The Business Group on Health unveils its trends to watch in the coming year, and employers are worried about controlling costs and getting a good return on their investments.
Employers are concerned about rising healthcare costs, but they also see other trends to watch in the year ahead.
The Business Group on Health released its list of trends to watch in 2024, and they include some familiar concerns, such as cancer costs and mental health.
However, employers are also saying they are growing frustrated in the performance of some of their vendors and partners. They are also taking a broader look at the well-being of their employees.
The organization represents large employers and their perspectives on key health issues and policy. Here’s a quick summary on what employers describe as their top concerns in 2024.
Employers say they are already struggling with high healthcare costs, and they aren’t expecting relief in the coming year, the Business Group on Health says. They cite a host of factors, including health systems facing higher costs in labor and supplies.
Employers are also anticipating greater expenses as more people turn to drugs for diabetes that are increasingly used for weight loss, and the rising number of cell and gene therapies.
Cancer and chronic illnesses
Cancer is the leading cost driver for employers, and employers are concerned about rising costs, the group says. Employers are worried that they will see higher costs due to patients who delayed regular screenings in the pandemic, potentially leading to cancer diagnoses at more advanced stages.
About two out of five employers (41%) said they expect to see more late-stage cancers due to delayed screenings. Employers are pushing for patients to pursue screenings and also working to help those with cancer to get access to the care they need, the group says.
In addition, 41% of employers say they anticipate higher needs for managing chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and musculoskeletal conditions.
As many Americans battle depression, employers say they recognize the need to make sure workers have access to mental health services. The group says 70% of employers say that mental health access is a top priority for 2024.
Employers say they will turn to telehealth to help workers get access to assistance, as more patients are choosing virtual care for behavioral health services. About a third of employers surveyed by the group said they will also offer onsite mental health services at a reduced cost.
The group says employers are also worried about areas such as suicide prevention and the mental health needs of children and teens.
Drug pricing transparency
According to the group, all of its members (yes, 100%) said they have at least some level of concern over the trends in prescription drugs. They are worried about the growing use of specialty drugs, which come with higher costs, especially as they are used by more patients.
Employers say they recognize that prescriptions can help patients, but the group says companies want more transparency in drug pricing. The group says without some reforms, employer plans could “crumble under the weight of unsustainable drug pricing.”
As employers face higher costs, they are going to be taking a closer look at the performance of vendors and partners, the Business Group on Health says. Employers say in some cases, the performance isn’t meeting expectations.
In the coming year, employers say they will be asking vendors and partners to show how they are performing and if they’re meeting goals, the group says. Some may look to revisit contracts with their partners, the group says.
Employers are taking a more comprehensive look at the well-being of their workers, and are increasingly looking at wellness as a key element in their strategy to retain employees.
In addition to mental health, employers are looking at areas such as financial well-being and social health. Again, as companies deal with higher costs, they will be asking their partners on well-being objectives to deliver on outcomes.