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What Drives Large Companies to Focus on Employee Well-being?

  • Published
  • 24 August 2022
  • Category
  • General

Cancer has overtaken musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as the top driver of large companies’ health care costs. Mental health conditions, care inequities and pharmacy expenditures are also significant concerns, according to the Business Group on Health’s 2023 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey released yesterday.

The Business Group on Health represents the interests of large employers in health care policy decisions. Its latest survey findings are noteworthy for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • MSDs are still a leading cause of costly injuries that could be prevented with appropriate interventions or managed at onset to relieve discomfort and allow employees to work safely while healing. To demonstrate our commitment, WorkCare has signed the National Safety Council’s MSD Pledge to reduce injury risks, innovate and collaborate, and help build organizational cultures that value safety. (Refer to WorkCare’s Industrial Athlete Program to learn about our onsite and virtual MSD solutions.)
  • Employers and employees are experiencing the consequences of delayed check-ups and care primarily due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic: 13 percent of survey respondents said they have seen more late-stage cancers; 44 percent project this trend will continue. WorkCare’s occupational health practitioners have a prevention mindset. For example, our Medical Exams & Travel physician team refers employees to their personal provider when signs and symptoms of chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension are detected during surveillance exams. We also recommend routine check-ups based on age and health status. (Refer to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on screening for cancer and recommended vaccines. Refer to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations for preventive exams and related care.)
  • Survey respondents cited long-term mental health issues as the leading health-related impact of the pandemic, with delayed care a close second. Large employers said they intend to invest strategically in physical and mental health offerings that are more equitable and affordable. This includes keeping pandemic-related health and well-being services in place for the foreseeable future; 85 percent said they will do the same for mental health. Wellness Solutions, a WorkCare company, uses a delivery model based on the eight-dimensions of wellness to meet the occupational, wellness and behavioral health needs of first responders – a model that can be adapted to other populations and work settings.

More Survey Insights

The Business Group on Health gathered benefit plan design and health care cost data from 135 large employers representing 18 million covered lives in the U.S. The survey was conducted May 31-July 13, 2022.

“Survey findings function as a collective snapshot that can guide employers as they determine how to maximize employee benefits,” said Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of the Business Group on Health. “Employers shared that they are deeply concerned about unsustainable health care costs, the devastating effects of the pandemic on employee health, and the need to work creatively with their partners toward a more positive and sustainable health care experience, among other issues.”

Additional findings include:

  • Prescription drug trends: In 2021, prescription drugs accounted for a median of 21 percent of employers’ health care costs, with more than half of pharmacy spend going to specialty medications. Employers have opportunities to bring down costs through biosimilar coverage, site-of-care and case management programs, and other tactics, according to the Business Group on Health.
  • Future of telehealth: 74 percent of respondents believe virtual platforms will significantly impact future health care delivery; 84 percent said integrating virtual health and in-person care delivery will be critical for success. Risks associated with lack of integration include higher costs, duplication of services, unnecessary care and a fragmented user experience.
  • Workplace culture: More employers are integrating equity, access-to-care and well-being strategies into their overall workforce health management plans to nurture workplace environments that attract qualified candidates and encourage retention.

In the workplace, productivity lapses (presenteeism and absence), workers’ compensation case rates, disability durations and related costs are influenced by many factors. Biological, social, economic and environmental conditions are all determinants of health.

WorkCare delivers employee health services onsite, through a network of 5,700 qualified clinics in the U.S. and virtually using secure telehealth applications. We protect and promote employee heath and help control costs by striving to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right setting.