Cancer costing employers $19,000 a year, IBI saysNews added by Benefits Pro on March 26, 2014

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Dan Cook

Just how much do workers with cancer cost their employers? The Integrated Benefits Institute sponsored research on the subject, and came away with an estimate of $19,000 a year in lost work time and medical treatments per 100 employees.

Of that total, more than half – $10,000 – is attributed to “presenteeism,” the term coined to describe what happens when someone shows up for work but gives less than 100 percent.

The rest includes the costs covered by employer health insurance for medical and pharmacy bills related to treatment of the disease. In addition to these costs, the institute estimates that workers with cancer are absent 3.8 more days per year than workers without cancer.

“At any given time, about one-fourth of employees with a history of cancer are in treatment,” the institute said. “Employees with cancer have an average of approximately four other conditions that complicate care management strategies. In terms of their impact on productivity, the most serious co-morbid conditions are: depression (16 percent of employees with cancer), chronic fatigue (22 percent), obesity (19 percent), anxiety (14 percent), chronic back or neck pain (23 percent), high cholesterol (30 percent) and hypertension (24 percent).”

“Cancers present complex challenges for the workplace. At a basic, human level, a cancer diagnosis is a frightening, sometimes emotionally devastating, event. It is natural that co-workers and supervisors will want to provide support to a friend and colleague when told he or she has cancer.

“At the same time, balancing privacy and workplace accommodation is a critical, but sensitive, issue. Many employees with cancer will frequently feel too sick to work, while others report that remaining on the job keeps them ‘connected’ and provides a sense of routine as they undergo treatment,” said IBI President Tom Parry.

According to the American Cancer Society, there were about 524 new cancer cases per 100,000 people in the U.S. in 2013.

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