NU Online News Service, July 28, 2004, 1:50 p.m. EDT

U.S. sales of voluntary group products continue to grow faster than sales of individual worksite products.[@@]

Eastbridge Consulting Group Inc., Avon, Conn., has published data supporting that conclusion in a new U.S. worksite market survey report.

Sales of individual worksite products increased only 6% in 2003, while sales of voluntary group products increased 17%, Eastbridge says.

But Eastbridge found that the expansion of the voluntary group product market was slower in 2003 than it was in 2002.

In 2002, the growth rate was 5% for sales of individual worksite products and 36% for sales of voluntary group products.

When an insurer sells an individual worksite product, it sells large numbers of individual policies at the worksite. Employees usually pay for the coverage by having the premium payments deducted from their paychecks.

When an insurer sells a voluntary group policy, the employer sets up a group policy. Employees decide whether or not to accept the coverage and pay for it through payroll deductions.

Individual worksite products accounted for about 56% of new U.S. worksite sales in 2003, Eastbridge says.