It’s a classic case of cutting your nose off despite your face.
Employers who don’t offer their workers sick leave actually make us all sicker, according to a new study by Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Not only do workers who get ill end up coming to work and spreading diseases like the flu, the time they would take for preventative measures – such as a yearly physical – is not there.
The Affordable Care Act tried to remedy this by allowing the 20 million Americans now with insurance to get free preventative screenings. Yet, many do not utilize these lifesaving screening because they don’t have sick time to take to go to the doctor.
As a result, they are contributing to the nation’s soaring health care costs, which reached $3 trillion in 2014.
Researchers at FAU and Cleveland State University in their study in Preventative Medicine, illustrate the role of paid sick leave and how it contributes to overall public health.
Compared to 22 similarly developed countries, the United States is the only country that does not mandate employers to provide paid sick leave benefits or include paid sick leave in a universal social insurance plan.
“Our findings demonstrate that even when insured adults are provided with free preventive screenings, paid sick leave is a significant factor associated with actually using the screenings,” said LeaAnne DeRigne, Ph.D., lead author and an associate professor in the School of Social Work within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry.
“American workers risk foregoing preventive health care, which could lead to the need for medical care at later stages of disease progression and at a higher cost for workers and the American health care system as a whole.”
Key findings from the study reveal that American workers without paid sick leave had odds that were:
- 30 percent less likely to have had a blood pressure check in the last 12 months
- 40 percent less likely to have had a cholesterol check in the last 12 months
- 24 percent less likely to have had a fasting blood sugar check in the last 12 months
- 61 percent less likely to have had a flu shot in the last 12 months
- 19 percent less likely to have seen or talked to a physician or health care provider in the last 12 months
- 23 percent less likely to have had a Pap test in the last 12 months