Current wellness studies focus on harmful employee behaviors as the cause of high health care costs, at the expense of observing harmful employer actions. Our goal was to take a broader, more comprehensive look at the options employers had to reduce costs.
We created a methodology to compare the effect of job-related factors to the effect of employee lifestyle factors, and applied it to three studies of health care costs, two studies of absenteeism, and two studies of presenteeism. The health care costs studies showed, on average, that job-related factors accounted for 42% of excess health care costs, compared to 58% for lifestyle factors. The presenteeism studies showed an average of 36% of missed hours per week vs. 64%, and the absenteeism studies showed an average of 25% of missed days per year vs. 75%. Therefore, the comparison methodology provides strong evidence that employer actions should be investigated as well as employee behaviors.
We estimate that an employee with high job dissatisfaction has an annual pharmaceutical expenditure $55 higher than the average employee. We estimate that an employee with high stress has an annual pharmaceutical expenditure $56 higher than average, and an annual health care expenditure $708.54 higher than average. We estimate that an employee with both coronary heart disease and high stress has an annual health care expenditure $1352.54 higher than the average employee with coronary heart disease. We estimate that an employee with high stress missed 2.46 more hours per week, and 2.87 more days per year than average.
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