Expecting new regulations and an increasing need for cost control to lead to greater employee responsibility for choosing and financing benefits, Watson Wyatt has released the following health care benefit predictions for 2007:
- Increased focus on high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) coupled with a reimbursement arrangement (e.g., health savings accounts). One-third of large employers surveyed by Watson Wyatt plan to incorporate an HDHP with a reimbursement account in 2007. However, few employers appear to be completely replacing their current plans with an HDHP.
- More benefits information and tools online. Web-based systems allow employees to model the best choices for them, and many allow plan participants to pick the best provider by reviewing online report cards grading the quality of care.
- Moving beyond mandatory generic prescription drug plans. As more popular prescription drugs come off patent in the next three years and their prices are reduced, employers will loosen their requirements that employees use generic drugs whenever possible.
- Greater integration between health care and absence management programs. Coordinating such programs will grow in popularity as employers seek to improve employee health and productivity.
- More on-site clinics in the workplace. To ease access to appropriate health care, more and more companies will open on-site clinics.