How much can we benefit from effective healthcare?

How much can we benefit from effective healthcare?

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PLN 726 per employee for each employer, more than PLN 11 billion in savings to the Treasury, are the savings which can be achieved thanks to investment in effective, quality healthcare, according to the authors of the report: “Work. Health. Economics. A 2012-2016 Perspective”, prepared by Medicover Polska. However, experts point out that the key to success is to bring the healthcare model in line with the healthcare needs of the economically active. Therefore, the key objective of this year’s analysis was to answer the question “How healthy are employees in Poland?”

“We decided to focus on the most prevalent health problems of employees in each category: manufacturing workers, mobile employees, office workers, and decision-makers, in this year’s report”, explains Dr Bożena Walewska-Zielecka, Medical Director, Member of the Management Board of Medicover Polska.
“Therefore, we analysed the data of more than 255,000 economically active people aged 18–67 years, representing the majority of Polish industries. Based on our analysis, we already know which healthcare areas need particular attention”, she adds.

The report says that an abnormal Body Mass Index (BMI) is the key health problem affecting employees in the occupational categories analysed. Less than one half of the analysed population have a normal BMI, and just one out of every three men.

“This data gives cause for concern as abnormal weight may give rise to several chronic diseases, including diabetes or vascular diseases”, stresses Dr Katarzyna Gorzelak-Kostrzewska, Medicover Polska’s expert in preventive healthcare and health of employees, and one of the report’s authors. “The report also points to quite significant cholesterol problems. Only slightly less than one half of all the economically active have a normal total cholesterol level. The results are a clear signal for employees and the healthcare system alike as to how important investment in healthy eating education and preventive healthcare is”, adds Dr Gorzelak-Kostrzewska.

The most prevalent diseases are respiratory diseases, which are the greatest burden to decision-makers (41%) and mobile employees (39.5%). This problem also affects the remaining occupational categories.

Economic aspects of illness

Bearing the economic aspects of illness in mind, a significant part of this year’s report focused on a detailed analysis of the cost of the most prevalent health problems to employers. The economic analysis by Medicover Polska’s experts answered one of the most important questions: what are illness cost drivers? The most prevalent health problems among employees were selected for the analysis, which were then age-standardized to enable comparison between the Medicover population and the population of employees insured with ZUS (Social Insurance Institution). Next, the cost of absence from work due to sickness and unproductive presence at work (presenteeism) was calculated for Medicover model employees and for the general workforce population in Poland.

“By comparing the Medicover Polska healthcare model with ZUS data, we calculated that each employer saves as much as PLN 726 per employee on illness costs annually by investing into our healthcare services. Compared with the preceding year, such savings went up by more than PLN 100 per employee”, says Mr Artur Białkowski, Vice President of the Management Board of Medicover Polska. The difference was calculated by reference to the seven most frequent reasons for sick leave among Polish employees and it comprises both the cost of absence from work and the cost of lower productivity due to illness”, he adds.

Assuming that each employer invests into the Medicover Polska’s healthcare model, the Treasury could save as much as PLN 11,854 billion a year.

“The economic analysis presented in the report provides a clear answer to the question as to whether spending on quality healthcare is a cost or an investment. With savings of PLN 726 per employee, it should be clear for everyone that the implementation of long-term, multidimensional preventive and medical schemes which are attractive to employees may only bring benefits to the employer”, commented Małgorzata Gałązka-Sobotka, DEcon, an expert on human resources and public health, Head of the Healthcare Institute of Lazarski University.

“The data presented is also a signal for the whole healthcare system that investment in quality healthcare, tailored to employees’ needs, may bring huge savings”, explains Artur Białkowski. “A healthy society and healthy employees translate into higher productivity, longer economic activity, and therefore faster economic growth and lower socio-economic costs for the economy”, he adds.

The report: “Work. Health. Economics. A 2012–2016 Perspective” was prepared based on Medicover Polska’s data and publicly available ZUS and GUS (Central Statistical Office of Poland) reports.

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