Health care costs



One issue that I don’t see being discussed in the health care debate is the relationship between a healthy employee and the productivity of that employee to the general economy.

All the talk about health reform costs to make health insurance available to the low-insured and the uninsured does not take into account the cost to business because of sick workers’ absences. If a flu pandemic materializes, will workers opt to “stick it out” and possibly infect co-workers or instead stay home until well?

North Carolina ranks among the top 15 states in the number of uninsured (1.75 million). The estimated economic cost of lost productivity in North Carolina from the state’s uninsured is in the range of $4.2 billion to $8.3 billion annually. Lost productivity factors include shorter life spans and time not working. The Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C., think tank, estimates the cost of not insuring 52 million Americans at $124 billion to $248 billion annually. Doesn’t it make more sense to keep Americans healthy and productive as a boon to the economy? Or do we want to cut off our noses to spite our face?

Margie A. Gignac

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