Employer Benefit Top Trends
By Stephanie Dwilson
A lot of things changed in the world of employer benefits in 2015. Employers became savvy about putting together great health care benefits that attract top talent while adhering to the Affordable Care Act’s requirements. Business leaders also reinforced the fact that prevention is a big part of the cure when it comes to improving health and decreasing costs. Here are some of the top trends that emerged in employer health benefits for 2015.
Managing the Costs of Health Care
According to an Emerging Trends in Health Care survey, managing costs was a top concern for employers in 2015. Health care rates are increasing and employers are concerned about facing fines for not offering insurance, not to mention they’re worried about the excise tax (dubbed the Cadillac tax) that’s looming in 2018. Because of this, employers are looking for ways to start saving on health care now. Some employers no longer cover spouses or are opting for plans with higher deductibles and lower premiums.
Increasing Employee Participation
By increasing employees’ participation in health care decision-making, employers can ultimately cut down on health care costs. Because of this, increasing engagement was a major trend in 2015. One aspect of this involves offering plans that give employees more freedom in choosing their health care and, thus, a greater feeling of ownership.
Some employers are turning to consumer-directed health plans, in which employees are allotted a certain amount of money to spend on health expenses each year. This can lead to employees paying more attention to where they spend the most money and considering whether certain treatments truly are necessary. Health savings accounts that roll over unspent money into the coming year also encourage employees to keep track of their health care dollars.
Adding Benefits to Improve Employee Health
Another big trend from 2015 is looking for ways to improve employee health overall. One of the best ways to cut down on health care costs is by adding employer benefits that reduce stress and help employees more easily deal with health issues. Some employers offer flex time and telecommuting opportunities to cut down on stress when work and life priorities clash. Others offer in-house vaccinations to help employees stay healthier, employee assistance programs that provide free, private counseling, and even stress-reduction options such as in-house yoga classes or chair massages.
The Advent of Wearable Health
A newer emerging trend for employers involves the advent of wearable technology. Examples include Google Glass, Apple Watch, smartphone apps and more. Wearable tech is becoming increasingly popular, and employers who jump on this trend will be ahead of the curve. Health apps that work with wearable technology can encourage employees to work out more often, monitor their stress levels and achieve a healthier overall lifestyle.
Although a lot of trends caught employers’ attention in 2015, their main concern involved managing ever-increasing health care costs. Employers learned that, by being proactive and helping employees improve their mental and physical health today, they could cut down significantly on costs in the future.
Stephanie Dwilson has extensive experience providing expertise on topics including health, law and marketing. She’s a science journalist published by Fox News, a marketing expert and an attorney with expertise in personal injury law. She’s also a small business expert featured by Businessweek and Millionaire Blueprints magazine and has worked as a marketing consultant for ministries and as a PR lead for one of the largest churches in America.