Voluntary benefits are among the fastest growing benefits as employers look to provide their teams with enhanced security in 2022 and beyond. But there are both challenges and big opportunities when it comes to incorporating voluntary health benefits into your overall benefit strategy. Join us as NFP’s National Practice Leader of Voluntary Benefits, Kim Heald, shares how to implement voluntary health benefits that work for employers, their teams, and their families.
How Kim Became a Voluntary Benefits Expert
Kim’s introduction to the insurance business started as a salesperson managing the broker channel at ADP. She left to work as a broker herself and quickly realized the importance of communication and education in the benefits sales process. She then moved over to the enrollment side before joining NFP to build their voluntary benefits Center of Excellence. Kim has been on every side of the business, which gives her a good appreciation for what goes into a voluntary benefit plan that really works for employers and their employees. And now she’s able to share her valuable insights within the NFP organization.
Challenges in Voluntary Benefits
The first challenge Kim mentioned is that we are still fixing yesterday’s mistakes. Fifteen years ago, the primary delivery of voluntary benefits was done with the employee sitting down with a licensed benefit counselor. Some would argue that there may have been some overselling of high-priced benefits that people often forgot to use. The benefits may have been good, but it was hard to know. They often were too much for employees’ needs, too expensive, or too complicated. So much has changed since then, but unfortunately decision makers (i.e. employers) got the feeling that these benefits weren’t helping much and weren’t worth it. In many cases today, voluntary benefits are a valuable addition to the health benefit strategy, and brokers need to educate their employer clients about new, better options.
The second challenge is that employer education takes time. Kim and her team are working with their clients to try new things and find the right benefits for their employees’ needs. This is a consultative process, and it’s important to set aside ample time to talk with employer clients to show them the value of voluntary benefits today. It can’t be a ten minute conversation anymore. It has to be an in-depth discussion about how voluntary plans can function within the context of the overall health benefits package.
Poor benefits literacy
Another challenge facing the voluntary benefits industry is that employees struggle to understand their benefits completely. Kim tells us that as an industry, it’s time to focus on how we can support employees and help them make good decisions. If employers invest in benefits education, that goes a long way towards helping employees make the most of the benefits available to them.
Tips for Voluntary Benefit Program Success
“One piece of advice we often give out is to bring voluntary benefits from the end of enrollment to the beginning. Be prescriptive about how you are going to implement these benefits and present them to employees.”
It is also important to evaluate the outcomes after the enrollment is complete. Was the pricing right? What options did employees choose? Do they have the right coverage? Bottom line, it’s important to review the final enrollment results to capture the important insights and learnings.
Brella is a New Kind of Voluntary Coverage
Kim is a believer in traditional voluntary benefit products, but she’s impressed by how progressive Brella’s supplemental health product is.
“Brella is a very progressive offering for this benefit class. There are now thousands of opportunities to receive this benefit, which is a new thing. When employees see that, it’s a no-brainer that it is valuable. It isn’t this super limited benefit with only a few covered codes, it is thousands. Plus, you have made it super simple to understand, and super simple to file a claim.”
If you’d like to connect with Kim or learn more about NFP you can visit NFP.com. To hear all of Kim’s insights, listen to the episode now.
Note, this episode is for informational and educational purposes only. Kim Heald and NFP are not endorsed, affiliated with, nor compensated by Greenhouse Life Insurance Company.
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