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Health Vs. Wealth: Are Employees Making The Right Benefits Choices?

Leading benefits experts outlined the challenges and choices employees are facing when it comes to making benefits decisions during the annual benefits enrollment season at a briefing in New York today. Experts from Prudential Group Insurance, the Employee Benefit Research Institute and the American Benefits Council shared research and perspective on an increasing shift of benefits costs and decision making to employees who have to decide between benefits that impact health or wealth.

“The rising cost of health care is leading companies to shift more cost to employees, as well as to offer employees a robust menu of voluntary benefits to address key financial risks,” said Stephen Pelletier, president of Prudential Group Insurance, who spoke at the event. “When it comes to making these decisions companies are providing more information and decision tools than ever to help employees make choices that meet both their shorter-term health and longer-term wealth protection needs.”

Benefits experts at the event, including Dallas Salisbury, president of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI); James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council; and James Gemus, senior vice president of Group Life and Voluntary Benefits, Prudential Group Insurance, highlighted the need for consumers to take a balanced approach to choosing benefits to ensure they and their families are protected from the risk of premature death, disability and prolonged illness, all of which can have a devastating effect on a family’s financial health.

“Employee benefits are highly valued and provide flexibility to meet the needs of workers,” said EBRI’s Salisbury. “While health care is the priority for most workers the importance of education and increased understanding of the role and importance of the range of benefits offered cannot be understated.”

Reflecting the shift in benefits decisions to individuals, the panelists noted that voluntary benefits and products are becoming increasingly important to employees, a point highlighted in two Prudential white papers, Optimizing Employee Benefits in the Post-Health Care Reform Environment ,” and Voluntary Benefits: A Critical Tool for Improving Employees’ Financial Wellness ,” shared at the event.

“Health care reform has the potential to apply added pressure to leading employers as they manage finite budgets for benefits cost and compete for top talent,” noted James Klein of the American Benefits Council. “Employers are working hard to maintain the benefits which they believe are critical to attracting and retaining the best talent and to help employees make the best choices that protect them and their families.”

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