In a recent study, researchers identified rising costs, socioeconomic inequality and drug trends as major concerns for major employers.
More employers are reporting cancer as the top driver of health care costs in large companies, according to the 2023 Survey on Healthcare Strategy and Plan Design for Major Employers, conducted by the Business Group on Health.
Cancer, cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal disorders have peaked in the top 3 health care costs in the survey for two years in a row. However, employers reported a 13% increase in late-stage cancer and about 45% predict a similar increase in the future due to delayed screenings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The survey findings act as a ‘collective snapshot’ that can help employers determine how to maximize employee benefits,” said Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of Business Group on Health, in a press release.
Employers are more concerned than their own costs, including concerns about health equity and affordable health care, according to the survey. Employers claim they will invest in employee health and wellness offerings.
Between May 31, 2022 and July 13, 2022, the researchers conducted the survey among 135 large companies, with a total of more than 18 million employees. The survey collected employer-sponsored health care data, including costs and care plan design, for 2023.
The main points of attention for employers were:
- Rising costs. In 2021, actual health care costs rose by an average of 8.2%, after costs had not increased between 2019 and 2020.
- Costly employee coverage. According to the survey, major employers expected to cover 82% of employee coverage costs this year, up from 80% last year. Employers are looking for long-term cost shifts, such as tackling unsustainable health care spending and prescription drug costs.
- Prescription drug trend. Among major employers, as many as 99% admitted they were concerned about this – by 2021, prescription drugs accounted for 21% of employers’ health care costs, with over 50% of medicines including specialty drugs.
- Long-term psychological problems. Survey responses showed that 43% of large employers believe that mental health is the main health problem of the pandemic in the long term, and that almost the same percentage of large employers see it as a future health problem. As a result, 85% of major employers reported that they will retain pandemic health and wellness services.
- Policies to reduce healthcare and prescription drug costs—Especially for new gene therapies and affordable daily medicines. Nearly a quarter of employers invest in cheap to free virtual healthcare.
- Virtual health integration. Nearly 84% of employers said hybrid virtual healthcare and personal care are critical to success, and more than 30% will provide virtual primary care by 2022.
- Health and wellness strategy. The survey found that 65% of employers say health and wellness is an integral part of the workforce. They found it an important factor in retaining staff, supporting the general wellbeing of employees and influencing company performance and culture.
- Health equality. Nearly 75% of employers said they believe in health justice, and plan to tackle racism, childcare, transportation and access to food/insecurity by 2025. Roe v. Wade Pre-protected abortion continues to be a concern for employers.
Kelsay and team found that because of these findings, employers can “create a more positive and sustainable healthcare experience, among other things.”
Business group Health. Cancer is now the main driver of employer health care costs, says Business Group’s 2023 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey. news item. August 23, 2022. Accessed August 23, 2022.