As health care reform sits on her perch ready to swoop down upon us with all the mighty changes and employers increasing cost-shifting to employees, voluntary benefits take up several yards towards becoming a big player in the benefit programs of the future.
Here’s a summary of key trends to help employers plan their voluntary benefits strategy going forward.
Cost-Shifting: Employers continue to move to shift more health care costs on to the employees, which is helping to drive voluntary benefits according to MetLife. There is also a trend toward an increased use of third-party benefit platforms for enrollment and administration.
Health Care Reform: According to Colonial Life employers are taking three actions to deal with health care reform and rising costs:
51% are increasing health care premiums
48% are increasing employees’ health insurance deductible or co-pays
49% are adding voluntary benefits
Communication, Education and Technology – With more and more companies moving towards electronic communication, according to ING, ultimately the effectiveness of the communication strategy will determine how employees will participate in the plan.
Products – Not normally topping the list, products such as critical illness and accident insurance are becoming more important. Disability and supplemental still remain the foundation of voluntary plans, but AlwaysCare benefits is seeing an increased need for these specialty products.
AIS Health reports that larger employers, such as Pitney Bowes, have found success in value-based benefit designs to reduce costs and improve employee health.
High deductible health plans continue to emerge on top and adding limited medical benefit indemnity plans has also been a growing trend.