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Employee Wellbeing

The 5 Health Care Predictions We See Coming in 2019

Brian Marcotte

President and CEO, National Business Group on Health

Dynamic changes are expected to ripple through the health care marketplace this year, which could lead to better value in the health benefits workers receive from their employers.

With costs continuing to rise, employers are actively engaging in the transformation of health care delivery transformation, helping employees better understand and use their benefits, and positioning their plans to capitalize on further disruptions in the marketplace. Here are five trends we expect in 2019:

1. Employers play the activist role

 The pace of meaningful and sustained change in delivering better value for the health care dollars U.S. employers spend is slower than needed. More employers are driving transformation in health care delivery by directly contracting with health systems and physician groups, partnering with their health plans or working with other third parties to promote value-based care.

2. Needs of today’s “on-demand consumer” are met

Employers are rethinking consumerism. Today’s consumer places a premium on simplicity, convenience, and personalization. For most people, health care is far too complicated. Navigators, concierge services and employee advocacy services are expanding to help consumers take some of the complexity out of accessing care, and to better anticipate and address their unique needs. These services place a premium on a personal approach to assisting employees with health care decisions and resolving issues.

3. A tipping point on prescription drugs approaches

The push for more straightforward, simple, and streamlined supply-chain pricing and contracting models is reaching a tipping point. 2019 may well be the year the paradigm shifts. Most employers will welcome an alternative to the rebate-driven approach to managing drug costs.

4. Mental health moves to the forefront

From stress and anxiety to addiction, depression and serious mental illness, the full continuum of mind health is front and center. To counter the shortage of behavioral health professionals, employers are addressing the access challenge through onsite and virtual counseling, network expansion – where feasible – and the integration of EAP and mental health benefits.

5. Disruption becomes the “new normal”

Today’s health care players are not the same as yesterday’s, and we do not fully know who tomorrow’s leaders will be. Incumbents are evolving while new entrants will continue to make a splash and shake up the existing players. Technology, too, will disrupt and transform health care. Artificial intelligence, wearables, voice recognition, genomics, blockchain, bioprinting and other advancements will play a larger role in disrupting health care delivery and access.

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