COLUMBUS, Ga., Jan. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Most American employees (88 percent) at least somewhat agree they consider voluntary insurance benefits a part of a comprehensive benefits program according to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report, a study released by Aflac, the leading provider of voluntary insurance in the United States. With plans such as accident, critical illness and hospital confinement, employees view voluntary benefits as a way to fill in coverage gaps. In fact, 63 percent see a growing need for voluntary benefits options in 2014 compared to previous years, and 48 percent of employees say they are more knowledgeable about voluntary benefits than they were last year.
Due to increasing health care costs and an evolving health benefits landscape, the demand for voluntary plans is on the rise. According to a LIMRA survey, voluntary health product sales were $2.6 billion in 2013, which represents a 13 percent increase over 2012.1 Additionally, voluntary products have steadily increased in popularity in the workplace. In fact, the Aflac study found from 2012 to 2013, voluntary insurance plans have seen a 10 percent growth among companies offering voluntary insurance.
"Health care reform has turned workers' attention to their personal health care situations," said Matthew Owenby, vice president of Human Resources at Aflac. "They're also looking closely at their insurance coverage to identify gaps that might leave them vulnerable to rising medical expenses. Consequently, we are seeing an increased need for voluntary benefits among American workers. One way employers can help their employees with no direct cost to the company is to offer voluntary insurance, which provides an extra layer of protection when they need it most."
Employees remain financially unprepared
Employees' financial conditions remain fragile. A key driver that can put a strain on someone's budget is unexpected out-of-pocket costs that occur even with health insurance. The Aflac study notes that many workers are unprepared to cope with a financial crisis if faced with a health emergency. For example, about 7 in 10 workers (69 percent) at least somewhat agree they regularly underestimate the total costs of an illness or injury, and 66 percent wouldn't be able to adjust to the large financial costs associated with a serious injury or illness.
The Aflac study also reveals that health care costs could have a long-lasting effect on American workers' creditworthiness. Employees say medical costs are affecting their credit scores, keeping them from paying other bills and hindering their efforts to save for a rainy day or retirement:
- 53 percent say their benefits cost were considerably or slightly more compared to last year.2
- 42 percent are not prepared to pay the out-of-pocket expenses for an unexpected serious illness or accident.
- 24 percent said high medical costs have negatively affected their credit scores and/or they've been contacted by collection agencies about outstanding medical bills.
Employers should consider providing a comprehensive benefits package that includes voluntary benefits options to contain health care costs while helping offset employees' increased medical expenses. Policyholders receive cash benefits to help pay for their rent, mortgage, childcare or groceries, among other out-of-pocket expenses that major medical insurance does not cover.
In fact, more employers have already begun offering voluntary benefits. The Aflac study found 35 percent of U.S. employers offered voluntary insurance to their employees in 2014, a 9-percentage-point increase from 2012. These benefits options not only enhance benefits offerings but also help employers retain and attract workers.
According to the Aflac study, when compared to workers who are not offered voluntary insurance options, employees who are enrolled in voluntary insurance are 18 percent more likely to be extremely or very satisfied with their jobs. Additionally, they are:
- 38 percent more likely to be extremely or very satisfied with the overall benefits package offered to them.
- 19 percent less likely to be extremely or very likely to look for another job in the next 12 months.
- 64 percent more likely to completely or strongly agree they feel fully protected by their current insurance coverage.
What's the bottom line for employers? Benefits matter. New and innovative approaches to improving benefits communication and education strategies as well as building robust benefits packages are becoming more mainstream, including a growing reliance upon voluntary benefits.
About the Aflac WorkForces Report
The 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report is the fourth annual Aflac employee benefits study examining benefit trends and attitudes. The study, conducted by Research Now, captures responses from 1,856 benefits decision-makers and 5,209 employees across the U.S. To learn more about the Aflac WorkForces Report, visit AflacWorkForcesReport.com.
Conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, the research contained two components – employer research and employee research. The Employer Survey was conducted online within the United States from Jan. 7-23, 2014, among 1,856 benefits decision-makers. Results were representative of U.S. companies with at least three employees based on company size (number of employees) and industry. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
The Employee Survey was conducted online within the United States from Jan. 7-27, 2014, among 5,209 employed adults ages 18 and older who are employed full or part time at a company with three or more employees and not retired. The first 3,124 interviews were nationally representative, while the remaining 2,085 interviews were conducted among the top 20 designated market areas (DMAs) – 100+ interviews per DMA. Results were weighted as needed to match U.S. demographics and to enable year-over-year trending. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Aflac Media Relations at [email protected] or 706.243.5543.
About Research Now
Research Now is the leading global online sampling and online data collection company. With more than 6 million panelists in 38 countries worldwide, Research Now offers a full suite of data collection services. For more information, please visit researchnow.com.
When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For nearly six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the leading provider of voluntary insurance at the worksite. In Japan, Aflac is the number one life insurance company in terms of individual policies in force. Aflac individual and group insurance products help provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For eight consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2014, FORTUNE magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the 16th consecutive year. Also, in 2014, FORTUNE magazine included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 13th time, ranking the company number one in the life and health insurance category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com or espanol.aflac.com.
Media contact – Kip Havel, 706.243.5543 or [email protected]
1 U.S. Worksite Sales Survey, LIMRA, 2013
2 2014 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey