- Almost half of U.S. workers plan to enroll in a high-deductible health plan for the 2020 benefit season, according to an online poll of 1,512 working adults conducted in August by employee benefits provider Unum. The top reasons for using health insurance were unexpected illness or diagnosis or an unexpected accident or injury.
- Less than half (41%) reported that they don't plan on meeting their deductible in 2019. While more than one-third said it's difficult to pay for out-of-pocket costs not covered by health insurance, millennials (55%) and Gen Zers (49%) were especially hard hit by lack of cash for out-of-pocket costs.
- Moreover, 61% percent respondents working full time said they have used their health insurance for medical treatment other than preventive screenings.
Both employers and employees are worried about the cost of benefits. Employers could see a 5% cost increase this coming year, according to trends identified in a recent survey by the National Business Group on Health. A survey from Mercer published in September also projected a rise in health benefit costs, estimating an increase of 3.9% per employee in 2020. Cost shifting to employees is expected to be less of a factor than in recent years as less than half (43%) of the Mercer poll participants said they plan to raise deductibles or cut benefits to keep costs down in 2020.
Employers are looking at innovative ways to improve health and wellness offerings while keeping costs down. Some big players are becoming activists, hoping to improve the broader U.S. healthcare system. They're 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.
Recent trends in employee benefit offerings include advanced virtual care options, expansion into virtual mental health services and virtual weight management programs as well as access to mental health services and telehealth options. Other popular strategies include prior authorization requirements and claims utilization analyses that identifies employees' key health concerns.
Personalization and holistic well-being support are 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 it's a missed opportunity as more than half of employees (56%) say they receive irrelevant support.
Health and wellness programs can be a significant factor in attracting and retaining talent, according to a recent OfficeTeam survey, and many workers say they'd leave their current post for another job that offered better benefits overall.