BOCA RATON, Fla., April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A panel of experts in health care and business today highlighted the impact of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic conditions on employers and women in the workplace. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) attacks women at a rate three times more than men, and comes at a cost that goes way beyond physical pain. With women making up about 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on workplace productivity exceeds 47 billion dollars a year. Experts at the panel discussion, held at Office Depot's corporate headquarters in Boca Raton during the Enterprising Women's Conference, pointed out that women and employers need to be more aware of the many treatment options available to sufferers of RA and other chronic diseases so that they can effectively manage their health and the loss of productivity associated with these conditions. "Rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of chronic disease are often misunderstood," said Barbara Kassoff, President of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a co-sponsor of the panel. "With women making up such a large portion of the workforce, it's crucial to provide support and education about advances in treatment so that those who suffer can live productive, and rewarding lives and can contribute to the success of workplaces large and small." WIPP and the Business and Professional Women's Foundation (BPW) recently joined together to form the Working Women Rheumatoid Arthritis Project (WRAP2013) a rheumatoid arthritis awareness campaign for women and employers. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly strikes between the ages of 20 and 60, but trends toward those at the older end of the range. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2014, 21 percent of workers in the U.S. will be age 55 and older and more people are retiring later in life, making chronic disease management a growing concern.