- Health benefit costs are projected to rise by 3.9% per employee in 2020, according to a new survey from Mercer.
- Based on responses from 1,511 employers, cost-shifting to employees will be less of a factor than in some recent years, with only 43% of respondents planning to raise deductibles or cut benefits to keep costs down next year. Forty percent of respondents with 500 or more employees report that all or most of their benefit offerings are available to employees on a single, integrated digital platform this year.
- Additionally, employers continue to add targeted solutions for specific health issues, including insomnia, diabetes and infertility. Sixty-two percent of respondents with 500 or more employees are offering one or more targeted solutions in 2019, compared to only 55% in 2018.
Health and wellness programs are a consideration for many workers in selecting an employer, according to a recent OfficeTeam survey, and many workers would leave their current post for another job that offers better benefits overall.
This year's annual employee benefits survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that one-fifth of employers upped their health-related and wellness benefits in 2019. Of the 2,763 HR professionals surveyed, most view healthcare benefits as most important to workers.
Personalization and holistic well-being support are increasingly popular with employees. Personalized wellness programs, in conjunction with certain non-cash incentives like paid time off, would motivate 80% of employees to be more engaged, according to a Welltok report. But many employers are missing this opportunity, with 84% of employees in the Welltok survey offering "one-size-fits-all" programs. Perhaps because of this lack of personalization, over half (56%) of surveyed employees reported receiving irrelevant support.
Employers of all sizes are always looking out for new ways to improve health and wellness offerings while keeping costs down. Some big players are becoming activists to improve the U.S. healthcare system overall. They are experimenting with new delivery and payment models, including performance networks, accountable care organizations and centers of excellence.
For smaller employers, the top method for controlling healthcare costs is case management services that highlight possible barriers to employees receiving appropriate care; these were used by 71% of employers surveyed in recent research by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
Other popular strategies include telemedicine, 24-hour nurse hotlines, prior authorization requirements and claims utilization analysis that identifies employees' key health concerns. Telemedicine in particular is on the upswing, with 64% of surveyed employers offering it in 2018.