The 2021 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey provides eye-opening insights into the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on health benefits, wellness supports and the work environment.
One key finding is that plan members’ health is taking a hit. Almost 1 in 8 plan members (13%) said their health was poor this past year, up from 8% a year ago ― the most significant increase since the question was first asked in 2018.
The survey also confirmed the pandemic’s toll on plan members’ mental health, with 36% reporting increased feelings of anxiety or sadness/depression, climbing to 45% among females and 41% among 18- to 34-year-olds. Mental illness is now the #1 chronic disease in the workplace, with 21% of plan members having a mental health diagnosis.
Though 41% of plan sponsors offer virtual health care services through their health benefits plan, that trails the 68% of plan members who are willing to receive health care services virtually after the pandemic.
Still, plan sponsors did a good job of supporting members with 67% stating their opinions of their organization had improved due to its actions during the pandemic. Nearly the same percentage of members (68%) described the quality of their health benefit plans as excellent or good.
The survey found that nearly half (47%) of plan sponsors experienced lower than expected health benefits costs in the past year due to the impacts of the pandemic, compared to 13% who saw their benefits costs go up.
Among employers that experienced lower costs, 47% used the savings to invest in other health benefits such as a virtual care program (19%), an EAP (14%) and/or in other ways (25%).
The vast majority of plan sponsors (71%) are concerned about the long-term impact of the pandemic on the cost of their health benefits plans, while 23% were very concerned.
Within this group, respondents felt the biggest impact would be in claims for mental-health issues among employees, excluding those who were sick with the coronavirus (64%). This is followed by mental health issues among employees’ dependants (47%) and claims for serious diseases and chronic conditions that may have worsened due to delayed diagnoses or treatments (43%). A quarter (25%) predicted the biggest impact will be the various claims for those who had contracted the virus.
As Canada’s leading not-for-profit health benefits provider, Blue Cross is a proud partner of this important study, providing relevant insights to help best support the needs of benefits plan members. Access the 2021 @BenCanMag Healthcare Survey report below.