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The Future of Health Benefits: Improving Outcomes for Employees and Their Families

May 12, 2022
Nonstop's May Blog

The relationship between employees and their employers is evolving, especially in terms of their personal health. “Employee well-being is predicted to have the greatest impact on the workplace of the future,” Forbes reports. “Workers now expect their employers to view them as individual human beings and provide benefits that support them on a personal level.”

New employee expectations are driving demand for new and improved health-related programs. These represent opportunities for employees to “begin, change, or maintain health behaviors,” whether at the workplace or through external resources, as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) describes. 

But many employees continue to struggle with access to basic elements of care. A 2021 KFF employer health benefits survey of nonfederal public and private firms found that annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage rose 4% from the previous year, with workers paying an average of $5,969 towards the cost of the coverage. These costs have an outsized effect on minority and low-income workers, who must spend larger portions of their personal income when seeking out care.

Despite these consequences, these challenges represent an opportunity for employers willing to adopt new policies and benefits that may contribute to the personal health of employees and their families. In this blog, we explore challenges employees face within the status quo of employer-provided health benefits, as well as opportunities for employers to improve their policies and patient outcomes.

Acknowledging a Failure to Meet Basic Needs

A one-size-fits-all approach to health benefits plan design can no longer suffice. First, some aspects of care remain prohibitively expensive. The KFF survey found that 85% of insured workers have a general annual deductible that must be met before most services are covered as part of their health plans. “A large share of covered workers also pay a portion of the cost when they visit an in-network physician,” the study found, where “most workers also face additional cost sharing for a hospital admission or outpatient surgery.”

Even employees with coverage face barriers to accessing basic care, due in part to difficulties meeting basic needs in general. In 2021, “65 percent of all full-time employees of large US employers had experienced at least one unmet basic need,” McKinsey reports. “The ability to meet basic needs (for example, housing, transportation, social support, and economic stability) affects health and well-being.

Health needs, as well as personal circumstances, also differ from one employee to the next. A healthy employee who comfortably pays the upfront costs of care differs from employees with a child who was born prematurely or who have eldercare responsibilities. For example, LGBTQ+ employees, 66% of whom experienced two or more unmet basic needs in McKinsey’s survey, may have unique health requirements or face stigmatization that may make acquiring decent care difficult or more costly as well.

Indeed, low-income workers, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are often the most affected. Low-income workers pay a higher portion of personal income towards health expenses when seeking care—a known deterrent to seeking necessary care in the first place. “Black, Hispanic and Latino, Asian, and LGBTQ+ individuals were less likely to report receiving the care they needed and were more likely than the overall employee population to report considering switching employers for reasons related to benefits” as well, according to McKinsey.

Get Started With Your Health Benefits Transformation

At Nonstop, we believe the future of health benefits plan design can be summarized in one principle: No matter one’s race, gender, income level, or other circumstance, every employee should have access to great care and the resources that employee needs to lead a healthy life. Employers must not only provide benefits that make care financially feasible for all employees, but they must also help employees overcome fears and stigmas through changes in their workplace culture.

With first-dollar coverage, employees and their families can access care when they need it, potentially preventing future health and financial crises. First-dollar coverage can also contribute to better equity, access, and optimism among employees when it comes to healthcare. Contact us directly to learn more about health benefits design opportunities with first-dollar coverage from Nonstop.


The information and materials herein are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal or other advice or opinions on any specific matters and are not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney, plan provider or other professional advisor. This information has been taken from sources believed to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy. This communication does not constitute a legal opinion and should not be relied upon for any purpose other than its intended educational purpose.

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