271950 Costs of Job-Related Injury and Illness Exceed Cancer, Diabetes & Stroke

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 11:10 AM - 11:30 AM

J. Paul Leigh, PhD , Center for Healthcare Policy and Research, and Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis Medical School, Davis, CA
Background: Efficient allocation of scarce medical dollars requires estimates of costs. Whereas costs of cancer, diabetes, and stroke are produced annually, the most recent estimate for occupational injury and illness was conducted in 1992. In this study (drawn from the corresponding paper in the December, 2011 issue of the Milbank Quarterly) , 2007 estimates are generated for: incidence of fatal and non-nonfatal injuries and non-nonfatal illnesses; prevalence of fatal diseases; and medical and productivity costs.

Methods: The cost-of-illness approach is combined with a societal perspective. Cost categories include medical and productivity (lost earnings, lost fringe benefits , and lost home production). Primary and secondary data sources are combined with parameters from the literature and model assumptions. Primary sources include data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Council on Compensation Insurance, and the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Secondary sources include the National Academy of Social Insurance, literature estimates of Attributable Fractions of diseases with occupational components, and national estimates for all health care costs. Total costs are calculated by multiplying the numbers of cases by the average costs per- case.

Results: Costs are: $6 billion for fatal injuries; $186 billion for non-fatal injuries; $46 billion for fatal illnesses; and $12 billion for non-fatal illnesses. Combined costs for injuries and illnesses are $67 billion (medical) (27% of the total), and $183 billion (73%) (productivity). Injuries comprise 77% percent of the total and illnesses, 23%. The total cost estimate is $250 billion.

Conclusions: The medical and productivity costs of occupational injuries and illnesses are larger than the costs of either cancer, diabetes or stroke. Because workers' compensation covers less than 21 percent of these costs, the economic burden is shifted to workers and their families, employer-provided health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the economic burden of occupational injury and illness which was roughly $250 billion in 2007 and exceeded the costs of either cancer, diabetes or cancer. 2. Discuss that roughly only 21% of these costs were covered by workers compensation. 3. Discuss that some of the remaining 79% of costs were shifted to employer-provided health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am sole author on one study and first author on the other. I was principal investigator on the NIOSH grant, Costs of Occupational Injury and Illness.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.