2016 Healthcare Trends
As people are looking to complete their taxes for 2015 and may have made resolutions to improve their finances in the New Year, healthcare costs are something that has increasingly become a more substantial expense for individuals and families. Below are the top healthcare trends expected to occur in 2016:
The overall price of healthcare will continue to increase – this is probably not surprising to anyone. As employers continue to see large increases in premiums, this gets passed down to its employees. Increases in co-pays, co-insurances and drug costs is a necessary evil in order to make traditional plans accessible to employees. There is good news on this front though – as consumers become more savvy about their healthcare needs and the various options available, those that are generally healthy and do not require substantial services are choosing less rich plans in order to defray the cost of coverage.
Healthcare becomes retail – in lieu of making an appointment with the family physician, consumers will seek out services at walk-in clinics located in pharmacies and supermarkets. The number of these clinics is estimated to rise by approximately 250, or 12%, in 2016.
Telemedicine continues to gain in popularity. More and more insurance companies are covering telemedicine services, allowing patients to see their doctor 24/7 from the comfort of their living rooms, thereby reducing the cost of care for both parties.
Medical grade wearables come to market – we’ve all seen the latest and greatest in healthcare ‘gadgets’ rise in popularity – from pedometers and now the Apple watch and FitBit. I received a FitBit Charge HR for Christmas this year, but must admit that I don’t use half the features available. But imagine having a similar device used to help in the detection and treatment of a specific condition. Development of these items is still in its infancy but the market is expected to reach an astonishing $40 billion by 2020 for devices to assist in sleep disorders, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
ID theft will become a bigger problem – similar to the banking and credit card industries, advances in technology have made significant improvements in the healthcare field, however, this has also created serious weak spots. Just as we have seen large data breaches at large banks and retailers, insurance companies and providers have also experienced similar woes, however, healthcare organizations to do not provide protection services for its victims.
House calls are making a comeback. In a few large cities around the country, several startup companies are promising to provide a physician at your door within an hour or two, leaving the industry to realize that there is still value in bringing care to the patient.
Patients are willing to travel to see a ‘leading physician.’ The 2015 Healthcare Consumer Survey indicates that almost half of those polled would travel longer distances and a third would incur longer wait times to see those doctors that indicated to be the best in their field.
Reduction in provider networks (‘in-network’ coverage). In order to reduce costs, insurance companies have been narrowing the number of doctors for which they offer preferred rates. As a result, it is a worthy exercise to verify that your doctor is still considered in-network. If not, you may be responsible for higher copays and co-insurance if you continue to receive care from the same provider.
Private insurance exchanges – in lieu of traditional insurance policies, an increasing number of businesses are providing employees with a preset dollar amount for which to purchase a policy on the healthcare exchange. An employee who elects a more robust plan would be expected to make up the difference out of pocket. The number of workers who bought insurance on the private exchanges doubled in 2015 to six million, and is expected to double again in 2016 to $12 million. Much of these numbers can be attributed to Obamacare, especially as the penalties for not having coverage have gotten steeper with each passing year of the law.