Author Archives: Steve Aldrich

To connect millennials and Gen Z to the right employee benefits, know their story

April 2, 2018 | By Ryan Golden – HR

HR conferences host a wide range of discussions on how to hire, support and retain younger workers — often reflexively referred to as millennials — and one critical component of these efforts is benefits. Employers can’t afford to overlook the unique requirements and inclinations of key segments of the multigenerational workforce when it comes to the benefits offered and how they are administered.

The so-called millennial generation (defined as those born between 1981 and 1996) is now the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, according to the Pew Research Center. The needs of millennial employees are also generally shared by their colleagues born after 1996, known by the “Generation Z” moniker. But these two generations are more than curiosities — they are a growing force to be reckoned with. Experts are advising employers to re-evaluate their employee benefits strategies accordingly.

A world of difference

No two generations experience the same life events in the same order. That applies when speaking of the differences between the lifespans of, say, the generation called either traditionalists or the silent generation (born before 1946) and Gen Xers (defined as those born between 1965 and about 1980). HR should apply this same thinking to their younger peers, said John MacPhee, CEO and executive director of The Jed Foundation, a nonprofit focusing on the mental health of young adults.

“It’s important that we understand that things are changing fast, and the world that emerging adults are growing up in today is quite different than even 10 years ago, arguably more than five years ago,” MacPhee said during a webinar presented by the Disability Management Employer Coalition. “There’s heightened risks around sustainable employment [and] the gig economy — it feels less settled.”

This changing landscape has revealed key differences in how millennials select and consume employee benefits, Emily Bailey, principal at OneDigital, told HR Dive in an interview.

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Workplace Benefits Influence Employee Feelings Of Financial Security, Study Says

March 9, 2018 | By Jadah Riley – Financial Advisor

Most Americans feel more financially secure because of the financial and insurance benefits they receive through their employer, according to a study by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual).

However, this perspective changes depending on the income level of workers. Fifty-eight percent of middle-income workers and 65 percent of upper middle-income workers say they feel more secure because of benefits from their employer. Only 42 percent of lower-income workers reported feeling the same security. A lack of financial education among workers may be contributing to lower levels of confidence.

Individuals who report feeling less financially secure are less likely to have access to benefits such as a 401(k) or other retirement savings vehicles, or life, disability, accident or dental insurance, according to the report.

Employees are interested in their benefits and how to protect their finances in emergencies. Workers showed the highest level of interest in specific benefits including disability insurance (78 percent), continuing retirement contributions while disabled (74 percent), insurance for critical illness (74 percent), accident insurance (67 percent), and low cost emergency loans (57 percent) among all income levels.

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What advisers need to know about today’s critical illness insurance

March 8, 2018 | By Pam Jenkins, Employee Benefit Adviser

Critical illness insurance is turning 35 this year, but it’s still growing and evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of your client’s employees.

Sales of critical illness saw double-digit growth each year from 2010 to 2016, according to the Eastbridge U.S. Voluntary Worksite Sales Report. Overall, sales during that time grew approximately 175 percent to more than $550 million and voluntary sales of critical illness policies have now exceeded the sales of long-term disability, universal/whole life and cancer, according to Eastbridge.

But if advisers aren’t familiar with how CI can help their clients meet their goals and objectives, they should be. And they should also know how much flexible and robust these offerings are becoming.

Among CI’s advantages:
· Simplicity….
· Flexibility…
· Simplified underwriting options….
· Creates distinction in your portfolio….
· Meets an important need….

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Hospital indemnity: meeting today’s workforce needs

February 28, 2018 | By Danielle Lehman, The Standard | BenefitsPRO

It’s important for employees to know before they get hurt about products like hospital indemnity that can help offset coverage gaps, and how technology solutions have been created to better prepare for the unexpected.

For an employer, few things are more unsettling than receiving an unexpected call or email that an employee has been hospitalized. Often, when someone is admitted to the hospital unexpectedly, many questions start going through a supervisor’s head. What happened? Will he or she be OK? How long will the recovery take? Are there long-term implications?

An employee may have many of the same questions, with the added burden of financial concerns. How long will I be off work? What about my family’s needs? How will I cover my deductible? Will all of the treatment or medicine be covered by insurance? How much will subsequent treatment and medicine cost? The list goes on.

These questions may intensify with the increased popularity of high-deductible health plans (HDHP) as participants are required to pay the deductible, which can be thousands of dollars, before their insurance starts paying. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that among people with health insurance, 1 in 5 working-age Americans reported having trouble paying medical bills in the past year. Of those insured with medical coverage, 63 percent reported using most or all of their savings to cover the costs. Fortunately, these gaps in coverage can be reduced through the purchase of voluntary insurance benefits….

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Employees cite affordability as the top reason for buying voluntary products in Eastbridge Consulting’s latest report

February 27, 2018 | By Ginger Bates | EconoTimes

AVON, Conn. — Reasonable cost is the top reason cited by employees for buying voluntary products, according to Eastbridge’s MarketVision™ – The Employee Viewpoint Spotlight™ Report, followed by the product filling a personal need. A large percentage of employees also listed the reputation of the carrier for service and claims payments, the convenience of payroll deduction and being able to purchase products at work. Around 80% of respondents rated filling gaps in primary medical coverage and having a well-known insurance company name as important.

In addition, a majority of respondents prefer to complete applications electronically in the future either on their own via the internet/intranet or through a computer with a sales rep or benefits counselor. This preference has increased for every employer size compared to the 2015 study. One-third still prefer to use paper in future enrollments.

Today, more employees enroll through the Internet than any other method. Almost half enrolled for benefits electronically through a website or mobile device….

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How to Break Free From Living in the Age of Benefits Past

January 29, 2018 | By Matthew Owenby | Corprorate Wellness Magazine

There is an adage that says living in the past will kill your future. It is true of life, and it is also true in the workplace: Companies that want to remain strong and retain their best assets – talented employees – continually assess their health insurance options to ensure they are right for today, not for yesterday.

Staying on top of the latest benefits trends is especially important in today’s climate. Workers who were leery about making moves during a tough economy may now be seeking new opportunities. To keep them in place – and to attract the cream of the crop of new employees – companies that were once “employers of necessity” must become “employers of choice.” One way to do so is by ensuring benefits offerings are plentiful, competitive, affordable and innovative. With that in mind, here are a few of the trends we see for the coming year….

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Voluntary Benefits Add a New Layer for Brokers

January 9, 2018 | By Cyril Tuohy | InsuranceNewsNet

For benefit brokers, connecting employee groups to insurance benefit platforms has never been easy and the popularity of employee-paid voluntary benefits has made it more tricky, experts say.

Voluntary benefits is very high touch, said Ginger Bates, director of research for Eastbridge Consulting Group, a research firm that tracks the voluntary market.

Compared with traditional employer-paid basic medical and group insurance products, enrolling in a voluntary benefit program isnt necessarily more difficult, Bates said, but it is different and creates more issues.

For brokers and insurers new to the growing voluntary market, its a learning curve for both, she added.

Employers that offer voluntary benefits like to do so because employees pay for a benefit to fill gaps left by gradually retreating major medical insurance coverage.

For their part, employees see value in paying for these supplementary benefits, which they can buy at a group rate.

Voluntary benefits also help employers retain employees, who gravitate to the customization options available with voluntary benefits packages, said Greg Callahan, national director of voluntary benefits for CBIZ, which helps companies manage employees.

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Emerging Workplace Benefits Heading into 2018

December 21, 2017 | Peter Marcia | HR Technologist

With the new year approaching, HR managers are shifting their focus to benefit planning for the 2019 plan year. While questions loom about what direction healthcare benefits will take, the stability of voluntary benefits continue to be top of mind for many employers. Savvy benefit planners recognize that these programs round out compensation packages and contribute to their employees financial wellness.
Understanding potential gaps in medical plans, HR managers are working to decrease out-of-pocket expenses for employees by offering worksite benefits that complement the core medical plan. Employers are also using voluntary benefits to enhance their benefits offerings to attract and retain competitive talent.
Here are three voluntary benefits offerings that gained traction in 2017 and we expect will continue the momentum into the coming year. When properly communicated, these benefits, can add tremendous value to your employees and drive overall engagement within your workforce.

2. Worksite Benefits:
To confront the challenges of the cost shift in core medical plans from employers to employees, voluntary benefits are designed to help employees cover the out-of-pocket costs from unexpected medical issues. The most widely provided programs tend to be critical illness insurance, accident insurance and hospital indemnity insurance. These programs generally pay a cash benefit directly to the employee regardless of existing insurance for a covered accident or hospitalization.

As healthcare benefits evolve and the workforce changes, the flexibility of voluntary benefits will continue to play a role in employers overall benefit packages. Voluntary benefits are the weapon that employers can use to differentiate themselves and attract and retain an engaged workforce. Financial wellness will be more achievable for employees with a well thought out voluntary benefits strategy.

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Group whole life soars at the workplace

December 14, 2017 | Jon Shuman | Employee BenefitsPRO

The first supersonic flight was welcomed with a huge booming sound across the California desert as pilot Chuck Yeagers X-1 became the first manned airplane to reach Mach 1. The five-minute flight in 1947 was a historic moment celebrated in the film, The Right Stuff.

Another historic milestone occurred in the insurance industry last year but was greeted with considerably less fanfare. Like the flight of the X-1, though, last years event marked a watershed for Americans, at least for their financial futures.

For the first time ever, more people owned group life insurance rather than individual policies in 2016, according to LIMRA (Life Insurance Ownership in Focus, 2016 LIMRA Ownership Study). While no sonic boom accompanied the milestone, the preeminence of group life insurance spoke volumes about the credibility that Americans place in their employers as a source of financial security and wellness.

Like the X-1, sales of life insurance have gone on to notch several other remarkable milestones:

  • The number of people who own some form of life insurance has grown to a record 172 million (2016 LIMRA Ownership Study). The increase in life insurance ownership is being driven primarily by people ages 18 to 44 – the prime time for starting and raising families – as ownership by people age 45 and older declines.
  • Sales of group whole life policies, typically available on a voluntary or employee-paid basis, increased by 19 percent in the first two quarters in 2017 (LIMRA U.S. Worksite/Voluntary Sales, 2017 Second Quarter Review).
  • Premiums for individual whole life insurance have grown every year since 2006 as consumers have gravitated to the products straight-forward design, built-in guarantees, and dividend potential (U.S. Retail Life Insurance Sales, Third Quarter 2016). Whole life now accounts for 37 percent of the entire individual life insurance market, the study finds.
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    3 factors driving the growth of voluntary benefits

    November 7, 2017 | Dennis Healy | Employee Benefit Adviser

    The high cost of healthcare and consequential evolution of insurance plans with high deductibles have created an improved market for voluntary products. Employers are eager to provide a more comprehensive and competitive benefits package that fills the gaps created by the risk-sharing approach of high-deductible programs.

    Additionally, commissions generated by voluntary can be used to fund overall benefits administrative costs and project work done by TPAs and consultants that would otherwise be borne by employers. The increased demand has also helped brokers replace income lost due to shrinking healthcare revenues.

    However, there are three areas in particular that are actively driving growth for voluntary benefits:

    1) Support for physical and financial wellness.

    2) Personal, on-demand preferences.

    3) The importance of technology.

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