Tipping the Scales CONTINUED
Research published in the Archives of
Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines as overweight
an adult with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29. 9. The CDC defines as
obese an adult with a BMI of 30 or higher.
pressure on vulnerable
joints. Much like the weight capacity warnings on elevators or on support columns on a
bridge, many structures (including the human body) are designed
to hold only so much weight before their structural integrity begins
to break down.
Two studies by the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. (NCCI) highlight the effect of obesity on workers’
compensation claims. According to reserving in the Age of obesity, a Nov. 1, 2010, NCCI study by Chris Laws and Frank Schmid,
the ratio in the medical costs per claim of obese to nonobese
claimants develops adversely over time from a ratio of 2. 8 at the
end of one year, to 4. 5 at the end of three years, to 5. 3 at the end
of five years. In a following study from May 29, 2012, Indemnity
Benefit Duration and obesity, authors Frank Schmid, Chris Laws,
and Mathew Montero found the duration of obese claimants is
more than five times the duration of nonobese claimants, after
controlling for primary International Classification of Diseases
(ICD)- 9 code, injury year, state, industry, gender, and age for temporary total and permanent total indemnity benefit payments.
When developing predictive models for workers’ compensation claims, modelers often look at hundreds of candidate
variables, leveraging univariate analysis (a one-way analysis of
the relationship between an explanatory or predictive variable
and a variable that needs explaining or predicting). For lost-time
workers’ compensation claims, the number of medical conditions at the time of injury plays a significant role in determining
the ultimate severity of a claim:
■ ■ For claims with no existing medical conditions, the claim
severity is only 20 percent of the average workers’ compensation claim cost;
■ ■ For claims with one existing medical condition, the claim severity is 45 percent of the average claim cost;
■ ■ For claims with two existing medical conditions, the claim
severity is approximately 80 percent of the average claim cost.
■ ■ In those claims with three or more existing medical conditions, the claim severity jumps to more than 240 percent of
the average claim cost.
In other words, claims with three or more existing medical conditions are 12 times as costly as claims with no existing
medical conditions. Given that obesity often signals multiple co-morbidities, these statistics offer a sobering glimpse of potential
future claim costs.
personal and Corporate wellness
Without properly addressing the causes of obesity (diet, inac-
tivity, emotional issues, medical conditions, etc.) through either
lifestyle change or medication, we have few ways to affect the
direct results of obesity (diabetes, osteoarthritis, etc.) and the
complications of those disease processes (heart disease, hyper-
tension, renal disease, etc.).
40 CONTINGENCIES JAN | FEB. 13