You had me at "enroll!" Open enrollment trends this fall

Nov 4
open enrollment graphic

As open enrollment season approaches hundreds of Texas restaurants are evaluating their benefits packages and making choices that will impact their employees and families. These important decisions will impact their employee health care and other employee benefits for 2020.

Offering benefits to employees is essential in recruitment and retention of key employees. Healthcare is the number one requested benefit at restaurants. Restaurant owners can no longer turn a blind eye to this need. For restaurants that currently offer group health insurance coverage they continue to increase efforts to improve quality, access and convenience by providing workers more plan choices and greater access to virtual care solutions and mental health services. For smaller firms many employers are shopping around for plans and are looking toward association health plans as attractive alternatives to traditional group plans.

Some top trends the National Business Group on Health identified for open enrollment in 2020 are:

· Modest cost increases: Employers expect the total cost of health benefits covering employees and their dependents to rise by 5% in 2020, to an average of $15,375 nationally, including premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Still, these increases are larger than wage growth and overall economic growth. Most employers will continue to cover almost 70% of these costs.

· More health plan choices: Many employers reduced the number of plan choices over the past few years, moving employees into high-deductible plans that can be paired with a health savings account (HSA). In 2018, 39% of the employers only offered high-deductible plans. In 2020, only 25% will offer high-deductible plans as their only option. Employers are re-introducing choice, largely driven by employee feedback for more plan options and potential cost savings. Most often, employers are adding a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO).

· Additional virtual care options: Most employers will provide employees with additional virtual care services beyond those traditionally offered through telehealth to help improve access and enhance the employee experience. More than three-quarters (82%) will provide mental health services to employees virtually and 60% will provide weight management programs virtually.

· Greater access to decision support tools: More than three in four employers (78%) plan to offer medical decision support tools and second-opinion services while 73% will offer virtual solutions to help with claims assistance. In the large plan space about 60% will offer full-service, high-touch concierge programs that help employees navigate the health-care system, reflecting the need to simplify the consumer experience.

· Expansion of mental health benefits: Almost half of employers will conduct campaigns next year to reduce the stigma that exists around mental health conditions and treatment. More employers will offer online resources (69%); manager training to help recognize mental health issues and direct employees to appropriate services (47%) and digital cognitive behavioral therapy for mental health issues (28%).

Association Health Plans are seeing more adoption in the industry as they offer tremendous cost savings compared to community rated health plans. At the TRA, we have seen an increasing number of smaller restaurants choosing the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant & Hospitality Association (RHA) Benefit Trust, a member-exclusive health care solution for hospitality groups with 2-99 eligible full-time employees ((defined as 40 hours (not 30 hours like many other plans) of employment for this program)). This is a great solution for our small restaurant members especially those looking to do a manager carve out. The RHA Benefit Trust is insured and serviced by UnitedHealthcare and provides some of the same advantages of large employers regarding more plan designs for product and potential pricing flexibility. Some of the features included in the RHA Benefit Trust include:

· Over 120 different health plan designs
· Simplified administration
· Access to wellness programs and services
· Management carve out available

If you would like to learn more about the RHA Trust or have questions about these open enrollment trends please contact our Director of Insurance Alec Knight at or 610-283-7067.


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