Objectives: The objectives of this study were to estimate medical expenditures, absenteeism, and short-term disability costs for workers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to estimate the relative costs of RA over a 12-month period.
Methods: Using data from nine U.S. employers, direct and indirect costs for 8502 workers with RA were compared with costs for a matched group without RA. Regression analyses controlled for factors that were different even after propensity score matching.
Results: Average total costs for workers with RA were $4244 (2003 dollars) greater than for workers without RA. RA was the fourth most costly chronic condition per employee compared with cancers, asthma, bipolar disorder, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, low back disorders, and renal failure.
Conclusions: RA is a costly disorder and merits consideration as interventions are considered to improve workers' health and productivity.