The main reason is as blunt as it is true: employees who can’t work are expensive.
March 7, 2021 4 min read
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We have a relatively low life expectancy, a high suicide rate, a high rate of preventable deaths and an overburden of chronic disease and disability among comparable nations. This information deserves to be common knowledge to patients, providers, insurers, regulators and legislators alike.
Polls show it to be a readily apparent worry at home.
A recent study of 2,000 Americans, commissioned by Fresh Avocados – Love One Today revealed that three in five Americans (59%) worry their loved ones aren’t taking care of their overall health. The most common categories respondents fretted over are spouses (45%), moms (43%) and dads (42%).
Why business owners should care
The reason? Employees who can’t work are expensive.
Every work injury costs employers an average of $1,000. If it requires a medical consultation, that number rises to $41,000. The total cost of work injuries in 2018 was estimated to be $170.8 billion. That includes wage losses, productivity losses, medical expenses, and administrative expenses. Tack on non-work-related injuries and run-of-the-mill illnesses, and you’ve got billions more in economic fallout.
Those expenses don’t just hurt individual businesses, they also drive up the costs of deliverables throughout supply chains and cause a ripple effect in the larger economy. The resulting billions lost are more than just staggering figures. They are signifiers of how much entrepreneurs have to gain by pushing back against poor decision-making and legislation in healthcare.
Let’s consider back pain in particular since it’s the number one cause of lost productivity and job-related disability. It’s also the cause of more than 500,000 worker compensation claims per year and is more likely than any other condition to keep an employee out of work for an extended period. And among every ten people who experience workplace limitations, six of the cases are related to back pain. Learning simple facts like these is the first step in bringing about change.
The second step is in questioning the data surrounding these facts. For instance, why is the cause of low back pain only identified in one of 10 cases, and why do only 10% of primary care physicians refer patients with low back pain to a chiropractor or physical therapist?
Why, despite more treatment options, is there no evidence that back pain is becoming less of a disease burden, according to the American Medical Association?
A major market force
We’ve covered the “back” part (pun intended), and the third step is where the pushing really comes in. Almost half of all Americans receive employer-sponsored healthcare coverage, meaning that those employers constitute a major market force when it comes to insurers and providers. As such, business owners should push insurers to offer affordable coverage for top-tier providers, which will in turn push those providers to prove that they can offer a better standard of care.
Now, you could make the argument that it’s an employer’s responsibility to look out for employee health, and that’s a fair point, too. However, there’s a limit to how much employers can do in terms of offering safe workplaces and they certainly can’t control what happens to employees who are off the job. It really shouldn’t be a stretch, however, to expect that in modern-day America, anyone who does suffer from an injury would get prompt, appropriate, and cost-effective care.