Monthly Archives: November 2009

Employers: Benefits Are More Important than You Realize!

That’s what the Seventh Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends – Findings from the National Survey of Employers and Employees shows. In fact, their data says health benefits are valued by 75 percent of employees, while employer perception is that 59 percent of their workers value health benefits. That’s a pretty big gap … combined with a number that states that well under half of employees (43 percent) actually understand which benefits fit their needs. Yikes!

It’s clear from all the numbers that employees value benefits more this year than in the past. Employees are talking more control of their finances and are increasingly looking to the workplace for help—even if it’s fully employee-paid benefits. Employees are also becoming more aware of their personal risk exposure, which leads to greater appreciation for benefits and company loyalty: Forty percent of employees say benefits play an important role in their decisions about whether to remain with their employer.

Here are some more key figures:

When asked which benefits are an important factor in employee loyalty (2007-2008), “salary/wages” decreased in importance by four percent while “other insurance benefits” (life, dental, disability, vision) climbed in importance by 18 percent (51% to 69%).

41% …

of employees consider workplace benefits to be the foundation of their personal safety net.

51% …

of all employees now state that they obtain most of their financial products through the workplace.

46% …

of employees have expressed greater interest in learning more about the benefits offered through their workplace.

73% …

of employees highly satisfied with their benefits were also satisfied with their jobs.

22% …

of employees not satisfied with their benefits said they were satisfied with their jobs. (Take note, employers!)

33% …

of employees expressed concern that their employer may reduce or cut benefit expenses in the next 12 months because of the economy.

90% …

of Americans believe that it is important for companies to continue to offer benefits, even if they must pay most or all of the cost!

Employer objectives and employee priorities seem to intersect, but they do not fully align. This, in our opinion, opens up opportunities to potential new benefit offerings.

If you’re surprised by any of these numbers—especially if you’re an employer—feel free to contact us at Stephenson Welsh Insurance Services to see if changes in your benefit offerings would better serve your employees while better positioning your company for retention and growth.

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Update: Halfway to Health Reform

Over the weekend, the House passed extensive health care reform that if enacted would radically reshape the American health care system. The final vote was 220-215, with a single Republican supporting the bill’s passage.

That brings us the halfway point of the legislative process. Well, maybe one-third since the final House and Senate bills would have to first be cobbled together before heading to President Obama’s desk.

The House bill does include a public health insurance option that would compete with private insurers as well as equally controversial employer coverage mandates for businesses with payrolls in excess of $500,000. The Senate bills introduced so far do not include employer mandates, and it’s unclear if a bill with such provisions could ever pass the Senate.

The diverse opinions on the public option, employer mandates, abortion funding and the trillion dollar price tag set up a legislative showdown in the Senate, with less than five weeks to pass their version in order to meet an unofficial goal of completing the entire process before the end of the year.

For our clients (and Americans in general), each day’s news brings myriad new questions. What we can do as brokers is continue to remain dialed in to the events on Capital Hill so we can be poised for change and proactive in our approach leading up to any final legislation.

Whether we’re talking about the current system, an insurance marketplace exchange or a public alternative to private carriers, it’s clear there’s going to be plenty for individuals, employees and employers to navigate. Our job is to know what’s available inside and out, help clients sort through choices and ultimately select the best possible coverage based on their status and situation.

The need for that type of help is perhaps the only thing in the world of health insurance that’s not about to change.

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During Flu Season, Prevention is King

Right now, many of our clients are concerned about getting the flu—especially H1N1 (Swine Flu). The answer to the question on most people’s minds is “yes,” the H1N1 vaccine is going to be covered by your insurance in most cases, but it’s still being given out on a priority basis.

We’re glad people are asking about vaccines because preventative care is an extremely important tool in staying healthy and avoiding potentially costly insurance charges related to illness. And most high-deductible plans have excellent preventative care features at no charge or that don’t apply to your annual deductible.

In addition to vaccines, regular wellness visits, covered screening exams, exercise and proper diet are a powerful ways to keep the body strong and to nip health issues in the bud.

We’re also aware that there are a significant number of people out there who are uncomfortable taking vaccinations for various reasons. In those cases, keeping the immune system strong through preventative measures is especially important to staying healthy and avoiding illnesses such as H1N1. Talk to your doctor, nutritionist or acupuncturist about the best ways to keep your immune system at peak performance to stave off seasonal flu and H1N1.

If you’re confused about what’s covered and what’s not, your broker should be a resource in answering your questions and directing you toward covered preventative care. You’re paying the premium costs for your insurance, so we want to make sure you’re getting the most out of that coverage and really leveraging it to support your good health.

When a virus runs rampant such as H1N1, it can be scary. People who need to be in public for work and life get understandably worried that they could be exposed and be the next to get sick. We as brokers hope that through covered preventative measures and good, clear information, our clients can feel more empowered … and more healthy.

Note: Every insurance carrier and every plan operates a little bit differently. As a reminder, always check with your doctor or carrier to confirm covered benefits and what qualifies as in-network services. Out-of-network services may cost more or have different coverage levels.

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