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Blog | Cost of Care

Healthcare News of Note: Cancer is now the top driver of large employers’ healthcare costs

Blog | Cost of Care

Healthcare News of Note: Cancer is now the top driver of large employers’ healthcare costs

  • Cancer is the top driver of large companies’ healthcare costs, with 13% of employers reporting more late-stage cancers among employees, and another 44% saying they anticipate such an increase in the future.
  • Physician salaries have increased from the prior year, but some of that was likely due to “stagnant or declining income in 2020 when practices were closed and patients were staying home,” per Medscape’s 2022 Physicians Compensation Report.
  • Ten healthcare facilities were named as NRC Health’s 2022 Best-In-Class Consumer Loyalty Award winners for working to cultivate and maintain long-lasting loyalty among their patient populations.

Over the last few weeks, I have found these industry news stories that should be of interest to healthcare finance professionals.   

1. Cancer has replaced musculoskeletal conditions as the top driver of large companies’ healthcare costs, survey finds

Cancer is the top driver of large companies’ healthcare costs, with 13% of employers reporting more late-stage cancers among employees, and another 44% saying they anticipate such an increase in the future, according to a news release on the results of the 2023 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey.

The authors noted, “The top three conditions fueling healthcare costs remained the same from last year – they include cardiovascular disease, in addition to cancer and musculoskeletal conditions. …” 

The 135 large employers surveyed by the Business Group on Health indicated the increase in cancer is “likely due to pandemic-related delays in care,” according to the release. The employers, who together cover more than 18 million people in the United States, completed the survey between May 31 and July 13.

Additional results

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Employers saw a median 2021 cost increase of 8.2% after experiencing no increase in actual healthcare costs from 2019 to 2020.
  • Long-term mental health issues, both observed and anticipated, are the leading health-related impact of the pandemic, employers said.
  • Health and well-being promotion continued to play an integral role in workforce strategy, said 65% of employers this year, up from 42% last year.

2. Physician compensation trending upward, gender pay gap widens, report finds

According to Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report 2022, physician income increased from the prior year, “but some of that was compensating for stagnant or declining income in 2020 when practices were closed and patients were staying home.”

Physicians overall now earn an average of $339,000 annually, with primary care physicians averaging $260,000 and specialists $368,000, according to the report.

Pay gap

The pay gap between male and female physicians not only continues but has increased from 23% “a decade ago in our 2012  Compensation Report,” to 25% this year, according to Medscape. Male physicians earn an average annual salary of $285,000, compared with $228,000 for their female peers.

The gender pay gap for specialists, which has been declining for the past few years, is 31% this year, with male specialists earning $402,000 compared with $307,000 for female specialists.

“One likely reason [for the declining pay gap] is more women are going into specialties, especially higher paying ones,” wrote the authors.

Top-earning specialist groups

The specialties earning the highest average compensation are “virtually unchanged from five years ago,” wrote the authors. The top specialist salaries are:

  • $576,000 - Plastic surgery
  • $557,000 -  Orthopedics   
  • $490,000 - Cardiology  
  • $469,000 - Otolaryngology 
  • $461,000 - Urology 

More than 13,000 Medscape member physicians across 29 specialties participated in the 10-minute online survey Oct. 5, 2021, through Jan. 19, 2022.

3. 10 hospitals earn NRC Health’s Best-in-Class Consumer Loyalty Award

Ten healthcare facilities were named as NRC Health’s 2022 Best-In-Class Consumer Loyalty Award winners for “working to cultivate and maintain long-lasting loyalty among their patient populations,” with 100 facilities earning a Consumer Loyalty Award, according to an Aug. 16 announcement.

Consumer Loyalty Award winners were honored “for achieving an extraordinarily high score on NRC Health’s Loyalty Index, a composite of seven different critical aspects of consumer loyalty,” the announcement stated. This year’s winners “are leading the charge in making necessary consumer-driven improvements and a better patient experience a reality for consumers and patients alike.”

This year’s Best-in-Class Consumer Loyalty Award winners include both new and repeat honorees. They are:

  • California Hospital Medical Center, Los Angeles
  • The Christ Hospital, Cincinnati
  • Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • Mayo Clinical Hospital, Jacksonville
  • Mayo Clinic Hospital, Rochester, Minnesota
  • Morristown Medical Center, Morristown, New Jersey
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, New York City
  • Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia
  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City
  • University of Utah Hospital, Salt Lake City

The 2022 winners of NRC’s Excellence in Patient Experience Awards, which recognize organizations for their commitment to enhancing care experiences for every patient, were also announced.

HFMA bonus content

Read “Final rule appears to give a boost to providers in No Surprises Act arbitration cases” by senior editor Nick Hut.

Listen to this recent HFMA Voices in Healthcare Finance podcast, “The five essential people on every patient’s cancer care team (and why a financial advocate should be one of them).”

About the Author

Deborah Filipek

is a senior editor with HFMA, Downers Grove, Ill.

Sign up for a free guest account and get access to five free articles every month.

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