Linking employee burnout to medical aid provider expenditure

L de Beer, J Pienaar, S Rothmann Jr


Background. Healthcare has become a major expense. Burnout and its connection with psychological and physical health is well researched, yet little research has been done on the connection between burnout and financial outcomes, specifically as indicated by the costs incurred by medical aid providers as a result of members’ claims.

Objective. To investigate the connection between employee burnout and medical aid claims and expenditure data in a sample from the private sector.

Method. A cross-sectional design was used. The sample comprised 3 182 participants. The available objective medical aid expenditure data connected with each participant were: total insured benefits, general practitioner visits, specialist visits, general practitioner insured benefits, and claims for medicine. A low and a high burnout group were extracted, based on comorbidity of the two core components of
burnout. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was then applied to investigate the differences in estimated marginal means of the expenditures on the low and the high burnout contrast groups, while controlling for age and gender.

Results. The high burnout group frequented a general practitioner more often, and the medical aid provider expenditure was nearly double that of the low burnout group, on all the variables. Specialist visits did not show a significant result.

Conclusion. High burnout is associated with a higher expenditure by a medical aid provider, compared with low burnout, per member. Stakeholders should therefore address burnout to reduce expenditure and promote health.

Authors' affiliations

L de Beer, WorkWell Research Unit, North-West University, Potchefstroom

J Pienaar, WorkWell Research Unit, North-West University, Potchefstroom

S Rothmann Jr, Afriforte (Pty) Ltd (Commercial Arm of the WorkWell Research Unit)

Full Text



Medical aid, work stress, burnout, psychological ill health

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2013;103(2):89-93. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.6060

Article History

Date submitted: 2012-06-10
Date published: 2012-09-10

Article Views

Abstract views: 2227
Full text views: 2788

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here