Color Health’s survey findings, conducted by The Harris Poll

HR leaders believe early detection is the best way to combat costs and improve outcomes, but face challenges implementing benefits programs that address their needs and priorities

Color Health

Color Health announced findings from its recent survey, conducted by The Harris Poll, highlighting employer perspectives on the rising cost of cancer, priorities for providing the most impactful care to employees, and potential strategies for reducing the burden of cancer on the workforce. Details are available in Color Health’s 2024 Employer Insights Report: The State of Cancer.

Results showed that while cancer care is both a top driver of healthcare costs and a top priority when it comes to healthcare benefits, employers feel they cannot rely on their health plan alone, and primary care is not enough. In 2024, over two-thirds (62%) of employers plan to offer a cancer screening program as a strategy for early detection and reducing costs. But less than a quarter have comprehensive insight into their population’s screening rates, at a time when incidence for six of the top ten cancers is rising, and over 2 million new cancer diagnoses are expected in 2024.

Survey participants included 250 HR and benefits leaders at companies with 500 or more employees in the U.S., who play a significant role in healthcare decision-making. Additional key findings include:

  • Screening, early detection, and risk assessment/prevention are the highest priorities for cancer benefits, according to over 70% of benefits leaders.
  • Employer spending highlights a gap in preventive care. 88% of those surveyed would rather spend more on preventive care than post-diagnosis care/disease management, but in reality, 82% currently spend significantly more on the latter.
  • Services available through health plans fall short of delivering employees the care they need. Just 1 in 10 benefits leaders agrees insurance coverage alone is enough to provide key healthcare benefits for employees. Only 1 in 4 agrees health plans are meeting employee needs for cancer screening, specifically.
  • Primary care providers are not a sufficient backstop for screening and prevention in cancer. 72% of benefits leaders agree that primary care providers are not getting enough employees screened for cancer.
  • Only 31% of benefits leaders receive employee cancer screening rates from their health plan proactively. Just 16% of employers have access to combined screening rates for breast, lung, colorectal, prostate, and cervical cancers, responsible for 1 in 4 cancer deaths.

“In recent years, cancer has become a top driver of healthcare costs for employers. Benefits leaders are looking for different approaches to address the needs of their employees and their businesses. 96% of employers agree that detecting cancer early is the best way to get ahead of rising costs and improve employee health outcomes,” said Othman Laraki, CEO, Color Health. “It’s clear that new cancer benefits solutions are in demand, and employers need support implementing comprehensive programs.”

“Because they provide healthcare coverage for nearly half of all Americans, employers are uniquely positioned to address gaps in cancer care. Proactively addressing the impact of cancer on the workforce is critical, especially as we see rising incidence among six of the top ten cancers,” said Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO for the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Action Network. “Many cancers with the highest mortality, including lung, breast, and colorectal cancers, can be detected through routine screenings. When these diseases are caught early, we can drastically reduce the devastation cancer causes.”

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