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Top 5 Employee Benefits Trends to Watch in 2020

By January 21, 2020No Comments
Employee Benefits Trends

As an employer, you’re likely studying and researching the top employee benefits trends to watch for as you prepare for next year’s benefits plan.

If you’re like most employers, you’re looking to lower your rising health care costs and improve your employees’ overall health.

Whether you’re an HR professional or business exec, you’re looking ahead – and evaluating strategies to help manage both short- and long-term costs.

Let’s be honest, it’s no simple feat.

Particularly in today’s tight labor market, employers are struggling to keep health care costs low for themselves and their employees.

As employers try to attract and retain top talent, they’ve had to get creative, and this is reflected in the following benefits trends.

Health Care Costs

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust’s (KFF/HRET) 2019 Employer Health Benefits Annual Survey, the average premium rose 4% for single coverage and 5% for family coverage from the previous year.

The average premiums were $7,188 and $20,576 respectively, and employers shouldered the majority of those costs.

The trend of rising health care costs is projected to continue at a steady rate over the course of this year.

The past trend of raising deductibles to offset premium increases remains relatively popular, but its growth has slowed.

In 2019, 28% of workers were enrolled in a plan with a general deductible of at least $2,000, but the overall average deductible was $1,655.

A reason for the slowed growth is that health benefits are a highly effective attraction and retention tool, especially in a strong economy and a tight labor market.

Health Plan Designs

The types of plans employers are offering to their employees has followed a pattern year over year.

More employers are offering high deductible health plans with a savings option and fewer are offering standard preferred provider organizations.

According to the KFF/HRET’s survey, the following were the most common plan types in 2019:

  • Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) – 44% of workers covered
  • HDHP/SOs – 30% of workers covered
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) – 19% of workers covered
  • Point-of-service (POS) plans – 7% of workers covered

Plan Funding

In an effort to reduce benefit costs, some employers are exploring alternative health plan funding methods, including self-insured and level-funded plans.

The KFF/HRET’s survey found that, in 2019, 17% of workers with small employers were elected in either partially or entirely self-funded plans, compared to 80% of workers with large employers.

Of the employers with fewer than 200 workers, 7% reported they had a level-funded plan.


Since its introduction, telemedicine has been used by employers as a strategy to lower health care costs and provide employees with access to convenient care.

More than two-thirds of employers with 50 or more workers have embraced telemedicine, with 69% offering health care services through this method.

Of these employers, 48% offer financial incentives to receive health care services this way, as opposed to an in-person physician visit.

Telemedicine now extends beyond an alternative for visiting a primary care doctor for ailments.

Some plans offer telemental health and even telerehabilitation services.

Paid Leave and Family Benefits

The demand for generous parental leave and other family benefits, such as fertility coverage, continues to grow.

Eager to boost attraction and retention efforts, some employers are expanding their benefits packages to include coverage for fertility treatments.

Additionally, many companies are expanding or re-evaluating their parental leave policies.

In Closing

As you prepare to make future benefits decisions, consider these employee benefits trends and identify the right tools and resources you can use to offset higher premium growth.

Have questions?

My name is Dani Kimble and I work alongside a team of professionals here at O’Neill Insurance. Together, we offer short- and long-term solutions to help employers like you lock in a competitive benefits package that keeps your employees healthy and your balance sheet intact.

Fill out the contact form below and we’ll be in touch!

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