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Diabetes and the Workplace

Focus on Wellness and Safety

Employers are a major source of health benefits for Americans. Worksite wellness programs have developed primarily to contain and reduce quickly escalating health care costs and to improve productivity and reduce absenteeism and presenteeism (the worker is present, but not working productively).

Total health care and related costs for the treatment of diabetes run about $245 billion annually. Of this total, $176 billion, is spent on direct medical costs for hospitalizations, medical care, treatment and supplies, and other costs. The other $69 billion covers indirect costs such as disability payments, time lost from work, and premature death.

After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes. Read more in "Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2012."

The largest components of medical expenditures for diabetes are

  • Hospital inpatient care (43% of the total medical cost),
  • Prescription medications to treat complications of diabetes (18%),
  • Medications to manage diabetes/blood glucose levels and diabetes supplies (12%),
  • Physician office visits (9%),
  • In-home nursing care/non-hospital residential facility stays (8%).

People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of about $13,700 per year, of which about $7,900 is attributed to diabetes. People with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.

Indirect costs of diabetes include

  • Increased absenteeism ($5 billion),
  • Reduced productivity while at work ($20.8 billion) for the employed population,
  • Reduced productivity for those not in the labor force ($2.7 billion),
  • Inability to work as a result of disease-related disability($21.6 billion),
  • Lost productive capacity due to early mortality ($18.5 billion)

What can you do?

Make the strongest impact on health care costs and productivity by focusing on

  • Diabetes prevention and management education.
  • Heart health, blood pressure and cholesterol management.
  • Tobacco use cessation.
  • Weight management.
  • Stress management.
  • Address placement issues and safety, such as: hypoglycemia, types and timing of diabetes medications, diabetic complications, type of work (physically active vs. sedentary job), using heavy machinery, and shift work. Specific information about the safety needs of employees with diabetes can be found at the EEOC .

Learn more information about worksite wellness and safety programs at CDC's Total Worker Health and Workplace Health Promotion sites.