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Health Benefits & Flexible Spending

NOTE: The following is a general description of some common benefit options. This toolkit is not intended to be legal or tax advice. Businesses should consult with financial and legal professionals regarding the impacts and obligations of each of the programs listed below.

 

Health Insurance

 

What

 

Health insurance is a core benefit that contributes to the financial stability and well-being of employees and their families.

Even for employers who already provide health insurance, it is worth looking at adjustments that may provide lower premiums, lower copays, or smaller deductibles based on employee needs. Employees may be struggling to pay family premiums, putting off appointments to avoid co-pays, or unable to afford care due to large deductibles. If so, there may be different options that are more suitable for employees at your organization.

Benefits 

 

Offering health insurance helps attract and retain top talent and helps keep employees healthier, happier, and more productive. Preventive care reduces absenteeism and lost productivity.

Dental and Vision Insurance

What

 

While dental and vision insurance may be included within some health insurance packages, they are often excluded from traditional health insurance plans. There are separate, standalone plans for vision or dental benefits that can be used on top of a health insurance plan as a form of supplemental insurance. In many cases, dental and vision insurance can be packaged, offering a single plan with benefits for both.  

Benefits

 

As with other health insurance, dental and vision insurance allows employees to receive preventative care for themselves and their families. Preventative care can reduce absenteeism. Insurance also lessens the potential risk of a major expense that jeopardizes family economic stability. 

Flexible Spending Accounts  

 

What

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) — also called reimbursement accounts, flexible benefit plans, or 125  "Cafeteria Plans,” — are authorized by Internal Revenue Code Section 125 and provide a tax-advantaged way to pay certain out-of-pocket health care expenses and work-related dependent care expenses. 

For descriptions of a range of taxable and non-taxable benefits, see IRS Publication 15-B, Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits and consult your CFO or tax specialist.

Benefits

 

A cafeteria plan can include the following benefits:

  • Accident and health benefits

  • Adoption assistance

  • Dependent care (including child care) assistance

  • Group-term life insurance coverage

  • Health Savings Accounts

Fertility Benefits

 

What

 

Many companies are beginning to offer fertility benefit coverage to assist with the expense of these treatments.

 

Most common coverage includes: 

  • In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments (23%) 

  • Fertility medications (18%)

  • Genetic testing to determine infertility issues (15%)

  • Non-IVF fertility treatments (13%)

  • Visits with counselors (9%) 

  • Egg harvesting or freezing services (7%) (1)

Benefits

One in eight couples today struggle with fertility, meaning that this likely affects some of your employees. One report showed that those who do receive such benefits feel more gratitude and loyalty toward employers and are inclined to stay with a company longer.  (2)

Short-Term Disability

What

Short-term disability insurance provides financial help to individuals who are temporarily unable to work because of illness, injury or pregnancy. “Short-term” means a person’s absence from work cannot be permanent and is usually limited to two years.

 

Plans are typically inexpensive to implement and can be offered on a voluntary or employee-paid basis. Short-term disability plans are increasingly being used for expectant mothers. Businesses may find value in exploring short-term disability options early on, to be prepared when an employee becomes pregnant. In most cases, short-term disability coverage must already be in place before you become pregnant for it to be covered under any insurance policy.  Employers should, carefully investigate the terms of any short-term disability policy with their broker, agent, and/or their lawyer including its pregnancy benefits. Depending on the outcome of birth, the coverage the plan offers can vary. For example, C-sections or other complications can lead to longer allowed leaves. (3) 

Benefits

 

Disability claims related to pregnancy and childbirth are steadily increasing and account for approximately 15% of new disability claims for female wage earners. (4) This benefit is important to the financial health of families and allows employees to access these products regardless of whether the employer or the employee pays for it.

Workplace Wellness Programs

 

What

Workplace wellness programs often host activities such as health education classes, medical screenings, tobacco cessation, and weight management programs. 58% of organizations report offering general wellness programs in 2019. (5)

Examples may include: (6, 7)

  • Education/awareness initiatives and trainings

  • Make healthy snacks and beverages available

  • Host healthy cooking challenges and classes

  • Organize produce exchanges, farmers market excursions, or produce box deliveries

  • On-site fitness classes, like yoga classes to relieve stress

  • Offer discounted gym memberships

  • Employee health challenges

  • Start a walking group

  • Host meditation sessions

  • Encourage breaks and even nap time

  • Offer smoking cessation resources and programs, make campus tobacco-free

  • On-site health screenings & clinics, such as mammograms and flu shots

  • Enhance awareness of mental illnesses & resources

  • Peer-to-peer support groups

  • Free access to health coaching, including weight management, stress management, nutrition, and more

  • New parent and family coaching and/or groups

  • Reproductive health programs focusing on safe pregnancies and healthy babies

  • Organize volunteer days

 

Benefits

 

  • Having healthier employees helps boost your bottom line by lowering the rising cost of healthcare and absenteeism. 

  • Providing a robust corporate wellness program offers your organization a competitive edge in attracting and retaining top talent.

  • Programs that offer classes on topics such as stress management or on-site fitness opportunities can be especially helpful for parents, whose time away from work may be limited, but can benefit all employees.

Employee Assistance Programs

 

What 

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are voluntary, work-based programs that offer free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services.

EAPs address a broad range of issues that may adversely affect an employee’s performance at work, including:

  • marital, financial or emotional problems

  • family issues

  • substance abuse and addiction

  • basic legal assistance and referrals

  • adoption assistance

  • help finding elder care services

  • wellness programs

 

According to the 2019 SHRM Employee Benefits research report, 79 percent of surveyed employers offered an EAP. (8)  

Benefits

 

EAPs have been found to have business benefits, including increased productivity of employees and decreased absenteeism and greater retention. (9)

 
 
 
 
 
 

References
 

  1. Family-Friendly Benefits Gain Popularity in the Workplace. (2019, April 26). NJBIA - New Jersey Business & Industry Association. https://njbia.org/family-friendly-benefits-gain-popularity-in-the-workplace/

  2. Does your employer offer fertility benefits? (n.d.). Fertility Answers. https://www.fertilityanswers.com/does-your-employer-offer-fertility-benefits/

  3. Sachon, L. (2019, May 9) What to know about disability insurance and pregnancy.  Policygenius. https://www.policygenius.com/disability-insurance/what-to-know-about-disability-insurance-and-pregnancy/

  4. CDA 2014 long term disability claims review. (2014). Council for Disability Awareness. https://disabilitycanhappen.org/public_html/wp-content/themes/cdadev/CDA_LTD_Claims_Survey_2014.pdf

  5. Society for Human Resource Management. (2019). Family friendly and wellness: SHRM employee benefits 2019. https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Documents/SHRM%20Employee%20Benefits%202019%20Family%20Friendly%20and%20Wellness.pdf

  6. Levin, R. 45 Successful Corporate Wellness Programs Employees Will Love. (2020, May 5). SnackNation. https://snacknation.com/blog/successful-corporate-wellness-programs/

  7. Aldana, S. (2020, June 30). 50 Employee Wellness Program Examples For Any Budget.  https://www.wellsteps.com/blog/2020/01/02/employee-wellness-program-examples-budget/

  8. 2019 employee benefits. (n.d.). The Society for Human Resource Managers. Retrieved July 24, 2020, from https://shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Pages/Benefits19.aspx?_ga=2.74959378.1404725857.1589122394-983327203.1580229455

  9. Office of Disability Employment Policy. (n.d.). Employee assistance programs for a New Generation of Employees: Defining the Next Generation. https://askearn.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/employeeassistance.pdf