We’ve spoken about the advantages of voluntary benefits in multiple earlier articles. These benefits can add great variety and competitiveness to your overall benefits package, helping to draw in new talent while also keeping your current team happy, healthy, and loyal. Voluntary benefits provide a great deal of flexibility and customization for employees, who can choose which benefits they want to enroll in and which ones they don’t, tailoring their coverage to their unique needs, lifestyle, and budget. And all of this comes at little to no cost to employers themselves.
There are a wide range of voluntary benefits out there, though some are more in-demand than others. In this 2-part series, we will cover the most popular and desirable voluntary benefits and what they can do for your organization and its employees.
- Keep Things Clear and Straightforward
This is a point that we touched on in our earlier article on the subject, but it’s worth revisiting. If a message is especially long and full of obscure terminology and legal jargon, it can be hard to engage with. Many employees may not bother to read it at all, or will skim it briefly and then forget about it. Either way, there is a good chance that they are not getting all of the information that they need, and they certainly aren’t going to get excited about it. When talking about your benefits program, keep things as short and simple as possible. Avoid confusing terminology wherever possible, and where it can’t be avoided, make sure that everything is clearly defined. Short messages written in plain English are more appealing to read and easier to understand, and this understanding is key for increasing engagement.
- Dental and Vision Coverage
Two of the most well-known and widely appealing examples of voluntary benefits are dental and vision insurance. These are used to supplement employees’ major medical insurance and provide coverage for routine dental and vision procedures. While most plans will not cover more unusual or extensive treatments, this insurance can still be highly valuable for employers and employees alike. Dental diseases and vision problems are no fun for employees, and the time off and reduced productivity that results costs employers millions of work hours each year. Adding this type of coverage can have very positive effects for your team and your company as a whole.
Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, provides healthcare services and information remotely, allowing participants to receive help from anywhere and at any time. Telemedicine not only lowers the cost of healthcare – it can also improve its quality. Studies have shown telemedicine to have significantly positive impacts on things like depression, anxiety, and overall stress levels. It can even reduce the frequency of hospital visits. Overall, telemedicine is a simple and effective way to save on healthcare costs for both employers and employees. In fact, the American Hospital Association reports that employers who have implemented telehealth programs can save as much as 11% on health-related expenses.
- Hospital Indemnity Insurance
Hospital indemnity insurance, also called hospital insurance or hospitalization insurance, is specialized coverage designed to supplement a normal health plan. Most hospital indemnity plans pay a lump sum benefit directly to the insured to help cover the cost of a hospital stay – planned or otherwise. Some plans will also offer coverage for surgery, diagnostic procedures, intensive care, rehabilitation, emergency room treatment, childbirth, and more. Once the insured has received the benefit, they can allocate that money however they see fit, using it to cover the deductible from another health plan, pharmacy prescriptions, or other out-of-pocket costs.
Hospital indemnity plans can benefit employees of all sorts, but are especially good for those enrolled in a high-deductible health plan, since such plans can make lengthy stays in the hospital especially costly. Employers can choose to extend hospital indemnity coverage to an employee’s spouse and children if desired. To learn more about hospital indemnity insurance and how it can benefit you and your employees, please see our article on the subject.
- Critical Illness Insurance
Critical illness coverage is another great way to supplement a major medical plan and fill in some of the gaps that those plans leave behind. As the name suggests, critical illness insurance provides coverage for serious or chronic illnesses, such as cancer or heart disease. The amount of care and treatment that these illnesses require can make them incredibly expensive and potentially devastating to an employee’s finances. Critical illness insurance takes some of this pressure off, ensuring that enrollees will have access to greater funds than their standard health plan would provide should they be diagnosed with a serious condition.
- Accident Insurance
As the name implies, accident insurance pays for medical and out-of-pocket costs – including ambulance and emergency room fees – in the wake of an accidental injury. An accident can happen at any time, and the surprise nature of these events combined with the possibility for extensive injuries can easily result in huge medical bills. Accident insurance, like critical illness insurance, provides peace of mind and a safety net in case something goes wrong.
- Disability Insurance
This type of insurance covers individuals who have been diagnosed with a disability, replacing a portion of the disabled employee’s salary up to a designated monthly limit. Disability insurance comes in two main forms: short-term disability and long-term disability. Short-term disability plans will typically provide coverage for 6 months or less, with a waiting period of up to 14 days after the enrollee becomes disabled. Long-term disability coverage pays out until the disability ends. In cases where the disability is permanent, the plan may pay out for a specific number of years, or it may last until the enrollee reaches retirement age. The waiting period for these plans is also longer, typically around 90 days.
- Life Insurance
A life insurance plan will pay out a benefit to your family after you pass away. There are many different types of life insurance available, but plans fall into two major categories – term and permanent. Term life insurance only provides coverage for a specific amount of time, such as 20 years. Most life insurance companies offer multiple options when it comes to how long the term will last. Permanent life insurance, which encompasses whole, universal, and variable life insurance, will cover the enrollee for their whole life. The primary differences between the various forms of permanent life insurance lie in how each type accumulates cash value and the investment opportunities surrounding that cash value. Which option is best for any given employee will depend on their own needs and budget.