CDC Helps Business Tackle the Burden of Rising Healthcare Costs

CDC is partnering with businesses, health insurance plans and doctors to help improve health and control healthcare costs for costly, common conditions including tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and healthcare-associated infections. Business Pulse: Lowering Healthcare Costs, Improving Productivity, launched today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation, explores how CDC can help businesses with interventions proven to address health conditions while improving workers’ health and boosting business productivity.

“Businesses can improve employee health and reduce healthcare costs by addressing conditions that affect their employees, such as high blood pressure and smoking,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “CDC is helping businesses by sharing research on proven interventions for some of the most common and costly health issues.”

These statistics highlight some of the health challenges businesses face with their workers:

  • Cigarette smoking is the single-largest cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. 
  • High blood pressure is one of the 10 most expensive health conditions for U.S. employers. About 75 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure, a major contributor to heart disease and stroke.
  • Nearly 1 in 11 people in the United States have diabetes; medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high as for people without diabetes.
  • Workers who had one or more asthma attacks in 2008 missed 14.2 million days of work during the previous 12 months. 
  • Healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals lead to an estimated $30 billion in annual direct and indirect costs.

As an example, smoking costs the United States more than $300 billion a year, including nearly $170 billion in direct medical care and more than $156 billion in lost productivity. Employers can reduce tobacco use and improve employee health by providing support and access to comprehensive cessation treatments to help employees stop smoking. Or consider that medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high as for people without diabetes. To avert the high costs and health toll of diabetes, businesses can offer increased screening to identify those with pre-diabetes, and expanded access to the National Diabetes Prevention Program to help workers make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

This issue of Business Pulse highlights these challenges as well as CDC solutions, and includes a question and answer feature with Laura Seeff, M.D., Director of CDC’s Office of Health Systems Collaboration. Business Pulse: Lowering Healthcare Costs, Improving Productivity also features an interactive infographic with facts and links to CDC programs that help employers control costs and improve productivity, along with online CDC resources.

Business Pulse: Lowering Healthcare Costs, Improving Productivity is one in a series of quarterly business features created by the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization. Support for this issue of Business Pulse is provided by The California Endowment. Other Business Pulse topics to date include business continuity, safe healthcare, global health security, travelers’ health, flu prevention, healthy workforce, heart health, food safety, workplace safety and business health.