Hospital Employees Less Healthy and Accrue Higher Health Care Costs

September 12, 2011 ( – Health care spending is 10% higher for hospital employees than it is for the general employee population, according to a study released by the Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters. 

The gap is wider when employees’ dependents are factored in. The cost of health care for hospital workers and family members covered by their health insurance is 13% higher than average.

In addition to using more health care services, hospital employees and their dependents also were found to be less healthy. They had an 8.6% greater illness burden than the U.S. workforce at large and were more likely to be diagnosed with chronic medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure, HIV, hypertension, and mental illness. 

The research also found hospital workers and their families had fewer physician office visits, yet were 22% more likely to visit the emergency room. 

“Ideally, the health care workforce would be a model for healthy behaviors and the appropriate use of medical resources,” said Raymond Fabius, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the Health care business of Thomson Reuters. "Unfortunately, our data suggests that the opposite is true today. Hospitals that tackle this issue can strengthen their business performance and community service." 

The study analyzed the health risk and health care utilization of 1.1 million hospital workers and their dependents and compared them with 17.8 million health plan members in all industries for the year ending with the third quarter of 2010. It found the average annual cost of health care for hospital employees and their dependents was $4,662, outpacing the general population by $538. 

Thomson Reuters researchers calculate that a hospital or health system with 16,000 employees stands to save an estimated $1.5 million annually in medical and pharmacy costs for each 1% reduction in health risk.   

The researchers used the Thomson Reuters MarketScan Research Databases, a repository of health care claims representing the real-world health care experience of millions of Americans. The study looked exclusively at workers with employer-sponsored insurance. 

To request a copy of the full study, visit