Are you living with chronic health issues?

Johns Hopkins offers a range of benefits to employees who manage chronic health issues. While these benefits are not specific to those with chronic health issues, employees can layer them to fill needs common to working and living with chronic conditions. With awareness and planning, employees can use Johns Hopkins resources to help reduce the physical, emotional, intellectual, and financial impact of increased care needs with chronic health issues.

Many of the benefits must be elected during the Annual Enrollment period, which ends Nov. 7, but others available to fully benefited employees do not require election.

Consider electing these benefits during Annual Enrollment

Medical insurance: When considering a specific plan, employees with a chronic health issue might take into account the coverage for specific and/or frequent treatments and the robustness of the company's care management. For example, EHP and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield provide case managers to help assess, plan, and facilitate treatment options and care. Often, case managers serve as advocates to help problem-solve challenges or provide alternate therapies.

Prescription coverage: Each medical plan includes a prescription plan that offers 90-day supplies through mail order at a cost savings. Most chronic health conditions require multiple medications, so this helps decrease the financial burden. In addition, receiving prescriptions through the mail saves personal energy, a common need for those with chronic health conditions.

Flexible spending accounts: FSAs help save money by allowing employees to deduct tax-free dollars from their paychecks to cover certain health care expenses such as co-pays, deductibles, over-the-counter medications prescribed by a physician, and durable medical equipment. You must sign up for this benefit every year to save up to 30 percent on eligible expenses.

Short-term disability insurance: Employees can elect short-term disability insurance to bridge the gap after their first two weeks of illness or injury and the 11-week marker when long-term disability benefits provided by JHU free of charge may begin. Short-term disability can protect 60 percent of an employee's pay, so that money can be meaningful for employees whose chronic illnesses can include flares or exacerbations of symptoms.

Critical illness insurance: This elective insurance provides a lump sum of up to $20,000 to cover expenses related to cancer, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, kidney failure, and other serious and chronic illnesses. The lump sum payment can cover a range of expenses, including mortgage payments, utilities, child care, and others.

Hyatt Legal Plan: Chronic health conditions can increase the immediate need for routine legal documents such as advance directives, power of attorneys, wills, and estate plans. The annual cost of the plan is often far less than market rate for the legal services.

Consider these benefits that do not require election

The following benefits are available to fully benefited employees. All are free of charge except for backup care provided through Care@Work.

Care@Work: This benefit has two components, both of which can support someone with a chronic illness. First, Care@Work provides up to 10 days of emergency child or adult care, in any state, at a flat low co-pay based on the employee's annual salary. In addition, Johns Hopkins employees receive free and unlimited access to Care.com, which is the largest online network of caregivers and businesses in child care, adult and senior care, pet care, housekeeping, and tutoring.

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program: FASAP provides free, confidential, and professional support services for problems of daily living and emotional well-being. Often, depression and anxiety are either symptoms of chronic health conditions or the result of working and living with a chronic health issue. FASAP clinicians can make referrals to community resources and to resources for longer-term care.

Lunchtime and departmental workshops: The Office of Work, Life and Engagement organizes workshops on the East Baltimore, Homewood, and Keswick campuses on the topics of work-life effectiveness, finances, well-being, and others. These workshops are available to all employees and can provide information and resources especially helpful to someone working and living with a chronic health issue.

Managing Cancer at Work: JHU provides a comprehensive Managing Cancer at Work program to help employees who are working to prevent cancer, are dealing with a cancer diagnosis themselves, or are caring for a family member with cancer. Through this benefit, employees are connected to resources and a dedicated nurse navigator, who offers personalized guidance and support throughout the treatment process.

Other Johns Hopkins resources

Johns Hopkins' Occupational Health Services and Disability Services can help employees working and living with chronic health conditions, especially if a workplace accommodation is needed.

Enroll online for your 2018 health and life benefits

Take this once-a-year opportunity to revisit last year's elections (especially if you or a dependent has been diagnosed with a chronic health issue), review what's new in benefits, and assess whether those choices still meet your needs. Access the enrollment site through the myChoices tab on the Benefits homepage through Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Employees working and living with chronic conditions can help minimize the impact on their health through consistent self-care such as nutrition, fitness, and stress management. They also can feel supported by Johns Hopkins' commitment to the well-being of all employees, including those who, now or in the future, work and live with chronic health conditions.

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