Occupational Health: Core Areas of Knowledge and Competence, Part 4

Environmental Health ManagementThe OH nurse, particularly in those organizations, such as SME’s, who may not have a designated environmental health manager, can advise the company on simple measures to cut the use of natural resources, minimize the production of waste, promote re-cycling and make sure that environmental health management is placed on every organizations agenda. The OH nurse can also find appropriate specialists in their locations to advice or deal with environmental health management. The occupational health nurse may give by taking these issues forward in the absence of other specialists.Adviser to management and staff on issues related to workplace health management.OH nurses involved in workplace health management can sometimes be asked to act as advisers to management and staff on the development of workplace health policies and practices, and can fulfill an advisory role by participating in, such as, health and safety committee meetings, health promotion meetings, and may be called upon to give independent advice to managers or workers who have specific concerns over health related risks.As a liaison to other external health or social agencies.OH nurses act in an advisory role when seeing people who may have problems that, whilst not directly related to work may affect future work attendance or performance. The nurse may be involved in advising people to seek advice from their own family doctor or general practitioner, or other external agency that may be better placed to aid the person.Health educator & Health Promotor.Health education as one of the key prerequisites of workplace health promotion is integral aspect of the OH nurses’ role. In some countries the nurse is required to support activities for adoption of the healthy lifestyles within on-going health promotion process, as well as take part in health and safety activities. OH nurses can carry out a needs assessment for health promotion within the company, prioritize activities in consultation with management and workers, develop and plan right interventions, deliverer co-ordinate the delivery of health promotion strategies and can play a valuable role in evaluating the delivery and achievements of the health promotion strategy.CounselorIn the small or medium-sized company the occupational health nurse may be the only health care professional present most of the time and they can help people working there in dealing with mental health and work-related stress. For many people the occupational health nurse, working at the company level, may be the first point of contact with health care providers and these nurses can do much to make sure that people are referred to the right agency.Health Needs AssessorA specialist OH nurse will need to be well skilled in undertaking a nurse-based health needs assessment at both the individual and the organizational level. This type of assessment can be used as the basis for individual case management or occupational health program planning. OH nurses may use research based skills in carrying out the assessment, in handling the data generated in the assessment and in interpreting the results and advising management acting as a member of the multidisciplinary team.Evidence Based Practitioner Increasingly all health care providers are using evidence based approach to practice that requires the professional to seek the best available information on which to base their practice. Occupational health nurses are skilled in searching the literature, reviewing the evidence available, which may be in the form of practice guidelines or protocols, and applying these guidance documents in a practical situation.Occupational health nurses should be well skilled in presenting the evidence, identifying gaps in current knowledge, and allowing others to review critically the implementation of care plans based on their assessment of the evidence.EpidemiologistThe most widely used and accepted form of investigation into occupational related ill-health and disease is based on large-scale epidemiological studies. Occupational health nurses are advised to become familiar with the principles and basic methods used in epidemiology.This concludes the four-part series the core areas of knowledge of the occupational health nurse

Interesting Facts You May Not Know About Group Health Insurance Coverage

In an atmosphere of ever-growing health care and health insurance costs, group health insurance coverage is becoming critical for many employees. In fact, surveys consistently show that employees value health insurance benefits above all others.Studies have shown that a solid majority (over 60%) of Americans receive health insurance benefits via group health insurance coverage through their employer (or their spouse’s employer). Of course, from the employee’s point of view, this is the least expensive option for securing health insurance. Nevertheless, whether you are a business owner or employee, what follows is a discussion of some interesting aspects of the group health insurance market.There are two main reasons that employers offer group health insurance coverage. The first is to attract talented employees. The second reason is related to the first: To reduce employee turnover. It’s not uncommon for employees to become “dependent” on their health insurance. For example, an employee who may otherwise leave their job to become self-employed may not do so because of health reasons. That is, he or she may not be eligible under an individual policy due to a preexisting condition. Preexisting conditions are typically not covered under individual health insurance plans.The primary difference between individual and group health insurance is that group plans are “guaranteed issue”, while individual plans are not. “Guaranteed issue” means that an insurance company cannot deny coverage due to any preexisting medical conditions.Some individual health insurance plans are issued to individuals with preexisting conditions, but usually only with what is called an “exclusionary rider.” This “exclusionary rider” will exclude coverage for treatment related to the preexisting condition. It’s interesting to note that in California, insurance companies are not allowed to practice this policy. As you might expect, the result is a much higher rate of declined applications for individuals, since insurance companies choose simply not to issue coverage for individuals with preexisting medical conditions.For group health insurance coverage, premium cost sharing between employer and employee has pretty much become a common feature in today’s labor market. In the vast majority of cases, insurance companies require employees to pay a minimum of 50% of the premiums, although many choose to pay a higher percentage. In general, the larger the company, the greater the percentage paid by the company. Not all insurance companies require coverage for dependents, although again many businesses elect to offer this coverage as well.There are tax incentives available to both employer and employee for qualifying group health insurance plans. Employers can typically deduct 100% of the premium costs, while employees can pay their portion of the monthly premiums with pretax dollars. Both practices can result in significant savings over the course of a year.Lastly, group health insurance coverage is available as either an indemnity (fee-for-service) plan or managed care plan (HMO, PPO, or POS). Indemnity plans are the oldest, as well as the most expensive, type of health insurance. As a result of their high costs, indemnity plans have all but disappeared from the landscape, and been replaced by managed health care plans.Managed group health insurance plans come in various forms: Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Preferred Provider Organization (PPO), or Point of Service (POS) plans. The HMO was the first alternative to traditional insurance (indemnity) and became popular for its ability to reduce costs for both employer and employee by creating networks of doctors and hospitals and thereby being able to apply cost saving measures.The PPO plans have in recent years become the most popular type of group health insurance. PPO’s (as well as POS plans) combine many of the freedoms enjoyed with indemnity plans while still being able to implement many of the cost saving features of an HMO.The struggle to offer employees affordable group health insurance coverage is an ongoing process for most employers in today’s health insurance market. Part of the process is education, from the standpoint of both the employee and employer. It’s important to understand that retaining affordable and quality group health insurance is vital to both sides of the labor market – employer and employee. Indeed, when done properly, this can be a win-win situation for all concerned.