When the pandemic began in 2020, it changed many aspects of our daily lives. Even today, three years later, things are still evolving in response to COVID-19. While the way many offices operate on a daily basis was one of the most noticeable changes, what you may not have realized is how much the pandemic has altered the employee benefits landscape.
COVID-19’s Impact on Employee Benefits
The world of extended health and other employee benefits is always changing. The ever-developing needs of companies and workers, as well as insurance and government regulations, affect the space in a number of ways.
In the past, you could get away with maintaining similar benefits packages for a longer period of time. Today, however, many employers are still stuck with employee benefits packages that were implemented before the pandemic. In many cases, these plans have been rendered virtually obsolete by “the new normal.” Let’s take a look at the top three ways in which COVID-19 has changed employee benefits and how you can keep up without breaking the bank.
1. Virtual Care Options
One of the most obvious (and lasting) impacts that the pandemic has had on our daily lives is the proliferation of online options for everything from work and school to therapy and doctor appointments. While you may have only considered this regarding whether or not you need to commute to your office anymore, employee benefits have also expanded to include more support for virtual care than ever before. Not only does this make it easier for your employees to get the appointments they need, but it can also be a cost-effective way for you to offer a more comprehensive benefits package.
2. Mental Health Support
The isolation and anxiety that were prevalent in the pandemic’s early days brought mental health to the forefront of many discussions, even in spaces where it had previously been considered taboo.
Despite attempts to return to pre-pandemic norms, this attention to mental health has impacted employee benefits, and savvy employers have integrated employee mental health into their group extended health benefits plans. Increased coverage for psychotherapy, wellness programs, and other mental health-related programs has become an essential aspect of any employee benefits plan.
3. Chronic and Long-Term Medication Coverage
Chronic illness medications have always played a disproportionately large role in benefit program costs, but the pandemic has pushed costs further than ever before. A 2022 report by Innovative Medicines Canada found that chronic disease medications accounted for nearly 70% percent of drug plan costs in the preceding year. Even more noteworthy, chronic illness medications were the primary driver of 2020-2021 cost growth, accounting for a staggering 83.7% percent of growth.
While cutting these benefits is generally not a wise decision, many employers have reconsidered the level of long-term medication coverage they offer and have found new solutions to mitigate the cost impact they can have on other benefits.
Changes to laws about how Canadians access medications since the beginning of the pandemic can also affect your best options for drug coverage.
Sustainable, Up-to-Date Employee Benefits with Zarmac
Zarmac Benefits has been providing benefit programs to both new and established businesses for over 20 years. We take the time to analyze what you need and customize a benefits package specifically for your business style, now and for the future.
Zarmac provides critical analysis specific to your business to deliver real choices, advise on trends, streamline renewals, and optimize your plan design. We make it easy for you and your team by supporting the management of your program. We also proactively educate and eliminate questions to ensure there are no surprises.
Ready to protect your business and your team? Find out more about the Zarmac difference!