The fact sheet focuses on New York City but the analysis fits the larger scale. In New York City universal access to paid sick days in New York City would reduce health care costs by $39.5 million annually, including $28.4 million in public health care dollars. Currently, the city has approximately 1,580,000 employees, or about 50 percent of all workers, who lack paid sick days.
In a statement released the fact sheet IWPR elaborated on their findings.
“Paid sick days help people to address their medical needs in a timely fashion without using hospital emergency departments, improving health outcomes and reducing the cost of health care,” said Kevin Miller, study author and Senior Research Associate at IWPR.
Further findings from the report show that providing access to paid sick days not only protects the public who may come into contact with an ill employee, but also allows workers to better care for their own health and the health of their families. After accounting for demographic factors and chronic health conditions, access to paid sick days is a statistically significant predictor of lower likelihood of delaying medical care and fewer visits to hospital emergency departments.
Paid sick days allow employees the time to visit a doctor rather than having to resort to more urgent and expensive emergency room care if a condition persists or worsens. Delaying medical care can aggravate chronic health conditions or increase the severity of critical health conditions or injuries. Previous IWPR research shows a net savings of $826 per event treated at a primary care physician rather than a hospital emergency department.
Paid sick leave legislation proposed in New York City would require businesses with 20 or more employees to offer 9 sick days a year and smaller businesses to offer 5 days. When last introduced, the bill had 35 sponsors in the New York City Council-which is one more than required to overcome a potential veto by the mayor-but Council Speaker Christine Quinn did not allow the Council to vote on the bill.
At a national level, IWPR research found that access to paid sick days would save $1 billion in reduced emergency department use, half of which comes out of taxpayers’ pockets through coverage under public health insurance programs.
The report, on the heels of the anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act underscores the fiscal benefit from offering paid sick leave. Now if only our representatives and businesses were paying attention.
Photo from anna gutermuth via flickr.