Friday, November 9, 2012

Study: Modifiable Health Risks Drive Up Employer Costs


Depression leads a list of 10 risk factors linked to more than one-fifth of employer and employee health spending, when costs are analyzed at the individual employee level.  And, at a population level, the following five risk factors were associated with the highest per capita costs: obesity ($347), physical inactivity ($179), depression ($128), tobacco use ($106), and high blood glucose ($104).
That’s according to a study that was published in Health Affairs this week, coauthored by our own Ron Goetzel who is a research professor and the director of Emory University’s Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, and vice president of consulting and applied research for Truven Health Analytics.
 
The study matched health spending for 92,000 employees at seven organizations over three years with 10 common modifiable risk factors.  It discovered that 22.4 percent of the $366 million spent annually by the seven employers and their employees was attributed to the 10 risk factors, all of which can be addressed by evidence-based worksite health promotion programs.

The additional annual medical cost for an employee with depression was $2,185 —or 48 percent more—than for a worker not depressed.  High blood glucose ($1,653 more), high blood pressure ($1,378 more), and obesity ($1,090 more) were also strongly related to increased health care costs.  Workers who were physically inactive ($606 more), used tobacco ($587 more), or had high stress ($343 more), also incurred higher costs for themselves and their employers.

To read the full study in Health Affairs, click here.

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