The 2024 Trends for Group Benefits Plans

If there is any word to sum up the recent years for group benefit agencies, plan providers/carriers, and employer groups, it would be "change." The MarshMcLennan Agency's 2024 Employee Health & Benefits Trends Report states: "In the fifth year of a decade marked by unprecedented economic and geopolitical uncertainty, employers are under more pressure than ever to support their workers."

Read through this blog to learn about seven of the hottest trends for group benefits plans, then download the report for a deeper dive into how agencies can make the most impact this year to sell more, retain more, and grow.

Want the full employee benefits trends report with agent action items, detailed generation overviews, and more? Download it here

7 Group Benefits Trends Employees Want

1. The Rise in Cost of Living & Healthcare Costs

We all dislike the increase in the cost of living and healthcare overall, and, unsurprisingly, this trend doesn't appear to be slowing down. Premiums rose in 2024 over 2023 and are expected to continue as we approach 2025. 

2. Access to More Plan Types

Kaiser Family Foundation reported that "75% of employers with fewer than 200 employees only offer one health plan." With rising healthcare costs, employees want the option to choose from a variety of plan types for their coverage. Gone are the days when solitary PPO options were offered. Now, employees want the opportunity to pick from various group plans to find the one that fits them best.

3. Growth in Level-Funded Plans

The popularity of level-funded plans has been on the rise in recent years. Kaiser Family Foundation reported that "the percentage of small employers that have level-funded health plans increased from 13% in 2020 to 40% in 2023."

For a refresher: "Level-funded plans are a type of self-funded plan. The main difference is that the cost of level-funded plans typically covers stop-loss insurance, maximum potential claim amounts, and administrative costs. Monthly payments are sent to the insurance carrier or third-party claims administrator to cover these expenses."

The main pros of having a level-funded plan include:

  • Cost savings
  • Predictability
  • Customization options.

The cons of level-funded plans are that they:

  • Often have employee group size requirements
  • Can be pricier than other self-funded plans. 

4. A Desire for More Financial Health Offerings

2023 marked a record low in employee financial wellness. Factors that have impacted this rating include post-pandemic inflation, the restart of student loan payments, and increasing interest rates. With this trend, employees want more ways to be financially responsible and secure. Financial health options employees may appreciate include tools for:

  • Budgeting
  • Debt repayment
  • Emergency savings
  • Student loan repayment
  • Financial planning
  • Tax help
  • Investment advice

5. A Focus on Mental Health

Mental health has become a significant focus for many over the recent years. Research shows that "25% of workers under 35 indicated mental health was their top concern after the pandemic." From the stress of the pandemic to the rise in inflation in the post-pandemic era, then adding in employee burnout, upcoming presidential election periods, and other global factors, there is a lot on employees' minds. 

6. An Increase in Voluntary Benefit Plans

Over the last five years, voluntary benefits have grown in popularity and demand. Voluntary benefits can include more standard options like dental and vision insurance but can also include additional coverage options, such as:

  • Critical illness insurance
  • Accident insurance / AD&D
  • Telehealth access
  • Hospital indemnity
  • Emergency hospital transportation
  • Identity theft protection
  • Flexible spending accounts (FSA)
  • Pet insurance
  • Cancer insurance
  • Lifestyle & wellness coverage
  • Nutrition counseling 
  • Financial wellness
  • Mental health coverage

7. Continuance of Virtual/Hybrid Office Models

As of 2023, 12.7% of full-time employees are virtual team members, with an additional 28.2% in a hybrid work model. Forbes also reported that 16% of companies operate fully remote. Virtual employment is expected to continue growing, with 32.6 million Americans being remote team members by 2025. 

Things to consider for employer groups:

  • Is their workforce localized to one city, state, or region?
  • Are they a national company with members in multiple states and regions?

Making 2025 Your Agency's Year for Benefits Sales

With healthcare costs on the rise and the job market still high, it's essential for group benefits brokers to ensure their employer groups have the coverage they need. As an agency, it's your role to help them find that coverage. The tools and technology your teams use can make the difference. AgencyBloc's Plus Suite of industry-specific solutions allows your benefits organization to efficiently prospect, quote, gather MHQ data, enroll, close, retain, and process commissions, all in one platform. See how the Plus Suite can help your benefits team make an impact with a personalized, 1-on-1 demo.

Get the full employee benefits trends report for agent action items, detailed generation overviews, and more! Download it here

Posted by Allison Babberl on Tuesday, May 7, 2024 in Group Benefits

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About The Author

Allison Babberl

Allison is the Content Lead at AgencyBloc. She manages the creation and schedule of all educational content for our BlocTalk and Member communities. Favorite quote: “Conversation is the bedrock of relationships. Without it, our relationships are devoid of substance.” -Maribeth Ku ... read more