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Integrated Benefits Institute study finds increased screenings for depression and detection of chronic conditions before symptoms present could have greatest impact on disability costs.
Depression affects one in eight employees costing employers more than other chronic conditions and even some cancers. Yet only one in 10 people get the recommended screening for depression. Closing screening gaps for depression—as well as for some cancers and chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity—represents a major savings opportunity if diseases are detected before employee leaves are required for severe cases. These are among the findings of a new study by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), a non-profit health and productivity research organization.
“Our research reinforces that screenings for serious health issues can save lives, reduce treatment recovery times and lower healthcare costs, while also impacting productivity and business performance for employers,” said Kelly McDevitt, president of IBI. “Preventive care was vitally important before COVID-19, but employers sometimes struggled to achieve high compliance. With delayed care, and barriers to care in the current environment, it has become critical that employers attempt to remove as many obstacles as possible and encourage employees and their families to get back on the pathway to wellness.”
The study also found the average disability cost for people who take leave for a health issue in less complicated stages was between 4% to 52% lower than the costs for those on leave with a more severe health condition.
Gaps for recommended cancer screenings ranged from 19% (cervical cancers) to 35% (colorectal cancers). These lost opportunities to initiate early treatments may also result in longer recovery times, more time away from work on leave, and an increased chance of exits from the labor force for older employees.
“The durations for cancers were found to be longer for employees who are older when they go out on leave, suggesting the value of screenings that can detect cancers at the earliest meaningful opportunity to begin treatment,” said Erin Peterson, IBI Researcher and study lead author at IBI.
Other study findings include:
IBI is hosting a webinar September 9 at 10 am PT and 1 pm ET to present the research findings.