The coronavirus pandemic has compelled Americans to reassess virtually every aspect of their pre-pandemic lives, including employer-provided health care benefits.
According to new findings from clinic provider Marathon Health, 80% of employees and 70% of employers agree that health care coverage is the most important benefit offered by their company.
However, about a third of both employee (35%) and employer (31%) respondents also say it's the workplace benefit that needs the most change — especially in light of the current COVID-19 crisis.
Americans want improvements to health care benefits, particularly for patient out-of-pocket costs
With the need to change health care coverage accentuated by the pandemic, employers and employees alike have begun reassessing their health care benefit options (63% and 40%, respectively).
However, the biggest obstacle preventing much-needed change from happening is the exorbitant cost of health care in the US.
Not only does the state of patient out-of-pocket expenses need improvement (according to 50% of employees and 43% of employers), the majority of Americans agree that the country's health care costs are only going up.
This lines up with Marathon Health's findings that indicate:
- 69% of employees say out-of-pocket costs have increased over the past five years, but only 52% say that the quality of care has improved
- 77% of employers say out-of-pocket costs have increased over the past five years, but only 58% say that the quality of care has improved
Additional changes employers and employees want to see in their health care benefits offerings
Moving forward, employers and employees hope for more benefits offerings that allow patients to seek affordable preventative care for their health issues and concerns. In fact, the survey showed that:
- 79% of companies are interested in offering a dedicated, exclusive health care center for employees and their families
- 81% of employees would take advantage of a health care center of this kind
- 77% of employees want more preventative help determining health issues before they start
- 41% of employees want to be able to make telemedicine or virtual care appointments with their doctor
Marathon Health found that only 53% of employee respondents have gotten an annual physical within the past 12 months — a problem that affects both men and women, as evidenced by two separate surveys conducted by Aflac and MDVIP. But if more accessible preventative care options were available to respondents at this time, a greater number of respondents may have been able to see a care provider, even with the pandemic raging on.
Preventative care isn't the only aspect of health care benefits that needs revamping, either. The Marathon Health survey discovered that the current health crisis has affected employee mental health in a variety of ways. More specifically, the COVID-19 crisis directly caused an increase in the following mental health issues for employees:
- Stress (63%)
- Anxiety (53%)
- Depression (34%)
With these figures in mind, it then comes as little surprise that 50% of employers are interested in providing mental health services after the pandemic and 45% of employees want better access to these services in the future.
Methodology: Marathon Health polled over 1,100 full-time employees and 430 human resources decision-makers in the U.S. in June 2021. Employee survey data was balanced by age, gender and location according to the U.S. Census for an accurate representation of the country's working population.