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Findings from the 2021 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, conducted by Business Group on Health, reveal employer approaches to health care and benefits in the midst of COVID-19, and ways employers are addressing COVID-19 through their benefit plans, programs, and overall workforce strategies. These insights are valuable to companies of all sizes, including smaller employers, who compete with larger organizations for talent.
Health and Well-Being’s Role in Workforce Strategy
Employers see investments in health and well-being as an integral part of workforce strategy, increasing from 36% in 2019 to 45% in 2020. This is in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting employee health and well-being and overall business performance.
Virtual Care Ubiquity
Virtual care is here to stay. COVID-19 caused the pace of virtual care implementation to accelerate at an exponential rate with a surge in demand across a range of conditions.
Health Care Costs Are a Moving Target
COVID-19 has triggered delays in preventive and elective care, which could mean that the projected healthcare trend for 2020 (50%) may turn out to be too high. If care resumes in 2021, the projected trend (5.3%) may prove to be too low.
Mental Health Stays in The Spotlight
Employers have doubled down on mental health and emotional well-being. A benefit of this development has been less stigma with, and more acceptance of, mental health issues.
Delivery Reform Efforts Overshadowed Yet Underscored by COVID-19
Many employers continue to pursue efforts to improve outcomes, quality, cost, and the overall health care experience via delivery system reforms, including ACOs, COEs, HPNs, and advanced primary care arrangements. However, the rate of implementation has been impacted and overshadowed due to the prioritization of critical emerging issues due to the pandemic. That said, the pandemic has underscored and magnified foundational flaws with the status quo. Employers will likely resume reform efforts post-pandemic.
High-Cost Drugs Top Pharmacy Concerns
Employers remain focused on cost management strategies for specialty medicines but have been increasingly turning their attention to controlling trends for newer, especially high-cost therapies. For these therapies, in particular, 80% of employers are concerned that strategies to finance high-priced therapies do little to control overall drug prices.
Despite The Pandemic, On-Site Services Will Grow and Play a Critical Role in 2021
On-site services, including clinics and mental health counselors, have proven to be flexible enough to adapt to the current landscape and provide COVID-19 testing and virtual counseling. For most employers, on-site services will continue to be a part of their approach to health care.
To learn more, download the 2021 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey.
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