Industry Trends: 2017 Benefits Trends in Review

Industry Trends: 2017 Benefits Trends in Review

Where did 2017 go? As we pause to embrace the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and appreciate our health, family, and friends, it is a nice time to also reflect on all that has transpired this past year.

A number of benefit topics shared the spotlight in 2017, but the overarching  themes revolved around Self-Funded/ Alternative Funding models, Data Analytics/Reporting, Online Enrollment/Modeling Tools, and High Deductible Health Plan offerings that promote engagement and consumerism, just to name a few.

Here are other influential trends that will continue to drive employers for cost savings and stability in 2018:

Overall Population Health—Employers continue to expand their well-being programs and wellness plans as a form of preventive care and a high cost claim avoidance. However, recent focus of forward thinking employers has been to support their employees in ‘overall’ health. Addressing non-medical health drivers that also help participants reduce stress (and future disease prevalence) by helping employees improve their emotional, spiritual, and financial well-being via support programs and tools.

Health Care Delivery Assistance—As discussed in previous articles, supplementing health plans with new, more convenient and technologically savvy options by way of telemedicine and other mobile applications have provided employees ways to handle less urgent medical needs without actually visiting a physician or facility, and reducing costs. Also, there has been a recent uptick and shift to outcomes-based or reference based pricing models, which is reducing provider reimbursements and hence managing and slowing health care spend.

Pharmacy Management—Specialty and Pharmacy Benefit Manager carve-outs have become popular options for those plan sponsors who are capable (based on size) of splitting that benefit  from their traditional health insurance carrier to more a more cost effect means. This also includes putting in place more restrictive formulary and precertification program protocols to achieve greater savings.

More Expansive Benefits—As the arms race continues for employers seeking top talent for their organizations, culture and competitive benefits package is certainly two of the most important elements cited as a reason for new employees joining and staying with their organization. Individual or customized benefits that are specific to the needs of individual employees have become an integral aspect of overall benefit offerings. New and variable benefits such as hospital indemnity, accident, student debt, ID theft and cyber security plans have all become new generational benefits that prospective (and current) employees see as valuable employee benefits.

For a look back at other industry trends over the past year, click here.