Access to paid sick days would reduce unnecessary visits to hospital emergency rooms and save $1 billion a year in medical costs, according to a new study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research.
Researchers have long known that people who lack health insurance are more likely to use the emergency room as a last resort for health care. But this study establishes that access to paid sick days reduces the use of emergency departments, even for those who do not have health insurance. According to the study, paid sick days can:
- Reduce the chances of workers putting off needed care
- Increase rates of preventive care for workers and their children
- Enable workers to get to doctors' offices or clinics during normal business hours
"At a time when many in the health care community, policy circles, and the general public are concerned about high and rising health care expenditures, the cost-savings available from making paid sick days universal should receive serious attention," Claudia Williams, an institute research analyst and co-author of the report, said in a media statement.
Paid sick-leave legislation has been proposed in Seattle, Miami, Denver and New York City, and paid sick day requirements are now in effect in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and the state of Connecticut.