Open enrollment for 2020 is sure going to be interesting. What was pretty routine in past years could become a much bigger undertaking for both employers and employees. Overshadowing everything will be an ongoing coronavirus crisis that has many people rethinking their health insurance benefits.
Recent data from a UnitedHealthcare survey indicated that what people want from their health insurance is changing. According to the survey, some 44% of U.S. workers admit that coronavirus concerns have either influenced or will influence, the choices they make in open enrollment.
Four things employees want from their health insurance 2021 stick out:
- Lower out-of-pocket costs
- Well-being programs and resources
- Comprehensive benefits
- National, rather than regional, plans.
Looking at each one in more detail provides a better understanding of what employees really want. Insurance brokers, general agencies, and health insurance carriers would do well to pay attention to the data.
1. Lower Out-Of-Pocket Costs
Some 16% of survey respondents said they will be looking for a plan with lower out-of-pocket costs. Translate that to mean lower deductibles and fewer uncovered procedures. In other words, they want more for their money.
If you live in fear that you or a family member will contract coronavirus that leads to COVID-19, you are probably also worried that not all of the treatments will be covered. What you do not want is added expenses due to insufficient health insurance coverage.
2. Well-Being Programs and Resources
Employers and benefits providers have been offering a cornucopia of wellness benefits for the better part of two decades. However, such benefits have not been clearly defined on a national scale. Thus, employers have not necessarily had a standard to work with. That may change now that employees want access to more well-being programs and resources.
A big part of well-being is mental health. If you follow these sorts of things, expect mental health benefits to be a big item for 2021.
3. Comprehensive Benefits
Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis has revealed some of the systemic weaknesses of our health insurance system. People are suddenly finding out that their healthcare programs are not as generous as they thought. The end result is a growing demand for more comprehensive benefits.
To be as blunt as possible, consumers are getting tired of receiving healthcare services, paying their co-pays, and then facing bills for costs not covered by their health insurance. They are getting tired of being given one price for a procedure only to be charged more. They want comprehensive health care benefits that cover all of their needs, regardless of what those needs might be.
4. National Health Plans
This final item is fraught with political implications this post will not get into. According to survey data, more employees are hoping to find a national health plan rather than one that is regional. There could be a number of reasons for this, ranging from lower costs to wider networks.
As a general agency, BenefitMall works with a handful of carriers that offer such plans. But by and large, differences in-state insurance laws prevent all but the largest and strongest carriers from operating nationwide. Smaller carriers focus on regional plans because these are easier to maintain in a complicated regulatory environment.
It is safe to say that coronavirus now affects everything in some way. Insurance carriers may not have anticipated the impact it would have on employee benefits, but there is no confusion on the issue now. Employees want better benefits in a world that seems increasingly scarier. Will carriers respond? We will have to wait and see.