In spite of the ups and downs of the past two years with the pandemic, steady trends for 2022 are emerging in the group insurance field. COVID-19 has impacted and reshaped the workplace in temporary and permanent ways. Group Insurance providers, employers, employees, and advisors will need to navigate through a series of questions and provide answers and policies to address them in 2022. Here are just a few:
- What are the options for employers who want to require vaccinated employees?
- Can employers legally dismiss employees who refused the vaccines?
- Will employers need to accommodate a hybrid mix of work from home & office?
- What mental health support should employers add to their plans?
- Should employers use their benefits plans as a recruiting tool?
Mental Health Crisis
Of these issues, the ongoing mental health crisis requires more emphasis and action on the part of employers. Before the pandemic, mental health issues were on the rise in Canada, and COVID-19 accelerated the increase in the number of individuals, across all industries and walks of life, who are struggling with mental health concerns.
Employers have learned that there is a high cost to their companies in terms of sick leaves, lower productivity, and lower morale within the workforce if employees with mental health concerns are not adequately supported in the workplace. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) recommends governments and decision-makers in organizations take these five actions:
- Provide a range of mental health resources, supports, and care
- Support and expand mental health services
- Prioritize workplace mental health
- Invest in the social detriments of health
- Commit to a public health approach to alcohol policy
An additional significant action to take would be for employers to actively work to reduce the stigma of mental health problems within the workplace. Employees are reluctant to approach employers to access mental health benefits and supports if they believe it will impact their performance reviews and opportunities for promotions. This means the onus is on employers to ensure employee privacy is maintained and that performance reviews do not use mental health issues to lower employees’ review scores.
Drug Prices Will Continue to Rise
Certain high-cost drugs will see continued price increases due to inflation, and new high-cost drugs will hit the market in 2022. Many benefit plans have not been designed to accommodate these rising drug costs. Of concern to employees is if employers cap their drug costs for medications that are vital to their health. Benefits plans will likely continue have stop-loss charges, but as rising drug costs are a reality, managers will continue looking at options for plan sustainability. There is a national conversation underway about a national pharmacare system in Canada which would be a game-changer for benefits plans.
In Part Two of this series on Group Benefits Trends in 2022, we will identify other trends that industry experts have identified and some of the ways employers can address them.
At Health Risk Services, we closely follow industry news to see how changes in the workplace and the wider culture are affecting Employers and Employees. We help our clients find the right benefits solutions for their workforce while maintaining sustainability and retention of their valued employees. We would like you to know more about how Health Risk Services can assist you with a 2022 plan to address these trends, so please schedule a Complimentary Consultation with us.
At Health Risk Services we will Empathize, Educate, and Empower you and your team in 2021!
To schedule your Complimentary Consultation with Health Risk Services, please call 403-236-9430 OR email: [email protected]