Group Medical Claims as a Source of Information on Worker Health and Potentially Work-Related Diseases

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Abstract

Objective:

To help address underrecognition of occupational illnesses and support planning of workplace health initiatives.

Methods:

Data from Highmark Inc., a health care insurer headquartered in Pittsburgh and Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, was used to calculate age and gender-adjusted rates of 15 diseases by industry and broad industry sector.

Results:

Significant industry differences in disease rates were observed, some corresponding to known differences in workplace risk factors.

Conclusion:

Group medical claims offer timely, relatively low cost, longitudinal data on rates of physician-diagnosed cases and costs of many diseases for large populations. Limitations of medical claims data include inaccuracies in industry coding, lack of occupation codes, and lack of key variables that affect health. Yet, some elevated industry rates suggest potential new targets for wellness programs and evaluation of possible workplace health risks.

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