A Look at the Health Conditions Driving Employer Healthcare Costs
Saturday, November 16, 2019
You’re always seeking ways to keep your healthcare costs in check. One of the best ways is to understand what’s driving your costs. The International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans (IFEBP) asked 500 employers to name the top 3 conditions driving costs (see table below).
Top 10 Conditions Driving Employer Health CostsRankCondition% of Respondents1.Diabetes41%2.All Cancers33%3.Arthritis/back/musculoskeletal32%4.Obesity29%5.Heart disease27%6.Hypertension/high blood pressure26%7.Depression/mental illness20%8.High cholesterol11%9.Smoking9%10.High-risk pregnancy4%
Productivity losses cost employers $506 per obese worker per year (org).
Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs. Obesity-related medical costs in general are expected to rise significantly, especially because today’s obese children are likely to become tomorrow’s obese adults (Healthy Communities).
Number of adults with diagnosed heart disease: 28.1 million (11.5%).
Number of visits with heart disease, excluding ischemic, as the primary diagnosis:
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) published, Cardiovascular Disease: A Costly Burden for America, which includes 2015 costs and projected heart disease prevalence and costs in 2035.
US Prevalence of Cardiovascular Disease in 2015 and Projected Costs in 2035 (in millions)
Percentage of pregnant US women have high blood pressure: 6-8%:
About 70% of them are women who are pregnant for the first time.
Percentage of US pregnant women affected by preeclampsia: 3-5%.
Gestational diabetes. Percentage of US pregnant women suffering from gestational diabetes: 2-10%.
Costs of High-Risk Pregnancies
Childbirth costs vary widely across the country, making it difficult to establish the average cost of births. A University of California, San Francisco study found that 2014 hospital charges across the state experienced huge swings based on location, but averaged:
For uncomplicated vaginal birth: $3,296 – $37,227
For C-sections: $51,125.
We do know that the US in one of the most expensive places to have a baby, even when the pregnancy is routine and the baby is born healthy. If the baby is born prematurely or underweight, costs skyrocket. And as employers, you’re covering 11% of all babies born in the US, at a cost of $12 billion+ annually (March of Dimes).
Controlling Your Costs
So how can you help improve employee health and better manage your healthcare costs?
Offer a tobacco cessation program.
Promote the preventive services you cover since detecting conditions early, while they are more treatable, not only saves costs, but improves health outcomes.
Consider disease management and maternity management programs.
Offer a wellness program.
You should work with your advisor and carrier to promote the programs you offer, and consider offering incentives for participation. Before you make changes, you should understand what issues are impacting your population so you can design plans and interventions that will address the root causes of your members’ health issues. For that, you need data analytics.