5 Shifts to Health Benefits You Can Expect for 2017
Workplace Wellness Health care changes are on the horizon, and they might help you feel less dread the next time you're twiddling your thumbs in a waiting room.
It’s that time of year again: when millions of U.S. workers will soon receive open enrollment packages from their employers and be asked to make important decisions about their health care benefits for 2017. And for the first time in many years, this fall’s open enrollment season will bring no major changes for many employees. While employees should experience a 5 percent increase in their health benefit premium contributions, most will only see minimal changes to their overall packages.
Rather than making wholesale changes to the design of their benefit plans, employers’ focus in 2017 has shifted to improving how health care is accessed and delivered. For employees, that translates into expanded telehealth services, more centers of excellence options and optional selective physician network choices that focus on providing employees with higher quality health care.
A recent survey of nearly 150 of the nation’s largest employers aimed to see exactly what changes they are making to their plans and what they intend to offer employees in 2017. Based on the survey results, here is what employees can expect when they open their packages:
1. Telehealth services on the rise
Nine in 10 employers will make telehealth services available to employees where permitted by law, a sharp increase from 70 percent this year. By 2020, virtually all large employer respondents will offer telemedicine services, which are usually less expensive than a traditional trip to the doctor’s office.
2. Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) increase slightly
Overall, 84 percent of employers will offer a CDHP option in 2017, up slightly this year, and more than a third of employers will only offer CDHP options to employees in 2017. Most CDHPs include a high-deductible health plan tied to a health savings account.
3. Spousal surcharges leveling off
One in 3 employers will have surcharges in place for spouses who can obtain coverage through their own employer, roughly the same as this year. A few employers will exclude spouses when other coverage is available through an employer.
4. Expanded options at centers of excellence grow
The use of centers of excellence will grow from 79 percent this year to 85 percent in 2017. The largest increases will be for bariatric surgery, transplants, cardiovascular and fertility treatments.
5. Tools to manage care
Eight in 10 employers will offer nurse coaching for care and condition management while 72 percent will offer nurse coaching for lifestyle management. Nearly two-thirds will provide employees with self-service decision-making tools to help them become better health care consumers.