Covid-19 has changed many aspects of our lives, from the way we work to the way we spend time with our friends and family. One thing many people haven’t noticed is that it is also changing the ways in which we prioritize our healthcare needs, which has a very direct effect on the employer-sponsored benefits that companies around the world offer to their employees.
What has become most important throughout this pandemic is flexibility, which is not a word previously drawn upon when discussing employee benefits. People are unable to utilize their benefits in the ways they previously had. For example, instead of company-paid gym access and massage therapy, employees are attending virtual yoga and fitness classes. Health care providers have stepped up to match the needs of the pandemic world by offering telehealth options & online prescriptions. Ensuring that people can access the healthcare services they need in a way that protects both doctor and patient. Respectively, these changes will shift the ways employees look at their benefits in the future. The lack of access to standard benefits has shed light on newer, more flexible options that employees may decide are more important than those of the past.
With a wide variety of virtual options to choose from it is no surprise that Canadians have adapted well to this new option for healthcare. According to a survey done by Canada Health Infoway, throughout the pandemic:
- nearly 74% of 3rd party and private vendor healthcare visits were done virtually
- 45% of participants notating that they are likely to continue to use telehealth in the future
The vast majority (61%) of individuals polled listed protecting themselves and their families from possible exposure as their reason for using telehealth. Additionally, shorter travel plus wait times and convenience were listed as top reasons. As people adapt to this form of healthcare, it will be the job of benefits providers and health insurers to continue to look for opportunities to break the standard mold of healthcare benefits to match the evolving needs of participants.
Mental health, a once previously under-utilized benefit, has risen to the forefront throughout the pandemic. Whether it be in the form of meditation, medication, or counseling, employees are now more than ever in need of options for their mental health.
People are dealing with much more stress and anxiety in their daily lives and careers, and in turn, looking to their employers to help them access ways they can get help. This will be especially necessary as we, as a nation, shift back into a standard working environment.
The post-pandemic world, for benefit providers, will likely need to offer more personalized options that accommodate individual employee needs, in place of the traditional, more rigid, healthcare options provided by employers. Partnerships between providers, insurers, and reinsurers will be extremely important in the development of new benefits products that take into consideration the “new normal” of employee benefits.
Source: Experiences of health care during COVID-19 reported by Canadians, Canada Health Infoway.