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Employer Priorities Include Employee Engagement, Health Benefit Communications and Managing Costs

By MBGH Information posted 03-01-2023 12:00 AM


CHICAGO – March 1, 2023 – Key threats to employer-provided medical coverage include high-cost pharmacy and medical claims, medical inflation, and million-dollar treatments being approved by the Federal Drug Administration. These are among the findings of the latest survey of employers conducted by the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH).

“Employers are faced with a growing number of fiduciary responsibilities and must pay attention to the value of services they purchase,” said Cheryl Larson, MBGH president and CEO. “As a result, we see a greater focus on efforts to improve prescription drug and healthcare prices and transparency. Employers must negotiate their contracts with vendors to reduce hidden fees or they miss an opportunity to hold their vendors accountable.”

Key findings for 2023 based on high and medium priorities:

  • Top employer health benefit priorities for 2023 include a focus on engagement in programs and use of benefits (96%), health benefit communications (94%), financial wellbeing (93%), wellness and wellbeing (93%), chronic condition management (91%), preventive services (91%) and specialty drug management (91%).
  • Strategies to manage pharmacy benefit costs include managing specialty drugs through payment reform (74%) steering members to lower cost drugs (72%) and optimizing pharmacy benefit manager contracts (66%). Additionally, 81% of employers indicated that market-based and government reform is needed to make the prescription drug market competitive.
  • Mental health benefits and behavioral health services are vital to the health and wellbeing of a workforce. The more innovative strategies being implemented by employers include providing no- or low-cost telehealth counseling (74%), conducting manager training (56%), and offering flexible work schedules to seek care during normal business hours (52%).
  • Faced with a growing number of fiduciary responsibilities respondents are paying more attention to overseeing compliance with mental health parity (92%) and with the Consolidated Appropriations Act (88%) and accessing all claims data administered through their health plan and pharmacy benefit manager (86%).
  • Hospital transparency is a growing area of focus with employers indicating that hospital pricing (80%) and hospital margins (65%) are not reasonable and defensible, market consolidation has not improved cost or quality of services (72%), and high-quality hospitals do not necessarily cost more than those providing lower quality (50%).

The online survey was conducted at the end of 2022 with 57 self-insured employer responses, most with more than 5,000 employees (65%), representing industries including manufacturing, government, education and health care. A summary of the findings can be found in this infographic.

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 150 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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