In an effort to manage health care costs, employers are introducing more voluntary benefits and employees are responding in large numbers. According to The State of Group Voluntary Benefits, the second in a series of research briefs stemming from The Prudential Insurance Company of America’s (Prudential’s) Seventh Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond, 63% of employees who say their employer offers at least one voluntary benefit agree that such benefits increase the value of their company’s benefits program. And, employees who said they are interested in receiving more voluntary benefits through the workplace increased 10 percentage points; 34% from 24% a year ago.
“Employers and employees agree on the value of voluntary benefits,” says Bob Patience, vice president, voluntary benefits, Prudential Group Insurance. “Employers see an increase in employees’ satisfaction with their benefits program, while employees appreciate their employers’ endorsement of the products offered, and believe they get good value because of their employers’ involvement and diligence.”
Indicating a possible future trend, 44% of brokers currently selling voluntary products are expecting increased demand for these benefits over the next five years, representing an increase of 10% over last year. Brokers foresee the biggest increase in the adoption of critical illness insurance, with 41% believing it will increase. Critical illness coverage pays a lump sum for covered illnesses or conditions such as cancer, heart attack and stroke surgery. Interestingly, signaling that better communication and more education may be needed regarding worksite benefits, 27% of employees surveyed said they weren’t sure if critical illness is part of their current employee benefit package.
Other voluntary products expected to be purchased in larger numbers are accident insurance, (31%) long and short-term disability insurance, (30%, 28% respectively) dental insurance, (27%) and life insurance (25 %.)“Purchasing benefits at the workplace can provide employees with multiple advantages, including the education and tools to make informed, needs based choices,” continues Patience. “Not only can they purchase coverage through the convenience of employer-based enrollment systems, but also pay for the coverage using payroll deductions. Taking full advantage of attractive employer based voluntary benefit programs is a great way for employees to improve their “financial wellness.”