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US health research estimates occupational injury and illness costs $250bn

A US health researcher has published an assessment of the national economic burden of occupational injury and illness, concluding that the direct and indirect costs are greater than generally assumed and amount to a value of at least $250bn/yr, exceeding the individual cost of diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

The author estimated the incidence of injuries, illnesses and diseases and the medical and productivity-related costs of such conditions, by combining several sources of information. This included data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and costs data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance and the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Secondary data from the National Academy of Social Insurance, literature estimates of Attributable Fractions (AF) of diseases with occupational components, and national estimates for all health care costs was also included.

This information was used to calculate that the medical cost estimates were $67bn, and indirect costs were almost $183bn.

The research is published in The Milbank Quarterly.

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