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Critical_Illness_Coverage_a_Big_Part_of_Voluntary_Benefits_Growth_in_2016.jpgVoluntary benefits have been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years as employers have moved to high deductible plans or been forced to otherwise reduce their health plans. For many organizations, switching the cost of certain benefits to the employee while still offering them a rate better than they’d get individually, has been the answer to help mitigate benefit cutsthis. Employees are willing to pay out of pocket for dental or vision benefits rather than have them scrapped altogether. Another benefit employees are increasingly seeing value in is critical illness coverage.

All signs point to a rise in critical illness coverage in 2016, and this is a good trendsign. Employees and employers alike realize the exorbitant costs that can result from one catastrophic illness. By providing this coverage, employers are signaling they care about employees’ physical, mental and financial well-being and want to alleviate some stress for the staff.

The following articles and blog posts offer a few perspectives on the expected growth in voluntary benefits for 2016, particularly in the area of critical illness coverage.

Voluntary Benefit Offerings Continue to Grow and Expand. Employee Benefit News: “Earlier this year, an EBA survey about voluntary benefits asked benefit advisers to identify the voluntary products most coveted by their client base, and traditional voluntary benefits fared well, with 81% saying dental benefits are in high demand, 59% saying vision is and nearly half (49%) saying short-term disability is in high demand by employers … More than half (62%) of brokers surveyed by EBA say critical illness insurance is in demand by employer clients, and 25.5 percent say it’s in high demand. The employer demand is similar for cancer insurance, with 62 percent of brokers saying cancer insurance is in demand by clients and 21 percent saying it’s in high demand. One-third of brokers (36 percent) say hospital insurance is in high demand by employers, while 30 percent say accident insurance is.”

Critical Illness Plans Become A Popular Voluntary Benefit. InsuranceNewsNet: “Critical illness plans deliver financial certainty for employees, especially for those enrolled in high-deductible health plans, by providing a cash-benefit to help fund workers’ out-of-pocket expenses after a major illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke. The plans are designed to supplement medical benefits and help employees to focus on healing from a major illness, instead of their bills. These additional resources mean employees may get back to health — and work — more quickly. As more companies move to consumer-directed health plans, adding critical illness coverage provides financial protection for workers while giving cost certainty and financial flexibility to employers.”

6 Reasons Voluntary Sales Will Flourish in 2016. BenefitsPro:‘Brokers understand voluntary benefits better than in the past and are seeing more opportunities as their employer clients move from employer-funded to employee-funded voluntary benefits to try to control overall costs,’ Brazzell says. ‘Brokers also see more opportunities as more employers move toward high deductible plans, and can see how particular voluntary products fit into the overall benefit package.’ According to Metlife's 13th annual Employee Benefit Trends Study, employers’ top employee benefits objectives are retention (41.1 percent) and controlling health and welfare benefit costs (37.3 percent). ‘Voluntary benefits can help them achieve both these goals, adding choice and customization to a benefits program while sharing the cost of these benefits with employees,’ says Meredith Ryan-Reid, senior vice president, MetLife group, voluntary and worksite benefits in New York City.The MetLife survey also found nearly 40 percent of employees say a wide selection of benefits would make them feel more loyal to their employer, and 55.5 percent are willing to bear more of the cost in order to have a choice that meets their needs.”

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