As employers jockey for positioning in the competitive market of employee benefits, they should consider the peace of mind provided by financial wellness and security as part of a comprehensive health benefits package. That includes strong ancillary benefits, such as life and disability coverage, and supplemental benefits, such as accident, critical illness and hospital indemnity plans.
Stephen Bankson, vice president of underwriting, customer service and claims for USAble Life, said life and disability coverage not only provides that peace of mind — which leads to better employee satisfaction — but also protects employees’ income.
“Through disability insurance, employees can ensure their income will continue should an injury or illness prevent them from being able to work and earn a paycheck,” he said. “Sometimes, they may even avoid or delay necessary treatment for fear of missing work and losing income. Having disability insurance can help remove these fears, too. Through life insurance, employees can ensure a legacy income is provided to loved ones after they pass, to provide financial security. The security and peace of mind of knowing that one’s income is protected and will be there to support the family’s everyday needs, is a vital mental health benefit and an important part of an employee’s overall health and wellness plan.”
For employees, knowing one’s family will be provided financially through life insurance coverage is a huge component to overall employee emotional health. Disability coverage, on the other hand, can provide financial support in the form of weekly or monthly income-replacement benefits if a sickness or injury prevents an employee from working.
“Disability carriers provide a variety of services to help disabled employees regain their independence and sense of self-esteem, as well as assistance to help them get back to work as safely and quickly as their condition allows,” Bankson said. “Disability insurers frequently employ nurses and vocational rehabilitation specialists to help work with employers and employees to make necessary job, workplace, or workstation accommodations that can enable the person to return to work. Insurers can also arrange alternative work schedules, temporary positions, and other flexible options, where possible, to keep the employee engaged, involved and earning.”
Bankson added that insurers also employ specialists who provide assistance filing for Social Security Disability Income and other financial resources the employee may qualify to receive while they work to recover.
Ancilliary products such as life and disability can be paid by the employee, the employer or funded through a shared payment model. How they’re funded often depends on the size of the group and the product options selected.
“Smaller groups, for example, tend to prefer employee-paid plans to expand their benefit offerings without increasing their company costs,” Bankson said. “Larger employers with more capital may be in a position to cost-share or pay for additional benefits for their employees.”
In the uncertain job market of 2020 especially, good benefits represent a key component to a competitive offer. It’s almost essential in hiring good employees. And many employees with existing coverage through their employer face out-of-pocket costs in the form of high deductibles, co-payments and shared (co-insurance) payments for unexpected but required health care services resulting from accidents, critical illnesses and hospitalizations.
“For individuals without employer-sponsored insurance, the financial impact is even greater,” Bankson said. “Many must rely on precious savings, credit or family members to help meet these heavy expenses. And with emergency resources often inadequate, they find themselves unable to meet normal living expenses like rent, utilities, child care or even food. Unanticipated medical care is one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy, due to the high costs of health care and a generally low savings rate among Americans.”
Supplemental coverage may not seem necessary — until it is. And Bankson believes well-supported employees make for happier, healthier and more loyal employees.
“Supplemental benefits such as accident, critical illness and hospital indemnity plans provide additional financial security and support, payable directly to the insured individual when they need it most, giving them money to help meet any health care or household needs,” he said. “As such, these benefits are an important part of any comprehensive benefit program. In these times, the value of having supplemental benefits to provide additional financial support is even more important.”