Voluntary Benefits Expanding Widely and Rapidly, Study Finds

The days of voluntary benefits as just a "blue-collar company thing" are long gone.

For years, voluntary benefits were mostly popular among manufacturers, especially those based in the South, where core benefits were less generous.* You would hardly ever see a health care company offering voluntary benefits.

No more.

As health care costs have continued to rise, employers across all industries have turned to medical plans with higher out-of-pocket costs for employees. And because of the coverage gap this creates, many of these companies are adding voluntary options to their benefits package to give employees a financial safety net in case of unexpected health care needs.

In fact, according to Benefitfocus' State of Employee Benefits 2017, nearly half of large employers now offer at least one of three common voluntary income protection benefits: accident, critical illness and/or hospital indemnity insurance. That's an increase of over 30 percent year over year.

And when we look at the data by industry category, it's clear that the voluntary benefits upsurge is not unique to one particular sector:

 

As you can see, education is the only industry with less than a 50 percent offering rate. And that makes sense, considering education's reputation for rich medical benefits. But even so, the momentum of voluntary benefits is certainly building there as well.

Here's a breakdown of the year-over-year percentage increases for each industry:

  • Education: +62%
  • Health Care: +19%
  • Retail: +16%
  • Manufacturing: +62%

The increase in employers offering all three voluntary income protection benefits is also staggering.

To see those numbers, as well as an industry-by-industry look of health plan offerings, participation rates and costs, check out Benefitfocus' State of Employee Benefits 2017 - Industry EditionGet your free copy here!

*Boston Globe: 'Voluntary benefits' filling gaps in insurance coverage