The report, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that the total costs of emotional disorders were even higher than for conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. Kenton Johnston and colleagues from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee merged health care claims with data on disability and productivity for 4,000 employees of a large insurance company.Overall, 11.5 percent of workers had depression, anxiety, or other emotional disorders.
The researchers said these disorders carried significant direct medical costs -- $774 per affected employee per year.However, the indirect costs were even higher --$872 per affected employee.For the company, the study found that indirect costs amounted to 53 percent of the total costs of depression, anxiety, and emotional disorders.
Absenteeism accounted for 57 percent of indirect costs while presenteeism -- reduced productivity due to health reasons -- accounted for 28 percent. For each employee with emotional disorders, researchers said the overall loss of productive time averaged 3.3 days per year.
Emotional disorders were the fifth costliest of all conditions, more so than coronary artery disease, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and congestive heart failure -- traditionally considered the most expensive employee health problems.
Johnston said previous studies have documented the high costs of treating depression, anxiety, and other emotional disorders in the workforce. However, he said this study illustrated that indirect costs such as absenteeism and presenteeism actually exceeded the direct costs of medications and health care visits.
The study concluded that companies should consider investing in programs to address and manage depression, anxiety, and other emotional disorders.Johnston said the findings "may cause employers to rethink the allocation of their investments for population health and disease management."
Read more at the WORKERSCOMP ForumTM homepage.
July 16, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications