Cancer is no longer the taboo topic that it was in the 1950s and 1960s, when few talked about the disease. According to 2012 figures from the American Cancer Society, this illness costs employers an estimated $264 billion a year in medical care and lost productivity. The National Business Group on Health (NBGH) asserts that cancer patients account for 10% of employers’ medical claim costs along with a large share of long-term and short-term disability claims, yet the individuals filing the claims only represent 1.6% of the privately insured population. Rob Finch, vice-president of the NBGH, believes that employers must cultivate “a comprehensive approach to fighting cancer through general medical benefits, behavioral health programs and pharmacy recommendations.” These programs, which should include employee assistance benefits, are particularly important since 90% of working-age cancer survivors return to their jobs.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States this year. Almost half of this group will range in age from 19 to 64, which is the bulk age of the national workforce. While many companies have taken active steps to deal with issues regarding discrimination, there is still a lot of progress that can be made to manage and support cancer survivors.