Although it’s important to be aware of healthcare trends all year long, the 2020 Open Enrollment Period is rapidly approaching so brokers should pay careful attention to upcoming trends. That way, you can help your clients better address the needs of their employees through either their own healthcare plans or finding the best match in the marketplace.
This is extremely important in a time where consumers are more cautious than ever before about choosing healthcare. With the rate of healthcare cost rising more than twice the average inflation rate (8.4% vs. 3.1% respectively), employers and consumers are more careful than ever before when offering and selecting coverage options.
Here are the current top healthcare trends to watch as Open Enrollment rapidly approaches, and clients begin to have questions about healthcare options.
Telemedicine use is on the rise. The Society for Human Resource Management found that over half of employers planned to make virtual care options a priority for this year. This is proving to be a very popular option for a workforce that operates largely from their phones and computers. Some providers have apps that let users send text message-like chats to medical professionals who can write them prescriptions or refer them to the appropriate method of care, while others have services for video-chatting with a doctor instead of having their appointments in an office.
Consumer-driven Health Plans (CDHPs) are becoming more popular. CDHPs pair high-deductible plans with accounts like HSAs, which employees can then use to pay the out of pocket expenses. These help employers keep rates at a manageable level while providing employees with a triple tax advantage. Be sure to educate employers on the multiple benefits of HSAs, so they can get their employees to fully understand them as well. HSAs and CDHPs have been underutilized in the past but are beginning to gain popularity.
Value-based care may replace the fee-for-service model. Since healthcare costs have risen so much over recent years, employers are looking for cost-effective solutions for getting care for their employees. Value-based care is centered on the idea that providers should be paid based on the quality and efficiency of their care, which can make it a more cost-effective option for consumers.
While this trend is primarily happening with Medicare and Medicaid, private insurers are starting to follow suit. According to the research report Finding the Value: The State of Value-Based Reimbursement in 2018, almost two-thirds of healthcare payments are now value-based.
General trends to watch. All these specific trends come back to two general trends to be aware of: technology as a driving force and increasing transparency in healthcare. With costs rising, consumers want simpler, more efficient ways to get healthcare—and want to know that their money is going towards quality care. These two beliefs are changing the way healthcare is offered and accepted, so it’s important to keep in mind when making any kind of suggestions to clients.