At 65, Anne (not her real name) is working full time, with no plans to retire anytime soon. She’s active and feels well, and was surprised – shocked, actually – when a mammogram revealed that she had developed breast cancer.
She worried about her health, of course, and the side effects of her treatments – but not about the out-of-pocket costs she would face. That’s because she has critical illness insurance, a supplemental health plan from Cigna that is offered as part of her employer’s benefit package.
“I always felt that if you can't miss the money, you need insurance,” said Anne, who has finished her treatments, is feeling well, has a good prognosis, and was able to return quickly to work. “After being diagnosed with cancer and incurring the medical and personal expenses, the critical illness insurance was a lifesaver. It was a relief that I wouldn’t take a hit financially.”
Like Anne, many employees want the peace of mind that comes with supplemental insurance. Benefits Pro reports that since the pandemic, 90% of employees now see an increased need for supplemental insurance. The publication notes that the pandemic has prompted employees to focus more on their health. By offering supplemental benefits, companies signal that they value wellness.
What is Supplemental Health Insurance?
Supplemental health insurance pays a lump-sum cash benefit when a customer is diagnosed with a critical illness. It can be purchased at any time, not just during formal enrollment periods, and many plans are low cost, especially if purchased through an employer. The cost to employers is generally low as well and can be passed on to the employee. In addition to being offered as part of the benefit package by many employers, supplemental health insurance is available directly from insurers such as Cigna.
Supplemental health coverage is designed to provide individuals and their covered family members financial protection in the event of a significant and unexpected health event. For example, critical illness plans provide a lump sum cash benefit – typically $10,000-$30,000, depending on the coverage purchased. In addition to coverage for critical illnesses, some plans provide payment in the case of accidental injury or hospitalizations. The cash benefit provided by these policies can be used for whatever is needed, including medical expenses, transportation costs, rent, child care, utility bills, and groceries.
Helping Your Employees Deal With the Unexpected is Good For Business
Experiencing a serious illness or injury can have long-term repercussions, including significant additional stress and anxiety, according to a survey of more than 1,000 adults who experienced a serious health event.
Along with worrying about their health, the study found that a significant portion of the respondents felt they had lost control of key aspects of their lives. About 20% said they had lost control of their finances, and of those, almost a third said they had not regained control even after their health improved. Serious health events also have long-lasting impacts on jobs and career advancement, with 31% citing a negative effect.
Millennials were the most likely to report financial issues, with 31% saying they had problems paying their bills and 37% saying the health event had affected their ability to make a big purchase, such as buying a car or home. Millennials were also more likely to report behavioral health issues stemming from their serious illness or injury: 23% rated their mental health during the event as fair to poor, compared to 10% of baby boomers and 15% of people in Generation X. In another study, half of U.S. adults say they would be unable to pay an unexpected $500 medical bill.
Those with supplemental health plans in place, however, said that in addition to making unexpected health events more affordable, their coverage gave them peace of mind – before, during, and after they needed to utilize their coverage.
Do Your Employees Need Supplemental Health Insurance?
The truth is that not all of your workforce will want or need supplemental insurance benefits. Employees who could benefit from supplemental insurance include:
- People living with a chronic illness that could result in hospitalization
- Those whose lifestyle and leisure activities put them at risk for accidents and injury
- Individuals with a family history of illness, such as cancer or stroke
However, many of these people may be unfamiliar with supplemental benefits and unaware of their value. By making them available and educating employees of their worth, employers can help workers close a gap that they didn’t even know existed.
Supplemental Benefits Are a Financial Wellness Tool for Employers
Over the past three years, all types of wellness programs have become more important to the workforce. A new study shows that by offering benefits that build and reinforce financial wellness, employers have found they can attract higher quality employees and are better able to retain people – important in an environment where resignations have soared by 46% over the last year and one of every three workers have switched jobs or are thinking about doing so.
Creating a culture of health can help counter those trends, and the results can be reflected in the bottom line. Employers that recognize the unique needs of their people and make meaningful investments in workforce health and well-being programs see an average return on investment of 47%, according to a new study [PDF] from Avelere Health.
Research shows three in four employees said supplemental benefits were reasons to work for and stay with an employer. Offering supplemental benefits as part of a comprehensive package can also enhance worker vitality, which has a host of advantages including better overall health, higher occupational confidence, and feeling supported at work.
Research: Vitality Fuels a Healthy Workforce
By better understanding vitality and the factors that impact it, including mental health, employers have a path to more deeply recognize the unique needs of their people and make meaningful investments in workforce health.