TANGO Partners Perspective – November 2020
Employers’ Focus on Health Benefits Shifts
Managing Principal, The Schuster Group
President & Founder TANGO (The Alliance for Nonprofit Growth and Opportunity, Inc.)
2020 certainly has been a year that we will all remember. Covid-19, and the economic turmoil it created, has left an indelible mark on our lives, the businesses we represent, and the nonprofit sector at large.
Community organizations, small businesses, and the healthcare industry have been hit particularly hard by the impacts of this pandemic, and their workforces are on the front lines of this battle every day. These unprecedented times have forced employers to look at their employee benefits offerings through a different lens this Open Enrollment period. The conversations have changed. The goals of our clients have changed. Employers are making every effort to limit disruption and change as they shift the focus to finding solutions to better support their employees through these crazy times.
Employers have embraced more digital solutions, turning to Telehealth for both physical and emotional health. They have offered up more voluntary benefits solutions such as Accident and Illness insurance to enable employees to better protect themselves financially. Holistic wellness programs, with an emphasis on emotional health and mindfulness, enable employees to escape and unwind from the pressures of the current environment. There is also a heightened sensitivity to the delivery of the messaging at Open Enrollment. The vast majority of which has been conducted virtually. It is clear this season that employers are doing all they can to support their workforce.
There is a light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel, though, with the news of highly effective vaccines coming available over the next several months. As we return to a more normal environment, employers will again need to re-examine their employee benefits in a very different way. The pandemic has had a significant impact on healthcare utilization patterns and it’s created pent-up demand for services. Elective procedures have been put on hold, primary care visits are down and many chronic conditions have gone unmanaged. There is also the belief that many healthcare providers will be looking to renegotiate their contracts with carriers to make up for lost revenue. What does this mean? It means we will likely see an uptick in healthcare utilization and spend as we exit Covid-19, and employers will need a clear strategy to be prepared for it.
The conversations we are having with our clients have already shifted. Alternate funding arrangements, contribution strategies, value-based networks, and plan design mix are topics we are focusing on. Limiting an employer’s risk and steering care to the highest quality and most efficient providers will be critically important. Understanding the makeup of your workforce better will aid in the effort to provide the supporting benefits needed to attract and retain talent. Now is the time to be thinking and talking about these strategies. Do not wait until it is too late. We are going to get past this pandemic, but its impact has permanently changed the employee benefits landscape and how employers will support their valued employees. Make sure you are ready to handle what comes next.
The Schuster Group created TANGO with the vision that we could build a platform that encourages meaningful partnerships between nonprofits and socially conscious businesses who share the philosophy of “doing well by doing good.” That is one of the reasons we have become one of the largest independent nonprofit focused employee benefits brokerage and advisory firms in New England.
To learn more about our innovative capabilities and our proprietary TANGO employee benefit programs, visit us at www.schustergroupne.com
Managing Principal, The Schuster Group
President & Founder TANGO
The Schuster Group