Study Highlights Impact of Chronic Conditions on Working America

A report recently released by the American Hospital Association quantified the toll common chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension take on American workers. These three chronic conditions cause working Americans to miss an estimated 164 million work days each year at a cost of $30 billion to employers. Of the three conditions, asthma takes the greatest toll.

Additional highlights of the study included:

  • For every 1,000 working Americans, an estimated 1,221 work days are lost each year due to asthma, diabetes and hypertension.
  • Nationwide, asthma accounts for roughly 900 missed work days per 1,000 working Americans with the greatest impact in Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts where more than 1,200 work days were missed. South Carolina and Hawaii were least affected by asthma per 100 workers.
  • Missed work days related to diabetes was highest in Mississippi and West Virginia while Colorado and Minnesota had the least diabetes-related missed days. Nationwide, diabetes accounts for an estimated 112 days missed per 1,000 working Americans. The lost work time is estimated to cost employers $2.8 billion.
  • In California, hypertension alone accounts for an estimated 2.8 million lost work days each year. Nationally, hypertension accounts for 200 days missed per 1,000 employees in the Southeast but fewer than 160 days missed in the North and Southwest.

Progress in preventing and treating disease has added approximately 30 years to Americans’ life expectancy since the beginning of the 20th century but among working Americans, the incidence of chronic conditions is on the rise. According to Harvard economists, a one-year improvement in the life expectancy of the U.S. population translates into a 4% increase in gross domestic product, an increase currently equal to about $540 billion.

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