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The Impact of Employment on the Health Status and Health Care Costs of Working-age People with Disabilities

LEAD Center | Nanette Goodman
LEAD Center | November 2015 | Report/Brief

Reducing health care spending is a national priority. As of 2013, health care spending represented over 17% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with a disproportionate amount of that spending going towards adults with disabilities. In fact, on a per-capita basis, expendi¬tures for people with disabilities are over four times higher than those for their counterparts without disabilities. This leads them to account for 27- 37% of total health expenditures, which are largely borne by the public sector, especially Medicaid and Medicare.

Employment programs might be one way to lower these costs. Employment can improve health by increasing social capital, enhancing psychological well-being, providing income, and reducing the negative health impacts of economic hardship.

This policy brief concludes that employment seems to have a protective impact on health and thus establishes that an added benefit of investing in the employment of people with disabilities – beyond the impact on their income and the possible savings from various social protection programs – would be to lower public expenditures on health care.