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Research and Briefings

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Medical costs drive innovation in employer-sponsored health plans.


MMB survey finds rising medical costs drive innovation in employer-sponsored health plans

  • Global medical costs continue to outpace general inflation by close to 3x
  • Top three drivers of medical costs are metabolic and cardiovascular risk, dietary risk and emotional/mental risk
  • Insurers respond with investments in quality-focused healthcare solutions and programmes 
  • 78% of insurers globally support or consider supporting virtual health consultations to manage member health and contain cost

According to the Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) 2019 Medical Trends Around the World report, medical costs continue to outpace general inflation by close to 3x with the global average 9.7% in 2018. A similar increase is expected for 2019 and even higher for 2020. As the cost of health benefit programmes continues to rise globally, employers have the opportunity to contain cost through smarter plan design and employee access to quality-focused healthcare.

In its fifth year, this latest report surveyed 204 insurers across 59 countries*, assessing how health conditions, supplier factors and consumer habits are driving cost, as well as providing insights into how insurers are responding.

In response, the number of insurers investing in initiatives to enable quality-focused care, to better guide members to the right care options for them more quickly, has more than doubled. Globally, 29% now name this type of investment as a top strategic priority. Insurers are responding by helping members make smarter healthcare choices with 63% of insurers providing education, tools and incentives to drive positive behaviour. Globally, 78% are now considering or already support virtual health consultations.