Workers with Rheumatoid Arthritis Pay Higher Costs

May 6, 2013- Workers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) incur higher direct and indirect health-related costs that total nearly $6 billion nationwide, according to a study in the March Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Rheumatoid arthritis, the most common type of inflammatory arthritis, affects many working-age adults.

Using a large insurance-claims database, Richard A. Brook of The JestaRx Group and colleagues compared costs to employers for 2,705 workers with RA versus more than 338,000 workers without RA. The analysis included direct costs such as health care as well as indirect costs such as missed work.

Average annual costs were about $5,200 higher for workers with RA: $8,700 versus $3,500 per employee. Ninety percent of the excess costs related to RA were for direct health care costs.

Workers RA averaged about 3.5 additional health-related absence days per year, including more sick days and more short-term disability time.

Extrapolating the results to the U.S. civilian labor force, the researchers estimated that workers with RA incurred an additional $5.8 billion in additional costs per year, of which $5.2 billion was for direct costs. Workers with RA also accounted for 4 million additional lost work days.

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