The “B” Clause…The Additional Healthcare Costs for Employees Who Are Caregivers

by Kevin K. Johnson, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

Last month I met with an HR executive at a local business. She was aware that businesses such as hers were ‘likely’ being impacted when their employees needed to address immediate adult caregiving needs. I was able to quantify the lose in productivity across all businesses in the U.S., after which, I provided a method she could use to estimate the amount of loss in productivity being experienced by her company.

adding up figures concept with modern white calculator in officeOne data point of significant lose she had not considered was the secondary or indirect costs of employee adult caregiving being shouldered by her company. I thought I’d provide a detailed explanation of what I reviewed for this HR exec.

Using the average additional cost of a series of major health conditions (such as depression, hypertension, and diabetes) reported by employees with eldercare responsibilities and non-caregiving employees, the estimated average additional health cost to employers is 8% more for those with eldercare responsibilities. Excess medical costs reached almost 11% for blue-collar caregivers and over 18% for male caregivers.

  • When extrapolated to the business sector generally, this 8% differential in health care for caregiving employees is estimated conservatively as costing U.S. employers $13.4 billion per year.
  • Employees providing eldercare were more likely to report fair or poor health in general. For example, among female employees ages 50 and older, 17% of caregivers reported fair or poor health compared to 9% of non-caregivers. Among men ages 18 to 39 and women ages 40 to 49, caregivers were also marginally more likely than non-caregivers to report lower health ratings.
  • Employees providing eldercare were significantly more likely to report depression, diabetes, hypertension, or pulmonary disease regardless of age, gender, and work type.
  • Female employees with eldercare responsibilities reported more stress at home than non-caregivers in every age group. Stress at home appears to affect younger female caregivers most frequently. Caregivers were more likely to  report negative influences of personal life on their work.
  • Eldercare demands were associated with greater health risk behaviors. Smoking is higher among male caregivers, especially among younger male caregivers and white-collar caregivers relative to non-caregivers. Alcohol use is higher among blue-collar caregivers.
  • Employed caregivers find it more difficult than non-caregivers to take care of their own health or participate in preventive health screenings. For example, women caregivers were less likely to report annual mammograms than non-caregivers. Employed caregivers of all ages and gender defer preventive health screenings as well.
  • Employees with eldercare responsibilities were more likely to report missed days of work. This was driven by the much higher absenteeism among younger caregiving employees, ages 18 to 39. Overall, 9% of non-caregivers missed at least one day of work over the past two weeks because of health issues compared to 10% of caregivers.
  • Excess employee medical care costs associated with eldercare were highest among younger employees, males, and blue-collar workers.
  • Younger caregivers (ages 18 to 39) demonstrated significantly higher rates of cholesterol, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, kidney disease, and heart disease in comparison to non-caregivers of the same age.

Remember, when quantifying the approximate cost of lost employee productivity due to adult caregiving for your company, don’t forget to include the increased healthcare costs that this group of employees experience over and above non-adult caregiving employees.

Source: The MetLife Study of Working Caregivers and Employer Healthcare Costs

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