Obesity and the Employer
It seems the obesity epidemic is making national news almost daily. According to the Center for Disease Control, 33.8% or one third of U.S. adults are obese. The facts are scary and it’s no secret that obesity increases the risk of other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, respiratory problems and more! In 2008 medical care costs relating to obesity in the U.S. were a staggering $147 billion and with the percentage of obese individuals increasing every year, that number is not getting any smaller.
How is this a concern of the employer and what can they do about it? Consider that most working adults obtain health insurance through their employers. This means that health insurance premiums, paid by the employer, will fluctuate and increase in relation the health care needs of their employees. If it is safe to assume that one in three employees are obese, the chances of a serious health issue or the need for care will also increase. The same goes for Workers Compensation. According to a study published in the American Medical Association that was taken from 1997-2004, there is a direct correlation between body mass index and workplace injuries. In this study obese employees had 50% more claims during this time than those of recommended weight. There were also higher medical claim costs, indemnity costs and more lost work days.
One great way to help fight obesity is to encourage your employees to be healthy. Try organizing a wellness fair or an exercise program for your employees. Help your employees find a local gym or see if you can work with the gym to offer your employees a discounted memberships. Another idea is to start a company sponsored wellness program. There is evidence that having wellness program available to your employees can significantly improve health and productivity and decrease injury and health care costs overall.
For more information about Wellness Programs and how starting one can affect your bottom line, click here!
The Seltzer Group, located in Eastern Pennsylvania, specializes in developing safety, workers compensation, human resources, claims, and risk financing programs. They are a proud member of the Keystone Insurers Group and are nationally recognized for their expertise in workers compensation solutions. The Seltzer Group serves businesses and individuals locally, regionally, and on the national level.