There are two fundamentally opposing points of view when itcomes to the best design of voluntary products: CYTT and KISS.

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In the product design area there's a tendency to play the “Canyou top this?” game.

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In some ways I've been very good at playing this game, havingbeen part of some incredibly complex product designs before joiningMutual of Omaha. For example, I was part of a team that developed aproduct described technically as “Interest Sensitive FlexiblePremium Adjustable Life with Cost of Living Increases.” It was hardfor competitors to top, but almost impossible to explain and nearlyimpossible to administer.

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We see this in the voluntary world today. Just think of how someproducts are designed to “extend this” and “restore that.” Criticalillness products often have benefits based on contingency uponcontingency, covering employees and insured dependents for veryunlikely chains of critical events.

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Or the product adds illnesses like dengue hemorrhagic fever tothe list of covered events. It's classic CYTT product design—andit's driven by us. We carriers want to differentiate ourselves, andadding a few benefit twists or diseases can set us apart fromcompetitors. Brokers want the same kind of edge. After all, it'smore impressive to the employer when you can pile up disease names,extensions and restorations of multiple benefits, etc. as part ofthe sales pitch for a product.

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But employees are paying for voluntary benefits, and they arethe ones who need to understand them. Is CYTT what they want?

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When considering voluntary marketing and enrollment, KISS—Keepit simple, stupid—becomes essential. An effective enrollment is onein which an employee can easily understand what's being offered,how it will benefit them, and can connect with the product on bothan intellectual and emotional level. Affordability is the othercharacteristic of a good voluntary product, and all thosecomplicated benefits ultimately increase the cost of products.Employees want benefits they can understand and afford—productsdesigned and supported on a KISS basis. Meanwhile, employers alsolike KISS enrollments, because they're likely to take less time andare likely to result in fewer questions later from employees aboutwhat they bought.

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The CYTT or KISS debate comes down to the question of whether weoffer products for ourselves or for customers. Industry insidersmight be excited about the new shiny object represented by acomplex product, but employers and employees are much more likelyto prefer benefits they can understand: KISS products.

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