Investing in Employee Healthspan: A Win-Win Strategy for a Healthier Future and Lower Costs

Aligned Marketplace Founding Team
November 17, 2023
Healthspan refers to the period in an individual's life characterized by good health and well-being, free from chronic diseases and debilitating conditions. It's not solely about the number of years one lives but about the quality of life experienced during those years. It's a vital aspect of healthcare that focuses on prevention and wellness, rather than only the treatment of illnesses.

With almost any disease, the earlier we act on warning signs with preventative measures, the longer a person lives (added lifespan), and years spent managing a chronic illness are avoided (added healthspan).

As an example of the magnitude of prevention, the diagnosis of type-2 diabetes during an individual’s 40s compared to their 30s is the difference of almost 5 years of additional lifespan1. But this incredible difference glosses over the decade of life not spent navigating preventable health issues– in other words, added healthspan. Employees with longer healthspans reap the benefit now and are much happier for it; health status and the degree a disease affects our daily functioning are some of the most important predictors of happiness2. Combined with the fact that the years between 30 and 60 represent a low point of life satisfaction3, we should be doing our best to make sure chronic health issues are removed from the equation.

America can’t afford the growing population of highly trained employees reaching their 40s and 50s to be less happy, productive, and innovative during their primes. Diagnosing diabetes at age 30 versus 70 makes a difference of almost 14 additional years of lifespan for men and 12 years of lifespan for women4. Those are 12-14 extra years of contributions, innovations, and experiences spent in good health.

We believe helping every employee in America tap into 9 more healthy years is the ultimate source of productivity5, and employers will have both the greatest influence and potential payoff for changing the healthcare landscape.

But why should an employer care when most of an individual’s lifetime healthcare costs are backloaded into later years? Won’t Medicare be responsible for the rising cost when the time comes?

Why Employers Should Care Now: The Aging Workforce and Rising Costs

The American workforce is aging. With projections indicating that by 2030, about 24.3% of the labor force will be 55 years and older, up from 22.2% in 2015, the writing is on the wall: the health of older employees is not a future issue to address but a present challenge to tackle.

This demographic shift brings with it an urgency to focus on healthspan, particularly for those in their 40s and 50s. This age range is pivotal because it represents a critical window for health intervention.

By prioritizing healthspan, employers are not merely extending the years their employee's work; they are enhancing the quality of life during those years.

For every year we delay the onset of chronic diseases, our workforce grows stronger.

Employers’ most experienced employees are not just repositories of institutional knowledge; they are also potentially accruing the highest healthcare costs.  The median employee tenure in the US is around 4.3 years for men and 3.8 years for women, but those in the 55+ age group average a tenure of 9.8 years6.

The rationale for prioritizing healthspan in this context is twofold. On one hand, you have a demographic that's working longer while commanding a significant portion of healthcare resources. On the other hand, there's an opportunity to reframe the narrative around aging in the workforce.

This is about transforming the later years of employment from a period of escalating healthcare costs into one of sustained productivity and wellness. This is not merely managing illnesses; it is fostering an environment where health is not the absence of disease but the presence of vitality.

Aligned Marketplace’s vision is to provide America’s workforce an affordable, accessible, high-quality, and aligned advanced primary care experience.  

The synergy between advanced primary care and healthspan is win-win-win for employers, healthcare providers, and employees. It champions healthspan but ensures that employers and employees both enjoy the benefits of enhanced well-being and economic stability and gives providers the time and space to care about their patients even when the patient is not physically sitting in the clinic.

Advanced primary care, which shifts focus from treating to preventing diseases and enhancing quality of life, is also more than a healthcare model to reduce employers' total cost of care by 15%7; it is a vision for a healthier, economically stable future.

Investing in healthspan is a moral and strategic imperative, paving the way for companies to thrive alongside a healthy workforce. Through an approach encompassing mental, emotional, and physical health, advanced primary care is central to any strategy to enhance employee healthspan.

1.      https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(23)00223-1/fulltext

2.      https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-012-9395-6

3.      https://www.brookings.edu/articles/happiness-and-aging-in-the-us-why-it-is-different-from-other-places-and-why-it-matters/

4.      https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(23)00223-1/fulltext

5.      https://www.nature.com/articles/s41536-021-00169-5

6.      https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/tenure.pdf

7.      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7193330/

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