April 10, 2018

What are Voluntary Benefits?

When you make bread at home, are you are surprised to find that the taste, texture and smell is completely different from the sad, white bread lining the supermarket aisles? It’s hard to go back to the cheap stuff, isn’t it? It’s the same with traditional benefits. Sure, you offer healthcare benefits for your employees, but do you want to be “wonder bread”—offering the bare minimum—when everyone else is offering so much more?

To be more competitive, most large employers are now thinking outside of their bread boxes and offering voluntary benefits. Voluntary benefits are additional benefits that employees can elect to pay through payroll deductions. And they come in different shapes and sizes.

Take a look at some of the voluntary benefits that employers are offering to their workforce.

Dental & Vision Insurance

Dental benefits have gone from “nice to have” to a standard feature of most self-insured employers’ benefits plans. According to a WebMD survey, 90% of employers with 500 or more employees offer dental benefits. Dental policies can cover preventative care, restorative care and some minor surgeries. Employers should know the importance of dental hygiene and how it affects their population’s overall health. Poor dental hygiene can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and infections. The American Academy of Periodontology also suggests that periodontal disease can negatively impact a person with diabetes because it makes it difficult for the body to regulate sugar and can expose a diabetic to chronic complications.

Employees may like the option of vision insurance to help offset the cost of eye exams, or prescription glasses and contact lenses. Annual eye exams help minimize unwanted healthcare bills because they detect eye problems before they cause permanent eye damage or even vision loss.

Critical Illness Insurance

When a person is diagnosed with a critical illness —cancer, heart disease or stroke—their medical costs increase. Even if an employee is covered under a traditional insurance plan, their out of pocket expenses can still be astronomical. Critical illness insurance helps cushion the blow of high costs by providing a lump-sum payment that covers medical bills and living expenses. That way, employees can focus more on recovering and less on figuring out how to pay for their hospital stay.

Accident Insurance

No one expects to get into an accident. Accidents can happen anywhere. An accident doesn’t have to be a giant anvil falling from the sky and crushing you into the shape of an accordion. It can be as simple as suffering from a broken leg on a ski trip or falling head first into a diving board. Accident insurance can provide financial protection for when the injury prevents the employee from coming to work.

Now these popular voluntary benefits focus on health. Employers are also adding financial, wellness benefits, disability, life insurance, wellness programs and more. It’s a win-win situation because it’s great for the employer in minimizing healthcare costs and great for the employee in managing out-of-pocket expenses from an unexpected illness or injury.

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