Volume 72, December 2016  
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Rough Notes Benefits eReport
Carmel, Indiana
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Sun Life Summit tackles the tough issue of health-related absences

When an employee is absent from work due to health reasons, it can bring out the worst or the best in other employees. "She's sick again?" someone mutters in a tone that is both irritated and skeptical. "I guess I'll be doing her work and mine again today." Others rally behind an employee who faces a serious health situation. They might donate their own accumulated days from the company "sick bank," if permitted. Or they might take meals or run errands for the coworker after work.

Absence management is a big deal for employers. The cost of unplanned, unexpected work absences is estimated to be 8.7% of payroll costs, on top of the 13.6% that employers pay for healthcare, according to Dr. Chris Brigham of Brigham & Associates, author of Living Abled & Healthy: Your Guide to Injury and Illness Recovery. Brigham appeared on a panel at the recent Sun Life Summit 2016.

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Short-term, long-term, voluntary or group, disability income serves a critical need

Disability income insurance-while influenced by the same trends that drive growth in supplemental health products such as critical illness, accident, hospitalization and gap insurance-has a marketing history that is more complex than that of these other products.

Some brokers of disability income, for example, have centered their practice on serving high-income professionals such as doctors, dentists or athletes, or using disability to fund buy-sells in small corporations. But disability's appeal extends far beyond these elitist occupations.

"Those who live paycheck to paycheck are extremely vulnerable to disability," says Casey Shirley, national sales manager at American Public Life, which sells short-term disability income protection on a voluntary basis. "They can be well served by an affordable short-term disability plan.

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