Boca Raton, FL – There is mounting evidence of obesity contributing to the cost of workers compensation. Longitudinal studies by Duke University of its own employees—and by Johns Hopkins University of employees of a multi-site U.S. aluminum manufacturing company—point to substantially higher odds of injury for workers in the highest obesity category. Further, a 2011 Gallup survey found that obese employees account for a disproportionately high number of missed workdays, thus causing a significant loss in economic output. Finally, earlier NCCI research of workers compensation claims found that claimants with a comorbidity code indicating obesity experience medical costs that are a multiple of what is observed for comparable non-obese claimants.
This new NCCI study confirms that obesity contributes in significant ways to the length of time during which claimants receive indemnity benefits. Indemnity duration was measured based on Temporary Total and Permanent Total indemnity benefit payments; in a sensitivity analysis, Permanent Partial benefits were counted toward indemnity benefit duration as well. Two concepts of aggregating observed indemnity benefit transactions into duration were employed, with little difference in the results.
The statistical analysis shows that claimants with a comorbidity indicator pointing to obesity have an indemnity benefit duration that is more than five times the value of claimants who do not have this comorbidity indicator but are otherwise comparable. Inclusive of Permanent Partial indemnity payments, this multiple climbs to more than six.
The results obtained for the effect of obesity on indemnity duration are close to what has been established by Duke University for the morbidly obese. Based on the reported means in the Duke University study, for the morbidly obese, the number of lost workdays per claim amounts to 6.4 times the value observed for claimants of recommended weight.
The free report is available from NCCI here: NCCI Study on Effect of Obesity in Workers Comp