Are Your Group Health and Wellness Benefits Plans Keeping Up With the Jones’s?

Most business owners and HR executives know that compensation isn’t just about cash. Study after study has shown that employees also value a strong group benefits package as well. This could include everything from employee health, vision and dental to long term care insurance group plans to employee wellness programs. Employers have dozens of options, and generally have a great deal of flexibility in choosing with their insurance companies and other vendors what benefits to offer.

The latest survey from the Society of Human Resource Management took a look at many common employee perks and benefits, and what percentage of established employers offered each one.

Here are some of the highlights from the SHRM study.

PPO plans dominated the group health insurance market, with 86 percent of employers offering the option. About 33 percent offered HMO plans. Only 7 percent of employers still offer indemnity or fee-for-service plans, according to the survey.  This indicates that employers have been trading flexibility in choosing providers in exchange for lower premiums.

89 percent of employers provide mental health coverage – often required by state mandates. 83 percent reported offering accidental death and dismemberment insurance, and 80 percent offer chiropractic coverage.

About 31 percent offer some kind of long-term care insurance, and 29 percent offer critical illness insurance.

Out of those responding to the survey, 13 percent of employers pay the full cost of health benefits for full-time employees, and 5 percent pay the full cost of benefits for part-timers and employee spouses.

35 percent of employers now offer benefits for same-sex domestic partners, but only 26 percent offer benefits for opposite sex domestic partners. 3 percent of employers pay benefits for foster children.

42 percent of employers offer HSAs, or health savings accounts, which allow employees to save money pre-tax for qualified health expenses, and to pay for these expenses tax-free. They can only be used in conjunction with a qualifying high-deductible health plan. 36 percent of employers reported making HSA contributions on behalf of employees.

77 percent of organizations provide long term disability insurance, and 68 percent provide short-term disability insurance. This coverage ensures that a worker can still keep a roof over his or her head and provide for families if illness or injury should prevent them from working.

77 percent of employers offer an employee assistance program – a benefit that allows workers to confidentially access counseling and assistance services for a variety of issues.

Wellness Benefits

About 77 percent of employers provide wellness or preventive health resources and information in some form, and 64 percent have a formal wellness program in place. 48 percent offer first aid training, 61 percent offer on-site flu vaccination, and 44 percent offer a smoking cessation program. 37 percent of employers offer a weight loss program benefit of some kind, and 36 percent offer fitness center membership or reimbursement.

One interesting development: 21 percent of organizations now offer a discount on health care premiums for getting an annual health risk assessment, and 43 percent of organizations report providing a reward or bonus for completing certain health and wellness programs. That’s nearly double the 23 percent of employers offering that particular carrot in 2009.

One brand new benefit that SHRM just began to track this year is a standing desk. 13 percent of employers offer employees a standing desk at work. 

If you have any questions about your benefits plan, call ACBI at 203-259-7580. 

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