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Productivity in New Zealand hit by Absenteeism through Health Reasons

Health insurer Southern Cross Medical Care Society says that workers with health insurance cover return to work earlier than those who have no health insurance. The society said that research // conducted for it by TNS New Zealand showed that productivity could be influenced by workers returning early from illnesses.

The current research examined the recovery period of 200 insured workers who needed an operation and 76 uninsured workers. It was found that uninsured workers took an average of 48 days off as compared to just 14 days for insured staff. But the company did add that most insured staff were white collar workers. "At a time when retention of staff and making the most of their available time is increasingly important to industries coming to grips with labour shortages, the provision of health care obviously has considerable benefits to employers and staff," commented Southern Cross Healthcare Group chief executive Dr Ian McPherson. "Private health insurance also helps manage down long-term disability costs while wellness programmes assist productivity and the general health of a company's staff." It was also found that hospital waiting times for insured workers was five weeks as compared to 11 weeks for uninsured workers. This resulted in a 48 percent reduction in productivity for uninsured workers, while insured workers showed a 25 percent decrease in productivity.

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