Insurance claim data suggests that musculoskeletal disorders dominate workplace health

According to an analysis of the private medical insurance (PMI) records of over 45,000 UK employees carried out by Aon Employee Benefits with its largest clients, the highest claims are for musculoskeletal disorders- almost double those for cancer related illness. In a study of reports from private medical insurers (PMI), Aon found that 31 percent of claims were for musculoskeletal concerns, while 15 percent were cancer related, 4 percent were for mental disorders and 4 percent for urology. The data forms part of its new report, Wellbeing: Examining the correlation between employee health and financial wellbeing. Among the remaining 46 percent of claims, problems included gastrointestinal issues, diagnostic and treatment planning (equally prevalent), followed by obstetrics, heart, respiratory, head/neck, trauma/injury, nervous system, and eyes, ears and dermatology.

With the current national focus on mental health, the report suggests that it is perhaps surprising that mental health-related claims are not higher. However, Aon’s view is that the low incidence of mental health claims may not reflect a low incidence of issues. This is because PMI is not the natural route for handling these issues and proactive employers have other pathways in place to support employees. These include employee assistance programmes among other measures.

Martha How, principal at Aon Employee Benefits, said: “The dominance of musculoskeletal problems leading to PMI claims has been well-established for at least the last five years, and this may well reflect the national problems with obesity, lack of exercise and generally unhealthy lifestyles.

“In addition, sedentary work and bad posture at work may be contributory factors, as the population covered in these four clients is predominantly white collar with a large proportion of office-based workers. With this in mind, it is not surprising that so many corporate wellbeing initiatives focus on fitness, diet and lifestyle, especially as future claims are expected to be driven by primarily lifestyle-related risks: high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and physical inactivity.”

Aon’s view is that while people need to take more personal responsibility to protect their health and wealth, they trust their employers to provide relevant opportunity and support.