Employer-sponsored healthcare plans are anything but static. They evolve over time – some more quickly than others. This leaves us and our brokers constantly having to look ahead to what might be coming down the pike. We are seeing some things in 2020 that give us a good idea of where we might be headed in 2021 and beyond.
1. More Personalized Benefits
There was an emerging trend toward more personalized benefits packages at the start of the year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect to see a growing interest in personalized benefits packages that make for easier recruitment and better retention, especially as people start returning to work.
A personalized benefits package does not force every employee to accept the same thing for health, life, dental etc. Personalization makes all of those choices flexible to some degree. It also offers the opportunity to add a range of elective benefits as well. We expect to see more elective benefits as time goes by.
2. A Shift in Cost Bearing
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employees have shouldered more than 70% of the total health insurance cost increases over the last few years. We agree with their analysis that the situation has finally reached a breaking point. Employees simply cannot afford to pay any more for their benefits. Thus, we see a shift in cost bearing responsibilities.
With that said, employers cannot necessarily afford to pay more, either. So where will it lead? We see a greater emphasis on less expensive health plans from carriers willing to think outside-the-box and explore creative ways to cover employees without higher premiums.
3. In an Increase in Social Benefits
Student loan repayment benefits were expected to be big in 2020. Again, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on that for now. Yet we still see the idea gaining steam through the end of the year and into next. We also see a more broad appeal of social benefits.
What are social benefits? They are things like student loan repayment programs, commuter benefits, child and elder care benefits, paid family leave, and the like. They are benefits that match up with what younger employees view as part of their employer's social responsibilities.
4. A Greater Emphasis on Mental Health
Like most of the other changes discussed in this post, we were already talking about a greater emphasis on mental health at the start of the year. The mental health aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic have only forced that discussion to the forefront. We expect to see more companies – both large and small – looking for ways to use their benefits programs to promote mental health.
On top of that, we expect HR departments to actively engage with employees to ensure they get the help they need to maintain good mental health. This could take many forms, ranging from in-house counseling to creating partnerships with wellness organizations.
5. A Greater Emphasis on Technology
From the broker's perspective, we see a greater emphasis on technology moving forward. Here at BenefitMall, we are leading the way with our new Agency Workspace platform. This all-digital platform will revolutionize the relationship between broker and client.
So much has changed since the start of the year thanks to COVID-19. Technology has been largely responsible for keeping the economy afloat despite the loss of tens of millions of jobs. And now that we have gone all-in on technology, it will be impossible to go back. As such, we see brokers embracing the new technologies that will help them better serve their clients.