Showing Bosses the Money

Yesterday, we mentioned the relationship between poor health and poor income. Today, two new studies make the same point, this time to employers, who, as a group, have a tremendous incentive to provide health care.

The Wall Street Journal surveyed a number of companies, large and small, and found bottom-line benefits from wellness programs that either encourage or, in some cases, require employees to be screened for various diseases.

Similarly, the journal Archives of General Psychiatry did a mathematical modeling exercise concluding that screening and treating employees for depression may save employers about $3,000 per 1,000 workers over five years. Not much, but it would turn the arrow from up to down on corporate medical expenses.

But demonstrating dollars-and-cents results from prevention programs still doesn’t make it easy for a company in this rapid-job-shifting economy to invest now and then have some other company reap the benefits of a healthy workforce years down the road.

Also, the shocking fact that half of American workers do not get paid sick leave means they show up at work and infect those who do. At least that issue can be solved by Congress, and it may be in the coming session.

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