Is it possible that healthcare costs will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022?
Yes, it is, according to a Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored health Plans 2021.
You can expect to see an increase of 4.7% for 2022. That’s what 1,502 employers predicted in the survey. And it’s on par with the average annual cost growth over recent years – minus the past two pandemic years.
While the pandemic isn’t over, many states don’t have mask requirements. Because of this, people are feeling more comfortable going out. That means they’re picking up where they left off in 2019/2020 on their health care needs.
Since people put off medical care because they were afraid to go to the doctors and medical facilities, employer healthcare costs dropped. Now, those medical conditions that were ignored for a year or two, have gotten worse. And, of course, they’re more expensive to treat.
The good news: Employers aren’t shifting this cost increase to their employees by raising deductibles or copays. In fact, the employees’ amount of total health plan premium costs won’t change from 2021 which was 22%. And 32% of large employers (20,000 employees or more) said they plan to decrease employees share in 2022.
Keeping healthcare costs down
Even if you don’t fit into this category of large employers, there are still ways to keep your firm’s healthcare costs down.
The pandemic got a lot of employees to try virtual care. And now they like it and want it to continue. In fact, another Mercer’s Health on Demand Survey found that the majority of 2,000 workers who tried telemedicine visits for the first time plan to keep using it.
Benefits pros can encourage employees to take advantage of virtual care. One way to do this, have employees who’ve had telemedicine visits write testimonials of why they liked them and how they benefited.
Also, making behavioral health care a priority is important because employees say they’re “highly” or “extremely” stressed. Addressing employee’s mental and emotional health via telemedicine is convenient and highly desired by staff. In fact, 76% of survey respondents said they were making behavioral health a top priority for the next three to five years.
If you no longer have a total in-office workforce, there are perks you can provide to help employees stay healthy and cut down on healthcare costs. For example, some employers (21%) plan to deliver healthy snacks to employees at home or a stipend for a gym membership, or well-being activities or services. This is in place of maybe an onsite gym or healthy snacks in the lunchroom.
Be creative with these little “extra” benefits. They’ll be highly valued by your workforce which will increase retention.