With cancer treatment accounting for a significant 12 percent of total medical costs, employers grapple with a daunting $125 billion dollar burden on their resources.1 As we delve into this sensitive issue, it becomes evident that employers have an opportunity to take proactive measures to address cancer costs while supporting their employees’ well-being in a powerful way.
Studies have long emphasized that a considerable portion of cancers can be prevented through lifestyle choices. Experts suggest that up to 50 percent of cancer cases in the United States could be avoided by adopting a healthier way of life.2 Research conducted over extensive periods, tracking hundreds of thousands of individuals, revealed that those who embraced healthier habits were less likely to develop cancer.2
Up to 50% of cancer cases in the United States could be avoided by adopting a healthier way of life.
Within the realm of employee wellness programs, employers can seize the reins of prevention, empowering their workforce to steer clear of cancer risk factors. By encouraging employees to prioritize their health and well-being, employers create a supportive environment for adopting behaviors that diminish the likelihood of cancer incidence.
The core aspects of this preventive approach are rooted in simple yet transformative lifestyle choices. For example, promoting regular physical activity is one of the building blocks of cancer prevention. Exercise not only bolsters cardiovascular health but also helps maintain a healthy weight, a crucial factor in reducing cancer risk. Other essential facets lie in the avoidance of tobacco use, a focus on nourishing the body with a healthy diet, and embracing vaccination and screening programs.
However, in a recent development, a vital Affordable Care Act policy that required private insurers to fully cover preventive care services, including screenings for cancer, diabetes, and depression, was struck down by a federal judge.3 This decision could impact approximately 150 million Americans who rely on employer-sponsored health coverage.3
Without a mandate in place, some employers might be tempted to cut back on these crucial services. Yet, turning away from preventive care to curb costs actually has the potential to have the opposite reaction. It’s now the decision of the employer to stay ahead of this curve or save now to spend double later.
Employers have a golden opportunity to invest in programs and therapies that not only reduce the risk of cancer but can also address obesity and other cardiometabolic conditions concurrently. By curbing the incidence and progression of these diseases, employers can reap substantial rewards. Unlike private and public insurers who often have patients in their plans for only one to two years, most employers retain their workers for over four years.4 By investing in the well-being of their workforce, employers can not only mitigate the financial impact of cancer but also create a culture of health that empowers individuals to lead healthier, cancer-free lives.5,6
A healthier workforce translates to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and diminished healthcare costs in the long run.7 Moreover, supporting preventive care aligns with an employer’s commitment to the well-being and success of their employees.
As we strive to navigate the complexities of healthcare costs, let us rally behind the power of prevention, viewing cancer as a challenge that can be met head-on through proactive measures. Employers who take the lead in fostering a healthier workforce will not only reap the financial rewards but also demonstrate a genuine commitment to the well-being and prosperity of those they employ.8
Interested in learning more about how Pack Health can support employees with a cancer diagnosis? Download our Pack Health Oncology Program Overview for a closer look at how we work.
Paying Attention to Cancer Pays Off for Your Employees. John Hopkins Medicine. Published September 2017. https://www.johnshopkinssolutions.com/paying-attention-cancer-pays-off-employees/
- Alexander H. Can you prevent cancer? MD Anderson Cancer Center. January 2020. Accessed August 2023. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/can-you-prevent-cancer–a-conversation-with-ernest-hawk–m-d-.h10-1593780.html
- Stone W. Millions may lose free preventative health care after ruling by federal judge in Texas. NPR. March 31, 2023. https://www.npr.org/2023/03/31/1167511384/millions-may-lose-free-preventive-health-care-after-ruling-by-federal-judge-in-t
- Keller S. Attracting and retaining the right talent. McKinsey and Company. November 24, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2023. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/attracting-and-retaining-the-right-talent
- Arora S, Ryals C, Rodriguez JA, Byers E, Clewett E. Leveraging Digital Technology to Reduce Cancer Care Inequities. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2022;42:1-8. doi:10.1200/EDBK_350151
- Parikh RB, Basen-Enquist KM, Bradley C, et al. Digital Health Applications in Oncology: An Opportunity to Seize. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2022;114(10):1338-1339. doi:10.1093/jnci/djac108 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9384132/>
- Tilenius S. Healthy returns: How investing in employee health pays dividends. Employee Benefit News. July 13, 2023. Accessed August 2023. https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/investing-in-employee-health-pays-dividends
- Cancer Support in the Workplace | Pack Health for Employers. Pack Health. Accessed August 28, 2023. https://resources.packhealth.com/program-overview-employer-wellness-oncology
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