NU Online News Service, Aug. 23, 3:10 p.m. – Eastbridge Consulting Group, Avon., Conn., has published a report predicting that the insurance company operations that sell employer-paid group benefits and “voluntary,” employee-paid benefits will merge over the next 20 years.

Insurers will also put more emphasis on splitting the funding and protection components of insurance-based benefits such as health insurance, just as they did with life insurance when they created universal life insurance in the 1980s, according to the Eastbridge consultants who wrote the report, 2020: A Clearer Vision of the Future.

Because customers will be so interested in investing the assets used to back the benefits, many benefits sellers will have to compete with banks and securities firms or merge with those firms to stay in the game, the analysts predict.