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Survey Report

Health care use

2020 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey – U.S.

Health and Benefits|Retirement|Talent|Total Rewards|Bienestar integral
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February 5, 2021

Discover employee perspectives on their work experience during COVID-19 and their wellbeing, retirement expectations and benefit preferences.
icon 1 - Deferred care
Deferred care
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  • Nearly half of employees (44%) have deferred medical care since the start of the pandemic for two reasons: money worries (42%) and concerns about exposure to COVID-19 (61%).
  • Employees in financial distress (56% – 60%), LGBT+ employees (54%) and those with disabilities (69%) were more likely to defer care.
  • One in five report they have suffered or expect to suffer bad health outcomes as a result of delaying treatment.
  • Those who delayed treatment due to money worries reported worse outcomes than those who were worried about exposure to COVID-19 (59% vs. 15%).
  • This finding is consistent with what we have found in other research. A 2020 Willis Towers Watson health care survey of 1,498 employees, conducted with financial support from Genentech, showed that roughly seven in 10 (69%) of those struggling financially delayed necessary medical care, and over half experienced poor health outcomes as a result.
Icon 2 - Future use of health care services
Future use of health care services
  • One in four employees indicate they will significantly increase their health care use when the pandemic is over. Use will be highest among those with chronic conditions (53%) and mental health issues (57%).
  • Younger (34%) and high-income employees (35%) — along with LGBT+ (35%), Hispanics (36%) and employees with disabilities (49%) — are likely to significantly increase their use of health care services post-pandemic.
Icon 2 - Virtual care
Virtual care
  • The use of virtual care has nearly tripled during the pandemic, increasing from 17% of respondents in 2019 to 47% in 2020. Users of virtual care report they are more likely to get the help they need for their chronic conditions (61%) and mental health issues (51%).
  • One in three employees have used virtual care for regular screening and checkups. One in five have used virtual care for mental health care or treatment for a new illness.
  • Virtual care has opened additional pathways for employees to access care, especially for low-income employees, who are more than 40% more likely to say they got the care they needed when using virtual care. Virtual care offers a potential route to address affordability challenges.
  • Employees also gave virtual care high marks compared with face-to-face consultations, with eight in 10 (79%) regarding virtual care as equally as good, and one in four (25%) rating it better. The response is more positive for more frequent users, the young and high earners.
icon 4 - How can employers make a positive impact?
How can employers make a positive impact?
  • Employees are looking for more affordable health care benefits including: lower and predictable cost for using a select network of health care providers (39%), lower out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions drugs (37%), and more generous dental and vision programs (37%). In particular, older and lower-paid employees desire lower prescription drug costs.
  • Employees value virtual care, with seven in 10 (69%) indicating they would consider using virtual care in the future.
  • Among those who deferred care due to financial concerns, 73% put off a routine screening or check-up. Given that most health plans must cover a set of preventive services including routine screenings, it is possible that some employees deferred care unnecessarily. Effective communication is critical to helping employees understand their benefits and get the care they need.

Next section: Financial wellbeing

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2020 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey PDF .8 MB