According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 in 10 U.S. adults have a chronic disease and 4 in 10 adults have two or more conditions. Furthermore, chronic diseases are the leading drivers of the nation’s $4.1 trillion in annual health care costs and are a significant source of financial pain for employers. What differentiates chronic health care from other types of care? Chronic health conditions require ongoing management over an extended period of time. Some chronic conditions have mild symptoms, while others inhibit a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks.
Many chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, can affect an entire workplace. Treatment of chronic conditions often involves physician visits, extended hospital stays, prescription drugs and expensive treatments, which all contribute to increased medical expenditures and lost productivity for employers.
According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, employer health care coverage for an employee with a chronic condition is, on average, five times higher than for those without a condition.
Chronic Conditions and Health Care Premiums
Unfortunately, many people deferred or delayed care amid the pandemic due to fear of contracting COVID-19. That, paired with employees experiencing long-term COVID-19 effects, means employers may face higher costs than usual as health care utilization and chronic condition spending increase. Additionally, experts report people increasing alcohol and tobacco consumption, poor nutrition habits and reduced physical activity. Such behavior changes during the pandemic are likely to have long-term adverse effects on the general population’s health.
How Employers Can Help
Employers are uniquely positioned to help combat chronic conditions, which could reduce health care costs and yield a healthier workforce. There are different strategies employers can take to fight chronic disease like making preventive care affordable through medical benefits and also encouraging the use of critical care.
One way to help is to accommodate your employees by adjusting policies and programs. Consider providing flexible work options so employees can stay on schedule with appointments, medications and treatments to take care of themselves. Better care means employees will be more likely to remain productive and engaged at work. Keeping health care options personal and targeted can support your employees by keeping them informed, engaged and motivated to make healthy choices. Providing specialized programs that address the common causes of chronic conditions, like tobacco usage, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can help employees make sustainable lifestyle changes.
Employers are often well-positioned to help fight chronic health conditions. Especially today, employers should address and strategize ways to contain costs associated with chronic conditions. In addition, employers can promote health and productivity among their workforces.
Following the pandemic, it’s even more critical to get regular health care back on track to help employees better manage their chronic conditions and improve outcomes. Reach out to CanopyNation to learn more about managing health premiums for chronic health conditions.