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As the Workforce Diversifies, Healthcare Choice Becomes Increasingly Important

Sara Karlovitch
A new study by Willis Towers Watson finds technology plays an increasingly important role in employee health benefits.
Choice is becoming increasingly important in employee health care benefits according to a new study by Willis Towers Watson.

Researchers found that 86% of employers surveyed are prioritize future efforts to enhance the experience of their health and wellbeing programs. The survey found that 31% of respondents said that offering and expanding healthcare choices was the most important healthcare priority for their company over the next 3 years. However, investigators also found that employers were not doing enough to address behavioral and mental health issues in the modern workforce.

The survey polled 535 employers with a minimum of 100 employees. In total, respondents employ 5.5 million employees, 4.4 million of which are full time. The majority of respondents worked in the manufacturing industry.

According to the responses, technology was increasingly shaping the benefits landscape. Only 31% of respondents reported providing their employees with digital platforms like mobile apps to help them make decisions. However, 61% said they wanted to increase digital capacity within the next 3 years.

“With the rise of e-commerce, Americans have become smart comparison shoppers,” Catherine O’Neill, senior director of health benefits design at Willis Towers Watson, said in a statement. “Technology-powered solutions, such as an online benefit shopping experience and smart decision support tools, empower employees to make intuitive healthcare choices year-round.”

The survey found that 75% of employers are hoping to provide employees with the tools needed to make smart benefit decisions. Currently, slightly more than half of employers provide employees with benefit decision tools. Often, the tools are provided year-round, but only during open enrollment. Only 44% of employers surveyed said they were confident in the benefit information they were providing their employees.

“With 5 distinct generations in today’s workforce, most companies have vastly different populations—from stage-of-life perspectives to health solutions,” said Kevin House, the national leader of client relationships and sales benefits delivery at Willis Towers Watson. “The challenge for employers is to offer both the options that address a diverse set of employee needs and the tools that make those choices easy to navigate and understand.”

 
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