Employers more than ever are seeking innovative solutions for health care cost containment from their benefit advisers, and one industry expert says emerging strategies to help brokers thrive in the coming decade should include voluntary benefit sales and plan integration.

Typically, benefit brokers have concentrated on cost-containment strategies such as increasing annual deductibles, co-pays, and other plan design modifications that essentially shift the cost burden to employees.

But, many employees are unable to cope with the increased financial burden, Michael Naumann, senior strategic advisor, U.S. Broker Sales, at Aflac told attendees of EBA’s Workplace Benefits Summit in Orlando Thursday.

In today’s health care landscape, he said, emerging strategies for brokers who want to thrive in the next decade should include:

  • Elevating the value of total benefits
  • Partnering with, and relying on, those who know voluntary benefits; and
  • Exploring voluntary benefits as a cost containment and risk management tool

“As a trusted adviser, your clients are looking to you for additional innovative solutions,” he said, which may include Medicaid migration, onsite clinics, onsite flu shots, cost-plus pricing negotiations, hospital cost and quality transparency apps, dependent eligibility audits, etc.
Voluntary benefits can also be an innovative solution, and brokers should evaluate their book of business and identify clients for which voluntary benefit offerings such as critical illness and accident and disability insurance can offer cost savings, Naumann said.

Those clients, he added, can include employers in a high risk pool, those who have implemented high deductible health care plans, and even those with high overall workers compensation claims.

Workers’ compensation claims decrease

Forty percent of all companies providing access to voluntary accident insurance experienced declines in their workers’ compensation claims, Naumann said, according to Aflac’s “Impact of Voluntary Accident Insurance and Voluntary Disability Insurance on Workers’ Compensation Claims and Worker Absenteeism Study,” based on a nationwide survey conducted by Research Now and Aflac.

In fact, 47% of all employers reported declines of 50% or more, while 37% reported declines of 25% to 49%.

Workers’ compensation results for employers offering voluntary disability insurance were similar, the study found: 36% of companies reported decreases in workers’ compensation claims.

Voluntary disability and accident insurance offerings were also tied to decreased absenteeism at companies, the study found.

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