Seven in 10 employers reported an increase in mental health concerns this year, with another 16% anticipating similar challenges in the future.
A recent survey conducted in the US in August 2023 looked into the key topics and trends that employers are most concerned about, when planning their employee-sponsored healthcare strategies for 2024.
According to the survey, employers’ top areas of concern include:
An increase in mental health challenges
Last year, 44% of employers saw a rise in mental health concerns, while 77% of employers reported an increase this year, with another 16% anticipating one in the future.
- One in two employers said cancer was still the No. 1 driver of health care costs
86% said it ranked among the top three, likely due to late-stage cancer diagnoses from the pandemic. Cancer overtook musculoskeletal conditions as the top driver of large companies’ health care costs, for the first time, in 2022.
- Pharmacy costs continue to affect trend and affordability.
91% reported concern about pharmacy cost trends. This is a result of employers experiencing an increase in the average percentage of health care dollars, of 21% in 2021 to 24% in 2022. spent on pharmacy. Employers said they planned to deploy various pharmacy management strategies in the next year.
- Healthcare trends may reach a 6% increase in 2023 and 2024
Employers emphasise focus on affordability and the need for healthcare transformation to improve outcomes, lower costs, reduce unnecessary services, and prioritize prevention and primary care.
- In 2024, employers plan to assess partnerships and vendors
To enhance service quality and cost-effectiveness, employers demand transparency, accountability, and health equity measures from vendors. They also aim to streamline partnerships and offerings.
- Employers identified transparency as a potential tool to contain costs and improve quality
Employers favour engagement platforms to help employees find well-being solutions. They also emphasize the need for transparency in PBM pricing (73%) and improved provider quality measurement (58%).
- Employers are less inclined to see virtual health as transformative on its own
In 2021, 85% of employers said virtual health would impact overall delivery. This is in comparison to 74% and a drop to 64% in 2022 and 2023 respectively.
- Employers’ health equity approaches continue to evolve
Approximately 86% of employers stated their interest in collaborating with employee resource groups in the coming year. This is to instil employee benefits & wellbeing initiatives to specific niche groups. Furthermore, 85% of employers aim to implement at least one strategy that could support the health & wellbeing needs of those employees from the LGBTQ+ employees.
President and CEO of Business Group on Health Ellen Kelsay said: "Our survey found that in 2024 and for the near future, employers will be acutely focused on addressing employees’ mental health needs while ensuring access and lowering cost barriers.
"Companies will need to creatively and deftly navigate these and other challenges in the coming year, especially as they remain committed to providing high-quality health and wellbeing offerings while managing overall costs," she added.
*While the survey was conducted in the US, HRO believes the data remains relevant for our audience in Asia.
A total of 152 employers across various industries completed the survey between June 1 to July 18 2023.
Lead photo / 123RF