Cancer top driver of employer health costs
Cancer care has become the top driver of large employers' health care costs due to an increase in late-stage diagnoses, according to a new survey from the Business Group on Health.
Why it matters: It's one of the early signs of how deferred care during the pandemic is resulting in more complex and resource-intensive cases.
Driving the news: After actual health costs stayed flat from 2019 to 2020, employers saw a median 2021 increase of 8.2%.
- In the survey of 135 large employers across varied sectors who cover more than 18 million people in the U.S., 13% of companies said they have already seen more late-stage cancers.
- Another 44% said they anticipate seeing an increase in the future because of those pandemic-related delays.
- Musculoskeletal conditions and cardiovascular disease are also among the top cost drivers.
Meanwhile, employers indicated the leading health-related impact of the pandemic is long-term mental health concerns among their workforce, with about 43% already observing the trend and another 39% anticipating such increases.
What's next: Despite the increased costs, employers are reluctant to shift costs to employees in the short-term and are instead looking at delivery system reforms such as advanced primary care and the use of centers of excellence to curb costs.
Go deeper: How COVID reshaped cancer care