Encouraging health plans to screen and treat employees with alcohol problems can yield, on average, more than $2 in health care savings for every dollar invested by a company, according to Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems, creators of the Alcohol Treatment Return on Investment Calculator.
Alcohol problems contribute more than $35 billion to the cost of health care coverage provided by American employers. Investing in efforts to identify and treat alcohol problems can significantly reduce this cost. Employers can realize a 215 percent return by investing in screening and treatment of employees with alcohol problems. This return on investment ratio (ROI) is comparable to the returns achieved through employer investments in heart disease management (278 percent) and BlackBerry® wireless e-mail devices (162 percent).
“If alcohol screening and treatment were as pervasive in today’s workplace as BlackBerrys, companies would see increased productivity, a stronger workforce, and real savings in health care expenses,” said Eric Goplerud, Ph.D., the director of Ensuring Solutions. “Employers and health plans need to do a better job screening and treating employees who suffer from alcohol-related problems because it saves money and it’s the right thing to do.”
Employees with alcohol problems are likely to miss more days of work, have lower productivity and have higher medical costs than employees without alcohol problems. More than 11 percent of full-time workers (between the ages of 18 and 49) have an alcohol problem in a given year. In addition, more than 50 percent of adults have a close family member with an alcohol problem. Most working family members of alcoholics report that their own ability to function at work is diminished by their family member’s drinking.
“Making the business case for supporting better quality health care is absolutely critical,” said Greg Pawlson, M.D., executive vice president of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, which measures the quality of managed care plans. “To be able to show that there is a positive return on your investment for treating alcoholism is an enormous step forward — it will help get the financial, medical and patient advocacy types all together on the same page. We’re extremely pleased to see the Ensuring Solutions calculator launched on the Web.”
The Alcohol Treatment Return on Investment Calculator is available online at Alcohol cost calculator. Ensuring Solutions now offers a suite of tools that employers can use to estimate the cost of alcohol problems and the potential benefit to addressing those problems. In addition to the ROI Calculator, Ensuring Solutions also provides the Alcohol Cost Calculator for Business and the Alcohol Cost Calculator for Kids.