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Addressing Chronic Pain: Strategies for Employers

According to an article written by Capital Blue Cross, Chronic pain affects nearly 52 million American adults and has significant impacts not only on individuals’ health but also on the U.S. economy, with costs exceeding half a trillion dollars annually. This financial strain is echoed in individuals suffering from severe pain who incur an average of $7,726 more in annual expenses than those without pain. Employers can play a crucial role in managing this pervasive issue.

Capital Blue Cross, under the guidance of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeremy Wigginton and Senior Director of Care Management Kathy Wolfe, emphasizes the importance of understanding the diverse causes of chronic pain—which range from orthopedic and neurologic issues to cancer. Recognizing these causes is the first step toward effective management.

The mental health repercussions are significant, with chronic pain sufferers being four times more likely to develop depression or anxiety and having twice the suicide risk compared to those without pain. This underscores the broader impacts of chronic pain on mental and financial well-being.

Employers are in a unique position to mitigate some of these impacts through various strategies. These include offering flexible work arrangements and hours, encouraging regular breaks, educating staff about the invisible nature of chronic pain to reduce stigma, and providing health plans that cover a range of treatments and medications. Capital Blue Cross supports its members with chronic pain through access to network specialists, comprehensive pain-management programs, medication coverage, and assistance with navigating care options.

These efforts not only aid in managing chronic pain but also contribute to a healthier, more productive workforce, thereby improving the bottom line for businesses and the economy at large.

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