“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates
If you’re an employer who’s concerned about the rising costs of healthcare and prescription drugs among your covered population, you want to read this.
Employees with digestive disease often suffer in silence because of the stigma associated with digestive symptoms. Many won’t even discuss gut trouble with their doctors. When they finally do, it’s because the pain, blood, fatigue or constant bowel disruptions have become unbearable. Severe symptoms result in missed work days, ER visits, emergency surgeries, and finally long-term prescriptions. When we look at the high cost of specialty drugs used to treat advanced GI conditions, it’s easy to see how stigma and suffering in silence can eventually lead to a very expensive problem, for both individuals and their employers.
Rising Cost of Digestive Diseases
Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, GERD… these are just some of the digestive conditions that so many people (1 in 3 Americans) struggle with daily. Because of embarrassing symptoms, no one really wants to talk openly about these conditions—no one except big pharma. Pharmaceutical companies are ahead of the curve on gut trouble. Just think about all the TV ads targeting people with digestive diseases.
High-priced Meds + Huge Market (70M Americans) = Big $$$ for Big Pharma
And guess who’s really footing the bill for these high-priced biologic meds: employers and health plans. Unchecked, these pharmacy expenses will continue to rise, particularly when it comes to digestive disease. If big pharma can keep people feeling ashamed and embarrassed about their digestive symptoms and convince them the only solution is a lifetime of high-dollar injections… jackpot.
The whole thing hinges upon people being too embarrassed to really talk about digestive health. Well enough already.
At Vivante Health, we’re changing the way people live with chronic digestive conditions by removing the barriers that stand in their way of getting better. We’re not embarrassed about gut health; in fact, we’re proud to be leading the charge. We understand digestive disease and developed the first and only employer-sponsored program to help people with digestive trouble get better while reducing their cost of care.
Understanding Gut Trouble
The digestive system provides fuel for the entire human body. It essentially supports all of the body’s other systems. When the digestive system is out of whack with an abnormal ratio of good to bad microbes, some really unpleasant digestive conditions can creep up, causing chronic inflammation and a host of unpleasant symptoms. Diarrhea, constipation, and pain are only part of it. Extreme fatigue, nausea, eye and mouth sores, skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are all closely linked to digestive health.
Because of the stigma, these conditions aren’t really discussed openly, though, so they tend to get worse. Add to that changing diets, allergies and busy lifestyles, and gut trouble is becoming a very big—and very expensive—problem.
Healthcare spending on ONE employee with a digestive disease can range from $18k to $150k per year. Of this, specialty medications (like Humira, Remicade, Tysabri) can cost up to $70k/person/year. Other things to think about:
- Digestive conditions can be brought on by stress, diet, and medications with little or no warning.
- Episodic flares lead to ER admissions and hospitalizations—very costly treatments.
- For people with digestive disease, following medication regimens is very challenging, especially if they have other medical conditions to deal with. This results in poor outcomes which, you guessed it, means even greater healthcare costs.
- Diets to treat digestive disorders can be very effective but often don’t work without support from a dietitian or nutritionist.
So, what are employers supposed to do about all this?
Let Vivante help learn more about Vivante Health and how the GIThrive digestive health management program is truly improving quality of life for people with digestive disease while reducing their cost of care.