7 Ways A National Employer’s Expanded Benefits Ensure “Something for Everyone”

CVS Health® offers a wide range of healthcare and benefits programs to help meet the diverse needs of our colleagues to build equity, diversity and inclusion into health and well-being, and focused on promoting health equity and affordability. We are continually evaluating gaps in well-being, what’s working, what new ideas we can bring to support total well-being, and how we can ensure we identify and address disparities and enable our workforce to thrive.

In 2021 and 2022, we expanded seven benefits programs.  The new programs are described below.

1)      Access to, and affordability of, health care benefits

In 2022, we changed benefits eligibility from a 90-day waiting period to the first of the month following date of hire. This updates a policy that historically was sensitive to retail turnover, so eligible colleagues can more quickly enroll in medical coverage and other well-being support as an enrolled participant.

Further, our lowest premium plan, Hybrid Silver — first introduced in June 2021 — features several no-cost services, including preventive care, MinuteClinic® services, outpatient mental health visits, and generic and diabetes medications, along with low copays for primary care services such as PCP visits, labs and x-ray, and urgent care. Deductibles and coinsurance apply for all other covered services. In June 2022, we introduced a second hybrid plan option — Hybrid Gold — with higher premiums in exchange for a lower deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. Our additional Hybrid Gold option increased hybrid plan enrollment from 6% to 13%, as alternatives to our high deductible health plan options.

2)      Access to mental health resources

Our Stamp Out Stigma initiative continues to inspire personal storytelling and colleague support, through monthly feature stories on our intranet site. We are also encouraging colleagues to tell their own stories through “Our Faces of Mental Health” campaign, which is designed to help colleagues who have faced mental health challenges feel less alone and more a part of an inclusive community. In 2021, we also formed a Mental Well-being Colleague Resource Group (CRG) to encourage social support.

We are also providing colleagues with free self-help resources to address mental health and wellbeing, including our Employee Assistance Program, myStrength (managing stress, building resiliency), Daylight (addressing worry and anxiety) and Sleepio (addressing poor sleep habits). For more complex needs, all colleagues and family members receive up to ten free face-to-face counseling sessions per person, per issue, per plan year through our EAP. All colleagues also have access to Talkspace for chat therapy via text message and virtual counseling.

Our EAP utilization shows that our colleagues recognize the importance of seeking support for their mental well-being.

In May 2022, we launched a partnership with Thrive, a leading behavior change platform, to help address the stress and burnout people are feeling. Thrive is designed to help our colleagues to put themselves first and achieve their well-being goals. Through storytelling, challenges, “too small to fail” microsteps and other science-backed actions, Thrive is designed to help people manage stress, improve focus, strengthen connections and improve overall well-being.

3)      Deeper analysis into Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)

In 2021, our national carrier, Aetna, conducted a study to assess poor health outcomes and health plan costs associated with low-wage workers in four main areas: higher incidence of preventable disease, later-stage recognition and treatment of diseases, limited ability to navigate health system and comply with self-care regimens, and treatment in more expensive and less effective settings. The assessment included a review of claims data plus a randomized survey and focus groups to understand issues and needs.

As a result of this analysis, we adopted a new hybrid medical plan option in 2021, with an additional hybrid option added for the 2022-2023 plan year. We also used targeted communications to reduce high Emergency Room use in some markets by guiding to alternate care such as urgent care or MinuteClinic. We are starting to see a positive trend, as recent data is showing a significant reduction in ER admits.

4)      Support for parents and caregivers

In 2021, we expanded our adoption assistance benefit ($5,000 reimbursement for adoption expenses) into a new Family Building Assistance Program to reflect the many paths to building a family. We now reimburse up to a total of $10,000 per year for eligible expenses for adoption, use of a gestational carrier or surrogate and the purchase of eggs, embryos or sperm. This program can help both individuals and opposite- or same-sex couples who would like help to grow their families.

Additionally, this program supports healthy pregnancies by reimbursing colleagues up to $1,600 for doula services. Based on CVS Health research on maternal and child health outcomes, doula coverage was identified as a target intervention to help address social determinants of health.

In 2021, we also launched a back-up care program that features low copays for center-based or in-home child or elder care. To further support parents, we offer the following: EAP (free support to help find caregivers); Torchlight Caregiving Solutions (free child and elder care resources); Peace at Home Parenting (free online and recorded parenting classes); Bright Horizons Enhanced Family Supports (discounted resources for tutoring and test prep, sitter and nannies, elder care options); paid parental leave for new parents; a Family and Caregivers CRG for support through shared concerns and experiences; sponsored webinars and panel discussions.

5)      Support for educational pursuits

We provide annual reimbursement of up to $3,000 for degree-based programs, or $1,500 for job-related courses, including career online high school. In addition to education network discounts, we partner with Capella, Strayer and Colorado Technical Universities to enable certain degrees for free. Tuition is paid up front by CVS Health so there is no out-of-pocket cost to the colleague. We also partner with the University of Arizona Global Campus to offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs with a flat fee of $5,000 annually, $3,000 of which is eligible for tuition reimbursement.

In addition, we offer Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions which provide colleagues with free coaching and online tools for working adults. Our EAP and Financial Finesse Hub provide financial resources such as telephonic consultations, budgeting and debt consolidation, ID theft recovery, saving for retirement, a new home or a child’s education. We offer student loan refinancing through Citizens and Laurel Road. All colleagues have access to online instructor-led workshops on professional and leadership skills through developU, plus LearningHub video and recorded courses.

6)      Support for financial health

Being able to pay unexpected expenses without incurring debt is a critical step to financial security and less stress. In June 2022, we introduced a partnership with Alliant Credit Union to encourage colleagues to build emergency savings. Eligible colleagues can earn quarterly bonus deposits from Alliant for regularly saving in their account over a one-year period.

Other Bank at Work programs feature checking and savings packages, auto loans, mortgages and discounts on banking services from partner banks and credit unions. In 2022, we also introduced a new program to allow colleagues to receive a portion of their pay as an advance. And all colleagues have ongoing, free access to Financial Finesse, combining self-help resources and personalized counseling on financial needs such as budgeting, buying a home, college planning and saving for retirement.

7)      Supporting training, social and community needs

To further support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and as part of our You’re At the Heart promise to put our people first, in 2020, we implemented “Conscious Inclusion Learning Experience” for all leaders and most professional colleagues to build awareness of unconscious bias and inclusive leadership traits.

In August 2022, we launched phase 2 of our Heart of Inclusion learning journey, in partnership with the NeuroLeadership Institute, focused on helping colleagues take action to find common ground, lift each other up, and create clarity around our inclusion and belonging culture priority.

Our diversity, equity and inclusion strategy includes other training and investments such as:

  • Collaborating with Colleague Resource Groups including APNA (Asian Professional Network Association), BCRG (Black Colleague Resource Group), and Juntos (LatinX) colleagues, women, PRIDE+ (LGBTQ+) and more
  • Continuing education offerings including LGBTQ clinical considerations and racial trauma and stress disorders
  • Peer support by clinicians, providing a safe environment for people of color to share experience
  • $600 million in community-focused efforts increasing access to affordable housing (tied to health), training programs, partnering with civil rights and social justice organizations advocating for public policy addressing root causes of systemic inequalities and barriers, including socioeconomic status
  • $5 million over the next five years to invest in community-based programs designed to reduce maternal mortality in diverse populations

There’s much to consider when designing benefit programs with the goal of “something for everyone,” but the high return on investment and improved productivity, engagement and wellbeing of our workforce are paramount to our success.  We are pleased to be honored as a NEEBC 2022 Best Practices Awardee, demonstrating the value of the benefits we offer our colleagues.

Lauri Tenney, Executive Director, HR Benefits at CVS Health

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