From the August 2011 issue of Benefits Selling Magazine •Subscribe!

Paid sick days reduce health costs

A new study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds that giving employees access to paid sick days reduces visits to hospital emergency rooms, saving $1 billion every year. IMPR also found that paid sick days are associated with better overall health, fewer delays in medical care, and fewer ER visits for adults and their children.

The study controlled for various factors, including health insurance status. Employees who are able to use paid sick days have an easier time seeing a doctor during normal business hours, decreasing the likelihood that the employee will put off needed care for themselves or their family members. It also increases rates of preventive care among employees and their children.

Roughly $47 billion is spent annually on ER visits. The study showed that shifting the cost of preventable diseases from emergency departments to doctor’s offices, clinics, and other outpatient settings, paid sick days would reduce overall annual health expenditures by around two percentage points to save $1 billion.

Since $500 million in preventable disease costs are covered every year by taxpayers through programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, SHIP, and Veterans Affairs, this cost-saving analysis is significant.

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