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Employers Acting as Early Adopters and Catalysts for Change as Health Care Purchasers per MBGH Survey

By MBGH Information posted 03-06-2024 08:17 AM


CHICAGO – March 6, 2024 – A growing number of employers see themselves as catalysts for change or early adopters in developing innovative health benefit programs for their employees and families (53% up from 42%) according to findings from the latest purchaser survey conducted by the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH).

“Unsustainable and rising medical and drug and costs have a far-reaching impact on the ability of businesses to remain competitive or offer salary increases for their employees,” said Cheryl Larson, MBGH president and CEO. “As a result, employers are getting engaged in health reforms and more creative in their contracting strategies.”

Key findings include:

  •        Top employer health benefit priorities for 2024 are a focus on engagement in programs and use of benefits (52%), chronic condition management (48%), high-cost medical claims (44%), and wellbeing/building a culture of health (42%).
  •       Greatest threats to affordability of employer provided coverage are high-cost pharmacy claims (100%), specialty drug costs (94%), high-cost medical claims (93%), and medical inflation (90%).
  •        Payment reform priorities are specialty drug management (64%), reduce waste, inappropriate and low-value care (39%) and centers of excellence/episodes of care (33%).
  •       Strategies for covering GLP-1 anti-obesity medications are covered with prior authorization (49% currently do so and 25% are considering), covering with risk stratification such as BMI and comorbidities (41% currently, 29% considering), and not covering due to lack of evidence (19% currently, 5% considering).
  •       Strategies to manage pharmacy benefit costs are defined PBM contract terms to optimize savings (48%), plan design steers to lowest cost drugs (42%), pharmacy benefit transparency/pass-through pricing (33%), coverage of biosimilars (33%), and comprehensive medication management (32%).       
  • Mental health benefits and behavioral health services being considered are manager training (42%), no-or low-cost onsite counseling (31%), flexible work schedule (29%), expand networks (29%), and increased number of covered visits (24%).
  •     Women’s health at every stage of life such as childbirth, caregiving and menopause are gaining traction with paid maternity leave of absence (50%), paid paternity leave of absence (45%), paid adoption leave of absence (28%) and financial fertility treatment support (23%) noted as top strategies.

The annual online survey was conducted at the end of 2023 with 62 self-insured employers with 50% having less than 5,000 employees and 23% with 5,0001-10,000 employers, and representing industries including manufacturing, government, education and health care. An infographic on the survey findings is available here.

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 that 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 LinkedIn.

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