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Discord between psychologists and providers of EAP

by

Alain Thériault

March 20, 2018 07:00

The members of theAssociation of psychologists of Quebec (APQ) have a long list of irritants to employee assistance programs (EAP) that are found in Quebec. The firms who distribute it are struggling, however, to understand such discontent.

The DPA has published in November a track record of dissatisfaction of the EAP in Quebec. Low fees, government interference and red tape are some of the irritants raised by psychologists members of the DPA.

The firm, which aroused much dissatisfaction among psychologists is also the largest, Morneau Shepell, with a rate of dissatisfaction 47.7 %. It is followed byOptima Global Health, which received a rate of dissatisfaction of 32.8 %. The DPA promises to remake a list of the EAP this year.

In an interview to the Journal of insurance, the president of the APQ, Charles Roy, has pointed out that the irritants raised by its members are part of a heavy trend. His association has 1,600 members, out of a potential of 9 000 psychologists in Quebec. Among its members, approximately 1,000 are working with EAP, 541 responded to the survey.

The fee sits at the top of the irritants felt by its members to the EAP, reveals Roy. He claims that the suppliers of these programs want to hire the professionals according to the logic of the lowest bidder.

“While our fees in EAP revolved, primarily, around 85 % of our average fares 15 years ago, they now hovers around 58 %. With Morneau Shepell, they revolve more around 50 % to 55 % “, said to have observed the president of the DPA. He believes that psychologists charge an average hourly rate of 100 $ to 110 $, not to mention the administrative burden related to the EAP, as the psychologist does not have to fill in her private practice.

Insurers in the line of fire

Mr. Roy says he started the campaign with employers to raise awareness. It dream to do with insurers.

“All stakeholders have a shared interest in improving things. The return will not be so fast if we cut too much spending. The equation of price and quality has its limits. As an employer, you can pay a firm to a PAE and sleep on your two ears, but you’re paying for something or just the wind ? Is it good to focus on the lowest bidder ? It may be better to pay a little more and get concrete results and a return on the investment. “

In terms of quality, Mr. Roy is worried in particular about the length sometimes too short of treatment. “When the clinician said that it might be better to extend the treatment, the EAP less rigid, be willing to do so. It is more and more restricted. Then, he can only pursue a fee charged to the client, or by doing volunteer work. “

Mr. Roy said, understand that an EAP is not a service in the long term. “But between three or four meetings and ten meetings, this can make all the difference. The psychologist reminds his patient that he must go in depth to deal adequately with certain problems, or even detect them. “

He adds that the EAP should lift the ban to continue the treatment : “It would be so easy to say to people : you can continue with your psychologist. People would be willing to pay for it, rather than having to tell their story to someone else a second time. “

In five sessions the psychologist will be able to identify a problem, and tell his patient what to work on, he believes. “Maybe 15 to 25% of people will, however, need to go more in depth,” he says.

Surprise and disappointment in the industry

Senior director, sales and client relations Medavie Blue Cross, Pierre Marion says that employee assistance programs have a high satisfaction rate among users, both the employees and the employers or managers. “Our suppliers have grades above 95 %,” he says, a note is also confirmed by other firms for their own program.

He does not hide that he was very surprised by the results of the survey. “We can’t play ostrich. It is necessary to avoid that the situation does not deteriorate. We ask our suppliers how they react and what are their intentions, in order to avoid dissatisfaction overflows in the users. If PAE is affected, we shall be also. “

Morneau Shepell and Optimum Overall Health have been asked to met with the DPA, learned of the insurance Journal.

PAE react

Sylvain Authier, vice-president, Quebec and Atlantic, employee assistance programs Morneau Shepell, said take note of the results. He said he was disappointed.

“We want to be proactive. I would like to explain to the DPA that we do not offer services in the long term. The warrants are issued in advance by the organizations which want a quick support, in a number of hours fixed in advance. “

Optima Global Health also notes the results. “I don’t have a problem with the list, but there are market realities with which we must deal with,” said Jean-Claude Vaillancourt, a partner and vice-president of business development and customer relations of Optima global Health.

It calls for the DPA to work on solutions of common interest. “We need to find ways to encourage employees to make greater use of EAP. More employees will be using the services of the EAP, more work stoppages can be avoided, think of Mr. Vaillancourt. Increased consultation the EAP provides to better demonstrate the return on investment of these services and the usefulness of the program. This is not a question of profit margin. “

The pay in question

In contrast, according to the DPA, Mr. Vaillancourt believes that psychologists are “a little better paid” than in the past. It recognizes, however, that the consolidation of the recent years in the EAP has created a pressure on the price, which he considers important. “There has been a war of market. The market is changing. The EAP grant fewer hours to the patient. We want to find solutions to defuse the situations irritating. It is necessary to innovate and involve more technology in the services of the EAP. “

In regards to fees, Sylvain Authier agrees that these will be lower in EAP than in private practice. “Prices have not declined in 20 years, but they have not significantly increased. We are not the cheapest in the market. This is not always the lowest bidder that wins. There are regional realities must be taken into account, which lead to a game of supply and demand at certain places, such as Montreal, where supply is greater. “

Pierre Marion has said that the fees are subject to an imperative of fairness and balance between what the employer is willing to offer as benefits to their employees, relative to their ability to pay. He also believes that psychologists should take account of the fact that their collaboration with an EAP brings in a customer base without having to do the steps, which enables them to reduce their spending.

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