2018 was a very busy year for NBGH and many of our members. As the year comes to an end, I’d like to thank you for your continued membership and support of the important work that we do together each year. I’d also like to highlight a few of the new initiatives that we launched this year and turn your attention to the trends we will be watching in 2019, pulled directly from our Large Employers' Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey.
Employers Playing Activist Role —Health care costs continue to put economic pressure on employers and employees. The pace of meaningful and sustained change is slower than needed. More employers are driving transformation in health care delivery by either directly contracting, partnering with their health plans, or working with other third parties to promote value-based care. Nearly half of the employers we surveyed (49%) are pursuing one or more of these strategies that focus on improving access and convenience in addition to better quality and lower cost. We predict it will spread to more localities in the future.
Meeting the Needs of Today’s “On Demand Consumer”—Employers are rethinking consumerism. Today’s consumer places a premium on simplicity, convenience, and personalization. Navigators, concierge services and virtual resources are expanding to help consumers take some of the complexity out of accessing care and to better anticipate and address their unique needs. For the first time, our survey shows a 9% decline in the number of employers offering only consumer-directed health plans and we expect this percentage to grow in future years reflecting a movement towards increased choice.
Fast Approaching Tipping Point on Prescription Drugs—The push for more straightforward, simple, and streamlined supply-chain pricing and contracting models is reaching a tipping point. 2019 may well be the year the paradigm shifts. Over 90% of employers responding to our survey would welcome an alternative to the rebate-driven approach to managing drug costs.
Emotional Health Moves to the Forefront - From stress and anxiety to addiction, depression and serious mental illness, the full continuum of emotional, behavioral and mental health is front and center. Employers are addressing the access challenge through onsite and virtual counseling, network expansion where feasible and the integration of EAP and mental health benefits. Successful approaches remove stigma and consider brain health on par with other medical conditions.
Disruption Is the “New Normal”—Incumbents are evolving while new entrants will continue to make a splash and shake up the existing players. Artificial intelligence, wearables, voice recognition, genomics, blockchain, bioprinting and other advancements will play an increasingly larger role in disrupting health care delivery and access.