Open enrollment is just around the corner, is your human resources department be ready? Health, vision, dental, life insurance, short and long term disability and various soft benefits… all of these options are on the table. There are several new trends in open enrollment that HR departments should be keen on. It’s important that companies be aware of these trends so they can effectively explain these new health plan options to their employees.

The National Business Group on Health (NBGH) recently identified six major trends for open enrollment:

1. Modest cost increases.

Based on NBGH’s data, employers expect health benefit costs to rise 5% in 2020, including premiums and out-of-pockets costs. But deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums won’t change much from 2019 to 2020, according to NBGH. The increases are expected to outpace both wage and economic growth. This is one of the most important open enrollment trends for 2020.

2. More Health plan choices.

Employers are planning to offer more health plans, reversing a trend from 2018 that saw companies offering a high-deductible health plan paired with a health savings account. In 2018, 39 percent of employers offered only HDHPs, but only 25% are doing the same this year.

3. More virtual care options.

Virtual care, that is to say healthcare provided through technologies such as the phone or internet, are expected to play a larger role in employee health plans. A survey conducted by NBGH showed that 82 percent of employers will provide mental health services virtually, and 60 percent will provide weight management tools virtually.

4. Greater access to health care support tools.

78 percent of employers plan to offer health care support tools that include medical decision support and second-opinion services. Additionally, 73 percent of employers will offer virtual services to help with claims assistance.

5. Increased mental health benefits.

Mental health is a growing concern in America and employers are taking notice. Nearly half of employers will introduce programs to reduce stigma surrounding mental health conditions. 69 percent will offer online resources to employees and 47 percent will provide manager training to help recognize mental health issues in employees. Around one-third will provide onsite mental health counselors.

6. Increased focus on quality care.

Some employers are taking an increased focus on health care quality and value. 27 percent of employers will expand their centers of excellence (COEs) – treatment facilities designated as high-quality and cost-effective

Developing and effectively administrating an employee benefits program is a great employee engagement and a recruitment tool. If your company needs assistance reviewing the best benefit options that provide adequate coverage for employees and are financially feasible for the employer reach out to the experts at ZM Ventures. We can coordinate the processes and help make time-sensitive decisions for the upcoming year.

Marie Zolezzi, CEO and Founder of ZM Ventures has contributed to the HR functions of many large firms in the Silicon Valley, Intermountain West and the Pacific Northwest. Marie is a skilled HR practitioner with unique expertise in HR business partnering, conflict resolution, employee investigations, one-on-one coaching and organization management. She is also a skilled board advisor to Board of Directors needing input from an HR thought leader. To contact Marie Zolezzi, send an email to



Emerman, Ed. “National Business Group on Health Identifies Six Open Enrollment Trends for 2020.” GlobeNewswire News Room, “GlobeNewswire”, 25 Sept. 2019,

Miller, Stephen. “Employers’ Health Costs Could Rise 6% in 2020.” SHRM, SHRM, 28 Sept. 2019,

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