If you are a consumer looking for the best health insurance company for 2024, you will want to take note of what changes the new year may bring. We talked to experts to review the most important trends impacting the health insurance industry so you can decide on the company that works best for your needs.
Here are some of the most important trends in the health insurance industry as 2024 begins.
Continued growth in telehealth services
The trend of patient access to telehealth has increasingly become a priority for insurers.
The COVID-19 pandemic opened the world to telehealth services like never before, said Dr. Karen Amstutz, executive vice president and chief medical officer of AmeriHealth Caritas. The convenience of accessing services in your home on demand is perfect for busy families and professionals, people with mobility or transportation challenges, and those who need access to behavioral health services.
According to the WTW 2024 Global Medical Trends Survey, 40% of global health insurers have expanded their offerings to include telehealth services such as general and specialty medical care, mental and behavioral health programs, support for chronic illnesses, and prescription resources . The move reflects a major shift in coverage priorities and reflects the growing role of telehealth in providing health care, a trend that is expected to continue into 2024.
Telehealth can provide quick and efficient access to a variety of medical services. It also helps reduce overall health care costs for both health insurers and their members.
In many cases, having virtual access to medical professionals and treatments can reduce the need for expensive and unnecessary emergency room visits. It also provides a more affordable way to access specialist care and mental health services.
When looking for the best health insurance companies in 2024, look for plans that include comprehensive telehealth options, not all plans cover every type of virtual service available.
Inflation is driving up provider rates.
According to the American Academy of Actuaries, a significant trend affecting health insurance in 2024 will be the increase in medical costs due to inflation. This means everything from paying health care workers to purchasing medical supplies is becoming more expensive for health care providers.
As expenses rise, providers often have no choice but to pass these higher costs on to insurance companies. The ripple effect ultimately results in higher insurance premiums for consumers.
Rising provider rates may have the greatest impact on those who have limited budgets but still need quality care. These consumers should look for insurers in 2024 that keep their costs and premiums reasonable without compromising quality, even as overall health care costs increase.
The evolving role of mental health
According to the Business Group on Health, there has been a significant increase in the use of mental health services following the pandemic. The report found that since the peak of the pandemic, nearly 80% of employers have seen an increase in the use of mental health services.
This is in line with the results of a 2023 Gallup poll, which also revealed record-high depression rates earlier this year. Since 2015, the percentage of adults in the US suffering from depression has increased by nearly 10%.
This worrying trend is why many employers are looking at improving access to mental health services as a top priority for 2024. And, in turn, this is leading them to enhance their health plans and programs to provide better mental health support and care for their employees.
For example, many employers will increase mental health support by including virtual services in an effort to make services more accessible, as well as increase their focus on suicide prevention for young adults and young family members.
With the growing need for mental health services, consumers should look for comprehensive mental health benefits when choosing the best insurance company for 2024. These may include preventive services, wellness programs, and a strong network of mental health professionals.
Beyond the doctor’s office: Decentralization of primary care
Similar to the rise in telehealth, the health care delivery landscape is also changing in other ways, including the decentralization of primary care. As reported in the Wolters Kluwer Health survey, this trend shows a shift away from the traditional model of receiving all care in a hospital or doctor’s office toward receiving non-emergency health care needs from more diverse locations such as pharmacies.
This shift is gaining popularity primarily among the younger generation and indicates a growing demand for more convenient and flexible health insurance coverage.
If you are someone who values more accessible health care, choose a health insurance company that can keep up with this growing trend. The best insurance should cover a wide range of needs and support new ways to obtain health care services, like pharmacies.
side effects of high prescription costs
Although this is nothing new, a big issue in health insurance is the skyrocketing cost of drugs. Many Americans are finding it difficult to pay for their prescriptions, another trend that is expected to continue into 2024.
According to a survey by Wolters Kluwer Health, 37% of Americans have given up filling their prescriptions because it is too expensive, 86% would prefer to use cheaper generic drugs and 92% want their doctors and pharmacists to provide them with these lower-cost prescriptions. Be informed about options.
If you want to save on prescription costs in 2024, look for health insurance companies that offer plans with adequate prescription drug coverage, including low copayments and a wide range of covered drugs. It is also beneficial to consider insurers that offer options for generic drugs, which can be significantly cheaper than their brand-name counterparts.
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