Employees Appreciate Voluntary Insurance Benefits

Seventy-nine percent of employees see a growing need for voluntary insurance compared to last year. And of those, 60% say the need is driven by the rising cost of medical services, according to an Aflac survey. Employees who are offered voluntary benefits report higher satisfaction with their jobs and their benefits. Employees whose work site offers voluntary benefits are more likely to say the following:

  • They are prepared to pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by major medical/health insurance related to an unexpected serious illness or accident (73% versus 56%).
  • They are extremely or very satisfied with their jobs (73% versus 57%).

Millenials Underestimate the Cost of Care

Millennials (ages 18 to 36) are more likely than are non-millennials to underestimate the cost of an injury or illness, including medical, household, and out-of-pocket costs (66% versus 45%), according to a survey by Aflac. Sixty-five percent say they could afford less than $1,000 for an unexpected out-of-pocket expense. Millenials are more inclined to try unconventional ways to pay for out-of-pocket health care expenses, such as borrowing from friends or family and crowd sourcing. The online study surveyed 1,500 benefit decision-makers and 5,000 employees at small, medium, and large companies

Benefits Remain a Key to Retention and Recruitment

Small-business owners looking to recruit and retain top employees need to pay close attention to their benefit offerings, according to a survey by Aflac. A majority of workers employed in small businesses are willing to consider a job with slightly lower pay, but better benefits. Half of potential job-changers say that improving their benefit package could keep them right where they are.

The battle for talent is getting tougher with the unemployment rate at 5.3%. Thirty-four percent of decision-makers expect to hire full-time employees in the next 12 months, and 28% expect to hire part-time employees. The study found the following:

  • 59% of workers at small companies are at least somewhat likely to accept a job with slightly lower pay, but better benefits.
  • 49% of small-business employees who agree, at least somewhat, that they’ll be looking for jobs in the next year say improving their benefit package is one thing their employers could do to keep them in their jobs.
  • 87% of employees agree, at least somewhat, that voluntary insurance is part of a comprehensive benefit program.

Small-business owners appear to be listening. Twenty-two percent of small-business employers offer voluntary insurance compared to 18% in 2014. Small-business employees who are enrolled in voluntary benefits are more likely to be very satisfied or extremely satisfied with their jobs and their benefit packages. They are also more likely to say that their benefit package meets their family’s needs.

Workers Spend Less Than 15 Minutes Choosing Health Benefits

Forty-one percent of employees spent 15 minutes or less analyzing their health benefit options during the 2013 open enrollment season; and 24% spent five minutes or less, according to a recent Aflac open enrollment survey. Forty-two percent waste up to $750 a year on mistakes with their insurance benefits. The survey also found the following about workers:
• 90% auto-enroll or keep the same benefits year after year.
• 73% sometimes, rarely, or never understand everything their policy covers.
• 64% sometimes, rarely, or never understand changes in their coverage.
• 64% disagree or only somewhat agree that they are more prepared for open enrollment this year compared to last year.
For more information, visit AflacWorkForcesReport.com or follow @aflac on Twitter.

Workers Are in the Dark About Upcoming Plan Changes

inthedarkThe October 1 deadline is looming for employers to notify workers of their coverage options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, 69% of workers say their employers haven’t informed them of upcoming changes to their benefits. Michael Zuna, Aflac’s executive vice president said, “Many workers will be blindsided this open enrollment season because…they already struggle with understanding their insurance policies and covering the high out-of-pocket costs from gaps in their current coverage. Over the next few months, these challenges will be exacerbated as employees may be more confused by changes in their policies, and face greater gaps in their health insurance coverage leaving them at risk. With little notice, education, and coverage options to help guide and support them during this season, employers could face a highly dissatisfied workforce.”

Only 9% of employers say they are very prepared to implement required changes to their business based on the health care reform law. Forty-one percent of employers expect health reform to lead to more gaps in coverage and 69% say employees’ costs will increase as a result of health care reform.

Zuna said that employers should provide aggressive education and offer ancillary benefit options to close gaps in workers’ coverage. Zuna said that employers should take advantage of resources to help employees understand their coverage, including visits from an insurance agent or broker. In fact, employers named insurance companies as the most helpful source of information they have received on the health care law.

With many companies facing the decision to limit or decrease employer-paid benefits, providing voluntary benefits can help workers close the gaps in their coverage, at no additional cost to the company, said Zuna. He suggests that employers do the following:
• Mail benefit materials to employees’ homes so they can discuss their options with their family.
• Host a town hall meeting with a benefit advisor to discuss changes and answer questions that apply to the group. Encourage one-on-one meetings with employees who have more questions.
• Conduct webinars to reach all employees regardless of location.
• Post FAQs in high-traffic areas, such as employee break rooms, cafeterias, and bathrooms. Aflac is offering guidance at aflac.com/healthcare_reform.

Employees Like Wellness Incentives

A recent survey by Aflac reveals that employees are willing to participate in wellness programs if their employer offers financial incentives to offset healthcare costs. The survey reveals the following:
• 88% of workers agree, at least somewhat, that it’s fair for employees to get reduced premiums or incentives to become healthier.
• 78% of workers would be at least somewhat willing to change their lifestyle to get lower insurance premiums.
• 61% of workers whose employers offer wellness programs participate in them.
• 30% of workers agree, at least somewhat, they would only change their lifestyle habits if their employer penalized them with increased insurance premiums.

For more information visit http://www.aflac.com/aflac_workforces_report.

Workers Are Not Prepared For Consumer-Driven Health Care

Consumer driven plans are getting more popular, but many consumers are not prepared to make their own healthcare choices, according to an Aflac survey. The survey reveals the following about consumers:

• 72% have never heard the phrase, “consumer-driven health care.”
• 54% don’t want more control over their insurance options because they think they don’t have the time or knowledge to manage it.
• 62% expect to be responsible for paying for more of their medical costs while only 23% are saving money for potential increases.
• 32% are not very or at all knowledgeable about health savings accounts.
• 76% are not very or at all knowledgeable about federal and state health care exchanges.
• 49% are not very or at all knowledgeable about health reimbursement. accounts.
• 25% are not very or at all knowledgeable about flex spending accounts.
• 75% expect their employer to educate them about changes to their health care coverage as a result of health reform, but only 13% of employers say that it is important for them to educate employees about health care reform.

Many workers already find health insurance decisions daunting. Fifty-three percent fear that they may not manage their coverage adequately, leaving their families less protected. Eighty-nine percent choose the same benefits year over year, and many don’t understand their options.

Fifty-three percent of employers have implemented a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) over the past three years — a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. A 2012 Employer Health Plan Study by J.D. Power and Associates found that 47% of employers would definitely or probably switch to a defined contribution health care plan.

Fifty-five percent of workers have not done anything to prepare for changes to the health care system even with the shift towards HDHPs, defined contribution plans, and insurance exchanges. The U.S. government predicts that household out-of-pocket health care expenses will reach an average of $3,301 per year by 2014. However, only 23% of workers are saving more in anticipation of potential increases in medical costs; 46% have less than $1,000 in savings to use for out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident; and 25% have less than $500. For more information, visitAflacWorkForcesReport.com.

Workers Expect Employers to Educate Them on Health Reform

Seventy-five percent of workers expect their employers to educate them about health care reform and explain how it will affect their coverage. However, only 13% of employers say that educating employees on health care reform is important for their organization, according to a study by Aflac.

Fifty-four percent of workers say they would not want greater control over their insurance options because they don’t have the time or knowledge to manage it. Fifty-three percent fear they would not manage their coverage adequately, leaving their families less protected. Seventy-six percent say they are not very knowledgeable or not at all knowledgeable about federal and state health insurance exchanges.

Fifty-eight percent of employers that said they are extremely knowledgeable about health care reform also say that their employees are extremely knowledgeable about their benefits. However, only 27% of employers say they understand healthcare legislation extremely or very well. Seventy-four percent of workers who are extremely satisfied with their job are also satisfied with their benefits, compared to only 30% of workers who are not satisfied with benefits.

More employees are using voluntary insurance products to cover costs not covered in their high deductible insurance plans. In 2013, 43% of workers were enrolled in voluntary products, compared to 31% in 2012.

The survey also reveals the following about employees:
• 32% are not knowledgeable about health savings accounts (HSAs)
• 6% are not knowledgeable about federal and state health care exchanges
• 49% are not knowledgeable about health reimbursement accounts
• 25% are not knowledgeable about flex spending accounts (FSAs).
• 23% are saving more in anticipation of potential increases in medical costs,
• 46% have less than $1,000 in savings to use for out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident, and 25% of employees have less than $500.

The survey reveals the following about employers:
• 53% have implemented a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) over the past three years — a trend that shows no sign of slowing.
• 55% have done nothing to prepare for possible changes to the health care system.

Aflac has created the booklet, “An Employer’s Guide to Health Care Reform.” For more information, visitAflacWorkForcesReport.com.

Last Updated 10/20/2021

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