On December 4, Alegeus, the market leader in consumer-driven healthcare (CDH) solutions, announced five trends that will be center-stage in the healthcare benefits industry in 2019.
1. Technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI), will move from vision to execution in guiding the consumer journey: This year, technology advancements will begin to offer support throughout every stage of the benefits journey, from plan selection to care delivery. AI will leverage consumer data to support decisions around optimal plan design and funding for employers, to seed key consumer questions for providers, and to provide prompts that encourage patients to shop for better prices.
2. Incentives will help to prevent chronic diseases: Incentives will continue to be the name of the game when it comes to keeping populations healthy, and in 2019 incentive plans will become even more personalized. As wearables and connected homes become more advanced, they will increasingly provide a platform for employers to set, track and personalize goals around diet, exercise and even sleep. Rewards for these incentives will often include funding for benefit accounts, such as health savings accounts (HSAs).
3. Employers will start to prioritize funding of HSAs over 401ks: While many consumers are familiar with 401ks as a retirement savings vehicle, HSAs have been gaining popularity among experts for their potential to significantly impact and up-level the way consumers save for the long term. HSAs have recently been named by many as a favorable alternative to 401ks for their heightened benefits, including a triple tax advantage and their lack of a use-it-or-lose-it provision. Because of these benefits, the value of a dollar invested in an HSA is worth nearly 30% more than a dollar invested in a 401k account by retirement.
4. Retail brands will continue to move into the healthcare market: Industry consolidation and simplification will continue to merge business models between care delivery, insurance, and funding with the ultimate goal to make shopping for healthcare as easy as it is for any other retail purchase.
5. Full 365-day support will help to demystify benefits: Open enrollment season will come and go, but this no longer means that conversations around benefits will stop. For consumers to take an active role in their healthcare and to select the plan that works best for them, it's critical they truly understand the value of each type of benefit account. To improve overall fluency, employers will increasingly expand beyond the traditional once-a-year meeting to initiate year-round education programs for their staff that encourage account selection, contributions, financial wellness, and the use of tools and resources. Consistent engagement will also become more personalized as employers and health plans use technology to develop a better understanding of employee pain points and their communication preferences.
“The healthcare market is laser-focused on driving affordability across the industry. Providing the right education and tools to demystify and optimize healthcare purchasing decisions will be a critical element of reducing costs,” said Steven Auerbach, CEO of Alegeus. “In 2019, we look forward to furthering our mission of providing our clients with the technology necessary to really guide consumers to transform their healthcare experience.”