Critical Illness and Accident Coverage Are Top Growth Products
Over the next two to three years, voluntary critical illness insurance and accident/personal injury insurance are tied for first place as expected growth products for carriers. Hospital indemnity/supplemental medical, universal/whole life (UL/WL), and term life coverages round out the top five. Hospital indemnity/supplemental medical products are new to this list in 2016 while UL/WL jumped ahead of term life in this year’s survey. Short-term disability fell out of the top five for the first time in four years. Critical illness leads the pack in growth products for the voluntary worksite market; hospital indemnity/supplemental medical is second; and accident coverage is third.
Very few of the participating carriers rate any voluntary product as very profitable. However, AD&D, accident/personal injury and term life are listed most frequently. The majority of carriers say that their products have average profitability, which is similar to the 2012 and 2014 surveys. None of the respondents rated cancer insurance and long-term care insurance as profitable or financially attractive. For more information, visit eastbridge.com.
The Benefit Gap for Small Businesses
Health insurance is offered to 96% of employees at large and small companies and 89% of employees at small-businesses, in particular. But the study by Lincoln Financial reveals a much larger gap when it comes to other benefits:
|Benefits offered||Small Business Employees||Employees of businesses of all sizes|
|A retirement plan||72%||89%|
Employees at small businesses say that it’s important for their employers to offer these benefits:
- 90% a retirement plan.
- 87% dental coverage.
- 83% vision insurance.
- 76% life insurance.
Almost 70% of employees at small businesses say that benefits have influenced their employment decisions. Business-continuation strategies are critical since more than 50% of small-business owners are 50 to 85. Life insurance can help ensure that the business continues in the event of the death of an owner, co-owner, or key employee. For more information, visit LincolnFinancial.com.
Most Employees Are in the Dark About Harmful Blue Light
Fifty-six percent of workers are bothered by light at work, and 80% want more more eye protection from indoor or outdoor light, or both, according to a survey by Transitions Optical. In the past five years, harmful blue light has gained media attention amid the growing use of digital devices. As more employees learn about the consequences of exposure to harmful blue light, the desire for improved blue light protection is expected to increase. Jonathan Ormsby of Transitions Optical said, “Light protection is a significant issue for today’s employees, so it’s not surprising that concern over harmful blue light is top-of-mind…Also, the majority of employees increasingly place high value on premium lens materials and brands. Ensuring employees are informed about coverage of lenses that help reduce eye strain, like photochromics and AR treatments, can go a long way in terms of job satisfaction and productivity, as well as well-being.”
Employees are misinformed about the common sources of blue light and the protective eye wear that is available. Only 4% can identify all common sources of blue light – digital devices and screens, fluorescent lights, incandescent light bulbs, and the sun. Only 17% know that the sun is a source of blue light. In fact, the sun is the largest source of blue light – emitting over 100 times the intensity of electronic devices and screens. Depending on time of day, 25% to 30% of outdoor light is blue light. Long term exposure to harmful blue light has been linked to increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 50. Also, blue light from the sun scatters through the atmosphere and can cause glare, resulting in visual discomfort and fatigue.
Today’s employees are spending more uninterrupted time on electronic devices. More than one-third spend most or all of their break time at work on mobile phones and tablets. Also, more than one-third report visual disturbances at work from light reflected off of computer screens and personal devices. For more information, visit HealthySightWorkingforYou.org.
Savings Plan for the Disabled to Launch Nationwide
The Enable Savings Plan will launch nationwide on June 30. The plan, which is geared toward people with disabilities, is modeled after the 529 college savings plan. Under the plan, earnings in savings accounts are not subject to state or federal taxes as long as they are used for qualified disability-related expenses. Federal benefits are not jeopardized if assets in a beneficiary’s account remain at $100,000 or less.
The Enable Savings Plan was launched in the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office, and was created with help from the disability community. It offers the following:
- Risk-based growth with moderate and conservative allocation investment options.
- An FDIC-insured bank savings option.
- A checking account option with debit card capability coming in fall 2016.
For more information, visit treasurer.nebraska.gov,
Employees Are in the Dark About Disability Coverage
Workplace enrollment in disability coverage lags behind other types of coverage, according to a study by Lincoln Financial. Only 30% of employees say they know a lot about disability insurance. Ninety-five percent say they are more likely to enroll in benefits that they are familiar with and educated about.
Sixty-seven percent of employees who are offered disability insurance enroll; 81% enroll in life insurance; and 90% enroll in dental insurance. The one-third of employees who don’t enroll in disability coverage say that it’s unnecessary right now. However, just 18% are very confident that they could cover expenses if they experienced a serious illness or injury. About half of American employees say cancer is their top health concern.
Eric Reisenwitz of Lincoln Financial said, “Disability insurance can seem abstract. Many don’t fully understand the protection it can provide. But the ability to earn an income is often the primary source of financial security for an individual or family. We insure our homes, our cars, and ourselves. Why wouldn’t we insure our income? Employees need more education to truly get the most of benefits offered through the workplace, May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month — an excellent time to help employees understand the value of this coverage, which is often right at their fingertips.” For more information, visit newsroom.lfg.com.
Annuity Fraud in California
Detectives from the California Dept. of Insurance arrested Joshua Eugene Barnes, 33, of Moreno Valley on felony grand theft and felony money laundering. Barnes submitted 17 fraudulent annuity applications to five life insurance companies with blank checks he got from about a dozen people. One insurance company paid commissions totaling $81,900 only to discover that the checks Barnes submitted bounced. The insurer contacted the Dept. of Insurance after repeated attempts to get Barnes to repay the commission.
Medicare Supplement Enrollment Reaches Nearly 12 Million
As of December 31, Medicare supplement plans covered over 11.9 million seniors, a 6.5% increase from 2014. The study by Mark Farrah Associates reveals that enrollment in Medicare supplement plans increased by 729,495 covered lives from 2014 to 2015. UnitedHealth is the industry leader, commanding about 39% of the market growth, but several other Medicare supplement carriers also experienced membership gains in 2015.
More than 5 million new Medigap policies were issued in the past three years. Plan F accounted for 55% of the market in 2015, which covers Medicare deductibles and coinsurance and copayment costs. Carriers are selling products at competitive rates while maintaining favorable loss-ratios. The aggregate loss ratio was 77.5% (incurred claims as a percentage of earned premiums). With about 55 million Medicare eligibles, more insurers are diversifying their senior market portfolios. To read the full text of the report, “Med Supp Market Shows Strong Growth in 2015,” visit markfarrah.com.
Millennial Women Want Wellness Care
Millennial women see health as total well being − physical, mental, and spiritual in contrast to the traditional healthcare model that emphasizes disease management. They want to minimize their use of the healthcare system, according to a survey by womenshealthconversations.com. Survey respondents are 22 to 36, hold college or post-graduate degrees, and are working professionals. Also, most are single.
Participants estimate that they spend 25% of their monthly income on preventative and integrative behaviors. Respondents are skeptical about doctors and pharmaceutical companies that are only concerned with prescriptive care. One participant said, “Why isn’t massage or acupuncture covered under insurance? I think the whole system is focused on procedures and not prevention; there needs to be a shift.”
Voluntary Permanent Life
The Guardian is offering portable voluntary permanent life insurance. The coverage builds tax-deferred cash value, has premiums that are guaranteed never to increase, and does not require a medical exam. It can be fully paid up by age 65, so the employee has no additional premiums upon retirement. For more information visit guardiananytime.com.
Dental Provider Cost Comparisons
Delta’s dental care cost estimator tool allows consumers to compare dental costs among dentists who are part of the Delta Dental network (Four out of every five dentists are part of the network). For more information, visit deltadental.com.
Individual Medical Bridge plan
Colonial Life is offering Individual Medical Bridge, a hospital confinement indemnity insurance plan. It helps workers pay expenses not covered by major medical, including deductibles, co-payments, coinsurance, and other out-of-pocket medical and non-medical costs. The plan provides benefits for hospitalization, outpatient surgery, diagnostic tests, doctor’s office visits, emergency room visits, ambulance transportation, and other expenses due to a covered accident or covered sickness. For more information, visit coloniallife.com.
The Guardian and Maxwell Health launched the Guardian BenefitsCenter. The multi-carrier Guardian BenefitsCenter will streamline the administration of benefits, human resources, and payroll functions for brokers and human resource administrators who serve small-to-mid-size employers. The platform makes it easy to quote, procure, and enroll employers and employees across all types of benefits, from medical insurance to Guardian’s suite of benefits which include dental, vision, life, disability, accident, cancer, critical illness and hospital indemnity. Employees can access to all of their benefits through a mobile app. Employees get a healthcare concierge (healthadvocate.com), telemedicine (teladoc.com), and identity-theft prevention. Guardian BenefitsCenter is being introduced through select Guardian brokers starting in the second quarter of 2016 with a full launch scheduled for 2017. For more information, visit GuardianLife.com.
Financial Goal Calculator in Spanish
MassMutual launched a mobile-friendly Spanish-language financial goal calculator on MassMutual.com/Latino. It was developed to address the top four financial concerns of consumers surveyed in MassMutual’s State of the Hispanic American Family study: income, savings, retirement, and debt. For more information, visit massmutual.com/latino.
HR Guidance On-Demand
Mercer introduced Mercer PeoplePro, which offers expert HR and benefit advice through online chat or telephone. It is offered for an hourly rate or at a project level. The consultants on PeoplePro have retired from full time work or have chosen a non-traditional work schedule. They can address rewards and compensation, engagement and communication, health and wellness, pensions and savings, HR technology and effectiveness, and business growth. For more information, visit MercerPeoplePro.com.