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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Employers are taking a harder look at mental health benefits and employee resource groups as they design their post-COVID benefits packages, according to a new survey by Willis Towers Watson.

Details: 51% of employers said mental health is among their top three benefit priorities; and 33% said the same for employee resource groups.

  • Just 27% of employers put mental health in their top three priorities in 2019.

What they're saying: Most companies saw some pretty significant jumps throughout the pandemic in their mental health claims, said Rachael McCann, senior director of health and benefits and NA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader at WTW.

Employers also say they want to address social determinants of health in their benefits packages, though they're not sure what, exactly, to do, McCann said.

  • "There's just such a delay between 'Yes, I know it's important,' to 'I know what to do,'" she said.

Go deeper

Aug 5, 2021 - Health

The pandemic is now a "negative" for CVS

Expand chart
Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

For every premium dollar that CVS Health's insurance arm, Aetna, collected in the second quarter, it paid a little more than 84 cents to medical providers — a "medical loss ratio" that was a lot higher than Wall Street expected.

The big picture: Health insurers were the main beneficiaries of the pandemic last year, as the widespread delay of doctor visits and procedures greatly offset what they had to pay for COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Now that routine care is back, and COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise again, CVS executives said the pandemic is a "modest negative" for the rest of 2021.

Aug 5, 2021 - Health

What it's like to go to an in-person conference during Delta

About 500 people attended the big auto industry conference in Traverse City, Mich. Photo: Katie Ramsburgh, Center for Automotive Research

This week I'm attending my first professional conference in 18 months, but unfortunately, I'm afraid it might be my last for a while.

Why it matters: COVID-19 cases are surging again, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, triggering a sudden tightening of corporate travel policies and raising serious doubts about in-person conferences and events.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Aug 5, 2021 - Health

Why vaccine passports are still just a dream

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several practical and technological hurdles will stand in the way of widespread "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: COVID-19 vaccine mandates are quickly gaining steam, reviving interest in an easy, electronic way for people to verify that they're vaccinated. But that technology in some cases is still far from perfected, and some experts question how much it could really accomplish.