Diabetes is a serious health epidemic in the United States, and it’s costly in terms of human lives and fiscal resources. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and the total cost of the disease amounts to more than $245 billion annually.
Moreover, the CDC projects that by 2050, one in three American adults will have diabetes. With such a large portion of the population affected by this disease, it’s no surprise that businesses are also starting to feel the effects. Here are five ways diabetes is affecting companies in America today.
Health Care Costs
One of the most obvious ways diabetes affects businesses is through higher health care costs. Due to the expensive nature of managing diabetes, employees with the condition often have much higher health insurance premiums than those who don’t have the disease. For example, a study by the University of Michigan found that workers with diabetes had annual health care costs $7,000 higher than those without diabetes. These higher costs eventually get passed down to employers through higher insurance rates.
When employees manage their diabetes, they cannot be as productive as they could be if they were healthy. This lost productivity can take many forms. Here are some of them.
Absenteeism and Presenteeism
People with diabetes can still work in your office. However, this can be problematic when their diabetes causes oral problems.
Oral problems such as tooth loss are the leading cause of absenteeism and presenteeism at work, and diabetes can lead to these oral problems because of gum inflammation and tooth decay. One way to deal with this is by offering affordable dental implants to your employees. These implants can help reduce the chances of future infection and other oral problems. However, you should provide diabetic treatments when you can.
When employees with diabetes reach retirement age, they may have to leave the workforce earlier than expected. This is because diabetes can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, which can shorten life expectancy.
This early retirement can strain your business, as you may have to replace these experienced employees with inexperienced ones. You may also have to offer retirement benefits to these employees sooner than you would like.
Higher Workers’ Compensation Claims
Diabetes also tends to result in more workers’ compensation claims. This is because employees with diabetes are more likely to experience on-the-job injuries due to complications from their disease. For example, diabetics may faint or lose consciousness due to low blood sugar levels, which could result in sustaining an injury from a fall. They may also have trouble healing from cuts or bruises due to poor circulation caused by diabetes. These factors can lead to higher workers’ compensation claims for employers.
Difficulty Recruiting Top Talent
Given the high costs associated with managing diabetes, many employers are hesitant to hire individuals with the condition. After all, why would an employer want to hire someone who will drive up their health care costs? As a result, people with diabetes may have a more challenging time finding employment, limiting companies’ ability to recruit top talent. Thankfully, there are ways you can deal with this.
One way to do this is by offering health insurance that covers diabetes treatments. This way, you can attract top talent without worrying about the high costs associated with the disease. You can also provide other benefits, such as flexible work hours or the ability to work from home to accommodate employees with diabetes.
Negative Impact on Morale
Finally, having employees with diabetes can also hurt workplace morale. This is because employees who are healthy and do not have chronic conditions may resent those who do—especially if they feel like they are paying for it through higher health care premiums.
In addition, employees with chronic diseases such as diabetes may require special accommodations from their employers (e.g., extra breaks for blood sugar testing or insulin injections), which can also create tension among coworkers.
You can increase employee morale by ensuring that everyone in your office understands the costs of diabetes and how it affects not just those with the disease but also their coworkers. You can also set up a system where employees can anonymously share their concerns or frustrations about work-related issues, such as accommodating those with chronic illnesses.
Diabetes is a severe problem in America that is costly and affects millions yearly. And while you might not think that such a personal health condition would impact businesses, the truth is that companies feel the effects of diabetes in a variety of ways—from increased health care costs to lost productivity and difficulty recruiting top talent. If you’re a business owner or manager, it’s essential to be aware of these trends so you can adjust your policies and procedures accordingly.