Managing healthcare benefit costs will be a top priority for 94% of employers over the next two years. Seventy-three percent say that the greatest challenge to their healthcare strategy is responding to increasing healthcare prices, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson (WTW). Employers are boosting efforts to make benefits more affordable. They’re also focusing on educating employees to better understand and access their benefits.
“Many employers find themselves in the middle of a perfect storm. Inflation and rising healthcare costs, ongoing emotional and physical wellbeing needs, and attraction and retention challenges caused by a tight labor market are driving employers to carefully evaluate their benefit programs and strategies,” said Lindsay Hunter, senior director, Health and Benefits, WTW.
Sixty-four percent plan to address employee healthcare affordability over the next two years. They are planning these approaches:
55% Improve health care quality and outcomes to lower overall costs
41% Add or enhance low-cost or no-cost coverage for certain benefits
32% Change employees’ out-of-pocket costs
21% Change health plan payroll contributions
Despite the rising costs, employer confidence in sponsoring healthcare benefits over the next 10 years is at its highest point in over 10 years (84% in 2022 versus 38% in 2011).
The Future of Virtual Care
Virtual care is positioned to become an enduring feature of employers’ healthcare strategies. By the end of 2023, 95% of employers are expected to offer virtual care for medical and behavioral health issues, and 61% expect to offer lower cost-sharing for virtual care. Fifty-five percent expect virtual care to help decrease costs in the long run, and 50% expect it to improve outcomes. Julie Stone, managing director, Health and Benefits, WTW said, “We expect more employers will embrace healthcare delivery innovations, such as virtual care for physical therapy and lactation counseling, to improve access and better manage their health costs.”
Employer interest in genomics benefits is increasing as testing options and treatments advance. For example, 9% offer genetic testing as a screening for early-stage cancer with another 5% planning to do so by 2023.
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