Hospital Employees Are Less Healthy and Accrue Higher Healthcare Costs than General Workforce

Ann Arbor MI, Sept. 12, 2011—Healthcare spending is 10 percent higher for hospital employees than it is for the general employee population, according to a study released today by the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters.

The gap is wider when employees’ dependents are factored in. The cost of healthcare for hospital workers and family members covered by their health insurance is 13 percent higher than average.

In addition to using more healthcare services, hospital employees and their dependents also were found to be less healthy. They had an 8.6 percent greater illness burden than the U.S. workforce at large and were more likely to be diagnosed with chronic medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure, HIV, hypertension and mental illness.

The research also found that hospital workers and their families had fewer physician office visits, yet were 22 percent more likely to visit the emergency room.

“Ideally, the healthcare workforce would be a model for healthy behaviors and the appropriate use of medical resources,” said Raymond Fabius, MD, chief medical officer for the Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters. “Unfortunately, our data suggests that the opposite is true today. Hospitals that tackle this issue can strengthen their business performance and community service.”

The study analyzed the health risk and healthcare utilization of 1.1 million hospital workers and their dependents and compared them with 17.8 million health plan members in all industries for the year ending with the third quarter of 2010. It found that the average annual cost of healthcare for hospital employees and their dependents was $4,662, outpacing the general population by $538.

Thomson Reuters researchers calculate that a hospital or health system with 16,000 employees stands to save an estimated $1.5 million annually in medical and pharmacy costs for each 1 percent reduction in health risk.

The researchers used the Thomson Reuters MarketScan® Research Databases, a repository of healthcare claims representing the real-world healthcare experience of millions of Americans. The study looked exclusively at workers with employer-sponsored insurance.

To request a copy of the full study, visit