Top 5 Costliest Health Conditions for Employers

A new International Foundation report Workplace Wellness Trends finds that musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis and back or neck pain, are the most costly condition for employers in the United States.

Top 5 Costliest Health Conditions for Employers

The survey asked plan sponsors to choose the three conditions that most impact their organizations’ overall health care costs. Employers from across the U.S. ranked the following as the conditions costing their organizations the most.

  1. Musculoskeletal conditions—52%
  2. Cancer—51%
  3. Diabetes—45%
  4. Cardiovascular disease—33%
  5. High blood pressure—26%

This is the first time that musculoskeletal conditions have ranked as the costliest health care concern since the International Foundation conducted the first workplace wellness survey in 2012. In 2017, only 30% of employers reported it as one of their costliest conditions, ranking it behind diabetes and cancer for that year.

Musculoskeletal conditions affecting bones, joints and muscles have become a major factor in health care costs. These types of conditions have always been a concern for those who work physical jobs, but they’re gaining more attention as a condition for sedentary workers.

Advancements in medical treatment, like joint replacement surgery, and the rising costs of prescriptions drugs, especially for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, mean that employers can face high costs to treat these disorders.

Tune In to Talking Benefits: Tapping Into Spinal Health in the Workplace

Although it did not make the list of top five costliest health conditions, employers report growing costs for mental health care. Just over one in five (21%) organizations report mental health costs as one of their costliest health care conditions in 2019—up significantly from 15% in 2012.

Learn More

For more information or to access the Workplace Wellness Trends report, visit

Workplace Wellness Trends

Brenda Hofmann
Communications Manager at the International Foundation

The latest from Word on Benefits: