The sensationalist tone of media releases regarding the financial situation at ACC has ignored the causes behind this so called â€˜blow out’. The investment losses have been a big part of it but there is also a rising accident rate stemming from our ageing population and climbing obesity rates, which has been foreseen by medical experts for some time. We cannot do much about an aging population really, but obesity is wholly avoidable with smart policy that has some guts behind it.
Why should we focus on obesity? Obese workers have a higher accident rate, take longer to recover, cost more treat and are out of work for a longer period of time. A 2007 Duke University study found that ‘obese workers filed twice the number of workers’ compensation claims, had seven times higher medical costs from those claims and lost 13 times more days of work from work injury or work illness than did nonobese workers’. This in itself is worrisome but coupled with the ancillary and wider social costs of obesity, the economic implications are staggering. We have heard about the physiotherapy account being particularly affected, this also fits in line with the study from Duke who discovered that the most common injuries sustained were to lower extremities ,the wrist or hand, and the back. They conclude that ‘the most common causes of these injuries were falls or slips, and lifting’.
Obesity is going to become a leading health care cost for the next 50 years and this government has signaled that it does not care, by focusing purely on the costs of ACC rather than the root causes they are doing the public a massive disservice. What actions they have taken have been a step backwards, like the repealing of legislation to force schools to provide healthy options.