Throughout the year, Milliman conducts regular Pulse Surveys focused on benefits topics that employers and plan sponsors find meaningful and strategically informative. For this survey, we looked at annual enrollment and employer strategies leading into the 2024 plan year.
Of the 75 employers representing approximately 850,000 members who participated in this survey, the vast majority indicated that they were maintaining existing plan designs (68%) and current vendors (85%) for 2024.
There may be a number of reasons for this “hold steady” positioning, including a fairly tolerable medical inflationary trend of 5% to 6.5%. However, it may also imply that, with current economic conditions, the pressure by workers for increased pay in most industry sectors, the war for talent, and other corporate priorities, employers felt the need to maintain some stability with regard to their benefits program structure and design.
This is not to suggest that all aspects of the benefits program remained as is. Twenty percent of respondents indicated that they were adding new or changing “point solutions” vendors (e.g., chronic condition management, mental health resources, centers of excellence, telehealth solutions, etc., delivered through a third-party vendor). Twenty-one percent were still evaluating such changes.
It was not necessarily surprising to see employers and plan sponsors planning to use a variety of media and approaches to communicate 2024 benefits to employees. The format of this question asked respondents to pick all that applied to their situation. More than 60% indicated that some form of virtual media would carry their message to employees, including 61% indicating they would provide video presentations and 63% offering virtual meetings.
Interestingly, with all the news we read about the return to the office this year, the trend to host large, in-person employee meetings would appear to have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. Just over a third of respondents (37%) said that in-person employee meetings were still a significant part of their communication strategy for this annual enrollment season.
Communications surrounding annual enrollment are always a great opportunity to not only highlight new, changing, or underutilized benefits, but also a unique chance to highlight organizational initiatives.
One topic that isn’t being highlighted with the same emphasis as it has been the past few years is the importance of vaccinations and booster shots. Forty-three percent of respondents indicated that their organization had made the decision not to mention flu shots and vaccination/booster shots at all. Twenty-five percent said they would be promoting flu shots, but not COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots.
Premium contributions and key messages
Contribution strategies for 2024 were very clearly a subject of much discussion and debate in most organizations this year, given the economic climate and the continuing struggle to attract and retain top talent. Of note, 45% of respondents state they are sharing the cost increase equally between their employees and the organization.
Interestingly, over a third of respondents (35%) were absorbing most or all of the cost increase to the overall medical plan for 2024. This may tie into the earlier observation that employers are seeking to maintain all or most aspects of the program and are in a “holding pattern” as they move into 2024.
Download the full results
For full details of this entire survey, including comprehensive results for each response, visit our library of past Pulse Surveys on What’s Trending in Benefits? at https://www.milliman.com/pulse-survey.
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Have a future What’s Trending in Benefits? survey topic that would be of value to your organization? Our database of employers and plan sponsors used in this research includes more than 5,000 organizations, ranging from 500 to 300,000 employees, across a broad spectrum of industries. Milliman surveys are an objective, unbiased, effective, and highly affordable approach to better understanding how your organization is strategically positioned in areas of importance to you within the market.
This survey summary has been prepared for information only. Milliman does not intend to benefit or create a legal duty to any recipient of this summary.