Amanda Franklin

2019 Benefit Trends: The Year for Return on Wellness

The benefits industry is like a merry-go-round. Benefit popularity is cyclical, and market trends and themes always seem to circle back into the foreground in time. However, the acceleration of technological innovation is propelling the benefit carousel faster each year, making it challenging for many brokers and employers to keep up with changes and new products in the market. That’s where New Benefits comes in, diligently identifying the best new solutions and innovation to address employer and employee needs.

2018 focused on the individual’s role in healthcare, and more specifically their access to transparency tools and education and the adoption of technology to foster more informed healthcare consumerism. The spotlight on individual privacy, security, and protection continued to shine as well. As we close out the first quarter of 2019, I expect those trends to continue through evolution of benefits on which we already rely as well as adoption of new, innovative products.

Trends in 2019

Looking back at 2018, we saw continued growth of several cornerstone benefits:

  • Telemedicine adoption increased by employers, healthcare providers, and health systems; pro-telemedicine legislation passed; and services expanded beyond acute care into behavioral health, dermatology, and more
  • Constant data breach headlines and privacy concerns contributed to a continued rise in interest for identity theft protection
  • Healthcare didn’t become less complex or more transparent, so the need for health advocacy remained prevalent

These benefits are continuing to gain traction in 2019. As our comfort with telehealth technology increases, so do telehealth options. Behavioral health is one of the most popular developments for telehealth providers, as is the expansion of specialist offerings like second opinions and dermatology. Access to an expert medical opinion (or second opinion) through telehealth technology eliminates time spent traveling to another city or state to see a specialist, helps avoid unnecessary surgery by finding alternative treatment options, and ultimately saves individuals a great deal of time and money by ensuring correct diagnoses. New Benefits has expanded its telehealth portfolio to include Behavioral Health, Dermatology, and Expert Medical Services, and we look forward to seeing adoption of these benefits increase over the next 12 months and beyond.

Extensive attention was given last year to the growing population of employees who double as caregivers, illustrating effects on productivity, physical and mental health, and personal finances. Caregiver support platforms are gaining traction as a result, and will likely get even more attention this year as we continue to understand the challenges faced by working caregivers. Caregiver support is an emerging space similar to what telemedicine was five or six years ago. As employers better understand how important these services are to the overall health and well-being of their workforce, the more prominent these benefits will become.

Another benefit trend is financial wellness, and the impact of financial health on employee well-being. Research indicates how strongly correlated all aspects of a person’s health – physical, mental, financial – are and how impactful financial stress can be to a person’s overall wellness. While the interest in financial wellness grows, 2019 will be a year of determining the best mix of resources to offer employees. Each generation represented in the workforce has diverse financial needs, and many financial wellness products address only one or two key areas. The key will be identifying products addressing the spectrum of financial topics including student loan repayment, budgeting, taxes, insurance, retirement planning, and more.

Plans for New Benefits in 2019

New Benefits will maintain focus on employer and employee Return on Wellness. We know when clients invest in benefits for their employees, they want to see a direct correlation to monetary savings to prove the value of these services, but the financial impact isn’t always easy to quantify. Focus should also be on a qualitative return seen in the form of a happier, healthier, more productive workforce. This return is driven by investing in benefits that impact total employee well-being, including physical, mental, and financial wellness.

In 2018 we focused on mental health, adding telemedicine behavioral health services to our offering, and we’re expanding with more vendor options this year. We will also continue to address rising prescription costs, which is still one of the highest drivers of healthcare expenses. New Benefits has offered retail pharmacy discount benefits for over a decade, and now we’re making significant savings even more convenient with mail order pharmacy discounts. We’re all used to the convenience of buying everything online, from clothes to furniture to groceries. Filling prescriptions should be just as simple. Our mail order pharmacy option allows members to enjoy significant savings on long-term (90-day supply) prescriptions shipped directly to their home. We’ve also updated our diabetic supplies benefit with a deeper discount and easier purchasing process.

Financial wellness solutions will be a significant area of interest in 2019. Because there are so many options and needs within the financial services space, in-depth research will be required to select the best solution for our clients. The ideal financial wellness service will:

  1. Address multiple financial needs for diverse populations
  2. Furnish multiple access points to members, including online resources, chat, and one-on-one support with financial experts
  3. Provide a seamless mobile and web experience that integrates with our member portal and app technology

There are many new and exciting benefits on the horizon, both for New Benefits and the industry in general. With accelerating adoption of new services, access, and technology across healthcare, I am looking forward to enjoying the ride in 2019!

Amanda Franklin, VP Vendor Relations

Amanda Franklin, EVP Operations

Copyright © 2019 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.

Caregiving Support: The Working Caregiver’s Oxygen Mask

Roughly 60% of the workforce belongs to the sandwich generation. Not based on a proclivity for hoagies, but named for their precarious position wedged between the demands of caring for dependent children and aging parents, these employees are struggling to juggle caregiving demands and careers.

Numerous studies, including some conducted by The MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI) and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) have analyzed the impact of family caregiving in the workplace. According to The MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: Productivity Losses to U.S. Business (2006), employee absenteeism, workplace disruptions, and reduced output associated with caregiving costs businesses between $17.1 and $33.6 billion per year.¹

Caregiving employees also report poorer health and more chronic disease than non-caregivers, leading to increased healthcare costs for employers. Research shows increased healthcare costs for caregivers are potentially costing U.S. employers an additional estimated $13.4 billion per year.

The caregiving challenge reminds me of a pre-flight safety speech, specifically the part demonstrating proper oxygen mask protocol. It goes something like this, “In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you…. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”

Working caregivers are passengers on a turbulent flight. Juggling the full-time demands of work and caregiving can be disruptive, stressful and costly. If employees aren’t given adequate tools to cope with these new demands, employers will ultimately pay a price. Caregiver Support programs are an oxygen mask, providing employees the help they need to stay productive, engaged, and present at work.

As our population ages (the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060²), this group of sandwiched employees will grow, contributing to new challenges in the workplace. How do we keep these employees healthy, present and focused amidst these increasing demands? How do we mitigate the impact this burden will have on healthcare costs?

It’s no small feat, but there are tools to help.

Caregiving Support services are becoming an essential employee benefit. Providing tools to reduce employee stress and anxiety, minimize absenteeism, maintain productivity, and decrease turnover, Caregiving Support benefits are a crucial tool for employers as the percentage of family caregivers in the workplace steadily rises.

Many Caregiving Support programs exist, providing dedicated coaches or a secure communication portal. One service, Cariloop, combines both. Coaches provide personal support and decision-making guidance, easing employee stress and providing peace of mind, while Cariloop’s web and mobile platform provides employees a secure place to collaborate with their dedicated healthcare coach, store important documents and communicate with family members and a designated caregiving team. The platform significantly reduces the amount of time required to communicate individually with an entire support network and eliminates time spent mailing or faxing documents back and forth. Employees caring for a family member devote 20 hours per week on average to caregiving³, making time saving tools and support critical. The online communication hub keeps everyone informed, and provides access to medical and legal documents and real-time updates, despite physical distance between loved ones.

Amanda Franklin, VP Vendor Relations–Amanda Franklin, VP Vendor Relations


2: Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States – Population Reference Bureau –


Copyright © 2017 by New Benefits, Ltd.  All rights reserved.