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Original Research

The Economic Impact of Bipolar Disorder in an Employed Population From an Employer Perspective.

Harold H. Gardner, MD; Nathan L. Kleinman, PhD; Richard A. Brook, MS, MBA; Krithika Rajagopalan, PhD; Truman J. Brizee, BA; and James E. Smeeding, RPh, MBA

Published: August 15, 2006

Article Abstract

Objective: To determine the economic impact ofbipolar disorder on health benefit costs and health-related workabsences from an employer perspective.

Method: Data on health benefit costs andhealth-related absences during 2001 and 2002 were retrieved froma database and retrospectively examined. Regression modelingmeasured the cost differences while controlling for potentiallyconfounding factors. The study population consisted of employeesat multiple large employers who were widely dispersed throughoutthe United States. These employees were grouped into 2 cohorts:(1) employees with a bipolar disorder diagnosis (primary,secondary, or tertiary ICD-9 code of 296.0x, 296.1x, 296.4x,296.5x, 296.6x, 296.7x, or 296.8x) in 2001 and (2) employees withno bipolar disorder diagnosis during 2001 or 2002 (comparisoncohort). Specific outcome measures included annual health benefitclaim costs and salary-replacement payments for the followingemployee health benefits: health care insurance, prescriptiondrug, sick leave, short- and long-term disability, and workers’compensation. Additional outcome measures included annual absencedays due to workers’ compensation, short- and long-termdisability, and sick leave (separately).

Results: The analysis identified 761 employees(0.3%) with bipolar disorder and 229,145 eligible employeeswithout bipolar disorder. Employees with bipolar disorderannually cost $6836 more than employees without bipolar disorder(p < .05) and were more costly in every health benefit costcategory. Employees with bipolar disorder missed an average of18.9 workdays annually, while employees without bipolar disordermissed 7.4 days annually (p < .05).

Conclusion: The impact of bipolar disorder canbe costly in the workplace, leading to increased health benefitcosts and increased absenteeism.

Volume: 67

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