For those with Parkinson’s, employer support is critical

Published September 17, 2020


Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield (Wellmark) advocates for employer support to address the growing number of Parkinson’s diagnoses in the workplace.

Parkinson's disease can be a devastating diagnosis, characterized by progressive shaking, stiffness, difficulty moving and cognitive impairment. These changes often impede on one's ability to carry out his or her everyday life.

An upcoming Blue Cross Blue Shield, For the Health of America Report®, Prevalence of Parkinson's Disease Rising in Younger Adults, finds that the prevalence rate of early-onset Parkinson's disease among adults age 30-50 had grown 107% in just five years, between 2013 and 2017.

The growing impact this disease will have on younger Americans is troubling—not just for their health and quality of life, but also for their ability to maintain employment and cover the high cost of care that often accompanies this disease.

As this age group makes up the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, employers also stand to benefit from paying attention to these trends and taking proactive measures to support their employees diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

To support both their members and employer customers in navigating Parkinson's in the workplace, Wellmark outlines "Six Tips for Accommodating Employees with Parkinson's" on its Blue@Work employer site. Among these tips, the health insurer encourages employers to make it easier to talk about Parkinson's, so they don't have to fear job loss or stunted career growth.

To better understand the impact that Parkinson's can have in someone's life, watch this video about Wellmark member Judi Weiland's journey living with Parkinson's, and what she did to take control of her diagnosis. Not only is she back to working out and doing the polka, she is now able to hold her grandchildren again.

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. To learn more about how Wellmark BCBS is helping its employer customers support their employees, click here.