2024 needs to be the year of forward-thinking, ‘prevention over claim’ and specialist support

The insurance industry forecasts access to healthcare, ‘prevention over claim’, and specialist support as vital considerations for employers in 2024.

Related topics:  2024,  Employee Benefits
Tabitha Lambie | Editor, Protection Reporter
12th January 2024
"Clinically trained experts are the best people to deliver expert support and we expect increased focus on this during 2024."
- Christine Husbands, Commercial Director at RedArc

“The support needed for those with long-term health conditions is wide and varied, and employers would do well to look at the comprehensive support that can be embedded within other employee benefits,” said Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD).

Consequently, she expects to see more employers focusing on income-related employee benefits, ranging from everyday discounts to group protection. Iain Laws, CEO of Towergate Health & Protection, agreed that with 1.5mn homeowners set to be affected by mortgage renewals in 2024, areas such as pension contributions and employee assistance programmes (EAPs) will play a vital role in securing talent. “Employers wishing to attract the best talent will have to maintain competitive pay and benefits,” he explained.

While evolving employee support will be crucial, these services only benefit those struggling when properly communicated. Both Katharine and Iain warned employers to focus on communication that will resonate with a multi-generational workforce. “This will mean embracing technology platforms to reach all personality and learning types […] employers need to look for genuinely useful user-interfaces and services rather than just adding an app to feel part of the digital revolution,” Iain added.

Last year, RedArc warned employers that prioritising short-term support such as access to virtual GPs and EAPs, over the type of support that is required when an individual is diagnosed with a long-term or chronic health condition, could be a risky strategy. At the time, Christine Husbands, Commercial Director at RedArc, said “There is a place for both shorter-term in-the-moment care and more comprehensive support […] employers must consider the merits of implementing both, for the best possible health outcomes.”

In 2024, RedArc hopes specialist support becomes a priority, ultimately reducing absenteeism and supporting employees with long-term conditions, such as cancer or epilepsy. The added-value service provider explained that without a “trusted professional to help navigate the issues associated with returning to the workplace,” transitions could prove difficult.

Additionally, with specialist support comes a greater focus on the measurement of outcomes for the reassurance of employers, insurers, and the individuals themselves. This should translate to an increase in assessments such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) within a mental health context, delivered by clinically trained practitioners. RedArc anticipates the availability of ‘demonstrable customer outcomes’ to carry greater weight for employers and insurers when establishing new partnerships in 2024.

Likewise, with the government failing to announce a substantial boost in healthcare provisions, Iain forecasts a demand for Private Medical Insurance (PMI). However, employers looking to balance costs will have to be careful not to make PMI unusable by setting excesses too high. “Instead, forward-thinking employers will need to investigate other ways to manage costs, such as reducing the range of hospitals offered,” Iain explained.

Towergate Health & Protection also identified ‘prevention over claim’ as a key focus for 2024. With genetics set to play a bigger role, actions taken by an employer to implement preventative care, such as cancer screenings, will profoundly impact premiums.  

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