Benefits

Employers Focused on Modernizing Health Benefits in 2017

Willis Towers Watson has noted trends aimed at employer-sponsored health and well-being benefits, including shifting from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mantra to providing options that tailor to employees’ individual needs, and increasing voluntary benefits for younger generations.

By Amanda Umpierrez editors@plansponsor.com | December 19, 2016
Driven by an increase in Millennials in the workforce and new technologies, Willis Towers Watson sees employers focusing on modernizing their health care and voluntary benefits in 2017.   

The firm notes five trends aimed at employer-sponsored health and well-being benefits, including shifting from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mantra to providing options that tailor to employees’ individual needs, and increasing voluntary benefits for younger generations.

Updated benefits for 2017 include extended coverage for autism spectrum disorders; transgender-inclusive medical; and short-term disability, said to cover treatments and procedures necessary for gender identity disorder.

Furthermore, voluntary benefits including identity theft protection, critical illness insurance, student loan repayment programs and pet insurance will be added to cater to Millennials’ needs. As Gen Xers face the emotional toil of caring for aging parents and dependent children, employers will be updating benefits for the age group as well, adding critical illness and hospital indemnity; accident or injury coverage; legal assistance; and financial counseling to the line of benefits.

Another trend for 2017 is the introduction of technologies and tools, including social media usage to select benefits and manage health; and tech-enabled lifestyle coaching and fitness wearables to track exercise and nutrition.

“Another factor driving employers’ efforts to modernize benefits is the availability of a broad range of innovative technologies and tools to help employees select benefits, and build and manage personalized benefit portfolios, which gives employees more control over their benefits and improves the overall experience,” says Frank Giampetro, managing director of group exchanges for Willis Towers Watson.

In addition to physical health, employers aim to expand the definition of wellbeing to include mental, emotional, social and financial health in 2017 and 2018, by adopting more holistic approaches in day-to-day work life and company culture, according to the report.

To deliver all personalized benefits to a large workforce, employers are considering applying private benefit exchanges to accelerate delivery, daily management and to afford an enhanced benefit experience, including greater flexibility and education.

More information regarding the report can be found here.

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