The days of employer-paid benefits are disappearing faster thana snow cone in July—especially when you consider that mostcompanies aren't helping to offset the costs for much more thanmajor medical and physician care for their workers. And, thesticker shock for premium increases has just barely begun. However,in spite of increased health care costs, voluntary benefits arestill popular even if employees are left to pick up the tab.


According to Transamerica Employee Benefits, 65 percent ofemployees say it's important that their employer offer theseproducts. However, 47 percent of employees surveyed haven't beenoffered an additional voluntary product since the PatientProtection and Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2010.


According to TEB, the voluntary products becoming increasinglymore important due to PPACA include critical illness, accident,supplemental, hospital indemnity and cancer, and dental and visionpolicies.


Simply put, voluntary plans offer many benefits to bothemployees and employers. Here are five of them:

  1. They can fill in the gaps of a limited employee benefitspackage. If benefits are currently limited to health anddental, adding additional insurance would help address otheremployee needs. Some health plans may not provide coverage for eyeexams or eyewear. A voluntary vision plan would fill this need andhelp preserve eyesight. Employees can purchase more life insuranceif a voluntary plan is offered alongside an employer-sponsored lifeplan.

  2. Pre-taxed dollars can be used to pay for theseplans. The cost of voluntary plans can be convenientlydeducted from paychecks with pre-tax dollars (FSA/HSA/HRA), whichcan help employees save on their purchase. Using these vehicles topay for qualified medical expenses—dental exams, prescriptionmedications, eyewear and exams—is a great way to increase savingsand value.

  3. Offers desirable benefits and gives employees a reasonto stick around. Employees value benefits like dental andvision. According to Taylor Nelson/Sofres Intersearch, 80 percentof Americans surveyed felt dental benefits are “veryimportant/somewhat important” for hiring employers to provideemployees. Employers who offer a variety of benefits look moreattractive to current employees and to new hires, and this can helpencourage company loyalty by increasing employee satisfaction.

  4. Encourages preventive care. Employees who havedental benefits get dental care more compared to those who do nothave dental insurance. According to a National Association ofDental Plans Consumer Survey, people who don't have dental coverageare 2.5 times more likely to not visit their dentist. Bad oralhygiene can be very costly as oral infection has been tied tocardiovascular disease, diabetes, low birth weight in newborns,Alzheimer's, HPV and more.


    Vision plans also are an important prevention tool. Signs ofdisease such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, and diabetes may becaught early in an eye exam. Early detection from an eye or oralexam can help lower a company's medical costs in the long term.

  5. Protection for families during the event of a death orserious injury. Group term life insurance provides aninexpensive way to have money available during the event of adeath. Most term life policies include accidental death anddismemberment, which provides a benefit in the event of a seriousinjury or death due to an accident. By having both benefits,depending on the plan selected by the employer, can helpfinancially protect a family from a diminished household income…and provide peace of mind. Financial wellness is a great voluntarybenefit.

Voluntary benefits are hot, and they're only getting hotter.With PPACA looking at only medical care, your clients and theiremployees are looking to you as their broker to help them figureout all this mess and be the hero you are meant to be. It's hightime to help your clients gas up, get down the road and get theirbenefits on. And hurry—the summer selling season is endingfast.

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