Business workshop: Employees like specialty benefits
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Many businesses looking to reduce employee health care costs sometimes consider eliminating "specialty" benefits such as vision, dental, disability, life insurance and critical illness coverage.
But there are two good reasons why employers should continue to offer or even add specialty benefits to their health plan.
One, they can typically do so without adding costs and two, employees like them.
Surveys show that specialty benefits can help attract and retain employees while improving morale. These benefits can be especially attractive depending on an employee's life stage, such as someone with two teenagers who need braces or a middle-aged person whose vision is slowly diminishing.
Many health insurers now offer packages that allow employees to select from several plans, with the employer paying a set amount and employees then having the option to pay the difference if they wish to enhance or expand their coverage.
Today, specialty benefits include far more than just dental and vision coverage. The most recent innovation is critical illness coverage, which pays cash benefits for living expenses and out-of-pocket medical costs if a covered employee or family member contracts a specific illness or condition such as cancer, heart attack, stroke or paralysis.
Offering specialty benefits as part of an employee's menu of benefits options can maximize the effectiveness of a company's health care dollars and, when offered alongside medical insurance, provides families with added peace of mind for both their health and financial protection.
-- Sue Schick
UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania
First Published January 21, 2013 12:00 am