Mercer: Paid leave, HSAs and AI technology to top 2019 benefits trends
- Stop-loss insurance and paid caregiver leave are among the top healthcare trends for 2019, a post from Mercer revealed. To mitigate the rise and severity of catastrophic claims, Mercer sees more employers buying stop-loss insurance and further scrutinizing charges and payments within claims.
- Among other trends, employers will consider adding paid caregiver leave to their benefit offerings, and assess how their leave strategies impact productivity and compliance, as more states and municipalities pass paid leave laws. More companies could offer account-based health plans, such as health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). And employers will want to provide benefits that are a valuable investment to meet the needs of various segments of workers, such as seniors or low-wage earners.
- As consumers seek out a more tailored healthcare experience, employers will personalize their offerings using artificial intelligence (AI) and other technology. Mercer also expects organizations to outsource more functions, including HR and health and wellness programs.
Many of the healthcare trends Mercer cited are in line with other studies' findings. For instance, a Benefitfocus report released in April found that employee participation in HSAs grew from 50% in 2017 to 81% in 2018, signaling that employees are buying into the concept as a way to manage healthcare costs.
Additionally, the special emotional and financial needs of caregivers are being recognized as severe threats to their wellbeing. Many caregivers struggle with burnout and financial issues, which can negatively impact their health and productivity. By one study's account, caregivers spend $190 billion a year to care for their loved ones. Paid family leave and healthcare accounts can offer caregivers both time and money to help with their responsibilities.
The push for that recognition is part of a broader personalization trend that has changed HR more broadly, from recruiting and training to voluntary benefits and healthcare coverage. Technology, specifically AI, is making it more possible. Employees want personalization, according to various studies, and employers see value in offering it — and it will likely continue to be a major aspect of benefits planning going into 2019 as the technology improves.