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The Impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis on Medical Expenditures, Absenteeism, and Short-Term Disability Benefits

Ozminkowski, Ronald J. PhD; Burton, Wayne N. MD; Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Maclean, Ross MD; Wang, Shaohung PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 2 - p 135-148
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000194161.12923.52
Original Articles

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to estimate medical expenditures, absenteeism, and short-term disability costs for workers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to estimate the relative costs of RA over a 12-month period.

Methods: Using data from nine U.S. employers, direct and indirect costs for 8502 workers with RA were compared with costs for a matched group without RA. Regression analyses controlled for factors that were different even after propensity score matching.

Results: Average total costs for workers with RA were $4244 (2003 dollars) greater than for workers without RA. RA was the fourth most costly chronic condition per employee compared with cancers, asthma, bipolar disorder, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, low back disorders, and renal failure.

Conclusions: RA is a costly disorder and merits consideration as interventions are considered to improve workers’ health and productivity.

From the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (Dr Ozminkowski, Dr Goetzel), Cornell University, New York, NY; Thomson Medstat (Dr Ozminkowski, Dr Goetzel, Dr Wang), Ann Arbor, Michigan; Northwestern University (Dr Burton), Feinberg School of Medicine, Evanston, Illinois; and Global Epidemiology and Outcomes Research (Dr Maclean), Bristol Myers Squibb Company.

CME Available for this Article at

Ronald J. Ozminkowski received funding for this research in the form of grants to The Medstat Group, Inc. from Bristol Myers Squibb Company.

Address correspondence to: Ronald J. Ozminkowski, PhD, Director, Health and Productivity Research, Thomson Medstat, 777 East Eisenhower Parkway, 903R, Ann Arbor, MI 48108; E-mail:

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine