Global Healthcare Benefit Costs to Increase in 2023
by Nayya Marketing November 16, 2022
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Healthcare Benefit Costs to Increase
If there's anything that the last few years have taught us, it's that having a competitive benefits package is critical to a company's success. Attracting and retaining top talent has become increasingly difficult, and one of the key ways to stay ahead of the curve is by offering a benefits package that meets or exceeds the needs of employees and their families, giving them peace of mind. However, with healthcare costs rising faster than the rate of inflation, it's becoming more and more difficult for companies to offer comprehensive benefits packages without breaking the bank.
A recent study by Willis Towers Watson looks at the projected costs of healthcare benefits for 2023 and how they will impact employers.
The 2023 Global Medical Trends Survey
For the 2023 Global Medical Trends Survey, Willis Towers Watson interviewed 257 leading health insurers in 55 countries over the summer of 2022. The survey projects that global healthcare benefits costs will increase to the highest level we've seen in over ten years.
On average, global healthcare benefit costs are projected to increase by 10% in 2023, according to the report. This is a significant increase from the 8.8% rise we see in 2022 and the 8.2% in 2021.
What's driving these increases?
There are a number of factors that are contributing to the rising cost of healthcare benefits. Here are some of the key drivers:
- Global inflation: Between the current international conflicts and supply chain issues, inflation has rapidly risen. This has directly impacted the cost of healthcare benefits as providers pass along inflation increases to employers.
- The pandemic: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in both a higher utilization of healthcare services and an increase in the cost of treatments. Many countries are still dealing with this pandemic, and the costs associated with the long-term effects are still being felt and difficult to predict.
- Overuse of services: The number one driver behind the rising cost of healthcare benefits is thought to be the overuse of services, ranked first by 74% of insurers. This means medical professionals are ordering more tests and procedures than necessary and overprescribing medications. This, in turn, drives the cost of healthcare up without necessarily improving the quality of care.
- An increase in chronic conditions: Along with an aging population, we're also seeing a rise in the number of people living with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. These conditions require more frequent and more expensive treatments, which drives up the cost of healthcare benefits.
- Increase in mental health services: For a long time, it felt like mental health was not acceptable to discuss in the workplace — but it's becoming more and more common to talk about these issues and seek treatment for them. The pandemic has also taken a toll on mental health, with anxiety and depression rates skyrocketing. The increased demand for mental health services has driven up the cost of overall healthcare benefits.
- Poor lifestyle habits: Despite all of the available information about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, poor posture habits, and a sedentary lifestyle are still quite common. These poor health habits can result in more serious or chronic health problems down the road, which drives up the cost of healthcare benefits.
- Lack of preventive care: Many people still don't see the importance of preventative care, such as routine physicals, screenings, and dental cleanings. The lack of preventive care often leads to more severe problems, which are more expensive to treat. The years of the pandemic lockdowns have also led to a decrease in preventive care. Many people have been afraid to go to the doctor or dentist, and access has often been limited due to physical distancing restrictions. Healthcare providers are still playing catch up to provide the necessary preventive care that's been missed over the past few years, and many patients are now dealing with the consequences.
Healthcare cost increases across the globe
Although all countries are projecting an increase in healthcare costs for 2023, there are significant variations by region. In North America, for example, healthcare benefit costs are projected to increase by only 6.5%, lower than the 9.4% increase in 2022.
In contrast, most regions will still see an acceleration in the growth rates of their cost of benefits.
Experts project that average healthcare benefit costs will increase in the Middle East and Africa by 11.5% in 2023, versus 10.5% in 2022, in Asia Pacific by 10.2% versus 6.9% in 2022, and in Latin America by 18.9% from 18.2% in 2022. Even in Europe, where healthcare costs have traditionally seen lower increases, they predict a rise of 8.6% in 2023 versus 8% in 2022.
Experts have warned that healthcare costs will carry on increasing unless we make fundamental changes to the way care is delivered.
How to keep healthcare costs down
If employers want to keep their healthcare costs down, they need to make some changes to the way they're approaching benefits. Some of the ways they can do this include:
- Offering incentives that encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles. These incentives can include discounted gym memberships, on-site wellness programs, health coaching, healthy food options in the workplace, and health risk assessments.
- Encouraging employees to use preventive care services. This can be done by offering free or discounted screenings and physicals. Education is also key, and employers can provide educational materials on the importance of preventive care and how it can save money and improve quality of life in the long run.
- Ask employees what they want from their healthcare benefits. By understanding what your employees value, you can design a benefits package that meets your employees' needs and helps keep costs down. Using decision support software like Nayya can also support employees to make better choices about their benefits and find the providers that offer the best value for their specific needs, optimizing healthcare costs without sacrificing the quality of care.
A competitive benefits package is still a crucial element in attracting and retaining top talent. With healthcare costs still projected to increase, employers need to be strategic about how they design and manage their benefits as a recruiting tool.
With the right approach, taking proactive steps to support employees in maintaining good health and a balanced lifestyle and using decision support technology to make benefits more cost-effective, it is possible to keep healthcare costs down while still providing a comprehensive benefits package that meets the needs of your employees or potential candidates.
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