Planning 2024 Benefits

by | Jun 22, 2023 | Benefits, Uncategorized

As organizations gear up for 2024, human resources professionals face the crucial task of strategizing and planning employee benefits to attract and retain top talent while ensuring compliance with changing regulations. Learn how HR departments can design benefits plans that align with regulatory changes, meet employee expectations, and prioritize affordability and well-being. Be prepared as you begin looking for your benefits offering for next year. 


Regulatory Considerations and Compliance                                                                                The CMS’s “HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters 2024 Final Rule” outlines important regulatory changes affecting benefit plans in 2024. Affordable health care remains a concern across the nation and expanding access to behavioral health care remains a top priority; including substance abuse programs. The final rule includes two new essential community provider (ECP) categories that are critical to delivering needed behavioral health care: Substance Use Disorder Treatment Centers and Mental Health Facilities. The extended requirement dictates that plans must contract with at least 35% of available ECPs in a plan’s service area.  [1]


Employee Priorities and Well-being

According to Mercer’s survey on health benefits planning for 2024, cost containment and employee well-being are top priorities for employers. To address these concerns, HR professionals should consider innovative strategies such as more robust virtual care and mental health programs to enhance the overall well-being of employees. Financial planning is also another fringe benefit that can have a string impact on employee wellbeing in 2024. [2]


Affordability and Cost Containment

Affordability remains a significant concern for employers as they plan for benefits in 2024. Employers are exploring high-deductible health plans paired with health savings accounts and encouraging price transparency and consumer engagement to address rising costs while providing quality coverage. Other out of the box solutions that can make quality healthcare more affordable for both employees and employers include reference-based pricing (RBP) health plans and incorporating a stronger telehealth platform. [3]


Vendor Selection and Change

A study featured in BenefitsPRO reveals that nine out of ten employers plan to change health and well-being vendors within the next two years. As HR professionals plan for 2024 benefits, evaluating and potentially transitioning to new vendors should be considered to align with evolving employee needs and industry trends. Make sure your broker is still researching the best options for you and your employees or it may be time to start researching for a new broker. [4]


Expanded Access to Behavioral Health Care

The HHS has finalized policies to enhance access to behavioral health care in 2024. HR professionals should consider this when designing benefit plans, considering options such as a telehealth option that includes behavioral health services and comprehensive mental health coverage to support employee well-being. [5] 


Standardized Plans and Changing Marketplace Requirements

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) highlights the changing requirements for standardized plan design (SPD) in the healthcare marketplace. While the federal requirement does not apply to SHOP plans sold to small employers it is always a good practice for HR professionals to keep these requirements in mind to ensure their benefit offerings somewhat in line with standardized plan guidelines to ensure you are offering employees transparent and comparable choices when it comes to their healthcare options. [6]


Effective HR benefits planning for 2024 requires a careful assessment of regulatory updates, employee/employer priorities, cost containment strategies, vendor selection, and marketplace comparisons/requirements. As organizations navigate the complexities of modern healthcare options- thoughtful and strategic benefits planning will play a crucial role in attracting, retaining, and engaging top talent in the year ahead.