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2020 Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey

Our Health and Well-Being Touchstone Survey was completed in Spring 2020, a time of unprecedented upheaval of the US healthcare delivery system, the economy, and the well-being of Americans. The amount of change and angst permeates everything from how people feel about the government, society,­­ and their benefits. As industry struggles with how to balance liquidity and workforce needs, we did see a difference in responses based on timing of survey completion: pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19. 

We've highlighted some of the distinctions we see in the results by timing of the response in addition to employer size. How the history books reflect on 2020 is anyone's guess, but there are a few key trends:

Key findings

Diversity and inclusion in 2020

After seeing the impacts from the global environment of social unrest during COVID-19, employers are now citing diversity as one of their top challenges to their people strategies.

However, In contrast employers do not see their current diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs are helping them attract and retain talent. In 2019 less than half (45%) of employers listed maintaining a workplace culture that appeals to a diverse workforce as one of the top five attributes for attracting talent. In 2020, D&I had the 12th most top five citations.

COVID-19 and its impact on medical plan strategy

COVID-19 has changed both how employers implement their benefit plans, as well as how employees are utilizing their benefits.

Since the onset of COVID-19, we are seeing employers considering more alternative strategies outside the typical increases of employee premiums and employee cost sharing. Post-shutdown, 30% of employers are considering implementing narrow networks and 35% are considering performance-based networks, compared to 21% and 32% of employers considering these strategies pre-COVID-19, respectively.

High deductible plans are the highest enrolled

For the first time, high deductible plans are the highest enrolled plan type. In previous years, we have seen high deductible plans picking up steam as employers and employees have been trying to manage their costs. In 2020, high deductible plans are the highest enrolled type of plan for 49% of employers, compared to PPO/POS/OAP plans being the highest enrolled plan type for 43% of employers. In 2019, these were the highest enrolled plan types for 41% and 52% of employers, respectively. This is the first year where high deductible plans have surpassed PPO/POS/OAP plans as the most frequently enrolled plan type.

Predicting medical costs

Employers expect medical costs to increase 7.2% in 2020 before plan changes, or 5.2% after plan changes. Costs also increased more than expected in 2019, with an actual 2019 trend of 5.6% compared to the projected 2019 trend of 3.8% from last year. According to PwC's Medical cost trend: Behind the numbers 2021, "medical cost trend could range from 4% to 10% in 2021."

Insights from PwC’s 2020 Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey

PwC specialists Barbara Gniewek and Cornell Staeger share insights from the 13th annual Health and Well-being Touchstone Survey, which covers all aspects of the employee benefits space. Listen in as they examine the key workforce trends that emerged in this year’s responses.


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Cornell Staeger

Principal, PwC US

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