Dealing with rising costsIn light of continuing rising health insurance costs, 94% of employers surveyed said they are redoubling their efforts to make benefits more affordable for their workers. Nearly two-thirds of employers (64%) said they will take steps to address employee health care affordability over the next two years. Steps they are considering include:
- Improving quality and outcomes to lower overall cost.
- Adding or enhancing low- or no-cost coverage for certain benefits.
- Making changes to their employees’ out-of-pocket costs.
- Increasing the amount they contribute towards their employees’ health insurance premium.
Mental healthEighty-seven percent of employers said that enhancing mental health benefits will be a priority for them. That’s in response to numerous studies and reports indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a mental health crisis. Another poll — the “Workforce Attitudes Toward Mental Health” report — by Headspace Health illustrates the depths of the problem:
- 83% of CEOs and 70% of employees report missing at least one day of work because of stress, burnout and mental health challenges.
- Only 28% of employees report feeling “very engaged” in their work.
- Top global stressors for employees are COVID-19; burnout because of increased workload or lack of staff; poor work-life balance; and poor management and leadership.
- 40% of women and 33% of men surveyed said they feel burned out at work.
- Remote workers are feeling increasingly isolated.
Virtual careUse of virtual care — or telemedicine — has exploded during the pandemic, particularly in 2020 and 2021, when many people were afraid to go to the doctor in person for fear of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, many health care providers pushed virtual care to avoid having too many people come to medical facilities that were burdened by an avalanche of patients. Congress passed laws allowing health insurers to cover telemedicine as they would other visits to a doctor. And now telemedicine is poised to be a permanent fixture of employers’ health care strategies. Willis Towers Watson found that by the end of 2023:
- 95% of employers expect to offer virtual care for medical and behavioral health issues,
- 61% of employers expect to offer lower cost-sharing for virtual care,
- 53% of employers expect the expansion of telemedicine to help decrease costs in the long run, and
- 50% believe virtual care will improve health outcomes for their employees.