If you are a consumer looking for the best health insurance company for 2024, you should consider what changes the new year may bring. We’ve spoken to experts to review the most significant trends affecting the health insurance industry so you can decide which company best suits your needs.
Here are some of the top trends in the health insurance industry as 2024 begins.
The rise of telehealth services continues
Access to remote healthcare for patients has increasingly become a priority for insurance companies.
The Covid-19 pandemic opened up the world to telehealth services like never before, said Dr. Karen Amstutz, AmeriHealth Caritas vice president and chief medical officer. The convenience of using the services in your own home is as needed, and is perfect for busy families and professionals, those with mobility or transportation difficulties, 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 into telehealth services such as general and specialty care, mental health and behavioral health programs, critical illness support and prescription resources. This change marks a major shift in coverage priorities and reflects the growing role of telehealth in healthcare delivery, a trend expected to continue into 2024.
Telehealth can provide quick and efficient access to a variety of medical services. It also helps lower overall healthcare costs for both health insurance companies and their members.
In many cases, 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 medical care and mental health services.
When looking for the best health insurance companies in 2024, look for plans that include comprehensive telehealth services, not all plans cover all virtual services available.
Inflation increases the prices of service providers
According to the American Academy of Actuaries, a significant trend affecting health insurance in 2024 is the increase in drug costs caused by inflation. This means that everything from paying health care staff to buying medical supplies is becoming more expensive for health care providers.
As costs rise, providers often have no choice but to pass these higher costs on to insurance companies. The ripple effect ultimately leads to higher premiums for consumers.
Provider price increases can have the biggest impact on people who are on a tight budget but still need quality care. In 2024, these consumers should look for insurance companies that keep costs and premiums reasonable without compromising on quality, even as overall health care costs rise.
The evolving role of mental health
According to the health business group, the use of mental health services has increased significantly since the pandemic. Since the peak of the pandemic, nearly 80% of employers have seen an increase in the use of mental health services, the report found.
This is in line with the results of the 2023 Gallup poll, which also revealed record high depression rates earlier this year. Since 2015, the percentage of adults diagnosed with depression in the United States has increased by nearly 10 percent.
This alarming trend has led many employers to make access to mental health services a top priority in 2024. And that, in turn, is encouraging them to improve their health plans and programs to provide better mental health support and care for their employees.
For example, many employers are increasing mental health support by including virtual services to improve access to services, and increasing their focus on suicide prevention among young adults and young family members.
In light of 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.
Outside the doctor’s office: decentralizing primary care
Similar to the rise of telehealth, the healthcare delivery world is also changing in other ways, for example with the decentralization of primary care. As highlighted in the Wolters Kluwer Health study, this trend indicates a shift away from the traditional model of receiving all care in a hospital or doctor’s office, to one where urgent healthcare needs are received from more diverse locations such as pharmacies.
The change is gaining popularity primarily among the younger generations and shows a growing demand for even more convenient and flexible health insurance coverage.
If you’re someone who appreciates easier healthcare, choose a health insurance company that keeps up with this growing trend. The best insurance should cover a wide range of needs and support new ways of accessing healthcare services, such as pharmacies.
A side effect of high prescription costs
Although it’s not new, a big problem with health insurance is the skyrocketing cost of drugs. Many Americans struggle to pay their prescriptions. Another trend that is expected to continue in 2024.
According to a study by Wolters Kluwer Health, 37% of Americans have skipped a prescription because it’s too expensive, 86% would prefer to use cheaper generic drugs, and 92% want their doctor and pharmacist to tell them about these cheaper options.
If you want to save on prescription costs in 2024, look for health insurance companies that offer plans with substantial prescription drug coverage, including low copays and a wide variety of covered drugs. It’s also helpful to consider insurance companies that offer alternatives to generic drugs that can be significantly less expensive than their brand names.
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