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Specialty Drug Costs, High-cost Claims & Medical Inflation Among Greatest Employer Threats in 2022 Per MBGH Survey

By MBGH Information posted 02-27-2022 11:00 PM


CHICAGO – February 28, 2022 – When asked about their role as purchasers of health care, the majority (46%) of employers said they are following the leader, while 32% identified as early adopters, and only 5% as catalyst for change (down from 18% last year). These are among the findings of the latest survey of employers conducted by the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH).

“The reduction in employers that see themselves as catalysts for change from our last survey is likely due to competing priorities brought on by the pandemic,” said Cheryl Larson, MBGH president and CEO. “They also face what is being likened to as another pandemic – the growing need for mental and behavioral health services – and the fallout of missed preventive care and health screenings over the last two years. Getting employees and their families back on track to engage in their care and benefits programs is critical for those with chronic disease or series illness.”

Additional survey findings:

  • Top threats to the affordability of employer-sponsored health coverage consist of specialty drug costs (87%), high-cost claims (76%) and specific diseases and conditions (64%).
  • Employer top health benefit priorities for 2022 include a focus on wellness and wellbeing (73%), engagement in programs and use of benefits (66%), health benefit communications (66%) and specialty drug management (61%).
  • For mental and behavioral health services, employers continue to offer employee assistance programs (92%) while adding telehealth (64% offer, 26% plan to offer) and digital services (23% currently, 63% plan to offer).
  • Top payment reform strategies being used now or planned for implementation throughout the year consist of specialty drug management (65%), centers of excellence/episodes of care (45%) and steerage within networks (45%).
  • While the situation continues to change, when asked about requiring vaccinations for employees 40% said no and 26% responded yes.
  • Most common pharmacy benefit strategies are plan designs that steer participants to the lowest cost drugs (85%), use of authorized generics (77%), and clearly defined pharmacy benefit manager contract terms (76%).

The online survey was conducted at the end of 2021 with 42 employer responses, most with more than 5,000 employees, representing industries including manufacturing (37%), government (13%), education (9%) and health care (9%).

About the Midwest Business Group on Health

Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit supporting employers seeking solutions to better manage the high cost of health care and the health and productivity of their covered populations. Founded in 1980, MBGH offers members leading educational programs, employer-directed research projects, purchasing opportunities and community-based activities that increase the value of health care services and the health benefits they offer to members. MBGH serves over 145 companies who provide benefits to over 4 million lives, with employer members spending more than $15 billion on health care each year. For additional details visit and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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