Late last year, the American Psychological Association (APA) released their findings on the most common causes of stress in Americans. The top three causes, according to the study:
1. The state of our Nation
It has been argued that we’re all in the business of healthcare. Being as 50% of Americans receive their healthcare through the workplace and health insurance tends to rank in the top 3 line items in most employers’ budgets, this is an easy argument to understand. 80% of Americans report being stressed. I would argue that as individuals responsible for our own well-being, we need to dig deep to really understand the impact healthcare has on our own stress levels – even if it’s not immediately present.
In the 2017 Annual Report from the United Health Foundation, ranks Massachusetts as the healthiest state in the Country.
Stressor #1 – The State of our Nation:
We didn’t have to go far to connect the dots on the state of our nation and healthcare as a leading stressor – the APA study actually did the work for us! When questioned further about their stress related to the state of the nation, 43% indicated that healthcare was their number 1 concern. That was nearly 20% higher than social security and high taxes and 13% higher than terrorism, war, and crime.
Most of the anxiety in this section is related to potential policy changes and how they actually impact individuals. Healthcare has essentially been at the center of American politics since 2008 when the Affordable Care Act rumblings started. No matter how you feel about the ACA, you have to at least recognize the important step taken here which was government recognition of a rapidly growing problem in America – access to and the cost of health insurance.
The ACA has expanded access, but the immediate impact has been higher costs and the long-term impact is still obviously unknown. The ACA is under constant threat from lawmakers to be repealed and/or replaced. This causes stress for the nearly 9 million folks who enrolled plans via healthcare.gov – many of whom were previously uncovered due to pre-existing conditions. It also causes stress for those who want the bill repealed because they feel the individual mandate is unfair. Lastly, many small and mid-sized business owners also oppose the bill and are stressed about how to fit healthcare into their budget.
Stressor #2 – Money
Since 2006, the average cost of healthcare for an employee has risen 75% while wages have increased over that same period by only 25%. So employers are paying more for health insurance and employees wages are being diverted more and more towards health insurance. And despite both of these factors, cost-cutting measures have continued to dilute the richness of the benefits. The result? Individuals have less money to pay for more services because their plans have higher deductibles and lower coinsurance than they used to. No wonder healthcare costs are the top of the list of household financial impactors.
An astonishing number of bankruptcies are related to medical bills. A Harvard Study from 2015 estimated that 62% of all American bankruptcies were related to medical bills. Even more impressive, 71% of those folks had medical insurance! A similar study from CNBC claimed the number was perhaps closer to double the Harvard estimates. Medical bills unequivocally a leading cause of bankruptcy in America and the numbers are high even for those with insurance.
No wonder people are stressed.
Stressor #3 – Work
As Rhianna so eloquently put it: “work, work, work, work, work, prharbanama work, work, work, work work.” People in the United States work more than anywhere else in the world. And we vacation less! No matter how you slice the data, the US population is overworked. Compared to most other OECD countries, we work more, vacation less, have fewer entitlements, and higher healthcare costs.
And since our system is so confusing, the leading cause of reduced productivity (absenteeism or presenteeism) is… you guessed it – HEALTHCARE! Illness, injuries, child/elder care, and depression mean health-related issues make up 50% of the leading causes of absenteeism.
A new study from WalletHub compared stress among states taking into account 4 main areas of stress: work-related stress, money-related stress, family-related stress and health and safety related stress. Louisiana ranks as the most stressed-out state.
What can Employers do to help?
The silver lining in all this is that are services out there designed to address all of these problems. Just as all employers are in the business of healthcare, all of their employees are in the business of being stressed out by it. TouchCare is designed to address this problem by providing a dedicated concierge service that has one goal – give people a better experience with healthcare. We pair our clients with healthcare experts for a concierge experience designed to help reduce your healthcare related stress. Imagine offloading all that stress to an expert who could reassure you that everything was going to be alright? With TouchCare, that is your reality.