Objective: To develop new evidence for advancing a leading employer's capacity to manage the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: Retrospective analyses of an integrated database tracking active employees (n = 19,989) from 2001–2009. Tests on 29 measures of direct/indirect costs and drivers examined unique disease burden and impact over time.
Results: The costs of COPD exceeded workforce-wide costs by wide margins in 2001–2002. Direct costs linked to the disease rose in 2008–2009; whereas, its indirect costs dropped sharply. Differences between yet-to-be-diagnosed versus diagnosed and newly diagnosed versus established diagnosed groups were directionally consistent on driver and cost measures in 2001–2002. In 2008–2009, these comparisons were similarly consistent on indirect measures but not direct measures. Medication use helped to explain the inconsistencies.
Discussion: New action on COPD-oriented unit price escalation, prevention, and medical management concerns raised by these results could strengthen an already exemplary health and productivity program.