The state of today’s health care economy

Ford Koles, vice president and national spokesperson for Advisory Board, offers his insights on the health care economy and its impact on employers.

Insight from Ford Koles and Advisory Board

“There’s a lot of frustration with the uncontained inflation in health care,” says Ford Koles, vice president and national spokesperson for Advisory Board. “The only thing this inflationary in our economy other than health care is higher education.”

Employers are expecting their health care costs to rise. In fact, 68% of employers project moderate to significant health care cost increases over the next 3 years.1

The conditions driving up costs for large employers include cancer, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular conditions, according to recent research.2 Some of that may be due to a shortfall in preventive care and in care providers.

“If you look at colonoscopies, they’re way down. If you look at people getting their moles checked for cancer, way down. If you look at breast exams, they’re way down,” Koles says. “And later stage cancer diagnoses are up.”

Behavioral health conditions are also concerning employers and contributing to costs. Other health care cost drivers include the increasing cost of pharmaceuticals, with one large employer survey projecting pharmacy trend to be 9% in both 2023 and 2024.2

Employers are reluctant, however, to shift these rising health care costs over to their workforces, according to Koles: “They’re instead looking at strategies where they’re helping the workforce and the family members to find care options that benefit everybody, that are less expensive without sacrificing quality — steering or navigating them to different places for care.”

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