How will Mental Health be addressed

Managing costs and enhancing mental health will be top employer priorities through 2023 Employers are boosting efforts to make benefits more affordable and are elevating employee awareness. By Alan Goforth | April 27, 2022, at 02:06 PM

As the pandemic subsides, virtual care is positioned to become an essential and long-lasting feature of employers’ health care strategies. Managing health care costs will be the top priority for nearly all U.S. employers over the next two years, followed by enhancing mental health benefits. “Many employers find themselves in the middle of a perfect storm,” said Lindsay Hunter, senior director, health and benefits, for Willis Towers Watson. “Inflation and rising health care costs; ongoing emotional and physical well-being needs; and attraction and retention challenges caused by a tight labor market are driving employers to carefully evaluate their benefit programs and strategies. They are looking for ways to make health care more affordable for themselves and their employees.” Related: Affordability issues with employer-sponsored health plans create mental health issues WTW released its 2022 Emerging Trends in Healthcare Survey this week. With health cost increases showing signs of accelerating, employers are boosting efforts to make benefits more affordable and are elevating employee awareness of what benefits are offered and how best to access them. The pandemic and shift to remote work have contributed to a worsening of mental health among employees and their families. In response, two-thirds of employers surveyed said ensuring that their health and well-being programs support remote workers will be a key priority of their strategy over the next two years. More than six in 10 plan to enhance programs and well-being activities to focus on health issues of family members. When asked what their greatest challenges will be to effectively deliver on their health care strategy over the next two years, 73% cited increasing prices caused by rising inflation and provider consolidation. More than half identified a lack of employee awareness about where to find programs to support their needs as a key challenge. As the pandemic subsides, virtual care is positioned to become an essential and long-lasting feature of employers’ health care strategies. By the end of 2023, 95% of employers are expected to offer virtual care for medical and behavioral health issues, and 61% expect to offer lower cost-sharing for virtual care. More than half believe the expansion of virtual care will help decrease costs in the long run, and 50% believe it will improve outcomes. “The pandemic upended traditional health care and set us on a new path that includes virtual options, which proved to be highly effective during the pandemic,” said Julie Stone, managing director, health and benefits, for WTW. “We expect more employers will embrace health care delivery innovations, such as virtual care for physical therapy and lactation counseling, to improve access and better manage their health costs.” Read more:

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