The Rise of Costs for Employers Due to Obesity and Diabetes
Doug Jones • April 21, 2022
Co-author: Lina Camacho
It might surprise you to learn that the estimated cost of lost productivity for employers due to chronic disease (including indirect costs) is $3.7 trillion, making it much more expensive for your company to have employees who suffer from diabetes and obesity than it is to treat them—even if they’re on your highest-cost plan.
The good news is that wellness programs are a proven way to lower health care costs and reduce lost productivity in the workforce. In fact, according to Health Advocate Research, 50% of companies who have 500 or more employees offer some type of employee wellness program, compared with just 7% 20 years ago. If a comprehensive program isn’t in place at your company yet, now is the time to make it happen.
Diabetes and obesity management
Employees with chronic conditions are less productive, so there's a compelling economic case to manage this problem. Obesity is one of the top contributors to diabetes, which costs the U.S. over $300 billion per year—20% of all national healthcare spending—according to the American Diabetes Association. By 2050, it’s estimated that 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes.
Diabetes can be costly for employers too. Full-time employees with this condition miss an estimated 5.5 additional workdays per year due to illness and doctor's appointments. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average cost of diabetes per employee each year is $12,700.
In addition, a survey by Aon Consulting found that employees who have chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or depression cost employers 50% more in annual health care expenses than those who don't have such conditions.
Employers have a vested interest in improving employee health
Given these numbers, employers should be looking at programs aimed at preventing and managing chronic conditions. However, rising healthcare costs are putting pressure on employer-sponsored health plans. The good news is that employers already have the tools at their disposal to tackle chronic diseases.
BASE10 has found that people are more likely to adhere to personalized, data-driven wellness recommendations. That’s why we center our Chronic Disease Management program around genetic insights from our high-touch clinical team and registered dietitian nutritionists.
The Effect of Plant-based Foods on Diabetes
Reported cases of type 2 diabetes are on the rise around the world, tripling in the last twenty years to over 450 million. According to a study conducted by Harvard Professor Frank Hu that was published in the journal Diabetologia, a healthy plant-based diet of fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and even coffee are associated with diabetes prevention.
Hu’s research focused on metabolite profiles related to different plant-based diets and whether there’s a connection between those profiles and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A metabolite is any substance produced during metabolism, including compounds found in different foods.
Hu’s team used blood samples from participants dating back to the 1980s and 1990s in combination with diet indices based on whether they mostly consumed healthy plant foods, unhealthy plant foods, or animal foods. This allowed them to create metabolite profile scores for each individual. As a result, higher metabolite profile scores indicated both closer adherence to healthy plant-based diets and having a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
BASE10’s data shows that for 20% of high-risk employees graduating from the Chronic Disease Management program, you may see a 70% - 90% reduction in the plan expenses when it comes to medication for diabetes and/or other chronic diseases.
During the webinar on reducing diabetes and obesity related costs among employees on April 28th, 1PM CST, BASE10’s Co-Founder and COO, Robert Holton will speak about how combining genetic testing with an engaged clinical team can address chronic disease management among employees. He’ll be joined by Stephanie Ineman, MS, RDN, LDN, who is the lead dietitian and Nutrition Program manager at BASE10 Genetics.
Want to begin reducing health care expenses? Learn more here
Located in Chicago, BASE10 is a healthcare software technology company whose platform creates turnkey disease management programs that can be deployed at scale for nursing home operators, pharmacies, payors, and self-funded employers.