With health care costs on a long upward trend, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the desire to offer a competitive benefits package, many employers find themselves in a quandary on how to proceed.
A new LIMRA study of employers, carrying the appropriate title, "Employee Benefits at a Crossroads," found that employers recognize the importance of offering benefits:
- Nearly 80 percent say employers should pay some or all of the premium for their workers' benefits
- In terms of plan choice, 57 percent believe employees want plans with multiple benefit choices and plan features. Thirty-five percent say they believe their employees want limited choices.
- To attract new employees, 9 out of 10 employers say they must offer medical insurance.
At the same time, the study revealed employers are concerned about the future:
- Just over half of the surveyed employers expect the ACA to have a negative impact on their ability to offer medical benefits in the near future.
- Eighty-five percent say controlling the costs of health care is an important or critical challenge.
- Employees need to take more responsibility for their benefits, according to 67 percent of employers.
What about worker input on benefits? Nearly half of employers said they conduct employee benefit surveys "once in a while." Another 15 percent conduct benefit surveys on a regular basis, while 38 percent said they never do them. Additionally, 8 percent of employers said they were not sure how much choice their employees wanted in their benefit packages.
One last finding from the report emphasizes the important role of the benefits advisor. While 44 percent of respondents believe that companies need to use different benefit communication strategies for different employee populations, 80 percent admit to using the same strategy for all employees. This highlights an opportunity for advisors and carriers to better serve employers' needs by helping them to customize their approaches to benefits education.