Here are 5 benefits topics that got people talking at a recent benefits trends briefing organized by Prudential Financial...

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1. Tax Breaks for Employer Student Loan Payment Help

Scott Steves, a regional senior vice president with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., said employer student loan payment help usually counts as taxable income. He said employers, and workers, are eager to see that change. This seemed to be the briefing topic that generated the most attendee excitement.

2. Paid Family Leave

Simon Camaj, national practice leader for life, absence and disability benefits at Mercer, said employers in areas without a paid leave mandate should be prepared for change. "It's coming," he said.

3. Retirement Benefits for Gig Workers

Michael Domingos, Prudential's new sales and strategic relationships head, said that gig workers now make up a big part of the workforce, and that only about 17% have retirement benefits. "That means that there are a lot of them don't," Domingos said. "We look at that and see an opportunity."

4 Retirement Plan Annuitization Options

Domingos said congressional consideration of bills with 401(k) lifetime income provisions has started some conversations. "There is a heightened sense of awareness," he reported.

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5. Fear of Unexpected Bills

Jessica Gillespie, Prudential's group insurance distribution head, said the supplemental health products once known as "gap fillers" are now seen as critical., because of the financial pressure workers are facing. "They don't know how they're going to make ends meet."

(Image: Korionov/Thinkstock)

Prudential Financial Inc. recently held a new installment in its series of benefits trends briefings for reporters in New York.

The Newark, New Jersey-based company no longer sells major medical insurance, but it’s a major provider of group life and disability products, retirement plans, supplemental health insurance products, and other worksite, voluntary and true-group products.

(Related: What Prudential Benefits Sellers Are Seeing Now)

Last year, the list of hot topics that came up included the fact that most big employers have already locked in their benefits for the coming year by October; rational pricing in the benefits market; the implementation of new federal group disability benefits claim review standards; the possibility that employers might offer more association disability plans; and expanded employer return-to-work help for employees with disabilities.

This year, one thing executives said is that the new federal group disability claim review standards have been a non event.

At this point, speakers said, upheaval in group disability claims is not a topic of focus.

For five 2019-2020 benefits trends that are getting the speakers’ attention, see the idea cards in the slideshow above. (To get the control arrows to show up, wiggle your pointer over the first slide.)

 

 

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