One in Four Workers Experiencing Increase in Medical Expenses Report Mental Health Impacts

More than one quarter (27%) of employees with employer-sponsored health insurance said those expenses had a major impact on their mental health, while 16% indicated they had a major impact on their family’s well-being.

More than one quarter (27%) of employees with employer-sponsored health insurance said those expenses had a major impact on their mental health, while 16% indicated they had a major impact on their family’s well-being. These results come from the Centivo Healthcare and Financial Sacrifices Survey, 2021, where 805 U.S. respondents ages 18 to 64 were asked if they had experienced significant medical expenses in the past two years.

According to a 2021 Mercer survey, employers with 500 or more employees say that addressing employees’ mental and emotional health will be a top priority over the next 3-5 years. The Kaiser Family Foundation also found that four in 10 (39%) employers report making changes to their mental health and substance abuse benefits since the beginning of the pandemic.

“U.S. employers are rightly concerned about the mental health of their workforce during this time of immense societal changes and disruptions caused by the pandemic,” Chief Medical Officer of Centivo, Dr. Wayne Jenkins, said. “We urge employers, however, to not just tack on yet another solution to their already overloaded benefit plans, but to first examine some root cause affordability issues inside their core health plans and what impact these issues have on rising mental health problems among workers.”

The need for employers to reassess overall health plan affordability is highlighted by the Centivo survey finding that the less respondents had saved, the more likely they are to report that major medical expenses have impacted their mental health. In fact, only when respondents reported more than $10,000 in savings do they also report low levels of mental health and family well-being issues.

Healthcare affordability also correlates to sacrifices in care, including mental healthcare; a full 20% of respondents who experienced major medical expenses said they skipped or delayed needed mental healthcare/counseling due to cost concerns.

“We believe that foundational changes to the design of an employer’s health plan could have a significant and positive impact in lowering mental health issues,” said Jenkins. “Such steps as eliminating deductibles, providing simple and predictable copays and making primary care visits free are all realistic improvements that can truly help today’s average American workers who are so vulnerable amid our ongoing healthcare affordability crisis.”