BY KELLY THOMPSON
SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, BENEFITS
While the majority of benefits discussions are usually centered around the Medical plan designs, there are additional group benefits that offer added protection and value to employees, enhancing the employee benefits package. These benefits are important because they show additional value with products such as Dental, Vision, Employer-Paid Life/AD&D, Disability coverage and more. Most of the time, if an employee is offered a benefit on a voluntary basis or is offered a partially employer-funded plan they will elect and utilize the benefit. This offers employees a sense of appreciation by providing more options to employees and their families, thus improving the overall experience of employee benefits through their employer.
While many employers offer Dental, Vision, Life/Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Short-Term Disability and Long Term Disability in addition to the Medical plan, other options include Voluntary products such as Accident, Cancer/Critical Illness and Hospital Indemnity policies. While these options can be offered at no cost to the employer, employees see the offer as a positive option and feel valued. In many cases, Medical carriers will offer additional discounts to the rates by bundling the ancillary benefits, sometimes up to 4% depending on the plans offered and the insurance carrier.
Many Medical carriers are offering telemedicine within the medical policy for a more efficient access to care in a virtual setting. In addition to the medical plan offering this coverage, there are also separate companies that offer specific benefit packages including legal needs, counseling, financial benefits, pharmacy discount services and more.
Group Dental policies have the option of being employer funded or voluntary; there are usually greater discounts on premium when the employer funds a portion of the premium since the participation would be greater. Many employees take advantage of the preventive care that is covered at 100% on the dental plans while the basic and major services are usually covered at a percentage after a deductible.
Vision policies may also be employer-sponsored or voluntary. Most employees will use the benefit allowance on frames or contacts while also taking advantage of an annual eye exam with just a copay. The most common vision networks include EyeMed and VSP, while many carriers use their own robust vision network and reimburse a portion of out of network expenses.
The most common employer-paid options which typically cover 100% of employees are Life/AD&D, Short-Term Disability, and Long-Term Disability. It is important that these benefits are made aware to employees since the disability benefits would offer some financial protection if an employee is unable to work for a certain period of time. The Life insurance benefit for an employee if they were to pass away would be available to assist the family. If a death is also considered an accident, the AD&D insurance would also be available to the beneficiaries.
While employer-funded options are common, it is becoming more prevalent to offer voluntary benefits as it allows the employer to provide more offerings while allowing employees the option to select policies that best fit their needs.