Groups explore total impact chronic disease has on cost, including lost productivity and wages

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Wellness Caucus and the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease on Thursday hosted a briefing to examine the impact of chronic, non-communicable disease and look beyond just medical costs to more holistically consider total productivity, particularly among the federal workforce.  

“With one in two Americans suffering from at least one chronic disease, every workforce is affected significantly – including federal employees – and would benefit from prevention and wellness strategies to improve health and also productivity,” said Ken Thorpe, PFCD chairman. “Efforts to improve overall health of employees have strong evidence of return on investment, and as our workforce ages, health improvement will be increasingly linked to economic wellness so taking action now is critical. As policymakers look for key initiatives to save costs, reducing the social and economic impact of chronic disease among the federal workforce should be at the top of the list.” 

"Employers are making critical decisions about healthcare coverage and financing. To realize the full value of their programs, employer decisions — both private and public — must encompass the impact of health and chronic disease on lost work time, workforce performance and productivity,” stated Thomas Parry, IBI president. 

According to a modeling tool developed by the Integrated Benefits Institute, federal employees are estimated to incur $27.2 billion annually in medical treatment payments, lost productivity and wage replacements associated with illness-related absences and underperformance on the job. Of those losses, illness related productivity losses and wage replacements surpass medical costs for employees and their dependents by 26%. 

IBI’s model is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and proprietary sources. The results are an estimate for 2.6 million federal employees (including the U.S. Postal Service).

 

 

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