The population of Guam "is quite sick" and getting sicker, according to Frank Campillo, the plan administrator at Calvo's SelectCare.
The diseases brought on by an aging population and the growth of sedentary lifestyles spent in front of computer screens are driving up the cost of health care, said Campillo.
That's forcing employers to adopt health plans with higher deductibles and higher premiums to help defray company costs.
Campillo spoke about health care cost trends in remarks to the Rotary Club of Guam on Thursday at the Outrigger Guam Beach Resort in Tumon.
During a PowerPoint presentation, he reviewed recent health care expenses incurred by Calvo's SelectCare, whose health plans cover 52% of Guam's commercial market.
Worrying health trends
The medical utilization data gleaned from SelectCare subscribers is a good representation of health trends on the island, he said, and those trends are not good.
"Our island, our population compared to other parts of America, is getting very sick," said Campillo. "Diabetes is going through the roof."
There has been a 120.3% increase in the number of people who have Type 2 diabetes. The insulin needed to control the disease is the No. 1 drug in demand by SelectCare members.
Health care premiums on Guam remain relatively low compared to those in the mainland, said Campillo.
The annual health care cost for a single person on Guam is about $3,180, compared to $6,690 in the states. Family coverage on Guam is $9,540. In the states it's averaging $19,616 annually, according to a 2018 Kaiser Health Care survey of employee-sponsored health care benefits.
A changing landscape
However, the health care landscape on Guam is changing, said Campillo.
Guam Memorial Hospital "increased their rates 5% per year" and "we have some increases going on at GRMC," he said.
Guam employers are choosing high-premium health insurance plans for their workers, Campillo said. As a result, Calvo's SelectCare has seen a drop in the number of employees enrolling in company-sponsored health plans, he said.
"My concern is that we're going to see a 'death spiral' in the future," said Campillo.
A 'death spiral' occurs when younger workers opt out of health care coverage as premiums rise. The older population that remains makes greater use of the medical coverage, the insurers' costs rise, forcing another premium increase, driving out more subscribers, and so it goes.
"I think it's going to be unsustainable," said Campillo. "If we increase premiums too much, it will be unaffordable."