Thursday, September 29, 2016

Workers' comp costs for major injuries in La., the fattest state, are more than double for the obese

State of Obesity report
Obese workers in Louisiana incur more than twice the costs of normal-weight employees for workers' compensation claims for major injuries—an initial reserve of at least $15,000—says a study at the University of Texas published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study, which looked at 2,301 injured workers reported to the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corp.—1,107 in 2011 and 1,194 in 2012—followed up on workers after three years. Researchers found that costs incurred for major injuries averaged $472,713 for obese workers, $270,332 for overweight workers and $181,413 for normal-weight workers.

Louisiana is the nation's fattest state, according to this year's "The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America" by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report found that Louisiana's adult obesity rate is 36.2 percent.

The UT study, which controlled for gender, age, marital status, and attorney involvement, found that "the logistic regression odds ratio for return to work by the end of the follow-up period for an overweight or obese individual versus a normal-weight individual was 2.95 and 3.58." The study also controlled for spinal surgeries and spinal injections, "which were found in previous studies to be associated with high workers’ compensation cost and claim duration."

Researchers did find that the increasing trend in costs for workers based on being obese, overweight or normal weigh was not evident for minor injuries with an initial reserve less than $15,000. While the average incurred cost for overweight workers was $187,801, costs for obese workers ($232,652) and normal-weight workers ($224,884) were similar.

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