A regional Third Party Administrator, Benefits by Design authored a fairly decent Blog post recently. In the post they made some notable predictions for events that should impact the Canadian Benefits landscape for 2022. What do you think? Do you think there are some trends missing? The 10 predictions have been summarized below:
- Continued Impacts of COVID-19 — The impacts of COVID-19 on Canada have touched every sector and the group insurance industry is no different. In fact, many of the ongoing trends and predictions for 2022 can be directly attributed to COVID-19, or at least been exacerbated by it.
- Continued Mental Health Crisis & More Emphasis on Solutions — To deliver on this, employers should seek out support organizations and their resources, like CAMH or Government of Canada, and make resources widely available to employees.
At the same time, they can expand mental health services, including an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in a benefits package, and normalize mental health conversations in the workplace. Offer Personal Time Off (PTO) and encourage employees to use it for mental health days as needed — there may still be many employees who do not see this as a “good enough reason” for PTO, but it is.
- Increasing Long Term Disability (LTD) Insurance Incidence Rates — It’s likely that we will continue to see rising Long Term Disability (LTD) Insurance claims going into 2022. Driving forces for this include mental health stressors, more employees reaching “burnout” stage as the pandemic continues, coupled with additional delays in diagnoses for conditions due to the impact COVID-19 has had on the healthcare system.
Delays in diagnoses and surgeries translates to slower resolution of claims, leading to an overall greater volume of active claims.
- Impacts of Inflation and Cost of Service Increases Will be Felt — Among the most subtle and perhaps infrequently thought-of group insurance trends in 2022, we have inflation.
Canada experienced its highest inflation rate increase in 2021 since February 2003 — 4.7% in October, and 4.4% in September. The cost of services across the board are rising, including healthcare practitioners like dentists, chiropractors, and physicians. It’s worth noting that part of this rise in the cost of services for practitioners may incorporate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) costs and cleanup, as we predicted last year.
- The Rise of High-Cost Drugs Will Continue — High-cost drugs will continue to impact benefits plan in 2022 as new high-cost drugs hit the market and conditions covered by them expands. A survey by Aon predicts a 7% rise in employer-provided medical benefits costs in Canada, driven in part by these high-cost claims (along with inflation and cost of services mentioned previously).
- Competitive Job Market Will Lead to Continued Hiring and Staffing Challenges for Employers — While we agree that higher wages are certainly an avenue towards attracting and retaining top talent, we think there’s another avenue, related to total compensation, that employers should consider in this fight: employee benefits.
- Employers Will Prioritize Benefits and Perks for Employee Retention and Acquisition –The competitive job market means employers are going to be eyeing their benefits plan as the “carrot on the stick” to attract and retain top talent in their industry. That means greater emphasis (and, dare we say it, budget?) on benefits.
- Increased Focus on Financial Wellness and Flexibility — Working Canadians are grappling with significant increases to inflation, affecting staples and necessary goods, like food and gas, and that doesn’t even begin to cover the rise in housing costs. There’s no way around it — many working Canadians will have their finances top of mind in 2022.
- Remote Work Will Continue to Bring Changes to Workplaces — Though not exclusive to group insurance trends in 2022, remote work will be on many employers’ and employees’ minds. Although workers and leadership are still at odds about whether remote work will become a permanent fixture, the fact remains that it will still be a significant topic of discussion in 2022.
- We’ll Need to Adapt to New Technologies, Faster — As remote work takes off, we’ve already seen workplaces adapt — virtual meetings, updating manual processes, shifting to cloud-based services, the automation of many aspects of work. In 2022, this process may just continue and could really ramp up.