sick is expensive," said Dr. Rob Silverman.
"The average adult gets sick with a cold or other
minor illness about three times a year. Add up the lost
wages, the various co-pays, and the cost of
over-the-counter remedies, and it can easily come to
over $1,000 a year."
might think a $1,000 bill for the common cold is
outlandish. But when you look at the numbers, it’s
actually surprising that the cost of getting sick isn’t
higher. From flu shots to prescriptions, here’s how
much getting sick costs you — and how much you could
save by staying healthy.
OF DOCTOR VISITS
at the doctor’s office are important to staying
healthy throughout the year, especially during flu
season. However, if you get sick and have to return to
the doctor more frequently, the cost of a doctor’s
appointment starts to add up.
average out-of-pocket cost per medical visit is $32,
according to a study published by the American Journal
of Managed Care. Based on Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention data, the average person goes to the
doctor’s about three times a year, which would total
the $96 estimate is just the surface. On a deeper level,
going to the doctor because you’re sick entails what
is called opportunity cost: the value of work and
productivity lost because you spent an estimated two
hours trying to see the doctor.
study published in the American Journal of Managed Care
calculated that the average opportunity cost of a
medical visit is about $43 — on top of the $32.
Therefore, leaving out the cost of insurance premiums,
the average trip to the doctor’s office totals $75, or
$225 for the year, based on three visits. And that’s
being conservative because including travel time and
effort, the total cost per visit comes closer to $100,
or $300 per year, according to Mike Catania, a consumer
spending expert and co-founder of PromotionCode.org.
is an emerging sector of the health care industry that
could help you save on doctor’s visits. Telemedicine
is providing a way to remotely and virtually visit
physicians at lower costs and greater convenience to
drugs seem to be ubiquitous in the U.S., and that trend
might continue. According to actuarial firm Milliman,
prescription drugs are one of the most rapidly growing
components of the company’s index for medical costs,
which it calls the MMI.
fact, the cost of prescription drugs add up to roughly
17 percent of total health care spending. In 2016, the
MMI family’s prescription drug costs, based on a
family of four, are almost four times as much as
prescription drug expenditures were 15 years ago.
for specialty drugs have increased in recent years, and
they tend to be more expensive than general medications.
Still, prescribed medications such as antibiotics,
prescription decongestant, steroid nasal spray and
similar add up to an estimated $960 a year, said Dan
Gay, president of Sinus Survival.
if you stay healthy, averting the need to visit the
doctor and pay for prescription medications, you could
already potentially save over $1,200 in the year. But if
you do need medication, experts say buying generic
versions can save money.
OF OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUGS
to avoid the doctor and prescriptions doesn’t mean you’re
out of the woods yet. According to data from Statista,
retail sales of over-the-counter drugs totaled $32.1
billion in 2015.
the adult population of the U.S. is just under 250
million, that means the average person spent roughly
$130 per year on over-the-counter medication.
OF MISSING WORK
a day at the office costs both you and your employer
money. According to a report on the CDC’s website, the
losses due to absenteeism are estimated to cost
employers $1,685 per employee every year. In total,
worker illness and injury costs U.S. employers $225.8
to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, American workers get
an average of eight paid sick leave days, across all
establishments and length of service. The average hourly
wage for all Americans, as of July 2016, is around $21
per hour, said Catania. By these numbers, missing eight
days of work from illness adds up to losing out on more
than $1,300 a year. But if you stay healthy and in the
office, that’s another grand you save from not getting
there’s a cost to missing work for being sick, there’s
also a price for going to the office under-the-weather.
Of the total cost sick workers inflict on employers, 60
percent of it is due to employees who go into work while
sick. Presenteeism, the opposite of absenteeism, can hit
employers hard in the wallet, costing them an estimated
$150 billion per year, according to the Harvard Business
into the office when you’re ill undermines
productivity in multiple ways. Working sick can result
time spent on work tasks
quality of work
OF GOING TO THE HOSPITAL
no other recourse, you might end up going to the
hospital if you get sick. The problem is that, even with
insurance, hospital visits will cost you.
recent study by JAMA Internal Medicine found that,
despite the fact health care costs haven’t risen
dramatically, out-of-pocket expenses have. Even with
insurance, the study found that average out-of-pocket
cost for a hospital visit was over $1,000.