Employees with chronic conditions incur higher medical costs, miss more days of work, and are often less productive. Because of this, many employers are looking to roll out programs to combat the high costs and help their employees get on a path to a healthier, happier lifestyle.
What are chronic conditions?
According to the CDC, chronic conditions or diseases are broadly defined as “conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both.” Chronic conditions include hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.
How can chronic conditions affect my company’s health care costs?
90% of the United States’ $3.5 trillion in annual health care expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions. Chronic conditions are the leading drivers of U.S. health care costs. Those with such conditions utilize and spend more on health care services than the average employee. Beyond these direct costs of care, there are also indirect costs, such as loss of productivity, early retirement, and premature mortality. According to Fitch Solutions, which is a unit of Fitch Group, these losses hover around $3.7 trillion.
The Fitch Solutions report goes on to say that the total cost of diabetes jumped from $245 billion in 2012 to $327 billion in 2017. Direct costs for heart disease was at $318 billion in 2017. And the numbers are continuing to rise.
Are costs higher for those with multiple chronic conditions?
A recent study by the RAND Corporation states that those with five or more chronic disorders use twice as many drugs on average per year, compared with those with three or four conditions. Additionally, those with five or more conditions averaged 20 doctor visits per year, compared with 12 visits for those with three or four conditions.
How can chronic care management programs help my employees?
Most chronic conditions can be prevented through healthy eating, physical activity, no tobacco usage, and regular health screenings. All of this can be achieved through chronic care management program participation. Preventing chronic conditions, or managing symptoms if prevention isn’t possible, are the cornerstones of chronic care management programs. Participants receive the support, guidance, and tools needed to start living a healthier, happier life.
Should my company consider offering chronic care management programs?
Because 50% of Americans have a chronic disease, employers of all sizes should consider offering chronic care management programs. However, there are some risk factors that may be red flags you won’t want to ignore. This includes a high number of employees who use tobacco, have high blood pressure, and are overweight.