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6 Posts authored by: Aflac
Aflac

What employees really want

Posted by Aflac Jul 13, 2016

The Spice Girls once asked you to tell them what you want, what you really, really want. Fast-forward a few years and employees are following suit by telling their companies what they desire – and need – to be happy at work.

 

Some of their wish-to-haves are unusual: nap rooms, company-paid lunches and bring-your-pet-to-work days, for example. But when it comes down to it, they’re looking for the things employees have always yearned for, including more vacation days, better 401(k) matches and flexible work schedules (although the very optimistic would like to pay no health care premiums).1

 

Altogether these wants point to an underlying issue. After years of increasing premiums and copayments, many workers are tired of shelling out more and more of their hard-earned dollars for health care benefits. That’s really not surprising given that worker contributions for family coverage increased by 83 percent from 2005-2015.2

 

Since there’s no indication that premiums and deductibles will decline in cost anytime soon, wise employers are looking for ways to enhance their benefits plans in ways that provide value. One simple solution is the addition or expansion of voluntary insurance options. Because premiums are paid by employees who elect to enroll, these benefits can bulk up a company’s list of health care offerings at no direct cost to the company itself. And while the benefits aren’t free, employees can choose from an array of plans that may meet their families’ needs and budgets.

 

To learn more about voluntary insurance and what employees want, check out “Nap rooms, coffee bars and free lunches.”

 

 

This article is for informational purposes and is not intended as a solicitation.

1Mass Mutual Financial Group. “2015 Mass Mutual Generations@Work Study.” Accessed March 6, 2016. https://www.massmutual.com/~/media/files/2015-MM-Generations-at-Work-Study.pdf

2 Kaiser Foundation. “HRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits, 2005-2015.” Accessed March 4, 2016. http://kff.org/report-section/ehbs-2015-summary-of-findings/ .

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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Advances in medicine mean people today live longer lives, even if they suffer from critical illnesses. Naturally, living longer with a critical illness means paying more treatment-related costs — a possibility that has many Americans concerned. In a recent Sun Life Financial study, 47 percent of participants age 40 to 50 said finances would be their top worry if faced with a critical illness, far more than the 29 percent who named dying as their primary fear.1

 

What is critical illness insurance?

As a benefits decision-maker, you understand the importance of critical illness coverage. And while most workers are well-versed about the need for major medical, home and vehicle insurance, many don’t know that critical illness coverage exists.

 

Critical illness insurance is a way for employees to help themselves stay ahead of the medical and out-of-pocket expenses than can accompany certain medical events. For example, many lump-sum critical illness policies pay benefits when an individual experiences a covered event such as:

 

  • A heart attack
  • A stroke
  • A major human organ transplant
  • End-stage renal failure
  • A coma
  • Paralysis

 

Why consider critical illness insurance?

Critical illness coverage helps provide protection from the financial liability of certain catastrophic health events. Receiving a lump-sum benefits payment helps policyholders worry less about how to pay illness-related expenses and concentrate more on recovery.

 

With new statistics and projections about the likelihood of suffering from a critical illness, there has never been a better time to offer supplemental voluntary insurance at the worksite. As employers evaluate, choose and communicate their benefits offerings to employees, it is important they convey the potential financial impact of being diagnosed with a critical illness.

 

The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report survey revealed that health care costs have a long-lasting effect on American workers’ creditworthiness. Participating employees said medical costs are affecting their credit scores, keeping them from paying other bills and preventing their efforts to save for retirement or a rainy day. The survey revealed that 52 percent of American workers have $1,000 or less on hand to pay out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident. What’s more, 44 percent would have to borrow from a 401(k) and/or use a credit card to cover out-of-pocket expenses if they or a family member experienced an unexpected serious illness or accident.2

 

The Aflac report’s findings are echoed by those of the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, which found that nearly 20 percent of U.S. consumers — or almost 43 million people — have unpaid medical debts. The study also found that more than half of all debt listed on credit reports stems from medical expenses and that the average person with overdue medical debt owes $1,766.3

 

How can critical illness insurance benefit employers?

In addition to playing havoc with employees’ finances, the high price of critical illness affects companies’ bottom lines. The financial distress suffered by workers can lead to absenteeism, on-the-job distraction and a general sense of anxiety that is difficult to leave at the door.

 

When working with a broker or insurance adviser to strengthen their organizations’ benefits offerings, human resources experts should ask for information about how critical illness insurance fits into the picture. In general, critical illness policies work side by side with major medical plans by offering cash benefits that can be used to pay deductibles, copayments and other out-of-pocket medical costs. Because cash benefits can be used as policyholders see fit, they can also be used to pay household expenses, including the rent or mortgage, utilities, credit card debt and any other bill threatening their financial security.

 

 

 

 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.

 

1 Sun Life Financial. “Well-placed fears: Workers perceptions of critical illness,” accessed Nov. 10, 2015 – http://www.sunlifesummit.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Critical-Illness-Research-Whitepaper_7.pdf

2 The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report, “Waste not, want not,” accessed Nov. 10, 2015 - https://www.aflac.com/business/resources/aflac-workforces-report/overview/waste-not-want-not.aspx.

3 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “CPFB spotlights concerns with medical debt and reporting,” accessed Nov. 10, 2015 - http://www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/cfpb-spotlights-concerns-with-medical-debt-collection-and-reporting/.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

More employers are offering wellness programs than ever before. This year, close to half of the 1,977 business decision-makers surveyed in the Aflac WorkForces Report said they offer a company-sponsored wellness program, which is up from 30 percent in 2012. Insurance brokers noted a similar trend, and just over half (53 percent) agree1 they regularly recommend wellness programs to their clients.

 

Not only are more businesses turning to wellness programs, but the study found that employers and brokers may also be becoming more effective when executing wellness initiatives. Over half of employers that offer wellness programs (53 percent) believe their program is effective,2 which is up 7 percentage points compared to 2014. And nearly 4 in 10 brokers (39 percent) agree1 they have helped clients lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness programs, which is an increase of five percentage points compared to 2013 and 2014 (34 percent).

 

Wellness programs influence employee satisfaction

One advantage to having a wellness program is the influence it can have on employee satisfaction. Of those with wellness programs, 3 in 4 employers agree their programs improve worker satisfaction. And employees who participate in their companies’ wellness programs are more satisfied3 in their jobs (70 percent vs. 59 percent) and with their benefits packages (66 percent vs. 58 percent) than those who don’t participate in their companies’ programs. What’s more, employees whose companies offer wellness programs are less likely4 to look for new jobs in the next 12 months than those without wellness programs (46 percent vs. 52 percent).

 

What are successful programs doing differently?

Wellness programs come in all shapes and sizes, but not all programs are successful with helping companies offer lower premiums to their employees. Surprisingly, the study found that the most popular program components may not be the most effective. For instance, although few companies with wellness programs offer an on-site doctor or nurse (17 percent), over half of those that do (65 percent) agree5 they are able to offer lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness program. On the other hand, over half of employers with a wellness program offer Employee Assistance Programs (54 percent), but just half of these (51 percent) agree5 they are able to offer lower health insurance premiums as a result of their wellness program (see Chart 1).

 

 

Chart 1: An employer’s ability to lower premiums varies by type of wellness program offered

 

Employers with wellness programs that include the following components:

Ratio of those employers who agree5 they’ve been able to lower premiums as a result of their wellness program

On-site doctor or nurse

17%

65%

Wellness screenings

64%

60%

Healthy eating incentives

52%

59%

Smoking cessation programs

56%

59%

Preventive care programs

55%

58%

Company events such as fun runs

34%

58%

Stress management programs

47%

57%

Health fairs

41%

55%

On-site gym or discounted gym membership

45%

55%

Employee assistance program

54%

51%

 

Well-rounded benefits + communications = employee engagement

Wellness programs may boast higher engagement when paired with other work site perks and strong communications strategies. The study found that wellness program participation is higher among employers that offer financial guidance and education, voluntary benefits and flexible scheduling. It’s also higher among companies that have increased the frequency of benefits communications in the past year (see Chart 2). Having multiple options may boost communications opportunities and awareness overall, which can be amplified when an employer works to communicate frequently about their benefits programs.

 

Chart 2: Employee participation in wellness programs is higher among companies with stronger benefits communication

 

 

Employee participates

Employee doesn’t participate

Employer only communicates about benefits at open enrollment and new hire

33%

46%

Frequency of benefits communication increased in the past year

21%

11%

Employer communicates too little about employee benefits

28%

34%

Employer communicates the right amount about employee benefits

71%

65%

 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.

 

 

 

About the study

The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fifth annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefit trends and attitudes. The study, conducted in January and February 2015 by Research Now, captured responses from 1,977 benefits decision-makers and 5,337 employees from across the United States. To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit AflacWorkForcesReport.com.

The Broker Survey was conducted online within the United States between January 20, 2015, and February 10, 2015, among 306 insurance brokers or producers employed at a company with three or more employees. No theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

1 Completely or strongly agree

2 Extremely or very effective

3 Extremely or very satisfied

4 Extremely, very or somewhat likely

5 Somewhat or strongly agree

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Z150527R                                                                                                                                                                                12/15


After years of debate and untold numbers of articles, questions and explanations, health care reform is in full swing. But just when businesses think they understand the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act, a new wrinkle emerges. Unfortunately, sometimes those wrinkles can result in penalties. Reduce your company’s odds of being fined with these quick tips:

 

1.  Know whether your company is accountable for the Employer Shared-Responsibility Requirement. Breathe easy if your company is very small: Only employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees are affected. While larger employers with 100 or more FTEs must comply in 2015, employers with 50 to 99 FTEs have a grace period until 2016.

 

2.  Know the standards coverage must meet to be compliant. There are just two criteria:

  • Coverage must be considered affordable, meaning it can’t exceed 9.5 percent of an employee’s household income.
  • Coverage must have an actuarial value of at least 60 percent, meaning it must pay, on average, 60 percent of the cost of essential health benefits.

 

3.  Understand that employers with 50 or more FTEs are required to extend compliant coverage only to those working at least 30 service hours per work and their dependent children under age 26.  Service hours include hours worked and hours for which an employee is paid but doesn’t work – for example, vacation, holiday, illness or disability, jury duty and military duty hours.

 

4.  Know that two things must combine to trigger ACA penalties. First, an employer with 50 or more FTEs must fail to offer complaint health care coverage. Second, at least one full-time employee must qualify for and receive a premium subsidy in the individual insurance market through a federal or state exchange.

 

5.  Weigh potential noncompliance penalties against the cost of offering coverage. Keep in mind that there are nonmonetary benefits to offering employees health care coverage. These include improved job satisfaction, loyalty and morale.

 

6.  Beware the upcoming Cadillac Tax. Named after Detroit’s luxury automobile, a 40 percent Cadillac Tax is scheduled to take effect in plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2018. Although regulations could evolve before it’s implemented, employers can begin to determine how their plans might be affected when the tax goes into effect. Get the details on the tax, including how it’s calculated, who pays it and what products are involved, by checking out some commonly asked questions and answers.

 



To learn more about health care reform, go to: https://www.aflac.com/health-care-reform/navigating-health-care-reform/default.aspx.

Please note that HCR material  herein is intended to provide general information about an evolving topic and does not constitute legal, tax or accounting advice regarding any specific situation. All readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their HCR situations with their advisors to determine the actions they need to take or to visit healthcare.gov (which may also be contacted at 1-800-318-2596) for additional information.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

 

HCR15029                                                                                                                                                                                                                        8/25/15

Crutches.jpgAccidents occur every day and without warning – that’s why they’re called accidents. Small accidents that can be treated with supplies from a standard medicine cabinet are the norm. But sometimes the injuries are much bigger and significantly more expensive to treat.

 

Of course, most people are optimistic and tell themselves that serious accidents, the type that require treatment at a clinic or hospital, only happen to other people. But the truth is they can strike anyone at any time. Sometimes they occur in the course of everyday life: think kitchen accidents, sports injuries, or even tripping and falling. Other times, accidents leave us shaking our heads in disbelief. Just Google “freak accident” and you’ll come up with more than 13 million results.

 

Who pays for that?
Many people believe the Social Security Administration will step in to lend a financial hand if they’re seriously hurt, but that’s often an incorrect assumption. The Social Security Administration received more than 2.5 million applications for disability assistance in 2014 but approved just 811,000 of the requests.1 What’s more, upward of 90 percent of disabling injuries aren’t work-related, so they’re not covered by workers’ compensation.2

 

Adding insult to accidental injury is the fact that many U.S. families simply aren’t good at saving money. Half of all households fall into the financially fragile category: Just 48 percent of participants in the Federal Reserve System’s most recent survey on economic well-being said they could completely cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money.3 That echoes the results of the 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report, where 44 percent of workers surveyed said they would have to borrow from a 401(k), or another retirement account, to pay expenses related to a serious illness or accident.4

 

How employers can help

The good news? You can help your company’s employees cope with costs stemming from an unexpected injury by providing access to voluntary accident insurance. It’s a smart business decision when you consider that coverage may help them keep their minds on their jobs and not on personal financial issues.

 

According to the Aflac survey, 20 percent of workers have had difficulty paying medical bills. What’s more, 17 percent have been contacted by collection agencies about outstanding medical expenses and/or received dings on their credit reports for nonpayment. With that kind of trouble on their minds, it’s no wonder that 20 percent of employees named personal financial issues as the top non-work-related issue that distracts them on the job or that 59 percent said they’re likely to take a job with slightly lower pay but better benefits.

 

To find out how to help keep your workers more focused and productive – not to mention away from the “help wanted” ads – check out Aflac’s accident insurance.

 

 

 

 

 

1Social Security Administration, “Disabled-worker disability statistics,” accessed June 30, 2015 - http://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/dibStat.html  

2Facts from LIMRA, “Disability Insurance Awareness Month,” accessed June 30, 2015 – http://firstchoicebenefits.com/pdf/FCB_2014-DI-Fact-Sheet.pdf

3U.S. Federal Reserve, “Report on the economic well-being of U.S. households in 2013,” accessed June 30, 2015 - http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/2013-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201407.pdf

4The 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report, conducted in Feb. 2015 by Research Now on Aflac’s behalf, accessed June 30, 2015 – http://workforces.aflac.com

5Likely = extremely, very and somewhat likely, 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report

Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Z150618         


Communication made simple…with the Aflac Employee Communications Toolkit

 

As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. From customer service and worker productivity to keeping up with the competition, there are more than enough worries to keep you up at night.

 

Staying on top of health care and benefits communications should be the last thing you stress about. With easy-to-use templates in the Aflac Employee Communications Toolkit, you can simply add your company’s logo onto ready-to-use articles that you can print or publish in your newsletter or copy and paste onto your employee intranet. You’ll also find posters and tent cards in the toolkit, as well as short messages that you can copy and paste into emails or print on postcards.


What’s in the toolkit?

We’re giving you everything needed to communicate about benefits year-round, from the latest news on health care topics and reform to tips for staying healthy and information about specific types of insurance coverage. You can pick and choose from the toolkit materials, using only those that apply to your workforce or that align with the types of insurance you make available to your employees.


By using the resources in the Aflac Employee Communications Toolkit, you’re meeting a key workforce need: 37 percent of employees at small companies say their HR departments communicate too little about employee benefits.1


In fact, 62 percent of employees who participated in the 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report survey said they rarely or only sometimes understand the changes to their coverage.1 Better benefits communications could help address this lack of knowledge.


If you are like most employers, you’re probably giving your workers more responsibility for their health care decisions, but employees say they want more guidance from their companies. Nearly half (46 percent) agree that they’d prefer not to have more control over their health insurance expenses and options because they don’t have the time or knowledge to effectively manage them.1


Helping workers learn to manage their health care choices gives your company an opportunity to demonstrate that it cares about employees, as well as to curb potential absenteeism, low morale and low productivity. Workers may be responsible for their health care decisions, but the wrong choices can greatly affect their performance and state of mind in the workplace: Fully 20 percent named personal financial issues as the top non-work-related concern that distracts them on the job.1


One last statistic clearly demonstrates the importance of benefits communications – 39 percent of employees completely or strongly agree that a well-communicated benefits program would make them less likely to leave their jobs. 1 In other words, keeping your workers informed about their benefits options is critical to keeping them on board as the economy and job market improve.


Changing seasons, changing employee materials

Make it a point to visit the Aflac Employee Communications Toolkit frequently, because the information and resources there are regularly updated. You’ll find seasonal information as well as materials that reinforce specific health events, such as the Great American Smokeout, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Workplace Safety Month and many other observances that take place throughout the year.



This article is for informational purposes and is not intended as a solicitation.


1 2015 Aflac WorkForces Report, a study conducted in Jan. and Feb. 2015 by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, accessed June 15, 2015 – www.aflacworkforcesreport.com


Bank of America, N.A. engages with American Life Insurance Company of Columbus (“Aflac”) to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Aflac Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Aflac. Consult your  financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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