Cancer is one of the top five most costly diseases in the United States and leads to substantial work loss. Nevertheless, limited state-level estimates of cancer absenteeism costs have been published.
In analyses of data from the 2004–2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau for 2008, and the 2009 Current Population Survey, we used regression modeling to estimate annual state-level absenteeism costs attributable to cancer from 2004 to 2008.
We estimated that the state-level median number of days of absenteeism per year among employed cancer patients was 6.1 days and that annual state-level cancer absenteeism costs ranged from $14.9 million to $915.9 million (median = $115.9 million) across states in 2010 dollars. Absenteeism costs are approximately 6.5% of the costs of premature cancer mortality.
The results from this study suggest that lost productivity attributable to cancer is a substantial cost to employees and employers and contributes to estimates of the overall impact of cancer in a state population.