This is an exciting time for the employee benefits industry.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has precipitated a new appreciation for voluntary benefits and a spike in enrollment. Businesses are enhancing their benefits packages to offset rising healthcare costs and to allow employees to fill the gaps left by high-deductible health plans.
Employees are taking a more active role in decisions about coverage. Carriers and brokers are responding with customized products and platforms that ease administration and cost for employers; and that assist employees in the decision-making process.
As an industry we now have the opportunity to pause, take a collective breath, and focus on the future of our business.
While the landscape of employee benefits is continually changing, the industry’s message to the market has remained relatively static. Healthcare costs are rising. Emergency savings accounts are shrinking. Employees are shouldering greater accountability and risk. We can provide products to help.
While these arguments are valid, ultimately PPACA prompted employers to make fundamental changes in their approach to employee benefits. How then, as an industry, do we effectively communicate the value that our products provide, and help employees achieve long-term financial security?
The answer is simple. It’s time to tell a new story.
The onus is on carriers and brokers to change the public’s mindset and position employee benefits — in conjunction with medical insurance — as a crucial component of every American’s financial strategy. Let’s explain to employers and employees how these benefits impact their bottom line.
Let’s talk about the portability of our products and how individuals can protect their assets by maintaining policies during the transition to a new job. Let’s also talk about employee benefits in a way that it clear and understandable to the lay person, not just those who live and breathe insurance.
For a moment, let’s forget about premiums, terms and disclosures and talk about what these products were created to do, which is assist individuals in meeting monthly expenses in the wake of an illness or injury, thus helping them protect their retirement savings and remain on track to achieve their financial goals.
The Bottom Line
As an optimist, I believe most employers have their employees’ best interest at heart. However, we live in tough economic times that call for difficult financial decisions. The success of the employee benefits industry is contingent upon our ability to help people understand that our products are a “must-have,” and not a “nice-to-have.” To do that, we need to clearly articulate how these offerings improve an employers’ bottom line — specifically, their ability to recruit and retain top talent.