Reasons Workers Forgo Medical Treatment

Workers without paid sick leave are more likely to delay and even forgo medical treatment than workers who have paid sick leave, and this could have a big impact on worker safety.  Researchers from Florida Atlantic University recently looked at data of nearly 19,000 working adults.  Nearly 10,500 had paid sick leave.  Several factors, including occupation, health insurance coverage and family size, were taken into account.  Let’s take a closer look at what they found in the study.

Workers with no paid sick leave were three times more likely to postpone medical care and three times more likely to reject needed treatment.   This occurred regardless of occupation and job status.   In addition, their families were two times more likely to put off medical treatment and one and a half times more likely to abstain from undergoing needed medical care.  Also, workers with the lowest incomes were at the highest risk of postponing and forgoing medical treatment for themselves and their families.

The researchers noted “offering paid sick leave may make good business sense” because employees who work when sick are more likely to be injured and make mistakes.   They also say workers who have paid sick time can take off to recover and help avoid spreading disease.

“There are so many positive outcomes related to providing paid sick leave that more employers should consider voluntarily offering this benefit,” said Patricia Stoddard-Dare, who was the study’s co-author and associate professor of social work at Cleveland State University.

Currently, about 49 million U.S. workers do not have paid sick leave.

The study was published in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs.