Depression linked to higher health costs for employees, new study shows

Researchers from Emory University’s Institute for Health and Productivity Studies and Truven Health Analytics, in Washington, D.C., have identified 10 risk factors related to higher health costs for employers, reports Kaiser Health News. Topping the list: depression.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, collected health risk data on more than 90,000 employees from seven companies, and then tracked medical spending from 2005 through 2009. Researchers found that employees with a propensity for depression had 48 percent higher medical spending than their counterparts. High blood sugar and obesity ranked as number two and three, respectively, among the common risk factors.

“The average annual medical expenditure for each employee was $3,961. In total, $82 million, or 22.4 percent, of the $366 million annually spent on health care for the workers was attributed to the 10 risk factors, the study found.”

The authors of the study believe the results may encourage employers to screen for depression, and other risk factors, and take proactive measures to ensure they are receiving the treatment they need.

Related research from Polaris: “Economic benefit of chemical dependency treatment to employers,” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 34(3): 311-319.