New report: Employee Health Benefit Trends in 2018

Anna Suslova

[Ed. Note: The following is an excerpt from our new ebook. To read the rest, click here.]

2017 was a big year in employee health benefits. The Affordable Care Act seemed destined to disappear, until it didn’t. Meanwhile, health plans made plans to merge with pharmacies. And health care costs continued their seemingly endless rise. 

Yet despite the monumental moments of the past year, 2018 is poised to be even more important. That’s why we wanted to press pause and examine exactly what’s happened in this rapidly shifting space over the last year and what’s poised to happen in the next through a comprehensive survey on employee health benefit trends.

To examine where we are and where we’re going, we asked over 100 human resources professionals to weigh in on their challenges, goals and expectations for the coming year. Their answers were surprising on a few fronts, for example:

  • Respondents report that while health care costs were their biggest challenge in 2017, employee engagement is their number one priority going into 2018;
  • Respondents reported that the one thing they wished their health plan knew was how to better integrate different vendors and program components; and
  • Disease management programs, nearly 20 years after they entered the benefit space, will rise over 45 percent in the coming year.

There were also more predictable results, including an increased focus on programs that seek to help employees with hypertension, weight and diet, in line with the preventative trends seen at the national level.    

This ebook summarizes both the responses we received as well as the impact on the employee benefit landscape in 2018. And while respondents insist their plans for next year are firmly in place, 2017 demonstrated that anything is possible.

Download the rest of the ebook: Employee health benefit trends in 2018

Challenging costs

Stat: When asked what their biggest health benefit challenges were in 2017, 63 percent of HR professionals indicated that rising health care costs was their main challenge, followed by employee acquisition and retention (38 percent) and turnover (35 percent). 

Why it’s important: The continuing rise of health care costs prompts employers to reevaluate their roles as subsidizers and providers of their employees’ healthcare benefits. In order to manage health coverage costs, employers and HR professionals will work together to seek solutions and approaches that will balance the company’s cost objectives.  

What to do about it: More than ever, managing medical costs remains to be the biggest challenge for employers. Although healthcare in the US has always been expensive, employers expect medical cost to rise by an additional 0.9 percent in 2018. Apart from expanding their program offerings, health plans should also focus on cost as the frame of reference to determine how to pitch different programs to employers.

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