BY MARK ROBERTS
The days of employer-paid benefits are disappearing faster than a snow cone in July—especially when you consider that most companies aren’t helping to offset the costs for much more than major medical and physician care for their workers. And, the sticker shock for premium increases has just barely begun. However, in spite of increased health care costs, voluntary benefits are still popular even if employees are left to pick up the tab.
According to Transamerica Employee Benefits, 65 percent of employees say it’s important that their employer offer these products. However, 47 percent of employees surveyed haven’t been offered an additional voluntary product since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2010.
According to TEB, the voluntary products becoming increasingly more important due to PPACA include critical illness, accident, supplemental, hospital indemnity and cancer, and dental and vision policies.
Simply put, voluntary plans offer many benefits to both employees and employers. Here are five of them:
- They can fill in the gaps of a limited employee benefits package. If benefits are currently limited to health and dental, adding additional insurance would help address other employee needs. Some health plans may not provide coverage for eye exams or eyewear. A voluntary vision plan would fill this need and help preserve eyesight. Employees can purchase more life insurance if a voluntary plan is offered alongside an employer-sponsored life plan.
- Pre-taxed dollars can be used to pay for these plans. The cost of voluntary plans can be conveniently deducted from paychecks with pre-tax dollars (FSA/HSA/HRA), which can help employees save on their purchase. Using these vehicles to pay for qualified medical expenses—dental exams, prescription medications, eyewear and exams—is a great way to increase savings and value.
- Offers desirable benefits and gives employees a reason to stick around. Employees value benefits like dental and vision. According to Taylor Nelson/Sofres Intersearch, 80 percent of Americans surveyed felt dental benefits are “very important/somewhat important” for hiring employers to provide employees. Employers who offer a variety of benefits look more attractive to current employees and to new hires, and this can help encourage company loyalty by increasing employee satisfaction.
- Encourages preventive care. Employees who have dental benefits get dental care more compared to those who do not have dental insurance. According to a National Association of Dental Plans Consumer Survey, people who don’t have dental coverage are 2.5 times more likely to not visit their dentist. Bad oral hygiene can be very costly as oral infection has been tied to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, low birth weight in newborns, Alzheimer’s, HPV and more.
Vision plans also are an important prevention tool. Signs of disease such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, and diabetes may be caught early in an eye exam. Early detection from an eye or oral exam can help lower a company’s medical costs in the long term.
- Protection for families during the event of a death or serious injury. Group term life insurance provides an inexpensive way to have money available during the event of a death. Most term life policies include accidental death and dismemberment, which provides a benefit in the event of a serious injury or death due to an accident. By having both benefits, depending on the plan selected by the employer, can help financially protect a family from a diminished household income… and provide peace of mind. Financial wellness is a great voluntary benefit.
Voluntary benefits are hot, and they’re only getting hotter. With PPACA looking at only medical care, our clients and their employees are looking to us as their broker to help them figure out all this mess. Contact P&B Live today for a free consultation: 214-306-4680.