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Here's how insurance brokers can help public sector employers

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In light of tight budgets, increasing health care costs and a growing population of employees eligible for retirement, public sector employers remain focused on stability.

However, this focus is creating a delicate balancing act when it comes to meeting employees’ benefits needs.

See also: Boosting employee loyalty: It’s all about the benefits 

According to the public sector findings from MetLife’s 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, 85 percent of public sector employers, which include state and local governments, public primary and secondary schools and public colleges and universities, indicate controlling health and welfare costs is a top benefit objective. But nearly the same percentage is also focused on utilizing benefits to recruit and retain top talent.

To help find the balance, brokers play an important role in helping public sector employers rethink their benefit strategies.

Here are three ways brokers can help public sector employers build robust benefit programs that manage costs, while maintaining coverage:

No. 1: Advocate for a wide range of benefits.

Of all employees surveyed for MetLife’s 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, both public and private sector, more than half say they are interested in having their employer provide a wider array of non-medical benefits that they can choose to purchase and pay for on their own. Findings also show that in the public sector, employees understand that voluntary benefits can limit their out-of-pocket expenses, so it’s important to have those benefits, which can help offset healthcare costs, like critical illness, hospital indemnity and cancer insurance, included in public sector benefits offerings. Offerings that meet these needs will be most effective in recruiting, retaining and engaging employees.

See also: Options are the future of retirement planning

No. 2: Encourage out-of-the-box solutions.

At the same time employees are looking for broader offerings, public sector employers are looking for cost control strategies. As employers think about strategies to control costs, it’s important to understand what benefits employees value most. In the public sector, these benefits include dental and life insurance. More than 70 percent of public sector employees consider dental a must-have benefit, and 64 percent consider life insurance a must-have. Instead of making cuts to these highly valued benefits, encourage public sector partners to think out-of-the-box. Fortunately, some already are. According to the study, 37 percent are contemplating changes to plan design, 40 percent are encouraging competitive bidding and nearly half are open to increasing employee contributions.

No. 3: Consider the changing workforce.

The shift in employee demographics is highlighting a need for portable benefits. Millennials place greater value on work-life balance than their older counterparts, and Baby Boomers are interested in continuing to work past the traditional retirement age. Across both private and public sector, there is a gap between employers providing portable benefits and employee interest. In public education, this trend mirrors the private sector, but in state and local government, the gap is particularly pronounced, with more than 80 percent of employees interested in portable benefits   and only about a third of employers offering them. It’s unlikely that employee interest in portable benefits will wane any time soon. Those employers at the forefront of offering these benefits of the future will be well positioned in the competition for talent.  

By utilizing these strategies, brokers can be valuable partners to state and local governments and public education entities as they continue to focus on leveraging benefits offerings to recruit and retain employees, and at the same time manage costs.

See also:

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