A new study has shown that obese workers are costing companies billions in medical expenses, health plan costs and lost productivity. This combined with health insurance costs, presenteeism and time away from work is estimated to be costing businesses in the region of $73.1 billion for full-time employees.
The first study of its type to measure the overall cost of lost productivity finds that health plan expenses associated with obese workers actually outweigh the cost of lost job productivity. The study used three factors - employee medical expenditures, lost productivity on the job due to health problems (presenteeism) and absenteeism - to determine per capita the cost of workplace obesity that they found exceeds health plan costs. The results were as follows:
Women in the workplace who are 100 pounds overweight cost employers $16,900; for men in the same category, with BMI greater than 40, the cost is $15,500 per capita. Loss of productivity from health problems, even for employees in the normal weight range, was found to exceed health plan costs and accounted for 56 percent of the total cost of obesity for women, and 68 percent for men. Researchers also claimed that the loss of $73.1 billion per year was roughly equivalent to the cost of hiring an additional 1.8 million workers per year at $42,000 each.
The results of the burgeoning study show that apart from costing companies billions in health insurance costs, businesses now need to identify cost-effective strategies and health insurance policies that employers can offer to reduce obesity rates and subsequent costs associated with overweight workers. As the rate of obesity continues to rise amongst U.S. full-time workers, employers need to be seriously considering the financial repercussions this will have on their business and business productivity. Many leading experts are also imploring business owners to take measures and introduce a health plan to address the rise of obesity within the workplace.
Overall the study emphasizes the hidden costs of obesity from loss of productivity which companies should take into consideration when choosing a health plan.