Insider News: Feb. 6, 2020

This week's Insider News includes articles on how employers are looking to control health care costs, the positive results of Massachusetts' health care reforms, and a report on the still-climbing rates of diabetes and obesity in the U.S.

Unplanned absenteeism ties up over 8% of payroll costs

An estimated 8.7% of all payroll costs are tied to absenteeism, according to a study from the Macrothink Institute. A company valued at $1 billion that attributes 60% of its costs to payroll would incur $52.2 million annually due to absenteeism. There are several areas where changes in both the employer's and employee's attitude or approach can contribute to making this type of absenteeism less of a burden while improving morale and performance. The CEO and Co-Founder of TrenData suggests:

  • Cultivating a culture of honesty and transparency
  • Implement combined Paid Time Off
  • Employ data and analytics
  • Investment in the future

Employers look to control health care costs by screening employees for sleep apnea

Firms are targeting sleep to improve workers' health and lower medical costs. Southern, an Atlanta-based electric utility, screened about 4,000 of its 30,000 employees for sleep apnea in the past three years, and 1,500 are being treated. Southern officials said the program is saving money on health costs - $1.2 million in 2018 alone - because it reduces medical services for dangerous conditions such as heart disease that are complicated by sleep apnea.

About one-quarter of large employers offer programs to help workers get better sleep and more than half plan to implement such efforts by 2021, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson. Benefits officials say promoting a good night's sleep for employees is as important as making sure their blood sugar and cholesterol are under control.

Mass. health reforms helped reduce advanced-stage colon cancer

Advanced-stage colon cancer diagnoses declined after Massachusetts expanded health insurance coverage, a study finds. In 2006, state legislators passed a health insurance reform law with the aim of providing health care access to nearly all residents.

The investigators found a 7% decline in the likelihood of advanced-stage colorectal cancer diagnosis among 50- to 64-year-olds after insurance reforms, compared with trends in other states. The decline likely owed to increased access to screening and diagnostic services that identified colon cancers earlier, the study authors suggested.

Report: Diabetes, obesity rates continue to climb in the U.S.

The number of American with diabetes increased by approximately 130% for men and 120% for women between 1990 and 2017, according to a report by the American Heart Association, published in Circulation. The report also showed that almost 40% of adults and 18.5% of young people in the U.S. are obese, and that only 26% of youths meet the CDC recommendations on physical activity.

AllWays Health Partners recently launched a new diabetes prevention program in conjunction with Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center. You can read about this valuable new member program on the AHIP blog
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