BGH Survey Identifies Top Healthcare Trends for Large Employers in 2021

The 2021 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design survey by Business Group on Health revealed healthcare strategies for the upcoming year have been heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Results revealed employers are looking to provide convenient ways for their employees to access care while keeping themselves healthy during uncertain and challenging times. Below are four trends emerging as a result of the pandemic that employers plan to focus on in the coming year.

Healthcare as a Workforce Strategy

The pandemic is fueling uncertainty around healthcare cost increases employers will face heading into 2021. The survey predicts the overall cost of health benefits for employers will rise 5.3 percent next year, which means the total cost per employee will jump to an average of $15,500 with employers covering around 70 percent of the cost. This increase has led more employers – 45 percent in 2020 compared to 36 percent in 2019 – to view investments in health and wellbeing as an integral part of their workforce strategy to help reduce costs long term.

Virtual Care

When onsite health centers closed their doors to in-person care at the height on the pandemic, employees turned to virtual options to get the care they needed. Telehealth providers and virtual solutions were successful in filling the gap in employee healthcare, and virtual care is here to stay. According to the survey, employers have supported the growth of virtual care for the past two years, but the pandemic led to a surge in demand for virtual services across a wide array of conditions. Results revealed 53 percent of employers now plan to implement more virtual care solutions in 2021, and 80 percent believe it will have a significant impact on how care is delivered in the future.

Mental and Emotional Health

More employers have placed an emphasis on mental and emotional wellbeing over the last several years, adding dedicated programs and services for their employees. The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified the need to address employee emotional wellbeing. The survey found large employers will continue providing mental health support for their employees, with 88 percent planning to offer online emotional health resources, 65 percent training managers to recognize mental health issues, and 50 percent implementing anti-stigma campaigns in the workplace.

Onsite Primary Care

Onsite healthcare services and advanced primary care offerings will continue to be part of employers’ benefits strategies in 2021. In fact, 51 percent of large employers will offer at least one advanced primary care strategy in 2021, up from 46 percent last year, focusing on prevention, chronic disease management, mental health, and comprehensive care.

Onsite health centers and the services provided continue to deliver value to employees throughout the pandemic, despite the increase of employees working from home. By 2021, 61 percent of surveyed employers would have onsite health offerings and that number jumps to 72 percent by 2023.

For more insights and findings, read the full BGH report here.