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Health cost spike likely

One financial services company is warning that if Barbadians do not take their health more seriously the country could end up spending millions of dollars more on health care services.

This caution has come from general manager of Axcel Finance, Ricky Went, even as the Barbados Employers’ Confederation expresses concern about the high levels of absenteeism in the workforce due to sick leave.

Axcel Finance, a company that offers a variety of loans, is this year’s sponsor of the Walk The Talk 2014 –– 100 Days To Wellness programme.

Speaking during the launch on Tuesday at the media conference, Went said if people were not careful, the country could be spending more on health care and would have to cut other critical areas.

“When you look at Barbados, increasingly you are seeing, even from the schoolchildren and adults, the percentage of weight we are adding, which clearly shows that if we are not careful we are going to be spending a lot more money in health care,” said Went.

“What that would mean is that a lot of the things that we want to do to develop our young nation we would not have those funds available [for],” he added.

The Government spends over $200 million on health care services per year.

Went said Axcel Finance, which is located in five Caribbean island’s, was getting applications from a lot of people for loans for medical services.

Axcel offers a range of loans, including for wedding, vacation, medical needs and education.

“What we have found is [that] there are clients of ours who have specific needs. We have found that clients that want immediate medical requirements they come to us because our loans are quick, because they don’t have to bring a lot of collateral,” he added.

Meanwhile, Brittany Brathwaite, research assistance at BEC, said that organization continued to be concerned about the high levels of absenteeism in the workforce, adding it was putting systems in place to be able to analyze the situation and bring about a reduction.

“There is a lot of concern, in particular we had one manufacturing company that did some internal research and they reported a cost of over $200 000 in absenteeism. And that was certified. This was for the year 2012,” said Brathwaite.

“So absenteeism and [low] productivity is a problem and all those things are costs to businesses . . . . Right now what we are trying to do is get companies to track these costs so that we can quantify. So when we implement a programme like [Walk The Talk] then you see how these programmes are working and if they are working and so on,” she added.

Though not going into details, Brathwaite said the BEC had done some research to find a link between health and wellness and productivity in the workplace.

“It is directly linked to what the companies are willing to track as well. We have firms doing that and linking it directly to the persons within their companies with NCDs. So one company who joined last year had one employee who in the previous year took 188 days as a result of a non-communicable disease. As of the end of 2013 that person had only taken 48 days . . . so we see that the programmes are working,” reported Brathwaite.

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