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November 21, 2017

Are You Finding Thanksgiving Hazards in Your Claims Data?

Artemis Health

It’s time to break out your grandma’s recipe cards—Thanksgiving is upon us once again! While different regions of the U.S. have different essential dishes (mashed potatoes vs. macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole vs. collard greens), we can all agree that it’s not Thanksgiving without a turkey.

Opinions on how to cook the perfect turkey are as varied as the side dishes we serve with it. Some of you brine your turkey, some don’t. Others will smoke it, stuff it, roast it, or even fry it. Due to the large volume of home cooking that we’ll do this week, the National Fire Protection Association reports that Thanksgiving Day is the peak day in the U.S. for house fires.

We wanted to find out if Thanksgiving celebrations mean more injuries and more medical claims for our customers. Let’s take a peek at some beautiful data:

Cooking oil burns sustained this time of year would most likely result from deep-frying a turkey, a delicious but potentially dangerous way to cook your bird. In our sample data, we found the average cost per claim for this injury is a relatively low $228. We also found a surprising trend—there’s no obvious spike in these injuries around the holidays. November and December were actually some of the lowest months for cooking oil burn claims. Perhaps the members in this data set might prefer a classic roasted turkey instead of a deep-fried one? A wise choice if you ask the NFPA:


Now, if we were analyzing a real data set for one of our clients, we could also correlate cooking oil burns with office locations.

Because we’re using sample data, we’re looking only at “sample offices” here. This is not a true representation of the geographic diversity of cooking oil burns. From this map, it looks like only Californians need to invest in oven mitts and fire extinguishers.

Sometimes data doesn’t tell the story you expect, and we did have one surprise in doing this analysis. While it’s not related to cooking oil, there is a diagnosis that spikes in the month of November:

Although the winter holidays are the most difficult for those struggling with their weight, this is likely a case of “correlation” rather than “causation.” When we dug deeper into the data we found that this spike is for claims associated with bariatric surgery, which is an effective, long-term treatment for obesity. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms anecdotal accounts and visible results on bariatric surgery: this procedure works long-term to help obese patients lose weight.

Many patients choose the last quarter of the year for elective surgeries, since they may have already met some or all of their out-of-pocket max. This could easily explain the spike in obesity diagnoses in November.

As you’re planning your Thanksgiving menu, prepping for a Black Friday shopping spree, or traveling to visit family and friends, the team at Artemis Health is wishing you a safe, happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving!

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