3 Health Trends to Address in 2024

Smart Ways to Lower Health Costs

U.S. corporate employers project a median health care cost increase of 7 percent for 2024, according to new data from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP). The result for employers is that the pull between rising health care costs and the need to offer quality benefits is stronger now than it has been in many years.

For 2024, employers are seeking strategies to slow the rise in health costs without shifting costs to employees. Here are three ways employers can achieve this goal.

Implement programs to improve health condition management

Targeted programs for specific health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or musculoskeletal issues, can reduce doctor’s visits, lower medication spending, enhance productivity, and help employees realize better overall health.

In a 2023 survey of 512 organizations with 200 or more employees, Mercer found that 49% of employers responding to the survey already offered these types of programs and another 36% were seriously considering it.

Health condition management programs may be offered by a medical or pharmacy benefits company, a third-party service, or employee health programs managed by hospitals.

Increase utilization of mental health care

In the Mercer survey, 68% of employers said job-related stress was a concern for their workforce. Many employers are taking actions to increase utilization of mental health care or create a more supportive environment. Some employers have expanded Employee Assistance Programs or added a supplemental network for virtual mental health counseling. Employers are also conducting campaigns to reduce the stigma of mental health issues and/or training managers to recognize mental health issues and steer team members to resources.

Assess use of GLP-1 drugs for weight loss

While a few GLP-1 drugs are approved for weight loss, many of these medications, such as Ozempic, are only approved for diabetes but being prescribed off label for weight loss. Employers are assessing ways to manage use of these drugs without disrupting patients who need them for diabetes. More employers are requiring prior authorization for GLP-1 drugs. At the same time, a growing number of companies are deciding that covering weight loss medications may be a good long-term strategy, particularly if those drugs are used in conjunction with a clinical weight management program.

Plan Your Health Benefits Strategy

If you want to explore building a more sustainable health benefits plan, consult with one of our health strategists. Contact us at sales@truerx.com.

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