Deferred Care Drives Up Employer Health Care Spending, Especially on Oncology

After a year in which health care cost trend flatlined, costs for self-funded plan sponsors increased “significantly” — by 8.2% — in 2021, according to the Business Group on Health’s 2023 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey. In addition, for the first time in the history of the annual survey, cancer eclipsed musculoskeletal conditions as the top driver of large firms’ health costs.

In 2020, 78% of polled employers said cancer was the top cost-driving condition, and the share rose to 80% in 2021 and 83% in 2022. The percentage of employers identifying musculoskeletal conditions as the most expensive condition dropped each of the three years, from a high of 90% in 2020, down to 84% in 2021 and 76% in 2022.

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Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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