raA study appearing in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that workers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) incur elevated direct and indirect health-related costs. Richard A. Brook, MS, MBA, The JestaRx Group, Newfoundland, NJ, and his team reportedly used a large insurance claims database to compare costs to employers for 2,705 workers with RA to more than 338,000 workers without RA. Researchers report that the study also encompassed direct costs such as health care and indirect costs such as missed work days.

The results indicate that average annual costs totaled $5,200 higher for workers with RA. Researchers add that 90% of the excess costs linked to RA were for direct health care costs. They estimate that workers with RA ultimately incurred an additional $5.8 billion in additional costs per year, of which $5.2 billion was for direct costs. The results suggest that workers with RA also accounted for 4 million additional lost work days.

Study authors report that the study may actually underestimate the true cost impact of RA for US employers, and conclude that the data spotlights the need for effective management strategies to reduce the burden of illness and economic losses incurred.

[Source: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine]