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

Aligned Marketplace Founding Team
November 17, 2023
When we talk about health and wellbeing today, one concept you’ll increasingly hear referenced is “healthspan”. 
Essentially, a person’s healthspan is the period in their life when they’re able to enjoy good health, with no debilitating conditions or chronic ailments to manage. Unlike lifespan, which measures only years lived, healthspan underscores the quality of life experienced within those years. It represents a shift in healthcare philosophy towards proactive prevention and holistic wellness, rather than reactive symptom management.

For the team at Aligned Marketplace, healthspan is more than just a philosophy—it’s the central motivator for everything we do.

Early detection and prevention are important to increasing longevity, but they’re absolutely critical for extending healthspan. Having type-2 diabetes diagnosed in your 30s rather than your 40s, for example, could translate to an additional five years of life1. But even this remarkable improvement is eclipsed by the impact on healthspan: early diagnosis in this case could easily mean a decade not spent navigating preventable health issues.

For employers, healthspan is a central concern in terms of health-related costs, as well as, more importantly, their employees’ productivity and capability. Returning to the diabetes example, a diagnosis at age 30 versus 70 can make a difference of almost 14 additional years of lifespan for men, 12 years for women4…and roughly nine years of healthspan for both. That’s nearly a decade’s worth of additional contributions, innovations, and experiences spent in good health. There are few sources of increased productivity with greater potential impact5.

For individuals, healthspan is also a basic happiness issue. Two of the greatest predictors of happiness are health status and the impact of a disease on daily functioning2. And since the years between 30 and 60 represent a low point in life satisfaction3 for most people, it’s critical that we do all we can to remove chronic health issues from the equation. America simply can’t afford a growing population of highly-trained employees reaching their 40s and 50s to be less happy, productive and innovative.

Employers have tremendous influence here: an opportunity to change the national healthcare landscape, as well as enormous potential payoff. But why should employers care when most of a person’s lifetime healthcare costs crop up in their later years? Won’t Medicare handle the rising costs when the time comes?

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

For one thing, the American workforce is aging. The share of the labor force aged 55 and up is already over 22%, and expected to exceed 24% by 2030.

They’re less likely to move on, with a median tenure of 9.8 years for the 55+ cohort, versus 4.3 years for men and 3.8 for women in general6.

And they bring a unique mix of value and expense. Employees aged 55+ are exceptionally experienced, often in leadership positions—and potentially accruing the highest healthcare costs in any company. All of this makes the health of older employees a very present challenge.

It also shines a spotlight on healthspan for those preparing to enter the 55+ age bracket. An employee’s 40s and 50s are often their most productive, but they’re also the years when early detection and health intervention matter most.

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

Looking at these realities together, it’s clear that healthspan is the essential metric, whether you’re talking about reducing expenses, increasing competitiveness, or simply making people’s lives better. By prioritizing healthspan, employers aren’t just extending the years their employees work; they are enhancing the quality of life during those years.

They—and we—are also faced with a unique opportunity to reframe the narrative around aging in the workforce.

Focusing on healthspan allows us to transform the later years of employment from a period of escalating healthcare costs into one of sustained productivity and wellness. It lets us shift the very definition of health, from an absence of disease to a presence of vitality.

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

What’s needed, then, is an approach to individual healthcare that promotes and incentivizes increased healthspan. In the two decades that the Aligned Marketplace team has been working in—and experiencing the realities of—the American healthcare system, we’ve come to realize that primary care is the element with the greatest impact on healthspan. We discuss exactly why this connection is so strong in other posts, but the basics are fairly straightforward: early detection and prevention fall mostly to PCPs, and the more engaged and resourced they are, the more effective they can be.

Specifically, we’re championing an approach called Advanced Primary Care (you can read about it in more detail here), which shifts focus from treating to preventing diseases and enhancing quality of life. Advanced Primary Care, or APC, is a healthcare model that can reduce an employers' total cost of care by 15%7 or more, and fulfills a vision for a healthier, economically stable future.

Advanced primary care and its positive impact on healthspan is a win-win-win for employers, healthcare providers, and employees. It champions healthspan. It ensures that employers and employees enjoy the benefits of enhanced well-being and economic stability. It also gives providers the time and space to care about their patients—even when the patient is not physically sitting in the clinic.

This is ultimately why Aligned Marketplace has chosen increased healthspan as a primary goal, and APC as a driving approach. The former is a moral and strategic imperative, paving the way for companies to thrive alongside a healthy workforce. And the latter—the APC approach—is one that encompasses mental, emotional, and physical health, as well as financial stability for employers and a more meaningful professional experience for providers. In the modern American healthcare landscape, it’s hard to imagine a better, more appropriate, or more satisfying course of action.

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