Cancer is now the number one driver of healthcare costs for employers, overtaking musculoskeletal conditions this year. And out of all they spend to combat cancer, employers spend a whopping 85% of their cancer budget on “active management” and treatment. This category includes costs like specialty drugs, radiation therapy, chemotherapy fees, etc.
In other words, treating late-stage cancer is the real money suck.
Preventive screenings for cancer, however, help to ensure cancer is caught earlier when it is easier to treat and much less costly. In a new analysis of 2023 Employee Benefits Trends, conducted by Springbuk, professionals in the benefits space recommended employers, “continue to emphasize timely preventive screenings to identify cancers early” as a means of lessening their overall cancer cost.
Prevalence of breast cancer, specifically, is on the rise. The Springbuk analysis found that the number of women ages 45 to 55 managed for breast cancer increased by 8% over the prior three years. The American Cancer Society says those with average risk for breast cancer can begin getting their recommended screenings at age 40. Those at high-risk may be recommended to get mammograms even before age 40.
To address rising costs, some employers are turning to blood-based early detection technologies in tandem with cancer screenings. While such tests may offer another way to get ahead of late-stage cancer, they are still novel. Regulators are looking at how risk factors and age recommendations could impact viability. Blood-based early detection technologies are likely to remain relatively inaccessible this year. Researchers at Springbuk “expect uptake of these technologies to be limited until they obtain FDA approval and insurance coverage.”
Cancer screenings offer a reliable way to screen for costly cancers—like lung cancer—before they become that way. Employers know that missed screenings will account for heavier financial burdens. In the Business Group on Health’s annual employer survey, 68% of employer participants anticipated increases in late-stage cancer due to missed screenings.
Color and the American Cancer Society created one of the first cancer prevention and screening programs for employers for this exact reason. Most employees interact much more with their employer than they do with their primary care provider. Accessible benefits packages that promote recommended cancer screenings and make them easy to complete helps employees stay up-to-date with their health—and employers within their budget.