The Burden of Pre-Chronic and Chronic Conditions on Employers

Kayla Reynolds

Currently, over two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and about half of Americans have one or more chronic health conditions. Not only do obesity and lifestyle-related chronic conditions have an impact on the health and quality of life of affected individuals, but they also have important public health consequences, posing a major social and economic burden.

With the continued rise of pre-chronic and chronic conditions, employers will be among those to pay the highest price — figuratively and literally.

The health status of its employees has a tremendous impact on employers. Specifically, pre-chronic or chronic conditions result in increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased costs.

Looking at diabetes alone:

  • One in 10 employees will have the condition.
  • The condition is responsible for 15 million absent work days, 120 million work days with reduced productivity, and 107 million work days lost due to diabetes-related unemployment, nationally.
  • Employers spend an average of $4,413 more on employees with this condition compared to those without, more than 30% of such costs are associated with absenteeism and disability.

The good news is that the most costly chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease are also preventable. Scalable coaching platforms that focus on the behaviors that lead to chronic disease have the ability to meet employer’s needs and reverse the trend.

Two-thirds of employees will require programs that can improve diet, increase physical activity, and ultimately drive meaningful weight loss. Those already diagnosed with a pre-chronic or chronic condition are in need of programs that will help manage and reverse their condition.

For the employer, such programs can offer a huge return on investment. For each $1 spent on the prevention of chronic conditions, employers save $5.60 in future healthcare spending. Consequently, we predict that employers will begin to invest more and more in the preventing chronic conditions to reduce the burden they bear.

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