Employers Are Focusing on New Initiatives to Prevent Healthcare Cost Increases in 2020, Survey Finds

September 29, 2019

Since healthcare benefit costs continue to rise, large employers are increasing efforts to stem the increases, according to the annual survey by the National Business Group on Health.

Since healthcare benefit costs continue to rise, large employers are increasing efforts to stem the increases, according to the annual survey by the National Business Group on Health.

Based on the survey results, employers are beginning to implement new initiatives in 2020 for more virtual care solutions (51%) and new strategies on high cost claims (39%). According to the 2020 Large Employers' Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, health benefits are expected to rise 5% in 2020—with cost management initiatives considered.

“One of the challenges employers face in managing their health care costs is that health care is delivered locally and change is not scalable. It’s a market-by-market effort,” Brian Marcotte, president and chief executive officer of the National Business Group on Health, said in a statement. “Employers are turning to market-specific solutions to drive meaningful changes in the health care delivery system.”

Additionally, the survey revealed that 44% of employers ranked musculoskeletal issues as the top condition that impacts their costs and 85% ranked it among the top 3 conditions. However, the research noted that 25% of employers ranked cancer as the top condition.

“Virtual care solutions bring health care to the consumer rather than the consumer to health care. They continue to gain momentum as employers seek different ways to deliver cost effective, quality health care while improving access and the consumer experience,” Marcotte added. “Of particular note is the growing interest among employers to offer virtual care for mental health as well as musculoskeletal conditions.”

Among priorities in the future, virtual care and pharmacy benefits cost management were emphasized in the study. For 2020, 64% of employers believe virtual care will play a significant role in health care delivery while 85% of respondents rated high-cost drugs as the number one or two most concerning pharmacy issue.

The study also noted that most employers are hesitant about Medicare for All. Although 72% of employers believe that it will reduce the number of uninsured, 81% believe it will increase taxes. Also, 57% said it would lead to higher health costs and 47% said it would lead to higher employee costs.