Voluntary Benefits: Valued-Added Employment

How can we maintain the cost of benefits and still provide employees with an added value over their existing salary and compensation plans? This is one of the questions corporations are asking — a question producers can help answer by explaining alternatives. With the cost of health care continuing to rise, corporations are facing the increasing challenge of offering benefits at an affordable cost.

Employer health insurance premiums increased by 5% — two times the rate of inflation — and the annual premium for an employer health plan covering a family of four averaged nearly $12,700 in 2008, according to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (Employee Health Benefits: 2008 Annual Survey, Sept. 2008).

Because of trends like this, many employers are looking for less expensive benefits alternatives, including flexible savings accounts (FSAs) and non-insurance voluntary benefits, to boost benefits offerings.

Non-insurance voluntary benefits are designed to augment core benefits by addressing the personal needs of a company’s employees at a low cost to the employer. At BeneTrac, we are seeing companies offer a range of benefits options in this category, including auto and home insurance, 529 college savings plans, deferred compensation, estate planning, fitness programs, lunch programs, medical opt-outs, pet care, profit sharing, stock options, uniforms, and more. When offered these types of benefits, employees generally perceive that their company has performed due diligence to select the appropriate providers and has leveraged its buying power to get a better deal.

Producers who provide access to a number of health care, and other insurance and non-insurance alternatives, have a greater edge. They can help clients in addressing companies’ needs to lower costs, offer a variety of plans, and provide greater value to help retain employees.

Producers can help corporations perform employee audits to determine non-insurance voluntary benefits that might make the biggest impact. Those who have forged valuable relationships with clients can assess the needs of the employee base, offer new and often more cost-effective alternatives, and provide creative options to employers’ traditional plans. Producers can also help organizations answer questions such as: Would employees collectively benefit from a selected program? Or, would they prefer to have greater options in selecting specific benefits that meet their needs?

When the non-insurance voluntary benefits provided hold a high level of perceived value on the part of workers, organizations can maintain a higher level of employee satisfaction. Gym memberships, FSAs and other benefits can demonstrate a higher sense of concern for employee health and well-being.

Finally, as organizations look for more innovative ways to manage the rising costs of providing benefits, producers can play a pivotal role in helping to manage information surrounding more complex offerings.



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