Gallagher’s 2020 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey revealed that 86% of employers did not reduce their health plan benefits this year, and 79% expect to offer the same coverage in 2021.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than eight in 10 employers (83%) say they have more strongly emphasized the role of specific benefits, including emotional well-being benefits (65%), leave policies (47%), medical benefits (39%) and physical well-being benefits (36%).
Employers’ top concerns about health care costs are the high costs of medical services (67%) and specialty drugs (41%). Gallagher says that these challenges—along with COVID-19-related concerns about increased operating costs and lower revenues—may force many organizations to adjust their 2021 benefits and compensation offerings. Employers may raise employees’ premiums and/or turn to high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), according to Gallagher.
Employers also said they might re-evaluate less common health care tactics in an effort to reduce unnecessary costs, including audits of plan eligibility (18%) and claims (15%), and those that deliver greater value, such as narrow provider networks (14%), designated centers of excellence (10%) and integrated health and disability management programs (9%).
Even before the onset of the pandemic, telemedicine was rated the top health care cost-control tactic this year, with 59% of employers providing employees with the ability to connect with health care providers virtually. COVID-19 has accelerated telemedicine adoption rates, providing employees with a socially distanced care option that is on-demand and less costly than standard office visits or trips to emergency rooms and urgent care facilities.
Gallagher says unlimited paid time off (PTO) can be a creative way to support organizational well-being by cutting costs and motivating employees, particularly those who work from home and may be struggling to strike the right work-life balance. Unlimited PTO eliminates employers’ need to cash out any balance remaining within the PTO period or upon retirement.To compensate for benefits that are being removed, 45% of employers said they enhanced voluntary benefit offerings this year, such as critical illness insurance (58%) and hospital indemnity insurance (42%).
The survey report can be found at www.ajg.com/US-Benchmarking-Report-2020.
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