The relationship between employment and health and health care among working-age adults with and without disabilities in the United States
Purpose: To better understand the relationship between employment and health and health care for people with disabilities in the United States (US).
Methods: We pooled US Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (2004–2010) data to examine health status, and access to health care among working-age adults, comparing people with physical disabilities or multiple disabilities to people without disabilities, based on their employment status. Logistic regression and least squares regression were conducted, controlling for sociodemographics, health insurance (when not the outcome), multiple chronic conditions, and need for assistance.
Results: Employment was inversely related to access to care, insurance, and obesity. Yet, people with disabilities employed in the past year reported better general and mental health than their peers with the same disabilities who were not employed. Those who were employed were more likely to have delayed/forgone necessary care, across disability groups. Part-time employment, especially for people with multiple limitations, was associated with better health and health care outcomes than full-time employment.
Conclusion: Findings highlight the importance of addressing employment-related causes of delayed or foregone receipt of necessary care (e.g., flex-time for attending appointments) that exist for all workers, especially those with physical or multiple disabilities.
- Implications for rehabilitation
These findings demonstrate that rehabilitation professionals who are seeking to support employment for persons with physical limitations need to ensure that overall health concerns are adequately addressed, both for those seeking employment and for those who are currently employed.
Assisting clients in prioritizing health equally with employment can ensure that both areas receive sufficient attention.
Engaging with employers to develop innovative practices to improve health, health behaviors and access to care for employees with disabilities can decrease turnover, increase productivity, and ensure longer job tenure.