Iowa business and labor leaders say a new study shows it’s time to encourage more Iowans to live healthier lifestyles so they don’t wind up with chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. A study released Wednesday concluded Iowa businesses could have made 10-and-a-half billion more dollars in 2003 if their workers hadn’t been sickened by chronic diseases.
Andy Warren is state director for the National Federation of Independent Business."We have to change our society as a whole and develop this culture of being healthy," Warren says. Elliot Smith is executive director of the Iowa Business Council which represents 24 of the state’s largest employers. He says the research shows 25 percent of the health care costs in America can be attributed to conditions that could have been avoided through healthier living.
"Extra costs always pose a threat to competitiveness," Smith says. "The recognition is that innovative and sustainable employee wellness programs that encourage broad-based participation are certainly a critical factor in controlling escalating health care costs."
Marcia Nichols, a spokeswoman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, says management and labor are on the same page on this issue. "When everybody’s well, everybody profits," she says. These Iowa business and labor leaders are part of The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, a group that seeks to raise awareness of the costs associated with chronic but sometimes avoidable chronic diseases.