Four Health Care Trends for 2024

female on her laptop talking to a doctor though a virtual visit

The health care industry constantly evolves in response to external influences and future estimations. Next year, we can expect trends that reflect the economy, job market, and technology growth. Some of the big influences for 2024 are already affecting companies, employees, providers, and payers. Let’s see what they are.

How cost inflation is affecting health care insurance

Inflation is touching every aspect of life in America. Insurance costs will rise next year, just like gasoline, housing, and other essentials. The PWC Health Research Institute estimates a 7% increase in both individual and group health insurance costs.

According to the firm’s report, Medical Cost Trends: Behind the numbers 2024, causes of health insurance cost inflation include:

  • A shortage of health professionals due to retirement and job burnout.
  • Health care worker contract negotiations and wage increases.
  • Increased patient demand from an aging population.
  • Physician group mergers and acquisitions that prioritize consumer choice.
  • Pharmaceutical cost increases for existing medications.
  • Approval of new drug therapies (at a median cost of $222,000 per year).

PWC also reported an important trend that may actually reduce some health costs — an industry-wide initiative to keep people out of the hospital by providing home-based, virtual, and outpatient care alternatives. You can expect to see greater use of these less expensive care options by your employees with health care coverage.

Staying healthy with telemedicine

The telemedicine trend continues to expand into 2024. The approach continues to offer great potential — with sophisticated wearable devices and connected technologies that patients can use for remote monitoring and treatment. 

People with chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, can track and upload their health data for their health care provider. Physicians can see data in real time, intervene early, and schedule an in-person office or home visit if needed. 

The delivery of routine preventive care via telemedicine reflects the previously mentioned trend to keep hospital admissions to a minimum. Connecting patients and providers directlymakes health care more accessible and affordable — improving quality of life and avoiding unnecessary health problems.

Improved employee health benefits plans

This trend is good news for employees, who have the upper hand in today’s tight labor market. The Mercer consulting firm reports that the majority of employers (64%) intend to enhance their benefit offerings starting in 2024.

Findings from Mercer’s Health & Benefit Strategies for 2024 Survey Report show that employers plan to do one or more of the following:

  • Take on additional expenses versus cost-splitting with employees.
  • Offer more health care coverage options including low or no deductible plans.
  • Improve health equity as part of larger diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs.
  • Increase benefits for women’s health, including reproductive health and menopause support.
  • Continue to integrate telemedicine and virtual health care offerings.
  • Expand access to substance use disorder treatments.
  • Assess behavioral health benefits for potential improvements.

Investing in AI for health care

The Morgan Stanley global financial services firm estimates that 94% of health care companies use some artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Health care companies of all types are projected to increase spending on AI by 11% in 2024. The next phase of AI investment will include diagnostic tools, monitoring devices, biopharmaceuticals, and health care services technology.

Results of this investment will be seen in:

  • Increased use of robust electronic medical records that include personal genetic data and imaging results for earlier disease detection and treatment.
  • Improved data collection from continuous monitoring devices for diabetes, heart disease, and neurologic conditions.
  • Dozens of new biologic drugs and gene therapies powered by AI-enabled drug discovery and development.
  • Enhanced clinical documentation tools for medical appointments, particularly for automated notetaking during virtual health visits.
  • Faster insurance purchasing and processing with AI underwriting tools, elevating the insurance agent role to that of consultant and educator.
  • Smart assistants and chatbots that will improve the health care consumer experience.

Inflation aside, these 2024 trends are about making health care better and more accessible for a greater number of people. That’s progress.

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