employee benefits plan adequately address substance abuse

Does Your Employee Benefits Plan Adequately Address Substance Abuse Issues?

employee benefits plan adequately address substance abuse

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, you should consider an employer who offers comprehensive substance abuse health benefits. 

Substance abuse treatment is a scourge for many employers as they have to splurge up to $81 billion annually in hospitalization bills. Further, a survey found that nearly one in four men admits to using alcohol or drugs in the workplace. 

So, does an employee benefits plan adequately address substance abuse? Read on to find more and what you can do to rectify the situation. 

The Basics of Employee Substance Abuse Benefits Plans

Legislation such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) requires employers to provide substance abuse-related health benefits. 

Some employers also provide employee assistance programs (EAP) for counseling sessions or support for family members that are addicted.

Some companies will try to limit the treatment frequency and coverage to save a few cents. They may even place real or perceived barriers that limit enjoyment of the benefits plans. This begs the question, is there a way employee benefits plan adequately address substance abuse?

Employee Benefits Plans Can Improve Awareness of Substance Abuse

Employees who drink alcohol or take drugs may perform unsatisfactorily and become disruptive. However, you can’t fire them unless they use drugs in the workplace or can’t perform on the job.

Besides, workers can abstain or minimize their usage of substances, so you should try to help them recover. In addition, it is cheaper to rehabilitate employees than replace them, especially if they are valued workers. That’s where substance abuse benefits plans come in handy. 

An employee benefit plan adequately addressing substance abuse can:

  • Reduce absenteeism by 91% 
  • Minimize accidents at the workplace
  • Gives estimates for the cost of a treatment or detoxification center
  • Lists the available counselors

Nonetheless, some substance abuse plans can discourage the attendance of treatment sessions as they force workers to seek outpatient services before authorizing an inpatient solution. That led to an increase in opioid prescriptions.

You, as the employer, should follow the lead of insurance companies who eliminated the need for authorization, which minimized the number of opioid prescriptions and removed a barrier to seeking substance abuse treatment.

Another thing you could do is choose a substance abuse benefits plan that has plenty of network options. That will eradicate the costs for workers paying for services “out of network,” which may discourage seeking treatment. 

In addition, choose a plan network that is easily accessible, so employees won’t have to travel great distances to find coverage. If you operate in a small town, you may want to consider a plan out of town to avoid the stigma of discovering that they are accessing substance abuse services.

Generally, it would help if you were accommodative of employee requests to seek treatment. Schedule enough time for counseling sessions and limit distractions or triggers that encourage using in the workplace. 

Further, you must provide personalized substance abuse health benefits that cater to the individual’s unique needs. That means talking to the employee and considering their input before settling on their benefits plan.

Considering that some circumstances may cause substance use, you may want to consider health benefit plans for alternative therapies. For instance, employees may seek opioids to treat chronic pain, so health benefits like massages, acupuncture, and chiropractic care may alleviate the pain.


Used wisely, an employee health benefits plan can adequately address substance abuse issues. It helps to consult the employee and develop one tailor-made to their specific substance abuse treatment needs.

Some of the treatment needs you should provide include access to counseling, extensive network options, and alternative therapy.

Contact Health Consultants Group

If you’d like to know more about substance abuse benefits for your employees, please visit our contact page or give us a call at (800) 367-2482.

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