Preventive care spending lags while behavioral health keeps climbing, report finds

Medical spending on behavioral health is expected to continue to increase in 2022, while preventive care spending will struggle to reach pre-pandemic levels, according to a report from San Francisco-based Castlight Health.

The report published April 5 analyzed over 160 million medical claims, employer investments in digital programs, data from ecosystem partners and responses to Castlight’s health risk assessment to provide information about past and future healthcare utilization trends.

Eight key takeaways:

1. Commercial medical spending per member per year:

2019: $4,192

2020: $3,907

2021: $4,248

Projected 2022: $4,232

 

2. Musculoskeletal and cancer care combined make up nearly 30 percent of commercial medical spending:

Muskuloskeletal share:

2019: 16.1 percent

2020: 15.0 percent 

2021: 14.7 percent

Oncology share:

2019: 14.0 percent

2020: 14.1 percent

2021: 13.6 percent

 

3. Preventive care spending per member per year:

2019: $238

2020: $208

2021: $231

Projected 2022: $221

 

4. The largest reductions in preventive care were in cervical (16 percent) and colorectal cancer (24.1 percent) screenings:

Cervical cancer screening spending per member per year:

2019: $16

2020: $14

2021: $15

Projected 2022: $14

Colorectal cancer screening spending per member per year:

2019: $179

2020: $136

2021: $170

Projected 2022: $156

 

5. Behavioral health spending per member per year:

2019: $89

2020: $106

2021: $118

Projected 2022: $133

 

6. Percentage of employers offering behavioral health programs:

2019: 54 percent

2020: 76 percent

2021: 78 percent

 

7. Clinical risk for commercially insured employees and their families increased by 9.3 percent from 2019-21, higher than the expected 3 percent. This may have resulted from exacerbations of underlying conditions potentially caused by delayed care and increased costs for COVID-19 care.

 

8. In 2021, the average employer offered more than 12 digital programs to their workforce.

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