NEWS FLASH! The Los Angeles Times reported recently that healthcare spending will break records in 2026, accounting for almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy.[1] What are the top drivers of this cost increase? According to Forbes[2]:

  1. Higher charges for care and pharmaceuticals
  2. Patients seeking more intensive care
  3. Population growth
  4. Our aging population (1 in 5 U.S. residents will be retirement age by 2030[3])
  5. The proliferation of diseases
  6. Money waste due to the incorrect utilization of benefits

Understandably, U.S. businesses are worried. Employers already spend an average of $12,872 on healthcare per employee.[4] With this cost expected to significantly increase in the coming years, it’s time for leadership to get creative about how they control the financial impact of healthcare. One way employers are doing this is by focusing on the source of this problem and designing healthcare plans that best address the most costly conditions afflicting the U.S. workforce.

The Top 5 Most Expensive Employee Health Conditions[5]

  1. Heart Disease & Cardiac Issues
  • Heart disease affects 28.4 million Americans.
  • High cholesterol affects nearly 39 million Americans.
  • High blood pressure affects over 120 million Americans.
  • Americans spend $316 billion on heart disease and cardiac issues each year.
  1. Tobacco & Alcohol-Related Issues
  • Leads to heart disease, organ damage, certain types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and lung disease.
  • Americans spend $300 billion on tobacco-related and $249 billion on alcohol-related medical issues each year.
  1. Diabetes
  • Affects 29 million Americans.
  • Another 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes.
  • Experts believe that millions of Americans are also living
  • The known cost of diabetes is about $245 billion per year.
  1. Cancer
  • By 2020, cancer will be the No.1 cause of death in the United States.
  • About 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed each year.
  • We spend about $157 billion on cancer treatment each year.
  1. Obesity
  • Contributes to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and severe arthritis.
  • Americans spend about $147 billion on obesity-related healthcare each year.
  • Another $117 billion is spent on physical inactivity.

Other Costly Employee Health Conditions[6]

  1. High-Risk Pregnancy
  • Risk has declined by 1% since 2015.
  • 6% of employers are still concerned about this cost when shopping for health plans.
  1. Depression
  • 9% of employers believe that mental health has a significant impact on healthcare costs.
  • This percentage has declined by 8.9% since 2015.
  1. Arthritis/Back/Musculoskeletal
  • 9% of employers say these conditions significantly impact their cost of healthcare.
  • This percentage has declined by 5.6% since

By understanding what afflictions employees are dealing with, employers can customize benefits packages that better confront these issues instead of a more rigid off-the-shelf plan. Customized healthcare packages maximize spend by allowing employers to add features and benefits based on the needs of the workforce. Employers can also use customized healthcare plans to kickstart a wellness program that addresses the diet and habits responsible for many of these conditions. Keep in mind; the average employee spends less than an hour researching their open enrollment options.[7] Proper education is a vital part of lowering the overall cost of healthcare. When employees select the right plan for themselves and understand how to use their plan wisely, both parties win.

For more information on how to create communication campaigns that turn employees into smart healthcare consumers, click here!

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[1] Los Angeles Times
[2] Forbes
[3] United States Census Bureau
[4] Statista
[5] canopy HEALTH
[6] Employee Benefit Adviser
[7] 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report