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    Do I Have to Provide Health Insurance to Offer My Employees Voluntary Benefits?

    The short answer? No. Voluntary benefits are benefit options such as dental, vision, disability, and critical-illness and accident insurance, ID theft protection, and legal services that an employer can offer, but are paid—partially or fully—by their employees through payroll deductions. Voluntary benefits are designed to help fill the gaps in your employee benefits coverage and offer your employees the option to add on coverage, typically at a lower cost than they could get individually.

    With rising healthcare costs, voluntary benefits are a cost-effective solution for you and your employees. Offering these benefits gives your employees the convenience of choosing from a menu of optional insurance coverages—all with little or no cost to you.

    By providing choices to your employees so they can decide on the best options for themselves and their families, you can give your business an edge when it comes to recruitment, and you can enhance employee loyalty and retention.

    In this blog post, we’ll discuss the advantages of offering voluntary benefits for both you and your employees. We’ll also examine the importance of educating your employees on the value of voluntary benefits using a targeted communication strategy.

    Types of Voluntary Benefits

    Many employers are opting to expand their voluntary benefits to help cover the rising cost of providing health benefits. Some of the most traditional voluntary offerings include:

    • Vision and dental insurance
    • Short- and long-term disability
    • Critical illness and cancer insurance
    • Term and whole life insurance
    • Accident insurance

    Some employers choose to offer non-insurance products to their employees. Non-traditional voluntary benefits may include:

    • Group legal plans
    • Financial planning
    • Employee discount programs
    • Pet insurance

    The Value of Voluntary Benefits for Your Employees

    Due to their cost efficiency and portability, voluntary benefits have become a key component of many companies’ overall benefits strategies. Such benefits offer high value to employees, all with minimal effort and cost to the company.

    Voluntary benefits can be presented to employees to pick and choose from for elective purchase. Employers can offer value to employees with the following:

    • Reduced group rates
    • Convenience of automatic payroll deductions
    • Boost to work-life balance with such programs as educational assistance and financial planning

    The Value of Voluntary Benefits for Employers

    More and more, it's becoming critical that businesses offer robust benefits packages to help them recruit and retain top talent. However, as you likely know, the cost of insuring your employees continues to rise. Offering a good set of voluntary benefits can:

    • Cost you little or nothing to offer to your employees
    • Provide value through cost efficiency and increased convenience for your employees
    • Aid recruitment efforts—certain benefits, such as dental and disability, are highly valued
    • Help build loyalty and improve retention, reducing costs associated with employee turnover

    Educating Your Employees About Using Voluntary Benefits

    Educating your employees about the value of voluntary benefits is critical to helping them realize the many advantages these benefits can offer. If your employees aren’t aware of the various insurance products and programs your company provides, they can’t take advantage of them! More importantly, educating employees about your voluntary benefits and how they work will help employees understand the full value of what you’re offering.

    SWBC Employee Benefits Consulting Group can provide educational materials on voluntary benefits to you and your employees, and we can assist you with choosing and coordinating voluntary benefits to provide you and your employees the best value possible.

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    Will Rauch

    Will Rauch is a Senior Employee Benefits Consultant who joined SWBC in 2019. He strategically consults and partners with employers of all industries, with a strong emphasis on mid-sized employers ranging anywhere from 50 employees to 1,000 employees. Will’s background includes 10 years of business to business managed professional services in both the U.S. and international markets. Will is a graduate of St. Mary’s University with a double major in Corporate Financial Management and International Business.

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