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Consumer Trends and Supplemental Benefit Sales

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What You Need to Know

  • Many workers are more broke than employers realize.
  • Some could use help with getting telehealth services.
  • More than one-third would consider replacing their primary care providers with telehealth services.

Many Americans — even with health insurance coverage — acknowledge their need for more insurance protection.

The current environment of heightened awareness around health care costs is an opportunity to educate, equip and serve employers so they are offering the best benefits for their employees.

Brokers can rely on the latest benefits trends to focus their sales conversations to help meet the needs of their clients, which could pay dividends in the long run.

1. Help protect a workplace unprepared for high out-of-pocket costs.

The overwhelming majority of employers believe an employee’s financial stability is a critical component of job performance.

Still, many could be in the dark about the fragility of their employees’ finances.

For instance, most employers believe their workforce is financially able to meet their health care obligations, while nearly half of workers say they’d struggle to pay an unexpected expense of more than $1,000.  (The 2021 Aflac WorkForces Report, which conducted by Kantar on behalf of Aflac, is the 11th annual study examining benefits trends and attitudes across the U.S. in various industries and business sizes. The employer survey took place online between June 28 and July 14 and captured responses from 1,200 employers. The employee survey captured responses from 2,000 employees between June 28 and July 16.)

The finding from employer survey represents an important education opportunity for employers about providing supplemental insurance coverage.

Not only can the coverage help workers with their out-of-pocket costs and mitigate some of their anxieties, but it can also give employers confidence that their employees are financially stable and able to handle unexpected medical expenses.

That way they are present and available for life at work and home.

2. Help cover workers for the expected and unexpected health events.

According to a recent study from Gallup and West Health, nearly half of Americans say their view of health care in America has worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic; 59% are more worried about the cost of health care services while 45% are more worried about the cost of prescription drugs, leaving more than half the country dealing with financial stress.

Supplemental insurers responded to the pandemic by innovating their products to help meet these needs.

Critical illness policies expanded coverage by paying benefits for diseases — like flu, pneumonia and COVID-19 — or chronic conditions like diabetes.

Many include a wellness benefit that pays policyholders directly for certain preventive care measures, such as health exams or procedures — including mammograms, annual physicals or dental or eye exams — even if their health insurance covers it.

Every carrier is different, but some offer benefits specifically for families with children playing sports. These everyday concerns can help your clients to offer benefits that help their employees in tangible ways.

3. Provide resources that address mental health challenges.

The 2021-2022 Aflac WorkForces Report found that mental health negatively affected the job performance of a third of the U.S.

workforce over the past year. And, according to the National Council of Mental Wellbeing, 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth ages 6 to 17 experience mental illness each year.

This has created a growing need that employers can help meet through value-added services included with some supplemental insurance products.

Employee assistance programs are a popular option that offers access to mental health counseling, and a telemedicine provider could help offer access to behavioral health specialists.

Some supplemental policies cover mental health screenings as well as serious mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia.

And still others help individuals screen and monitor existing and undetected behavioral health conditions.

These types of products can help your clients give their workforce much needed support and, in turn, garner satisfaction with their company’s benefits.

4. Meet employees where they are with virtual care.

The intersection of technology and health care has never been more important than it is now.

The use of smartphones and computers has provided patients a safe environment to speak with medical professionals and discuss ongoing or new health issues.

Emerging data clearly shows consumers are interested in virtual health care: 43% of adults want to continue to use

telehealth services after the pandemic, and 34% would prefer telehealth to an in-person office visit, according to a survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association.

About 35% of the public would consider replacing their primary care providers with qualified physicians on demand via telehealth, according to a study conducted by The Harris Poll.

With the growing demand for telemedicine, some insurers offer policies with benefits that apply to a telehealth visit or access to a telehealth provider to help provide policyholders accessibility and convenience.

5. Offer supplemental insurance with a focus on what matters today.

The modern workforce is ready for benefits that protect them from high out-of-pocket costs.

They want products that address their everyday health concerns in ways that are accessible from their home, office or wherever they may be.

Leaning on these consumer trends is an easy and effective way you can demonstrate your expertise and ability to tailor a benefits strategy to reach your clients’ goals in 2022 and beyond.

Bob Ruff (Photo: Aflac)Bob Ruff is senior vice president of growth solutions at Aflac’s Aflac U.S. business.

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