When you are sick, your co-workers want you to stay home. Â If you will be paid on such sick days, how many people will abuse this and take more vacation days when they are actually healthy? Â If nobody would abuse this right, then society would be better off because the sick who stay home would recover quicker and co-workers would not be exposed to contagion risk.Â Below the fold, I report a new Institute for Women’s Policy Research report that claims that providing paid sick leave would save New Yorkers a fair bit of money and sneezing. The “Freakonomics” research question here is; what types of people abuse sick leave and how can peer pressure and other strategies be used to minimize such “cheating”?
fOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2012
Access to Paid Sick Leave Would Save New Yorkers
Nearly $30 Million in Public Health Costs
—The Institute for Womenâ€™s Policy Research
Â (IWPR) hasÂ released
Â a new fact sheet showing that 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.
The public health benefits of paid sick days are substantial. 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 andÂ fewer visits to hospital emergency departments
â€œPaid 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,â€ said Kevin Miller, study author and Senior Research Associate at IWPR.
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 researchÂ shows
Â 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 Councilâ€”which is one more than required to overcome a potential veto by the mayorâ€”but Council Speaker Christine Quinn did not allow the Council to vote on the bill.
At a national level, IWPR researchÂ found
Â that access to paid sick days would save $1 billion in reduced emergency department use, half of which comes out of taxpayersâ€™ pockets through coverage under public health insurance programs.