Top Group Employee Benefits Trends for 2019
Today’s workplace is rapidly changing. A tighter labor market and a younger workforce has prompted many employers to re-evaluate the group benefits programs they have available to their employees. In this type of job market, prospective employees appreciate a wider range of available benefits, and the ability to address personal issues that are important.
Medical insurance continues to be the most important group benefit for most employees. This is also among the costliest benefits for employers to provide. Employers are addressing the health needs of employees in more creative ways. According to a 2018 National Business Group on Health survey, the cost to provide group employee health insurance is expected to rise 5% in 2019 to nearly $15,000 per employee. Employers typically cover about 70% of these costs.
Frustrated by rising health care costs with little relief in sight, employers are becoming more proactive in identifying cost-efficient ways to pay for and deliver health care. For example, more than half of businesses surveyed (51%) identified the implementation of virtual health care solutions as one of their top initiatives for 2019.
In recent years, virtual care has expanded far beyond just nurse or physician consultations. It now includes services such as remote monitoring and other types of condition management, digital coaching, physical therapy, mental health services, and much more.
Other Group Employee Benefit Trends
There are several other group employee benefits that are likely to become more popular in the coming years. Here are four of them:
Workplace Wellness Programs
In recent years, a growing number of employers have become aware of the connection between employee wellness and health care costs. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of workplace wellness programs, and how they not only help reduce health costs, they also result in fewer absences, greater productivity while at work, and a healthier, happier workforce. Wellness programs have evolved over the years, and today, employers have the ability to customize their programs to the specific needs and desires of their workforce.
Voluntary Worksite Benefits
Employees increasingly want to be able to cover various life risks through benefits plans from work. These types of plans are commonly referred to as voluntary worksite benefits. Because these programs are “voluntary”, employees pay most if not all of the premium, giving employers a cost-effective way to make employees happy. Examples of voluntary worksite benefits include:
- Accident Insurance
- Critical Illness Insurance
- Cancer Insurance
- Hospital Indemnity Insurance
- Disability Insurance (Short-Term and Long-Term)
- Life Insurance
- Prepaid Legal
- ID Theft Insurance
Though employees pay the premiums for these plans, they can still benefit from lower group rates and the convenience of purchasing the plan through their employer.
Many Baby Boomers have already turned 65 and the rest are fast-approaching. However, a large percentage of them are still in the workforce. Some may need to work longer to adequately plan for retirement, while others just enjoy what they are doing. Most people are aware that Medicare only covers about 80% of doctor visits, hospital stays, and other health care costs. This is where a Medigap Insurance plan can help. Medigap is a Medicare supplement plan that covers most or all of what Medicare does not pay for. Employers with older workforces are looking more closely at offering this type of coverage.
Student Loan Assistance
On the other end of the spectrum, younger workers just out of college are highly stressed about how they are going to pay off their massive student loan debt. Currently, only about 4% of U.S. companies have a student loan repayment program. But with 44 million Americans owing a collective $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, this is a benefit we are likely to see more of in the coming years.
To cope with competitive labor markets and more personalized employee needs, employers are becoming more innovative in their group employee benefits offerings. Health insurance remains the core group employee benefit, and employers are putting a lot of effort into coming up with ways to provide this benefit more effectively and cost-efficiently. Along with changes to the way employers pay for and deliver health plans, we are likely to see more individualized group benefits as we head into 2019 and beyond.