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Comp costs are higher for obese workers
A recent analysis by the National Council on Compensation Insurance confirms findings of earlier studies by researchers at Duke and Johns Hopkins that medical costs for obese workers are higher.

“The statistical analysis shows that claimants with a comorbidity indicator pointing to obesity have an indemnity benefit duration that is more than five times the value of claimants who do not have this comorbidity indicator but are otherwise comparable,” NCCI reports.

Duke University researchers had earlier shown that medical costs are 6.8 times as high for the morbidly obese as for employees of recommended weight, and morbidly obese workers are twice as likely to have a claim. According to NCCI, the Duke study also shows how the cost difference between “obese claims” and comparable “non-obese claims” develops as claims mature, offering important guidance for reserving and ratemaking.

It adds the study results show that, in the aggregate, obese claims are 2.8 times more expensive than non-obese claims at the 12-month maturity, but this cost difference climbs to a factor of 4.5 at the three-year maturity and to 5.3 at the five-year maturity.

One-third of U.S. adults are considered obese according to definitions adopted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An adult who weighs 203 lbs or more is considered obese if only 5’9” tall because the body mass index (BMI) would be 30 or higher.

There are six BMI categories, ranging from underweight to recommended weight, overweight, and three classes of obesity. The highest level of obesity is class III, which comprises the morbidly obese, identified by a BMI of 40 or higher.

For obese class II (BMI of at least 35 but less than 40) and obese class I (BMI of at least 30 but less than 35), the medical costs per employee are 3.1 and 2.6 times as high as for employees of recommended weight.