WorkComp Advisory
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Things you should know

Shifting health insurance costs to employees found to increase disability and reduce productivity

A three year study of 17 employers by the nonprofit Integrated Benefits Institute found that shifting costs to employees with higher co-pays, tiered benefit plans and higher deductibles doesn’t save employers money and discourages treatment essential to employees’ health-related productivity and quality of life. The study focused on the increased disability and absence-related lost productivity for rheumatoid arthritis that result when employers raise the co-pays for prescription medicine. While the co-pay averaged $26 a month, the employees perceived this as too much and did not buy their medicine. The net result was lost productivity costs that were 26% higher than the cost of the drugs. Reducing or eliminating co-pays for common illnesses among your employees may improve productivity.

Study finds flextime good for healthy lifestyles
According to a study published in the December 2007 edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, workers who have flexible work schedules have healthier life styles. Researchers looked at hours of sleep, frequency of physical activity, and the workers’ perception of their own life styles and measured them against self-reported workplace flexibility. Almost all behavioral indicators of health increased with perceived job flexibility.

OSHA updates Office of Small Business Assistance Website
The redesigned site includes a new link targeting Spanish-language safety and an upgrade of the “safety Pays” eTool that enables employers in estimating the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses and the impact on a company's profitability. To visit the site, click here.

Study links job stress and heart disease
According to a study in the January 23, 2008 issue of European Heart Journal stress at work is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) but the mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear. Work stress may affect CHD through direct activation of neuroendocrine responses to stressors, or more indirectly through unhealthy behaviors which increase the risk of CHD, such as smoking, lack of exercise, or excessive alcohol consumption.

The association between work stress and CHD was stronger among employees younger than 50.