Addressing health inequities is expected to be a top priority for employers in 2023.
Pursuing affordability of services tops seven healthcare trends for 2023, according to the Business Group on Health.
The trends are associated with the interplay of several factors, says Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of the Business Group on Health. "While each trend relates to employer health and well-being strategies, they also exist against the backdrop of the global economy, workforce trends, innovation, and the policy and regulatory environment. As such, factors that range from provider labor shortages to the increased cost of healthcare will affect employers and employees alike in the year to come."
1. With rising healthcare costs, affordability is the leading concern for employees and employers.
Pent-up demand for healthcare services related to care delayed during the coronavirus pandemic likely will increase healthcare costs for employers in 2023. Business Group on Health survey data indicates 43% of employers have already experienced an increase in medical services linked to deferred care, with 39% of employers expecting more hikes in medical services linked to deferred care in the future. The survey data also shows cancer is the leading driver of healthcare costs, with more late-stage cancers being identified and more expensive treatment options available. In 2022, employee cost sharing for healthcare services has been stable. However, a national economic downturn in 2023 could force employers to increase health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, the Business Group on Health says.
2. Workforce dynamics will impact health and well-being offerings.
Employers show an increasing awareness that employee health and well-being have a positive effect on workforce strategy, with 65% of employers reporting employee health and well-being are pivotal compared to 27% of employers five years ago. With this awareness, employers are expected to continue to invest in health and well-being initiatives in 2023. However, affordability concerns will likely lead to reconsideration of initiatives, formation of new partnerships, and crafting of collaborations with employees.
3. Addressing health inequities will be a priority for employers.
Employers are expected to use health and well-being programs to impact social determinants of health, including healthcare access, finances, and childcare. Employers are likely to expand coverage and benefits for transgender employees and employees with disabilities. Women's health could be targeted through methods such as expanded fertility benefits, focusing on maternal mortality, and increasing coverage for doula services.
4. Increased emphasis on mental and financial health of employees.
Mental health is becoming a top priority for employers and employees, with a recognition that mental health is tied to job satisfaction and several aspects of well-being such as physical and social health. In addition, the vast majority of employers have financial security initiatives as part of their well-being strategies, including establishing retirement savings, paying down debt, creating household budgets, and paying for college. Employers recognize there is an association between financial stress and employee health, productivity, and performance.
5. Employers embracing value-based payment models.
To optimize cost savings, patient experience, and health outcomes, employers are expected to continue to adopt value-based payment models. Examples of popular value-based payment models include advanced primary care, high-performance networks, accountable care organizations, and centers of excellence.
6. Telemedicine likely to continue expansion.
During the pandemic, telemedicine such as telehealth for primary and acute care, teletherapy, and telehealth for chronic condition management emerged as an alternative to in-person visits. Now, telemedicine is being widely viewed as complementary to in-person visits. According to Business Group on Health survey data, 55% of employers plan to expand their virtual health offerings in 2023.
7. Policy and regulation landscape expected to shift.
State and federal regulations for employer-sponsored health plans could change in 2023. For example, Affordable Care Act preventive services could change under court order. Large employers are expected to work with policymakers on several issues, including improving access and affordability for mental health services, women's health improvements, and transforming delivery of services through transparency and payment model reforms.
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.
Employers show an increasing awareness that employee health and well-being have a positive effect on workforce strategy.
Mental health is becoming a top priority for employers and employees, with a recognition that mental health is tied to job satisfaction and several aspects of well-being such as physical and social health.
To optimize cost savings, patient experience, and health outcomes, employers are expected to continue to adopt value-based payment models.