A new report by Deloitte provides powerful insights into how employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) can be a tool for improving health and longevity, while reducing health care costs by up to a third. The report and its remarkable findings point to investments employers make in mental health coverage, wellness programs and other preventative care.
According to Deloitte, robust employer-sponsored health coverage has the potential to improve the average life span by 12 years and the average health span – the length of time someone is in good health – by 19 years.
ESI is the most common source of health coverage in the United States. Employers use it to attract and retain employees, while employees are overwhelmingly satisfied with the quality and affordability of the coverage they receive.
Deloitte’s study found the average American life span is 77.9 years, and Americans are only healthy for 65.9 years. However, robust ESI programs could increase the average life span to around 90 years by 2024 and Americans can expect to be in good health for 95% of those years.
More employers are offering mental health, preventative health and wellness coverage following the pandemic, and more employees are expecting these benefits. The increased use of these services, and other programs employers can offer to encourage healthier lifestyles, are the keys to unlocking the higher life and health spans projected in the Deloitte report.
“Leaning on the impact that the health and productivity of the workforce can have on an organization’s success, employers are uniquely positioned to take the lead on influencing health improvements more broadly,” said the study.
Employees and consumers benefit from longer and healthier lives, and they could also benefit from lower health costs. Another study by Deloitte found that the same incentives and changes that would increase life spans would also lower health costs by about one-third. Strong ESI programs can divert patients away from more expensive treatments by engaging them with more cost-effective preventative options, bringing down costs by up to $4 trillion.
The reports highlighted the need for “investing in workforce initiatives such as improving access to health care beyond the offering of health insurance, focusing on mental health, improving health literacy, enabling financial literacy and wealth management, and encouraging as well as incentivizing healthy habits,” all areas where ESI is able to offer additional, high-quality benefits to employees.
Employer-sponsored insurance can lead in these areas because of its flexibility. During the pandemic many employers were able to add additional mental health and wellness programs relatively quickly to the coverage they offered employees. Responding to demands of and changing needs of employees is part of the high satisfaction with ESI.
“Employers have a growing responsibility to create a healthy and positive work environment that aims to improve employees’ physical, mental, social, and emotional health both within and beyond the workplace,” said the report.
Strengthening ESI benefits both employers through improved retention and productivity and employees with longer, healthier lives. Expanding access to these high-quality, affordable health care plans could help expand life spans by over a decades and give Americans nearly two decades of their lives back with better health.
About the authors
Protecting Americans’ Coverage Together (PACT)
The Protecting Americans’ Coverage Together (PACT) is a coalition of leading business voices that are dedicated to strengthening the support of ESI for families that depend on this system for the physical and mental well-being. Its members include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, Council for Affordable Health Coverage, and Vermeer Corporation.