe neighborhoods are filled with “the working poor.” Where do you live? How many levels of pay scale do you have within your ranks? What can you do to improve the lives of all the people under your care, on your health plan, or showing up on your work comp claims?
Social determinants of health.
We hear the phrase “social determinants of health” ad nauseum in the benefits arena, but this week, I want to challenge you to really double down on it’s meaning. The US Dept of Health and Human Services defines it as such, “Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.”
Because SDOH impact quality-of-life outcomes and health risks, they also impact the bottom line of health plans for employers. They do so in the face of rising healthcare costs among employees, as the average per-employee cost of employer-sponsored health insurance jumped 6.3 percent in 2021. And in the face of medical bankruptcy being the number one cause of bankruptcy in the US. By failing to address them, you are failing to lean in to the responsibility you have as a plan sponsor.
A rising tide lifts all ships.
In Memphis, the song that became a call to action was one that a victim had been video taped singing – This Little Light of Mine. As benefits leaders, if ever there was a time to stand up and let your light shine, it is now.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll look at how disparities are being addressed through benefits gaps. As point solutions emerge to address SDOH, employers and consultants have an unprecedented ability to identify them and address them within the population(s) they serve. We’d love to hear from you on how you’re doing this. Share your ideas by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Memphis, with love.
We are proud to be headquartered in Memphis, a city that is messy, raw, beautiful and vibrant. We know that the best and worst in our home is the same as that in yours – and we are sending you our love as you work through the messiness of your own circumstances. Across the nation, we are linking arms together and seeking innovation and experience to help employers deliver solutions to make their members the best they can be. Let’s not forget that benefits are a huge part of the collective investment in an employee. We’re investing in the point solutions you need to know about now, in order to deliver for your people in the days ahead.
We are grateful to have you as a part of our community, and we are thankful for your investment in helping us build our platform known as The Granite List, the most trusted source to search and compare benefits solutions.