- Despite rising costs, employers are trying to balance finding savings with talents’ needs, Oct. 19 survey results from WTW, a global insurance broker and advisory firm, revealed. Sixty-nine percent of companies said they’re focused on managing healthcare plan costs, while 63% said they want to enhance mental health and wellbeing offerings, according to WTW’s 2023 Best Practices in Healthcare Survey.
- To improve mental health services, employers are offering virtual care visits, working with employee resource groups to address population-specific mental health issues, providing mental health days, assessing the diversity of their mental health networks and performing mental health parity audits, per the report.
- “Aligning business priorities, from workforce transformation to healthcare costs to employee wellbeing, requires a constant evolution of benefit programs, culture and employee experience,” Regina Ihrke, senior director of health and benefits for WTW, said in a statement. “By doing so, companies can alleviate strains on attracting and retaining talent, enhance worker health and productivity, and gain competitive advantage.”
The WTW report said healthcare costs are expected to rise 6.4% in 2024, on top of an average increase this year of 6%.
To control costs, employers are looking for new vendors, putting health plans out to bid, restricting or eliminating out-of-network coverage for non-emergency care, focusing on prescription drug costs and offering virtual primary care, among other actions, per the report.
Balancing cost containment and meeting employees’ needs “is not a simple challenge for employers to navigate,” Courtney Stubblefield, managing director of health and benefits at WTW, said in the statement.
“As companies face steep healthcare cost increases, they are not losing sight of the importance of addressing employees’ needs,” Stubblefield said. “Each employer needs to find the unique portfolio of programs and solutions that will best control its costs while meeting the healthcare and specific needs of its organization.”
The average annual premiums for employer-sponsored and family health insurance plans increased 7% this year, and workers covered on average 17% of the premium for single coverage and 29% of the premium for family coverage, according to a recent survey conducted by KFF.