Four employer health trends to watch in 2024

Article published on November 29, 2023 on FierceHealth.com – By Paige Minemyer

Employers are going to be expecting more from their partners going into 2024 as they look to address issues ranging from mental health to drug costs to wellness.

The Business Group on Health released on Tuesday its annual look at the trends employers are watching in the coming year, and said that their members are likely to place “heightened expectations on partners to deliver.”

This means they’re set to be more discerning in terms of who they partner with amid concerns about rising cost and quality. Many have seen vendor partners struggle or fail to deliver on the potential of their solutions, the Business Group said.

Expect employers to revisit existing contracts, too, as they seek greater transparency. These firms could feel that they need to make a change to better align solutions for employees, according to the Business Group.

We live in a complex and interconnected world, and diverse factors impact employers as they seek to evolve benefit offerings for their workforces. It will be increasingly important for their vendor partners to deliver in light of heightened expectations and accountability. Staying ahead of these trends will be paramount.

Ellen Kelsay, President and CEO of Business Group on Health

Here are some of the other employer trends to watch as 2023 comes to a close:

Continued, and growing, urgency around cost

Healthcare costs are steadily rising, and there’s no sign that this trend is going away, according to the Business Group report. As such, employers are growing even more vigilant around cost management, and that will continue into 2024.

There is a slew of cost pressures that employers including inflation, healthcare labor issues, provider shortages, mental health, deferred or missed care and more. They’re also bracing for the impact of pricey cell and gene therapies as well as in-demand GLP-1s, which are both set to continue to have a major effect on pharmacy spend.

New concerns emerge in mental health

Employers have been focused on addressing mental health for some time, a concern reflected in multiple Business Group on Health surveys. However, expect them to be taking a closer look at youth and adolescent behavioral health in particular in the coming year.

Most (70%) of employers surveyed for the most recent Business Group survey said they will be making mental health a key focus in 2024. To address growing areas of concern, firms will lean on vendors and partners to collaborate to ensure their offerings are integrated and cover what they need.