According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), medical debts account for 52 percent of debt collections actions that appear on consumer credit reports.[i] With high-deductible insurance plans and the rising costs of medical care, employers would be wise to consider new ways to help employees reduce the financial risks and out-of-pocket costs associated with an unexpected illness or injury.
Voluntary products like life, hospital, disability and critical illness insurance, like the products offered by Aflac, are a great first step to expanding employee benefits without negatively affecting a company's bottom line. In addition to voluntary insurance, employers can also offer value-added services designed to offer assistance on Day One of the policy going into effect to ensure employees' day-to-day lifestyles go uninterrupted.
The types of services vary and can include anything from wellness programs and financial planning to resources that help employees navigate the intricacies of the healthcare billing system.Below are a few value-added services businesses can offer to fit every employee's needs.
Benefits Management Support
A study conducted in 2015 found that the United States healthcare system spends an estimated $375 billion annually in billing and insurance-related paperwork.[ii] This alarming number should prompt businesses to consider offering a service that provides administrative support to help employees understand their benefits.
As well as providing support with medical bills, benefits management support can connect consumers to highly qualified healthcare professionals through telemedicine to evaluate common conditions and provide personalized treatment remotely, a low-cost and convenient option for employees who are constantly on the go.
Fraud Protection Services
In today's technology-driven world, identity theft is top of mind for consumers and businesses alike. Businesses can help employees achieve peace of mind by offering services that will work to protect their personal information and finances. Fraud protection is a cost-effective addition to any benefits offering, and it can provide ongoing internet monitoring and deliver full identity restoration for those impacted by a data breach.
By offering employees a flexible spending account (FSA), businesses can help enable their employees to set aside a portion of their salary before taxes to be reimbursed for certain medical expenses throughout the calendar year. For example, workers can use their funds to buy eyeglasses, pay for a visit to a chiropractor, or purchase wellness items, including first-aid kits, vitamins, or thermometers.
Overall, today's employees want immediate return with their benefits as well as long-term value. With voluntary benefits offerings and value-added services, businesses can give their employees more resources to solve their everyday challenges.
[i] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Consumer credit reports: A study of medical and non-medical collections," accessed June 14, 2017 - http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201412_cfpb_reports_consumer-credit-medical-and-non-medical-collections.pdf[ii]
BMC Health Services Research. "Billing and insurance-related administrative costs in United States' healthcare: synthesis of micro-costing evidence," accessed June 14, 2017 - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270002716_Billing_and_insurance-related_administrative_costs_in_United_States'_health_care_synthesis_of_micro-costing_evidence
About the Author
Brenda J. Mullins is vice president of Human Resources and chief people officer at Aflac. She is responsible for the core human resources functions in the U.S. for Aflac's more than 5,000 employees and has developed the framework for expanding Aflac's diversity efforts through recruitment, retention, relationships, reinforcement and recognition.