- Comprehensive, affordable health care coverage is a priority for workers and job seekers, and in today’s tight market, employers are embracing a number of modern solutions, according to data recently released by Willis Towers Watson. Near or on-site health centers, high performance networks and accountable care organizations are just some of the solutions 45% of those surveyed said they intend to adopt in the next two years.
- WTW’s Health Care Access and Delivery Survey revealed concerns for businesses when it comes to providing high quality coverage, however. Just over half said they are concerned about inadequate access to mental health services and 47% are concerned about access to substance abuse treatment. More than 250 businesses were polled, employing more than 4 million workers.
- Employers are expanding their usage of high-performance networks (HPNs) and centers of excellence (COEs) in particular. By 2020, 80% of those surveyed plan to incorporate COEs while 65% intend to take on HPNs.
It’s a given that healthcare costs continue to rise. In the past, businesses had few options but to absorb the increases, but frustration has led many to take a more proactive role in cost containment.
As the competition for talent heats up, more employers are offering benefits to differentiate themselves from the crowd. But to truly stand out, employers are taking a second look at the value and outcomes of their health plans — and getting creative in the process. Nurse advice lines, prior authorization requirements and telemedicine have all emerged as favored solutions for employers trying to engage workers with benefits and save money in the process.
The survey also revealed an increased concern with mental health care and substance abuse; employers — and the U.S. Department of Labor — are beginning to recognize that behavioral health underpins many other health issues that can drain productivity. One report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans suggests that mental illness and substance abuse are at a two-year peak. The opioid crisis, in particular, is pushing employers to be proactive and help workers with rehabilitation.
The general culture of burnout can't be ignored, either. For many employees, workloads and personal pressures are leading to the highest levels of stress in years. An effective healthcare safety net can mean the difference between a burnt-out workforce and engaged workers ready to take on new challenges.