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Cutting the Costs of Musculoskeletal Care

Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders, or MSDs, are injuries or conditions that impact your muscles, bones, and joints. From a twisted ankle to chronic back pain, MSDs include many conditions that commonly impact employees and sharply increase the cost of healthcare. In 2019 alone, MSK care totaled almost $253 billion—approximately eight percent of total health expenditures.

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For employers, MSDs present a pressing problem. They account for 16 percent of all medical claims, and 40 to 50 percent of all high-cost claims.1 With projected cost increases on the horizon, employers can expect MSK spend to continue skyrocketing—unless a new solution is put in place soon.

MSDs commonly impact the back, knee, neck, hip, and shoulder. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MSDs are more serious than typical nonfatal injuries or illnesses. They can impair mobility, hamper independence, and seriously impact an individual's quality of life.

Many circumstances can influence the development of MSDs, including individual risk factors, such as poor health, obesity, and deconditioning, as well as environmental and work-related ergonomic factors. According to the CDC, awkward positions, repetitive movements and other motions can lead to MSDs.

MSDs may be felt throughout the body – in muscles, nerves, tendons, joints and more.

Musculoskeletal disorder symptoms

How MSDs impact the workplace

Musculoskeletal disorders can lead to high spend for employers for multiple reasons including absenteeism, lost productivity, increased health care, disability, and worker's compensation costs.

Older workers are typically more susceptible to MSDs, suffering from back pain for example. This age group is more likely to be hospitalized and endure extended hospital stays due to MSDs. MSDs are also major causes of the chronic pain epidemic and resulting opioid overuse, both of which continue the cycle of poor outcomes and elevated costs.

While MSK costs are rising, positive results are not. A longitudinal analysis of health care spend for back and neck pain showed that a 65 percent budget increase did not lead to an improvement in patient outcomes.2

The root of the problem

Although effective treatments exist, individuals suffering from muscle and joint pain often get bounced around the healthcare system, ending up with unnecessary and expensive tests, imaging, procedures, and surgeries.

Many individuals with MSDs are referred to risky surgeries that they do not need—up to 50 percent of surgeries for back pain are unnecessary, for example. Research shows that non-surgical alternatives for low back pain not only have a higher chance of providing better outcomes, but they also have the potential to save an estimated $14,000 per patient.

Allstate Benefits and Vori Health can help

Allstate Benefits strives to create high-quality group health benefit plans that make receiving health care simple and accessible.

That's why we've teamed up with Vori Health to offer our Core Value plan members access to convenient, evidenced-based musculoskeletal treatment options that boost outcomes and decrease costs.

Vori Health is a specialty medical practice delivering a virtual-first musculoskeletal solution to help employees get back to their lives faster. As the only nationwide MSK practice with doctor-led care teams, Vori Health is the most convenient way to get employees the appropriate care at the right time. Whether employees need a doctor-led diagnosis, non-opioid prescription, personalized physical therapy, or health coaching, Vori Health's multi-specialty teams work together to provide seamless support and effective, non-operative treatment. This holistic model reduces unnecessary surgeries, enables faster recoveries, and lowers healthcare spend with a positive ROI.

Vori Health is included in all Core Value products through the Allstate Benefits Self-Funded Program. With Allstate Benefits, your members get access to Vori Health's services for all types of muscle and joint pain, plus treatment plans with exclusive pricing for back and knee conditions.

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1Huse DM, Marder WD. What are the leading drivers of employer healthcare spending growth? Ann Arbor: Truven Health Analytics; 2013

2Martin, B.I., Deyo, R.A., Mira, S.K., Turner, J.A., Comstock B.A. Hollingworth, W., Sullivan, S.D. (2008). Expenditures and health status among adults with back and neck problems. JAMA 299(6), 656-664.

The Self-Funded Program through Allstate Benefits provides tools for employers owning small to mid-sized businesses to establish a self-funded health benefit plan for their employees. The benefit plan is established by the employer and is not an insurance product. Allstate Benefits is a marketing name for: Integon National Insurance Company in CT, NY and VT; Integon Indemnity Corporation in FL; and National Health Insurance Company in CO, WA and all other states where offered. For employers in the Allstate Benefits Self-Funded Program, stop loss insurance is underwritten by these insurance companies in the noted states. National Health Insurance Company, Integon National Insurance Company, and Integon Indemnity Corporation are rated "A+" (Superior) by A.M. Best.

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