Sudden changes in the labor market tides may have a big effect on which employers are adopting, and dropping, non-medical health benefits.
Aflac Inc. (NYSE:AFL) has published data supporting that conclusion in a batch of facts drawn from a survey of 1,977 U.S. decision makers of employers with at least three employees. An outside firm conducted the survey in early 2015.
Aflac also commissioned an online survey of 5,337 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, who work at an employer with three or more employees, and an online survey of 306 insurance brokers and producers.
Aflac sells products at the worksite, often to low-income and middle-income workers. One way it sliced and diced the data was to show how poorly many lower-income workers felt they understood the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) when compared with higher-income workers.
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The company found, for example, that only 49 percent of the lower-income workers said their employers had prepared them well for the impact of health reform, compared with 61 percent of the higher-income workers.
In another set of analyses, Aflac showed how benefits packages changed between 2014 and 2015 in 10 industry sectors.
Analysts gave industry-by-industry benefits package statistics for 2014 and 2015. For each industry, for each year, the analysts gave the percentage of participating employers that offered major medical coverage, life insurance, voluntary products and three types of non-medical health benefits: dental insurance, vision insurance and disability insurance.
In the interest-rate-plague financial services sector, for example, the percentage of employers offering major medical coverage increased slightly to 83 percent, from 80 percent, but the percentage that offering dental insurance increased only slightly, to 81 percent, from 79 percent.
The percentage offering vision insurance fell to 71 percent, from 73 percent, while the percentage offering disability insurance increased to 70 percent, from 68 percent.
We created a simple non-medical health benefits growth indicator for the industry sectors Aflac included by adding up the percentage-point changes in the offered rates for dental insurance, vision insurance and disability insurance, then dividing by three.
For the financial services sector, for example, the sum of the percentage-point changes in the offered rates for those three products is a 1 percentage-point increase. The average of those three offered-rate changes is about 0.3 percentage points.
The average non-medical benefits offered-rate changes ranged from negative 4.7 percentage points, for manufacturing, up to more than 10 percentage points, for a sector on the rebound.
For a look at the three sectors that looked best in the Aflac data, read on.
Dental change: +6 percentage points
Vision change: +5 percentage points
Disability change: +6 percentage points
AVERAGE: +5.7 percentage points