- Willis Towers Watson (WTW) predicts a 5% rise in healthcare costs in 2019, compared to a 4.7% raise in 2018, according to its 23rd annual Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey.
- Almost all employers polled (94%) said they plan to continue sponsor health care benefits for the next five years. To control costs and improve workers' performance, employers said they will focus on clinical conditions (85%) and investing in well-being initiatives (82%) in the next three years. Respondents reported making little progress in both areas in the past.
- WTW said that by focusing on chronic health conditions requiring ongoing treatment, such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome, employers can encourage early preventive care to keep workers healthy and address the chronic health needs of older workers, who will likely put off retirement. Employees' emotional wellbeing is becoming another priority for employers; 39% offer programs to support chronic behavioral conditions, and 26% plan to do so in 2020.
Like WTW's study points out, employers are taking proactive measures to counter rising healthcare costs. Almost half of large employers in a National Business Group on Health survey said they plan to take a more active role in changing healthcare delivery, for example. Some high-profile companies are choosing to bypass traditional insurance methods to negotiate directly with providers for services. Intel, Boeing and Walmart are three to have done so, according to Reuters.
As more employers focus on addressing chronic health conditions, which account for many healthcare costs, employers are trying to help workers stay healthy through preventive care. Some employers have taken matters into the office by offering wellness programs. Although one study challenges the notion that well-being programs save on healthcare costs, these initiatives have expanded beyond physical fitness to include mental health services, financial well-being and targeted health management programs for conditions such as diabetes and back pain.