Healthcare costs projected to rise 7.8% globally in 2017, WTW finds
- A Willis Towers Watson (WTW) survey reveals a projected 7.8% rise in global healthcare costs during 2017, up from 7.3% in 2016. The survey results also show that Latin America had the biggest increase, due largely to high inflation rates in some countries, and Europe had the lowest. U.S. insurers predict costs will rise 7.5% in 2017, compared with an increase of 7.8% a year earlier.
- WTW also found that insurers in most markets expect further cost increases. Only respondents (53%) from Africa and the Middle East were optimistic about prices remaining relatively stable.
- When asked about the major drivers of rising healthcare costs beyond employers and vendors’ control, respondents cited the following: providers recommending too many services (74%), medical technology (63%), employees seeking inappropriate care (54%) and profit motives (40%).
The survey confirms that employers are trying to slow down healthcare cost increases. Many are taking preventive measures by offering wellness programs, which give employees the incentive to take charge of their own physical, financial and emotional well-being.
Across the globe, 40% of employers offer wellness programs, according to the survey, and growth is projected to continue worldwide. Health promotion programs also are on the rise, as employers encourage employees to shop around for healthcare to find lower prices. These include getting second opinions on diagnoses and offering health risk assessments, lifestyle and health education programs.
Even keeping healthcare cost increases steady isn't sustainable in the long run. Companies are beginning to look beyond plan design and instead at how they can work with healthcare providers to make the whole system more streamlined.
Costs in the U.S. might be predicted to rise less than other parts of the world, but it's hard to make solid predictions currently. Amidst deep uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act and the potential GOP replacement, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), it's likely that instability will remain the rule for now — though compliance with the ACA is still paramount.