ACHRNEWS

Voluntary Programs Can Be Cost-Effective Way to Offer Benefits

December 8, 2008

CHICAGO - Combined Insurance, a leading provider of supplemental insurance, encourages employers to consider voluntary benefits programs as an added incentive to help retain employees. According to the company, these programs can be a cost-effective way for employers to reduce labor costs, yet help retain employees by providing workers with access to disability, life, accident/sickness, and critical care supplemental insurance policies.

Voluntary benefits allow employers to provide optional programs that employees can tailor to meet their needs with minimal costs and administrative responsibility, says Combined Insurance. These policies are fully-paid by the employee, yet workers gain access to benefits via payroll deduction which is convenient and saves them time. Plus, the benefits can often follow them if they should change jobs.

Voluntary benefits can include (product availability may vary by state):

• Disability Income Protection: Provides benefits in the event that an employee becomes sick or hurt and is unable to work.

• Universal Life Insurance: Provides permanent life insurance coverage in case of death. Coverage is also available for an employee’s spouse, children and grandchildren.

• Term Life Insurance: Gives family members additional money in the event of an untimely death. Coverage is also available for immediate family members.

• Accident and Sickness Hospitalization: Provides money directly to the employee for each day hospitalized to cover accidents and illnesses. Outpatient and Emergency Room benefits also are available.

• Accidental Death and Dismemberment Coverage: Provides additional money to the family in the event of an accidental death, permanent loss of sight, or dismemberment. Coverage is also available for immediate family members.

• Personal Accident Policy: In the event of a disabling accident, provides additional benefits for physician visits, physical therapy, hospitalization, and disability.

• Cancer Insurance: Provides the employee with money which can be used toward some of the expenses associated with cancer treatment that are usually not covered by an HMO or major medical insurance.

• Critical Condition Coverage: Provides benefits if diagnosed with one of several critical illnesses or conditions, including heart attack or stroke.

“In today’s challenging economic marketplace, many companies are being forced to cut back or eliminate benefits programs, yet access to benefits can be a critical factor in retaining employees,” said Sheila Precious, vice president of Combined Insurance Worksite Solutions, a provider of voluntary benefits plans. “Our clients report that benefits programs are no longer viewed as simply a bottom line expense. Rather, they are becoming a differentiator in recruiting and retaining the best talent in an increasingly competitive labor market.”

Dennis Ontaneda, director of sales and finance administration of Combined Insurance Worksite Solutions, said, “We find that more and more companies are coming to the realization that business survival often depends on the ability to recruit and retain talent, thus employers are looking to enhance benefits to boost employee satisfaction and retention.

“Unfortunately, with health insurance costs rising, many companies that cannot afford to offer employer-supported benefits programs are evaluating voluntary benefits programs as a way to bridge the gap and provide employees with access to benefits programs while keeping costs in line.

“A voluntary benefits solution allows employers to offer more for less. Advantages include ease of payment through payroll deduction and more flexibility and choice. Because of these attributes, voluntary benefits programs - currently a four billion dollar market - are growing in popularity, and projected to reach 15 billion by 2020.”

Ontaneda continued, “Current Combined Insurance research shows that 71 percent of workers surveyed admitted that workplace benefits were a factor in signing on with their current employer. Employees increasingly expect employers to be sensitive to their individual needs. Employees want personalization - ‘benefits for a group of one’ that meet the needs of their family and stage in life. Employees value having a choice of benefits. Fifty percent of participants said that choice is ‘extremely important’ and 43 percent said they were willing to pay more to have choice.

“In addition, employees are also concerned about rising benefit costs. According to the Mercer consulting firm, 59 percent of companies intend to keep down rising health care costs in 2009 by raising workers’ deductibles, co-pays, or out-of-pocket spending limits. As a result, employees today are more interested in buying products that help with the cost of health care expenses.”

For more information about voluntary benefits programs, visit www.combinedworksite.com.

Publication date: 12/08/2008