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03 Jun 2024
by Jo Gallacher

REBA inside track: The implications of an ageing workforce and rise in chronic conditions

Writing in part one of REBA’s trilogy into societal health, REBA’s content director Jo Gallacher, details how healthcare funding and delivery is seeing rapid changes and the fundamental implications for employers

From groundbreaking innovations to policy shifts, the landscape of healthcare is in a perpetual state of flux. The UK is currently witnessing a huge shift in how healthcare is funded and delivered, with an increasing number of employers opting to offer private medical insurance (PMI) to their employees in a bid to keep their workforce well and boost their recruitment and retention.

It’s no surprise, given the well-known and often reported figures around lengthy NHS waiting lists and missed targets. The NHS, though still a marvel of modern times, is under pressure, and today’s complex set of challenges mean it’s now time for employers to step up.

The big picture

The first report of this trilogy on societal health, The shifting medical economy: impact on workplace health, in partnership with Mercer Marsh Benefits, looks at what’s causing the shift in the medical economy, the exciting developments in medical advancements and what this could mean for employers and people risk. It will also assess how these developments contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) aims, and what more employers can do to reduce inequality.

Healthy life expectancy (HLE) – the number of years someone can expect to live a healthy life – has fallen in the UK and is now below state pension age, at 62.4 years for males, and 62.7 for females, according to the Office for National Statistics. This number will vary according to region, as health inequalities continue to blight the most deprived areas in the UK. The impact of lowered HLE will bring more claims and cost pressure to bear on insurance premiums within an ageing workforce.


Rising medical inflation may cause problems for employers, but it also represents an opportunity for reward and benefits professionals to step up and make a real difference to the lives of employees, ensuring they receive the medical care they need urgently, while preventing conditions from developing by encouraging healthier lifestyle choices.

The challenges may be great, but so too are the opportunities to create a healthier workforce, fit for the future.