The past two-plus years have vastly changed the world of healthcare and employee benefits. We’ve had to adopt — and adapt to — new technologies and ways of operating.
Specifically related to healthcare, one of the biggest changes has been around education and steerage. Businesses have deployed apps, telehealth services, concierge-type offerings and other solutions to educate employees on their healthcare decisions, steering them to the providers with the best outcomes.
This approach helps lower employees’ out of pocket costs, as well as limits overall employer spend on cost of claims — which leads to lower total healthcare costs for everyone year over year.
A Data-Driven World
It’s still early, but use of artificial intelligence is also spreading, particularly in administrative and claims systems.
Many tools, including predictive analytics software and data aggregation solutions, are used more today to improve underwriting and other processes. We live in a data-driven world, and these tools will continue to play a role in healthcare’s evolution.
Well-Being beyond the Physical
Another major shift in healthcare and employee benefits is the emphasis on workers’ well-being rather than simply physical health. The pandemic brought to the fore how people’s physical, mental, financial, social and career wellness all intertwine.
Able to work remotely and develop more balanced routines between work and life, employees have reevaluated their priorities and refuse to go back to the way it once was. As a result, we see businesses embrace and emphasize the benefits of holistic well-being, introducing benefits and programs focused on helping employees with financial challenges, mental health issues and career advancement.
Whereas old-school concepts of wellness were the function of HR and an off-shoot of an organization’s healthcare plan, CEOs now are preaching greater well-being from the C-suite to not only retain existing employees but also recruit the best talent.
Between ongoing labor issues and the Great Resignation, workers are making it clear what they want.
Never Going Back to the Way It Was
When it comes to the current state of healthcare and benefits, the relationship between employees and employers will never return to what we knew prior to the pandemic. Business owners who think they can wait out all these changes will be disappointed.
Companies can’t continue to do the same thing they’ve done in relation to healthcare the past 20-25 years and expect different results. Business leaders can’t simply chase premiums and carriers year to year. They must recognize what’s going on and find creative, innovative solutions.
Businesses, insurance brokers and carriers must work together to better educate employees to make them better healthcare consumers.
Taking a Strategic Approach
Yet, every business is different. When approaching well-being, either for the first time or attempting to enhance existing benefits, companies must take a strategic approach. Whatever they implement must align with organizational values, goals and outcomes. How a business chooses to define well-being will determine the shape and scope of any program.
More than two years since the beginning of the pandemic, organizations find themselves in a brand-new healthcare and benefits world — one that requires sudden and rapid adoption of technology and ways of doing business. If business leaders don’t continue to evolve in the arena of employee benefits delivery, they may become dinosaurs in their industries and slowly diminish.
Companies must look at employees and employee benefits differently to ensure they not only retain their best people but also attract top talent out in the marketplace.
With more than 20 years of experience in diverse corporate and agency environments, Will Spong serves as executive vice president of employee health & benefits at Lovitt & Touché.