WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS CAN REDUCE COMP COSTS

Compensation claims for overweight employees cost far more than for those of normal weight l– giving businesses a financial incentive to offer help obese workers shed poundage.

“If your 300- or 400-pound worker has an injury, you're looking at a half-million-dollar claim,” says Misty Price, of workers compensation defense firm Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell & Jimenez (Thousand Oaks, CA). “Their obesity is going to drive it. If an employer spends $30,000 or $40,000 helping them lose weight, they may reduce the total cost of the claim and return the individual to work sooner.”

According to “Indemnity Benefit Duration and Obesity,” a 2012 report by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, obesity raises the cost of comp benefits significantly:

  • For “morbidly obese” individuals, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, medical costs were 6.8 times those for claimants of healthy weight. Morbidly obese employees were twice as likely to file a claim, while their number of lost workdays was almost 13 times higher.
  • For claimants with BMIs of 35-40, medical costs came to 3.1 higher those than for employees who were not obese, while claims were 1.9 times more frequent, and 8.3 times more workdays were lost.
  • For workers with BMIs of 30-35, medical costs of claims were 2.6 times those by employees of recommended weight, claims were 1.5 times more likely, while 5.3 times more workdays were lost.

Ms. Price recommends that businesses collect BMI data to track how much obese and overweight workers are adding to their comp costs. “You don't need to spend a lot of money on fancy predictive modeling to predict your large losses,” she says. “You can lay your eyes on it by looking at your workforce.”

Sounds like healthy advice.

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