The way in which we receive and deliver quality healthcare is ever-changing. Coupled with the fact that many now have very different attitudes towards how they manage their care, it is essential for employers to understand the varying trends and complexities that are shaping the world of employee benefits. It is also important to pay attention to different cost drivers in order to offer the most effective coverage for employees.

One of the most notable trends being seen right now is a decline in preventative care.

During the pandemic, people were taking part in preventative healthcare visits at a low rate, which was expected. But preventative care visits have not yet gotten back to pre-pandemic numbers. This, of course, can have an adverse effect on people’s health. Preventative care visits are crucial for general wellness, but also to alert patients of anything that may require extensive treatment early before it progresses. For many chronic conditions, especially cancer, early detection makes a big difference in the rate of survival and recovery.

Intergenerational needs
Of course, paying a close mind to intergenerational needs is also important, and can impact many characteristics of care. Millennials, for example, are now the most populous generation in the workforce. According to a United Healthcare briefing on trends in healthcare costs, 50% of Millennials either have, or are at high risk of having, a chronic disease. With newer generations now taking over the workforce, the method in which they prefer to receive healthcare is also in transformation.[1]

Virtual care is starting to become more popular among younger generations, where most of the virtual care we are seeing now has to do with urgent care issues such as getting prescriptions for sinus infections or a sore throat. Virtual care is now starting to move into more of a primary care role and eventually we will likely see movement into more virtual care for chronic conditions as well.[1]

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Cost drivers by generation provides an interesting insight as well, especially considering the costs most associated with different age groups. For older generations such as Gen X and the Baby Boomers, the top clinical cost driver is cancer, whereas for the Millennial generation and Gen Z, the top drivers are pregnancy and mental disorders, respectively.

What is interesting is that there are only two cost drivers that impact the spend for all generations, infectious disease and wellness. Wellness being preventative care, primary care visits, immunizations, etc.

Again, it is important that employers work on increasing the number of preventative care visits in their workforce. From a cost perspective, preventative care helps to keep people healthy by getting them the medication and aid they need while also helping to prevent major health problems before they become problems and drive healthcare costs up.

Employee healthcare costs
Another major factor in employee healthcare costs is high-cost claimants. Only 2.8% of claimants represent 50% of the total claim spend. While these high-cost claimants are a very small portion of the population, they drive a very large portion of the cost for organizations.

What we have seen is that it is actually not just the same people making these high cost claims every time. So of course, we do need to be sure to provide these high-cost claimants with the best care possible, but this also brings us back to the conversation about preventative care. By making sure people have access to quality preventative care we can work to avoid serious health conditions, keeping both employees healthy and clinical costs low.

After implementing some of the previous information and any relevant data your organization has it’s good to remember that clinical care does not work overnight. It takes time to see differences in a person’s health.

Employers will need to encourage employees to get back to healthcare basics when it comes to preventative care visits. Getting people to care in the way that they want to receive care will also be very important with this new generation in the workforce.

[1] A UnitedHealthcare Briefing on health care cost trends. February 6, 2023. UnitedHealthCare. Online. Last accessed on April 21, 2023.
[2] Spoor L. Why advances in telehealth are an impactful and growing necessity. February 22, 2023. Medical Economics. Online. Last accesses on April 21, 2023.

Featured image by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash. Used with permission.

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