Home > Health Care Costs > Health Care Costs of a Drug Using Employee

Health Care Costs of a Drug Using Employee

Employing individuals who have illicit drug use and alcohol abuse conditions may cost you. And one area it could hit the hardest – healthcare costs. In an environment where heath care rates are skyrocketing and barely affordable as-is, employee drug use isn’t helping the situation. It’s estimated that:

Drug and alcohol problems cost the United States an estimated $276 billion a year.

Just look at the statistics reviewed in the 2009 National Business Group on Health’s  An Employer’s Guide to Work Place Substance Abuse.

Statistics on Hospital Visits of the Drug-Using Employee

  • Employees with alcohol-related problems have health care costs that are double those of their peers.
  • Individuals who abuse alcohol use four times as many hospital days as nondrinkers.
  • Almost half of all emergency room visits for trauma and/or injury are alcohol-related.

The Drug Using Employee’s Health Risks

  • Excessive use of alcohol and other substances is connected to untreated depression or other mental illnesses.
  • High expenditures for physical health care often mask substance abuse. Excessive consumption of alcohol puts employees at risk for developing a range of costly physical health problems, such as liver disease, heart disease, cancer, pancreatitis, breast cancer, and fetal alcohol syndrome in children.
  • In 2003, an estimated $21 billion was spent in the United States for treatment of substance-related disorders.
  • Private insurance payments on substance abuse claims grew at an average rate of only 0.1% annually between 1993 and 2003, while the private payment annual growth rate for all health care increased by 7.3%.33 The minimal increase in insurance payments for substance abuse treatment can possibly be attributed to the implementation of managed care, less generous coverage and more tightly controlled use of substance abuse services. Controlling health costs was one of the reasons for implementing managed care during this 10-year period.

Dependent Health Care Costs

  • Alcohol and drug abuse not only bring higher costs for the substance abuser, but also for dependents.
  • Research shows that family members of alcohol and drug abusers also incur more health care costs and have more health issues.
  • A 2007 study showed that after adjusting for demographic differences, the family members of individuals with alcohol and/or drug problems cost an average of $433-490 more per year than their peers.
  • These family members are also more likely to be diagnosed with substance use disorders, depression, and trauma—even when compared to family members of persons with other chronic diseases, such as asthma and diabetes.

Bottom line – employees who use illicit drugs and abuse alcohol cost a company more money – and especially in the area of health care costs and rates. It’s recommended to put a “Drug-Free Workplace” policy, involving drug and alcohol for employees. By ensuring a “clean” workforce, you’ll save thousands… and possibly even billions.

Drug Testing in Worcester, MA

If you’re a company in the Massachusetts area, please contact us to implement drug testing at your workplace. We offer on-site drug testing, employee monitoring and can even help you create a drug-free workplace plan.


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