News & Commentary

Diabetes Costs Employers $20B in Unplanned Sick Days


Diabetes costs employers about $20 billion a year, thanks to about 57 million unplanned sick days for workers, according to a report by Gallup and Sharecare, a health and wellness engagement company. The prevalence of diabetes in the American adult population grew from 10.6% in 2008 to 11.6% in 2016. It was at 11.5% for the first nine months of 2017, the report states.

The total cost for diabetes for the U.S. economy for 2017, including direct health care costs, came to about $266 billion, according to the survey. The increase in diabetes prevalence by a full percentage point since 2008 added $19.2 billion in diabetes-related costs to American health care expenditures, the report says.

Prevalence of diabetes and obesity

Source: Gallup and Sharecare, “The Cost of Diabetes in the U.S.: Economic and Well-Being Impact,” Nov. 14, 2017

The prevalence of diabetes among full-time employees is 6.3%, resulting in 5.5 workdays missed per year per person and costing employers $16 billion. The prevalence of diabetes for part-time employees is 9.1%, resulting in 4.3 missed workdays per year per person, and costing employers $4.4 billion.

The data were gathered from a subset of 354,473 telephone interviews with American adults from Jan. 2, 2015, to Dec. 30, 2016.

The link between lifestyle and type 2 diabetes has been long noted: 90% of Americans with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. In addition, there’s a 26% decrease in the risk of diabetes among people who get 2.5 hours of exercise a week.

Then there are the comorbidities to consider. People with diabetes have much higher rates of heart attack and chronic diseases such as depression, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.