Voluntary survey reveals missed opportunityNews added by Benefits Pro on April 22, 2014

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By Kathryn Mayer

Sure, consumers increasingly say they want voluntary benefits. But most aren’t being offered at work, which is an important indicator for enrollment — and employee satisfaction.

So says Transamerica Employee Benefits, whose latest study found that 65 percent of employees say it’s important their employer offer these products. But 47 percent of employees surveyed said they haven’t been offered an additional voluntary product since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.

The findings are evidence that there’s a missing voluntary opportunity for both brokers and employers, especially with PPACA in place, Transamerica executives say.

“The impact of health care reform allows voluntary products to change the employee benefits game,” the company’s report reads. “By offering customized product designs and packaged solutions, employers can help their employees reduce the out-of-pocket exposure to increasing deductibles in major medical plans the findings are the first in a series.”

Additionally, a Buck Consultants survey found that almost one-third of all employers with 50 to 1,000 employees considered offering new voluntary products to replace existing employer-paid and contributory benefits — potentially affecting between 19 million and 45 million employees over the next two years. Half of large employers with 1,000 or more employees showed interest in shifting their existing benefits to voluntary.

Transamerica’s survey found that 62 percent are likely to buy voluntary benefits if “faced with less comprehensive benefits due to health care reform.”

Other research has been in support of growing voluntary benefit sales, mainly due to PPACA. Prudential’s annual employee benefits survey, released last month, also found the ongoing rollout of the law is spurring employers to take action within their benefit plans, primarily by offering voluntary benefits.

In addition, a number of surveys have found that robust benefit offerings are an indication of job happiness and satisfaction. Transamerica found that nearly 46 percent of respondents say it’s likely or very likely they would remain with their employer based primarily on the voluntary products package offered.

“Employee benefits are one of the most important factors in recruiting and retaining good employees,” said Transamerica president Randy Clarkson. “A robust package that includes voluntary products helps employers acquire and retain a talented, productive workforce. This is especially true now with the diverse needs of employees.”

The survey findings also indicated there’s a continued need for voluntary product education: 64 percent of respondents said their product knowledge was about the same as it was three years ago. Respondents also said they’d most like to get that education from their employer through email (54 percent preferred this method), employer website (29 percent) and one-on-one meetings (27 percent).

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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