WCI, Inc
Feb. 1, 2021

Health Benefit Strategies for 2021

The majority of employers (71 percent) plan to provide education about the COVID-19 vaccines to their employees, and 56 percent plan to promote the vaccine, according to recent research from the Midwest Group on Health (MBGH). The survey was conducted in November and December 2020.

“Employers are putting their COVID-19 vaccine plans in place now and know that education is key, especially for those focused on getting and keeping their people at a physical worksite,” said Cheryl Larson, MBGH president and CEO. “The drop in preventive screenings and vaccinations over the last year because of the pandemic is of significant concern and we anticipate a sharp rise in cancers, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.”

The survey found the following:

  • Employer top health benefit priorities for 2021 include ensuring members are engaged in the programs offered and using benefits, along with COVID-19 related initiatives and chronic condition management.
  • Top payment reform strategies being used now or planned in 2021 consist of specialty drug management (89 percent), centers of excellence/episodes of care (75 percent), and steerage within networks (69 percent).
  • Top threats to the affordability of employer-sponsored health coverage consists of specialty drug costs (72 percent), high-cost claims (64 percent), and specific diseases and conditions (46 percent).
  • Anticipated cost increases in 2021, after plan design changes found that 41 percent anticipate less than a 5 percent increase, 26 percent expect a 5 percent to 10 percent increase, and 21 percent do not anticipate any increases.
  • When asked about mental/behavioral health services, 78 percent are currently offering expanded telemedicine services, and 31 percent currently or plan to offer next generation (digital) employee assistance programs.
  • Pharmacy benefit strategies currently offered include plan design steerage to the lowest cost drugs (83 percent), use of authorized generics (70 percent), improving or refining pharmacy benefit management contract terms (63 percent), placing biosimilars on formulary (63 percent), and removing low value drugs from formulary (54 percent).
  • With concerns about the drop off in preventive care, 83 percent are currently evaluating their health plan utilization rates for health screenings and vaccinations.
  • When asked what role employers will play in today’s health care, 18 percent rate themselves as a catalyst for change which is an increase of 50 percent from last year.

SOURCE: www.mbgh.org Healthinsurancenews; Surveynews

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