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Could long-term insurance payments be bad for your health?

By James Thomson, Executive Manager Claims

For many of our customers, insurance cover is a financial safety net to cover their income or expenses if something goes wrong in their life.

But if you suffer an illness or injury, the negative effect can be much more than just financial – and getting back on your feet can be extremely difficult.

Research from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2011 showed that although insurance or ACC payments might keep your finances on an even keel through a period off work, being a long-term beneficiary can be more detrimental to your mental and physical wellbeing than going back to work.

Work as rehabilitation

The RACP’s research found that if you’ve got an injury or illness, returning to work could be an important part of your recovery and rehabilitation. 

The research showed (among other things), that:

  • Most common health conditions will not be ‘cured' by treatment1
  • Staying away from work may lead to depression, isolation and poorer health
  • Typically, waiting for recovery delays recovery
  • The longer someone is off work, the less chance they have of ever returning

If you’ve suffered an illness or injury that means you can’t work, a supportive employer, and insurance company, could be important for helping you avoid the damaging long-term impact to your health of not being able to work.

“Work is good for optimising people’s health and wellbeing; and work absence due to illness or injury is not.” 2

Five things to think about if you want to get back to work after illness or injury

  • Make a plan

    If you’re returning to work after a period off sick or injured, make a plan to help you transition smoothly. Your plan might involve things like gradually increasing your hours, or a timeline for when you think you’ll be able to return to your normal job.

  • Get support

    If you’ve been off work for a while, you don’t need to go it alone when you try to return to the workplace, your insurance company, family members, co-workers and government agencies can all be good sources of support.

  • Identify obstacles and solutions

    Identify up front any physical or mental challenges you might face when returning to work, and work with your insurer and employer to find solutions. For example, if you need a new desk layout or more flexible work options, your employer may be able to help. 

  • Understand the limits of your healthcare

    If you’ve suffered an illness or injury, it might be tempting to feel that you should wait until you’re ‘fully recovered’ before you attempt to return to work. RACP’s study shows that there is a limit to how much healthcare and waiting can do – so make sure you understand how far you might be able to recover while you’re off work, and how returning to work could be incorporated as part of your long term recovery plan. 

  • Talk to your insurer for help

    Our income protection products sometimes include options for rehabilitation, retraining or career transition costs. Some also include bonus payments if you are able to return to work. Talk to your case manager about what we might be able to do to help you get back into the workplace.

Health Benefits of Good Work

As a signatory of the Health Benefits of Work Consensus statement, Asteron Life commits to:

  • promoting awareness of the health benefits of good work
  • offering support and encouragement to those attempting to access the health benefits of good work
  • encouraging employers' continuing support of workers' occupational health
  • advocating for continuous improvement in public policy around work and health, in line with the principles articulated in the consensus statement.

 

Don’t have income protection cover?

If you’d like personalised advice on your insurance, we can put you in touch with an adviser.

Find an adviser

1 Bullet point information taken from The role of general practitioners, Faculty of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP).

2 Realising the health benefits of work – An evidence update, The Australasian Faculty of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Royal Australian College of Physicians

 

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