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employee voluntary benefitsThis week’s news brought some great articles and blog posts about implementing workplace wellness plans, the possibility of voluntary benefits undergoing rate increases, and encouraging employees to really appreciate their benefits. SHRM put out a great piece on the diminished relevance of COBRA now that departing employees can simply get new health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, and Bloomberg did a great article on how Millennials are still not in the market for life insurance. Read on for more information.

  • Promote Employee Appreciation of Benefits. About.com: “Employers spend a lot of money on benefits and, only if you educate employees, will they perhaps appreciate the benefits you provide. In many ways, though, employees have come to look at benefits as an entitlement. Employers of choice have decent benefits packages and employees of choice have come to expect, at least, a standard benefits package.”
  • Could voluntary products see rate hikes? Employee Benefits Adviser: “[I]n in his 28 years in the business, [Rob Shestack, senior vice president and national practice leader of voluntary benefits at AmWins Group Benefits in North Kingstown, R.I. has] never seen a voluntary carrier choose to issue a rate increase. The only time he’s seen any sort of rate change was five years ago in Minnesota, when a carrier had to file a rate decrease. ‘Rate increases on voluntary benefits have been the far exception and not the rule,’ he adds. ‘Now, that’s not to say it’s not happening, even though I have not seen it happen.’”
  • COBRA’s Usefulness Survives PPACA But Is Diminished. SHRM: “COBRA’s usefulness has diminished with the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), but it still is useful in much more limited circumstances, according to Antoinette Pilzner, an attorney with McDonald Hopkins in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Some employers are wondering why requirements for COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) coverage have survived the enactment of the PPACA. ‘COBRA qualified beneficiaries in many cases incur more in health care expenses than they pay in premiums, resulting in additional health care costs for the employer and its plan,’ she noted. ‘For that reason, and because of the administrative burdens and potential penalties associated with failing to administer COBRA properly, most employers would probably be glad to see the COBRA requirement eliminated.’”
  • Death Plans Delayed by Millennials, Pressuring Insurers. Bloomberg: “While people can often lock in lower annual rates by starting coverage as young adults, potential customers are taking longer to reach the milestones that typically trigger the purchase of a policy. The median age for U.S. women at their first marriage was almost 27 in 2010, compared with less than 21 in 1950, U.S. census data show. For men, the figure climbed to more than 28 from 24.”
  • Virgin Pulse Survey Reveals Investing in Employees’ Well-Being Drives Engagement, Company Culture and Recruitment. Yahoo Finance: “In collaboration with Workforce Magazine, Virgin Pulse surveyed 361 organizations and 3,822 employees to gain insights into the challenges and benefits of workplace wellness programs. The results reveal that employees are seeing the benefits of workplace wellness programs, reporting improved company culture and health, and increased energy and productivity in the workplace. Eighty-seven percent of employees say wellness programs positively impact company culture and 96 percent are participating in them to improve their own health, according to the survey. Not only do these programs benefit the workforce, but 88 percent of employee respondents indicated that having access to health and wellness programs provides employers with a leg up in the recruitment process.”

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