This study is among the first to estimate the overall economic burden of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) from an employer perspective. The annual, per capita cost of RA was determined for beneficiaries of a major employer by analyzing medical, pharmaceutical, and disability claims data. The incremental costs related to RA were determined by matching RA patients to a case-control group of individuals with no recorded RA treatment. The utilization of health care services as well as the rate of disability among RA patients was substantially higher than among the controls. For example, annual, per capita employer expenditures for RA employees with disability were almost 3 times those for their controls ($17,822 vs $6131, respectively). Treatment to address not only the severity but also the progression of RA may substantially reduce overall employer expenditures for this disease.