Expanding your Benefits Package in 2017

As 2017 approaches, many employees will be setting resolutions and goals for their future health, finances and looking for how to improve their lifestyle over the next year. Also heavy on many people’s minds are how their health care may change under new President-elect Donald Trump with his proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act. It is well known that health care costs continue to rise; many employees are looking to their employers to give stability and financial comfort through voluntary benefits. As an employer, the New Year is a great time to start planning which products and services will help meet employee needs more comprehensively — to help ease their concerns and stress related to medical bills and other finances.

Below are a few options to consider when looking at adding new benefits to your offerings:

Part-Time/Seasonal Packages
Part-time and seasonal employee benefits packages may offer some perks that your full-timers have. These packages can include benefits such as discount Rx, wellness programs or limited medical plans and more. Offering benefits to this group can help with recruitment.

Patient Advocacy Services
Many employers are offering patient advocacy services to assist employees through their health care process. This can include bill negotiation to reduce their out-of-pocket expense, doctor referrals and cost comparisons for procedures and medications.

Identity Theft Protection
Identity Theft Protection Programs include credit monitoring, fraud alert and services to help employees restore their identity and fix any damage that has been done. Many pla n tiers are available based on service a price needs.

Financial Coaching
Financial stress may not be a highly talked about issue, but some employers are starting to provide educational benefits to their employees various financial needs. Outside of 401(k)s and HSAs, services are available including student loan refinancing, debt repayment, credit score improvement and financial education for the future.

Telehealth
With telehealth programs, employees can consult with a doctor via phone or video for medical advice and treatment of minor illnesses with the need to leave work. This can help employers with absenteeism and reduced productivity.

Advantages of Voluntary Benefits

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Rising healthcare costs have increased pressure on employers and employees alike to reduce expenses on health insurance while maintaining sufficient coverage. In the struggle to cut costs, voluntary benefits have taken the back burner, yet some studies question whether this really helps or hurts employers and employees. Voluntary benefits often fill in the gaps that other insurance leaves behind, providing affordable and personalized coverage for employees and their families. Though some businesses have been keen to cut voluntary benefits,MetLife Inc.’s 12th annual “Employee Benefit Trends Study” recorded that 65% of employees said they would feel more loyal to their employer if they were offered voluntary benefits.

Personalization is key with voluntary benefits.

The idea is to offer employees the opportunity to choose affordable coverage that serves their needs, as well as the needs of their family. One way to find the right coverage for your employees is to conduct a survey to find out more about their lifestyles and other specific needs. Furthermore, it is important to consider effective communication methods for different generations of employees — Baby Boomers might prefer paper while Millennials prefer an electronic campaign.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that 83% of employers are now offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), and 25% are offering only HDHPs. This trend will continue to see a rise over the next few years. The good news is those with HDHPs are more likely to take advantage of wellness and find ways to save costs through employer sponsored programs.

Since employees are looking for ways to save money and help with paying the high deductible, they can choose accident, disability plans and hospital indemnity plans that will pay cash directly to the policyholder that they put back towards their deductible and towards treatment that may not be covered by major medical.

The rapidly changing healthcare landscape has seen a shift in decision-making power from employers to employees. While different businesses may take different approaches with regard to the availability and selection of voluntary benefits, greater personalization and a freedom to choose offer employees more options while reducing costs and headaches for employers.

 

Choosing a Third-Party Administrator

hr-outsourcingOver the past few years there has been a steady rise in outsourcing of HR benefits responsibilities; this is due largely in part to healthcare reform. Many companies do not have the time or manpower to stay up-to-date with the newest laws and requirements brought on by the Affordable Care Act.

Mistakes made within companies can lead to a lapse in coverage for the employee, and companies can incur large fees from penalties when mistakes are made when it comes to benefits administration and payroll. Therefore, more companies are reaching out to third party administrators to help handle the load.

Listed below are a few tips and aspects to consider when choosing a third-party administrator to handle benefits and payroll responsibilities.

  • Do your research, know what policies your employees have enrolled in and put together packages that can be combined to create the perfect plan for them and their family.
  • Is the company you’re outsourcing to available for questions before and during enrollment and will the employee be able to find information via a website or brochure?
  • Have an information session to educate your employees about the products offered along with a benefits representative available to answer questions they may have regarding the policies available.
  • Although the responsibility may be in another company’s hands, you want to have someone within your company trained and knowledgeable in the options available.
  • Be available to add a helping hand and answer question and step in if there are any problems with the benefits administrator or enrollment process.

Keeping your employee’s in mind when choosing the best resource for benefits administration is important. You want to make sure you save money but also give the best user experience possible. The burden of benefits administration and payroll can be outsourced and take the stress off your company and keep the focus within your own company.