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Reasons your employees are avoiding the doctor

And the importance for preventive care for women.

*This article was last updated May 2020.

Wonder Woman isn’t a name reserved for a superhero character — there could be a “wonder woman” or women who exist in your workplace. The wonder women in your office may be balancing a demanding full-time job while raising a family, pursuing their side hustle, or immersing themselves in the community.

But unlike a superhero, women may be experiencing negative health effects from doing it all. Stress-related illnesses show levels nearly twice as high External Site for women compared to men according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, women make up a large portion External Site of the workforce: 47 percent of U.S. workers are women.

Preventive care plays an important role in your employees overall health and well-being. However, seeking preventive care during the coronavirus pandemic may look different than it has before. Encourage your employees to contact their provider or visit their website before attending appointments to learn about special procedures that might be in place.

If you don’t already encourage these employees to occasionally step away from their superhero duties to receive regular physicals as part of important preventive care, you should.

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Productivity loss costs the economy about $260 billion annually.

Chronic diseases account for 75 percent of the nation’s health care costs.

69 million workers report missed work days due to illness each year.

Americans only use preventive services at about half the recommended rate.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If preventive care is so important to the overall health of your employees and the success of the economy, why isn’t everyone taking advantage of preventive benefits? Here are a few potential reasons, along with some helpful solutions for breaking down barriers to receiving preventive services for women.

1. They’re worried about health care costs

Your employees work hard for their paychecks. They might be concerned about the cost of office visits, screenings or vaccines. But with their business-sponsored health plan, preventive care received in-network may be fully covered. Plus, they'll save money on health care costs in the long run by avoiding future costs associated with chronic health issues.

Be sure to remind your employees of this benefit. If they have specific questions about costs, or ask questions about what services are considered preventive, check out these helpful resources:

2. They’re busy

It could be intimidating for employees to ask for time off to go to the doctor, especially when they have a busy day filled with a never ending to-do list.

And, other factors may make it difficult for them to go to appointments after 5 p.m. Depending on where your employees live, they may not have access to in-network providers within convenient driving distance. They may also have to line up child care to get to appointments after work.

Eliminate some of the scheduling stress:

  • If your employees can flex their work hours, encourage them to go to doctor appointments to receive important preventive exams during the day. As a bonus, you’ll help them establish care with a primary care provider.
  • If you have employees on a shift schedule that's difficult to miss, consider hosting onsite wellness screenings or other easily accessible services.

3. They feel healthy

Wonder women may feel invincible now, but they shouldn't wait until they're sick to go to the doctor for treatment or vital screenings. According to the American College of Radiology External Site, skipping a mammogram every other year would miss 30 percent of cancers. This ready-to-share story Opens in a new window with a downloadable chart can serve as a welcome reminder for age-appropriate preventive exams.

The bottom line

Healthier employees are more productive employees. Research shows those who improve their health regain an average of 10.3 hours in productivity annually. By encouraging employees to prioritize their well-being now, workers can avoid prolonged time off and long-term costs that may result from more complicated health issues.

Getting preventive exams is only one aspect of healthy living. Consider addressing all six elements of well-being in your workplace and talk to your authorized Wellmark representative for more information.

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