By Cyril Tuohy
Two major insurance carriers have added grief counseling programs to their group term life policies starting Jan. 1, a sign that the industry is taking seriously the treatment of mental health.
MetLife said it will offer grief counseling services in its basic group life insurance programs for new and existing customers at no additional premium.
Earlier this month, Lincoln Financial Group also announced a broader offering of wellness services to companies with employee assistance programs (EAP) and workers covered under Lincoln’s group life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) policies.
Granting access to counseling helps employees return to a productive life, said Stephen L. Pontecorvo, vice president of group life at MetLife. “Providing the resources, comfort and support to deal with loss helps enhance the group life benefits program for all,” he said, in a news release.
In addition to counseling services available 24/7, employees covered under the group life policy have access to specialists who can give workers referrals for funeral homes, monument vendors, back-up care and support groups, MetLife said.
MetLife is offering the services through a partnership with Harris Rothenberg International. Lincoln is working with ComPsych, a global provider of EAPs, behavioral health and employee wellness programs.
Katie Dunnington, vice president of absence management and integrated health strategies at Lincoln Financial Group, said the new features would “help our employee customers navigate various life challenges.”
Workers will have access to the new services through Lincoln’sEmployeeConnect EAP with Lincoln’s long-term disability plans. Employees will also have access to the services through Lincoln’s premium stand-alone EAP known as EmployeeConnectPlus, the company said.
Services include unlimited telephone access, Web-based information articles and tutorials, as well as streaming videos and “ask the expert” questions. Telephone services also are available in 150 languages.
Some of the new ComPsych-offered services, branded by Lincoln as “LifeKeys,” are available to companies enrolled in Lincoln’s term life and AD&D policies.
For years, mental health advocates have been asking for more support from the insurance industry, and several horrific incidents of mass shootings have highlighted the importance of dealing with mental health issues – both for the perpetrators and the victims.
The Affordable Care Act extends federal parity protections to millions of Americans to ensure that when coverage for mental health is provided, it is comparable to coverage for medical and surgical care.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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