As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and many Americans see unmet needs outside of their health insurance, more and more workers are increasingly signing up for the voluntary benefits their employers offer. While many workers in the past had skipped on voluntary benefits, they have grown concerned that a good group health insurance plan may not be enough to provide all the coverage they need. It’s important for employers to react to this trend as the pandemic has put many people on edge about how they can continue to pay the bills if they are laid up with COVID-19, and especially if they have long-haul symptoms that have plagued some people for months after first getting sick. Employers who fail to upgrade offerings could see higher turnover and more difficulty in retaining and attracting talent. More employers have added these insurance products to their voluntary benefit offerings. According to a recent Aflac survey, more than 80% of employers are looking at offering insurance plans that cover costs associated with coronavirus or a future pandemic. Also, many insurers are actively developing new plans and enhancing existing plans that pay benefits for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a variety of virus strains.
Extra peace of mind
Voluntary benefits offer both employers and employees added peace of mind in uncertain times. These plans serve a dual role: In addition to helping pay expenses health insurance doesn’t cover, they also serve as a financial safety net if covered illnesses arise as complications of the coronavirus. There are a number of plans that can provide coverage that would be outside the scope of health insurance, including:
- Hospital indemnity insurance – This is a supplemental plan designed to pay for the costs of a hospital admission that may not be covered by other insurance. It will cover out-of-pocket expenses like medical copays, deductibles and regular expenses, such as food, rent and utilities.
- Critical illness insurance – These plans pay out in the event of covered critical illnesses. This insurance can help alleviate financial worries during a serious illness by providing a lump-sum cash payment to the insured person when they’re diagnosed with a specific critical illness. The benefit provides cash at a time when it may be needed most.
- Life insurance – In case the unthinkable happens.
- Disability insurance – These plans pay benefits when insureds are unable to work due to covered illnesses or injuries. If you have disability insurance and become injured or sick and lose your ability to work, you’ll get paid monthly disability insurance benefits to cover your lost income. Disability insurance can be bought individually, but many employers offer long-term and short-term disability insurance as part of an employee benefits package, like health insurance.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for these and other employee benefits that take care of the whole individual, rather than focusing on just health insurance. Executives at insurers that offer these products say that as Americans struggle to balance their work and home lives, particularly if they work from home as a result of the pandemic, they are looking to their employers for more support to help cover holes in their benefits.
The key: Education
If employers have too many voluntary benefit offerings and don’t do a good job of explaining how they complement each other, it can only lead to confusion among their employees. And if they are confused, the chance that they will opt for any of the plans is greatly diminished. That’s why education about the products, and how if set up properly they can provide a powerful level of protection for a variety of events, is crucial. If you’re interested in expanding the voluntary benefits you offer your employees, now is the time. We can help you get the ball rolling and help educate your staff on their choices and why they are important.