2024 is underway, and high costs, persistent inflation, and an election year have some people feeling uneasy about health and wellness this year. What 2024 healthcare and benefits trends should TPAs watch, and how can they help employers meet changing needs and demands?
2024 Healthcare Trends
Business Group on Health’s 2024 Large Employer Health Care Strategy Survey shares six healthcare topics trending for 2024:
- Rising healthcare costs – Healthcare costs always rise, but this year’s increase is higher due in part to inflation and growing chronic condition management.
- Mental health services – Most employers will focus on mental healthcare in 2024 as these issues affect millions of Americans.
- Drug price transparency – Drug prices are becoming more transparent and straightforward to understand, but there’s more work to do.
- Preventive care – Preventive care helps keep patients healthy and often leads to earlier diagnoses. That can help reduce the need for more significant and costly treatments later.
- What effect will the outcome of the U.S. presidential election have on healthcare policies?
2024 Benefits Trends
Now, let’s look at the benefits that are trending for 2024. According to Human Resource Executive, here are some areas of particular interest to watch:
- Mental health benefits
- Financial wellness benefits
- Caregiving benefits
- Personalized benefits
With HR administrators focused on these areas (and others) for 2024 and many types of tax-advantaged and post-tax benefit accounts to meet these needs, it’s a great time to be a benefits TPA. Here are some examples.
People struggling with mental health issues may turn to their health plans’ Employee Assistance Program. However, TPAs can help employers sponsor some options to provide more significant assistance. For example, Lifestyle Spending Accounts can pay for almost anything that’s not a 213(d) medical expense. In the case of mental and emotional health support, an LSA could pay for sleep and meditation apps or even in-person classes like meditation or yoga. And, of course, Flexible Spending (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and many Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) plans can be used for psychological and psychiatric services and prescribed medications.
The pandemic financially hurt many people, causing stress that continues to affect their health and productivity. Employers may want to consider offering financial wellness benefits, such as an Emergency Savings Account (ESA), to help employees rebuild depleted savings. Another option is a Student Loan Assistance Program (SLAP) or Student Loan Reimbursement Account (SLRA) to alleviate the stress of this often crushing debt. Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSA) can help employees with personal expenses like rent/mortgage, utilities, phone/internet, and food delivery services.
The aging American population means many employees care for aging parents or possibly children and aging parents at the same time. They could be spending 20% (or more) of their income on a caregiver in their home or at an external care facility while they work. A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) can come into play here. DCFSA funds can be used for any tax dependent, regardless of age or relationship. While the employee is responsible for funding the DCFSA, the account generates significant tax savings, freeing up funds for other obligations.
A diverse workforce demands a wide range of benefits. The youngest and oldest employees have very different needs and wants, so offering only one benefit option may exclude employees in both groups. Personalized benefits such as LSAs and voluntary benefits may efficiently address wide-ranging needs. Voluntary benefits range from additional insurance for certain diseases (cancer, for example) to pet insurance and legal assistance plans, with the employee paying the premium costs. Employers fund LSAs, which cover non-healthcare expenses; still relatively new to the market, about 13% of employers currently offer LSAs although an estimated 70% are considering adding them to their benefits package.
It’s Not Too Late for 2024
While EAPs and DCFSAs have enrollment date restrictions, some healthcare and benefits trends are still available for enrollment in 2024, including HSA accounts and LSAs. Check out our website for more information on these and more Growth Solutions.
DataPath has been a full-service TPA solutions provider for nearly four decades. The company’s cloud-based Summit platform is the industry’s first all-in-one solution for CDH, HSA, Well-Being, COBRA, and Billing administration. Please enter your email (above right) to be notified when new blog articles are published.