New research shows poor health is costing American employers $530 billion and 1.4 billion work days of absence and impaired performance

American employers paid nearly $880 billion per year in health care benefits for employees and dependents. However, lost productivity due to illness cost them another $530 billion per year, per a new report from the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), a nonprofit health and productivity research organization.

This amounts to 60 cents for every dollar employers spend on health care benefits.

There is a growing body of evidence that investing in a healthy workforce can have profound impact on the bottom line.

  • Employees covered for sick time, workers’ compensation, disability, and family and medical leave benefits are absent about 893 million days due to illness and incur an estimated 527 million lost work days due to impaired performance.
  • This totals almost 1.4 billion days annually of employees absent greater than every nurse in the United States missing a year of work.

The estimate for total United States health costs is calculated using the IBI Full Cost Estimator (FCE), an online tool that analyzes the full costs of health and productivity based on several large databases. The tool can be used to show the full health and productivity costs for a specific industry, or even an individual company.


Tracie Foster is a noted industry expert in the field of life and disability benefits and is the Director of Life & Disability Product Development at Anthem, Inc.