Many of today's employees live paycheck-to-paycheck, without the cushion of emergency savings. Now that health care reform has forced employers to adopt high-deductible health plans, even more of the burden of health care costs falls on employees. This has resulted in widespread financial difficulties, even bankruptcy, for the American worker due to medical bills they can’t afford to pay off.
As health insurance premiums continue to rise, employers and employees are choosing to go with higher premium plans. Long-term, this puts pressure on employees and their families, as well as employers. This is why voluntary insurance - once considered a nonessential, yet interesting benefits option for employees — has become a useful tool with which employers can increase employee retention in what many deem a tight labor market.
Setting a Standard
More and more workers now consider voluntary benefits offerings to be a piece of a complete employee benefits package, utilized to make sure they are covered in case of illness or injury. Almost three-fourths of surveyed employees indicated that they would purchase voluntary insurance if their employers offered them. These employees who are offered voluntary benefits are also less likely to look to go job-searching and more likely to be satisfied with their current employer. It's becoming clear that voluntary insurance products are essential not only for employees but for the organziations where they work.
The benefits might be obvious, but the value of a voluntary benefits program is tremendous. Employers don’t have to pay for these benefits, so the advantage of offering them comes without a price tag. And it’s relatively easy to get a voluntary program in place. An organization with 500 or less employees can often have a program in place within a couple weeks. The challenge lies in finding the right benefits provider to partner with.
Things to Consider
Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a voluntary benefits provider:
- Are they a reputable company?
- Do they have a track record of providing the benefits as promised?
- Do they offer a robust line of voluntary products?
- Do the voluntary products offered help employees bolster their insurance coverage?
- Does the provider have the back-office systems and processes in place to make it easy for both employer and employees?
- Does the provider's system integrate with your own benefits administration software?
Rising insurance costs and the need to do more with less has made voluntary insurance an attractive option for employers. Voluntary benefits serve to supplement an organization's existing benefits package without adding to the bottom line. Because of this, the industry is growing fast. Still, there are thousands of employers who don't offer voluntary insurance products. As an employer, you may be able to gain a competitive advantage by offering these benefits to your employees.