Chronic Conditions Cost Employers Billions

Fact #509:   The top five chronic causes of workplace short-term and long-term disability are arthritis, lower back disorders, depression, coronary heart disease, and pulmonary diseases. Each year in the U.S., these illnesses account for nearly 30% of all longterm disability claims, and their economic burden is estimated to be hundreds of billions of dollars in employee absences, diminished productivity, and increased health care costs.

Fact #510:  Most people under age 65 with chronic conditions are working. The percent of the 45- to 64-year-old population with these chronic conditions who are still in the workforce include 62% with hearing impairments, 61% with orthopedic impairments, 59% with hypertension, 53% with arthritis, and 51% with heart disease.

Fact #511:  In the U.S., arthritis is the leading cause of lost workdays, and some 60% of persons older than age 65 years have at least some symptoms of the disease. Costs of more than $60 billion a year in lost productivity -more often from reduced job performance than absenteeism-are estimated for workers in the U.S. with back pain, arthritis, and other muscle and joint pain.

Fact #512:   Depression is responsible for about 15% of the global disease burden and is an important cause of disability, impaired work performance, and reduced quality of life. Recent research found that the absenteeism rate in untreated patients was 70.2%, whereas the rate was 39.8% for those who were treated.

Fact #513:  More than 58 million annual lost workdays in the U.S. alone come from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung disorders that impair breathing. Among individuals over 40 years of age, COPD ranks second only to coronary disease as a cause of disability.

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Ira S Wolfe