Voluntary Employee Benefits Services

Voluntary benefits (also known as work site benefits) allow businesses to offer their employees a comprehensive insurance program with no direct costs to the company. Voluntary Benefits can supplement core employee benefits or serve as the primary plan. Healthcare Consultants makes it easy for employers to offer a range of voluntary, payroll-deducted products at competitive rates, including life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care insurance.

The Voluntary Benefits Advantage

Attracting and retaining quality employees is becoming increasingly challenging for many employers. Rising medical insurance rates and scaled-back benefit offerings are prompting candidates to place greater emphasis on their total compensation package “beyond the paycheck.” To remain competitive, more and more employers are offering voluntary benefits to complement their core benefits.

Offering voluntary benefits is a cost-effective way for you to demonstrate your commitment to and foster goodwill among your employees and their families. Because voluntary benefits are funded by your employees, you are able to provide a suite of additional benefits with minimal impact to your budget. When voluntary benefits are offered on a pre-tax basis, this allows additional savings to the employees by reducing their FICA.  This reduces your company’s matching FICA while maintaining those savings directly to your company.  Your employees will appreciate the extra level of security and the special offerings that you provide by leveraging your group purchasing power to their benefit. When you choose Healthcare Consultants, we work with you to develop a voluntary benefits program that best fits your organization. Plus, you can be assured that our unique services allow you to offer a comprehensive, more strategic menu of voluntary benefits without imposing additional administrative duties on your staff. Additionally, when offering voluntary benefits from Healthcare Consultants, you may choose from our long list of communication services which may be offered to you and your employees at no cost.

Clients of Healthcare Consultants receive the following services:

  • Our licensed agents take all calls from employees regarding any questions about their coverage, concerns and changes that need to be made.  This provides the employees’ a complete and easy solution to all of their needs.
  • Our firm handles and facilitates all policy and/or deduction changes if need be so that the process is seamless and accurate to invoice.  These changes are communicated to payroll in a timely manner to ensure a proper transition.
  • All claims are sent to our firm as we confirm accuracy of all information required.  We file all claims with the carriers’, which allows us to track the process and update the employees of all progress and expected payment.
  • Deduction and Billing Reconciliation is handled in our office for all new hires, terminations or changes that need to be done.  You will not have to track, follow or reconcile any dates or monies.  We completely manage for you!
  • Consolidation of voluntary offerings among multiple divisions: if each division of your organization currently manages its own voluntary benefits program, we can unify all of them into one corporate-wide program.

Let us help you build a comprehensive voluntary benefit platform!

Life InsuranceDisability InsuranceLong-Term Care InsuranceDental InsuranceWork Site BenefitsVision Insurance

Group-Term Life Insurance

Group-term life insurance is where the employer pays a low group rate for the coverage, and the employee pays no tax on the first $50,000 of coverage.

Most employers offer group-term life insurance as an employee benefit, although other types can be offered. Term insurance is life insurance that is in effect for a certain period of time only. Generally, in the case of employer-provided term life insurance, the term is for as long as the employee is employed. Group-term life insurance can be offered to employees only, not to employee’s spouses and children.

To take advantage of the tax deduction for group-term life insurance (for instance, the value of up to $50,000 in insurance is tax-exempt for the employee), an employer must have at least 10 full-time employees. The 10-employee restriction does not apply if the following occur:

  • The employer provides coverage to all full-time employees.
  • The method for computing the amounts of insurance is set (such as a uniform percentage of the employee’s annual salary).
  • No physical exams are required to obtain coverage.

There are other types of insurance that employers can offer besides group-term life, including the following:

  • Group accidental death and dismemberment. Commonly known in the industry as AD&D, this coverage pays benefits to the employee’s beneficiary if death occurs due to an accident or if the employee loses use of portions of the body (loss of one arm and leg, for example, may result in payment of a percentage of the total benefits).
  • Business travel accident insurance. This insurance covers only a narrow occurrence — the death of the employee while traveling on business. If employees do not travel or travel infrequently, this may not be a suitable investment.
  • Split-dollar life insurance. This insurance pays the employee’s beneficiary when the employee dies and returns the premiums paid to the employer. The insurance is paid by both the employer and employee and has a substantial investment element to it. Employers may wish to consider this option for key employees only, as opposed to an entire employee group.Plans may offer an infinite number of riders that can be added to the plan and that allow employers to customize the plan to a degree. A rider is an additional feature or benefit that may be added to an existing insurance policy. For example, in the case of health insurance, a mental health coverage rider could be purchased that would add some coverage for mental health treatments to the basic medical insurance. In the case of life insurance, an accidental death and dismemberment rider could be added to a group-term life insurance policy that would pay double the death benefit if the employee died due to an accident. An insurance agent can explain the various riders available in conjunction with plans.

Employee Coverage
Once an employer has decided to offer life insurance, the employer must decide which employees will be eligible. Employers may want to offer group-term life insurance benefits to all full-time employees, particularly if lower rates are available (and individual medical exams are avoidable) with a larger group. If the employer plans to offer it as a special benefit to a few key employees, the employer will not be able to deduct the premiums for federal tax purposes, unless special nondiscrimination requirements can be met.

Nondiscrimination Requirements
Generally, nondiscrimination requirements are designed to discourage employers from providing benefits only to the most highly compensated employees or providing benefits that limit lower compensated employees from participating because of the price of the benefits. In the case of group-term life insurance, a plan does not discriminate as to an employee’s eligibility to participate if any of the following conditions are met:

  • The plan benefits at least 70 percent of all employees.
  • At least 85 percent of all participating employees are not key employees.
  • The plan benefits employees who qualify under a classification that is set up by the employer and found by the IRS not to discriminate in favor of key employees.

In the case of group-term life insurance an employer may offer life insurance to small subgroups of employees if the distinctions are based on the following:Marital status.

  • Job duties.
  • Compensation.
  • Length of service.
  • Participation in a pension, profit sharing, stock bonus, or accident and health plan.
    Other employment-related factors.

Amount of Coverage
Most group-term policies offer either a set amount of insurance (for example, a $10,000 policy for each employee) or are based on the employee’s salary (for example, policy values of one, two, or three times the employee’s yearly salary). In some cases, employers can allow employees to purchase life insurance in $1,000 increments, the cost of which is based on their age.

Example: An organization offers life insurance that can be purchased in $1,000 increments. The insurance vendor gives the employer the following rate schedule per thousand dollars of coverage purchased:

Employees under age 30 pay $.20 per thousand per month.
Employees between the ages of 30 and 40 pay $.22 per thousand per month.
Employees between the ages of 40 and 50 pay $.30 per thousand per month.
Carl, age 27, wants to purchase $5,000 of life insurance. He will have to pay 5 x $.20 = $1.00 per month for his insurance. Janet, 30, will have to pay 5 x $.22 = $1.10 for the same amount of coverage.

$50,000 Threshold
The cost of employer-provided group-term life insurance in excess of $50,000 is taxable to employees. This means that if an employer pays the premiums for employees’ life insurance, any premiums paid for more than $50,000 in coverage for one employee count as taxable income for that employee. In addition to the employee paying income taxes, the employee and the employer will both have to pay payroll taxes on the amount as well. It is possible for the employee to waive coverage amounts in excess of $50,000.

Example: Sports Heaven, Inc. pays the premiums on a $120,000 group-term life insurance policy on Karen, who is 46 years old. The monthly rate for employees in the 45 to 49 age group under the plan is $.29 per thousand. If Karen makes no contribution toward the plan, the cost of the $70,000 coverage ($120,000 – $50,000 exclusion = $70,000) counts as taxable income for Karen. The amount included in taxable income would be $243.60 for the year (70 [thousand-dollar increments] x $.29 [per thousand] times 12 [months]).

If Karen contributes $10 per month toward the coverage, then the taxable amount included as gross income for the year is $123.60 ($243.60 – $120 (Karen’s contribution) = $123.60).

Administering Life Insurance
On the whole, life group-term benefits are easy to administer because they do not require constant monitoring and may not generate many claims.

Enrolling Employees
The insurance company chosen to administer the plan should provide the employer with the necessary forms to enroll employees. A copy of the enrollment document should be kept in each employee’s benefit file.

Designating a Beneficiary
The beneficiary is the designated person who will receive the money if an employee dies and the policy covers the death. Occasionally, the plan will allow people to designate several beneficiaries and to split the benefit into percentages. Employers should explain to employees the importance of keeping this information up to date by making changes to their beneficiary designation when appropriate; for example, when the employee does any of the following:

Marries.
Becomes legally separated.
Becomes divorced.
Has a child.
When a spouse, parent, or other close relative dies.
The insurance company should provide employers with forms for designating beneficiaries.

Proof of Insurability
Generally, with group-term life insurance, employees will not be asked to complete a medical questionnaire.

However, if employers offer employees the option of purchasing additional life insurance to complement what is provided by the employer, employees choosing to purchase the additional insurance may be required to complete a medical questionnaire. The employee may either mail the questionnaire directly to the insurance company or may return it to the employer to submit to the insurance company.

Processing Claims
Part of the employer’s duty includes filing for life insurance benefits.

The employer will often receive information about an employee’s injury or death from the employee’s family, and will then need to complete the necessary forms to begin the claims process.

Example: An employee’s next of kin calls the employer to inform them that the employee has died or been killed. The employer must first notify the insurance company, which will provide the employer with the necessary forms to begin the claims process. The employer will need to obtain a certified death certificate, which is usually available from the funeral home/crematorium or directly from the deceased employee’s executor or next-of-kin. The employer should make a copy of the completed claim form and any supporting documents for the employer’s files. The claim should then be submitted to the insurance company via registered or certified mail.

Terminating Benefits
If an employer has group-term life insurance, some policies may allow a conversion privilege when an employee leaves or changes employment.

This means that if an employee leaves or the life insurance offered by the employer is otherwise terminated, the employee may be able to obtain a private policy through the insurance agency. Generally, these policies are much more expensive than the group-term policy that the employer will offer, and sometimes they have low coverage limits and require proof of insurability.

Healthcare Consultants can help your employees with the following life insurance needs:

  • Help guide them through the planning process
  • Help them determine how much coverage they need
  • Prepare an analysis tailored to their family’s unique needs
  • Find the right life insurance carrier that fits their needs

Simple Term Life Insurance Automatically Issued!

Depending on your age and the coverage amount desired, no medical examination is needed. Simply click the quote button above, and answer a few medical questions online. If you agree that the monthly premium is fair and affordable, you can pay the first month’s premium online – a 15-minutes process – and your coverage starts immediately. Otherwise, there is no obligation. Note that insurance is issued based solely on the medical questions and is subject to underwriting.

Term Life Insurance Quotes
Simple and Affordable Protection for your Family

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If you need assistance with a quote for Term Life Insurance or have any questions, please feel free to contact one of Healthcare Consultants’ licensed term life insurance agents for service. Call us at 713-626-2838 or complete our Contact Form.

Disability Insurance

What are the chances you’ll need short-term disability insurance or long-term disability insurance coverage:

  • In the last 10 minutes, 490 Americans became disabled.
    – National Safety Council®, Injury Facts® 2010 Ed.
  • In 2008, there were 2.1 million disabling injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident; compare this to 39,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents.
    – National Safety Council®, Injury Facts® 2010 Ed.
  • In the US, a disabling injury occurs every second, while a fatal injury occurs every 4 minutes.
    – National Safety Council®, Injury Facts® 2010 Ed.

There are two types of disability insurance available: short-term and long-term.

Short-Term Disability
A short-term disability is usually defined as an employee’s inability to perform the duties of the employee’s current position. Paid sick leave and short-term disability plans protect employees against loss of income during temporary absences from work due to illness or accident. Sick leave is provided to most full-time employees, and sickness and accident insurance to a significant but smaller number of full-time employees. Some employees have both sick leave and short-term disability plans, with the two benefits coordinated. The duration of short-term disability benefits typically ranges from 13 to 52 weeks, although most employees are covered for up to 26 weeks. Short-term disability plans usually specify when successive periods of disability are considered to be separate disabilities and when they are considered to be a continuous disability.

Often, paid sick leave is available to the employee without any waiting period, and it may be used during the interim before sickness and accident insurance payments begin. Under most sickness and accident insurance plans, the disability must exist for at least one week before an employee becomes eligible for benefits. This waiting period is intended to control plan costs and simplify plan administration.

Sick leave usually provides 100 percent of an employee’s normal earnings, and the plan frequently specifies a maximum number of covered days each year that are permitted for paid sick leave (for example 13 days). Since 2011, the state of Connecticut requires paid sick leave to accrue at one hour per 40 hours worked, if an employer employs more than 49 people in Connecticut. Effective July 1, 2015 the state of California requires certain employers with at least one employee to provide paid sick leave. Additionally, effective July 1, 2015, the state of Massachusetts requires up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per individual annually if there are more than 10 employees. Other plans provide sick leave benefits (for example 30 days) per illness instead of per year. When used in conjunction with sick leave plans, sickness and accident plans provide benefits after sick leave benefits are exhausted.

The level of sickness and accident benefits for short-term disability may be expressed as a dollar amount or as a percentage of employee earnings. The level and duration of benefits may increase with service. Generally, benefits replace between one-half and two-thirds of a person’s predisability gross weekly income. It is often thought that a higher replacement rate would create a disincentive for employees to return to work.

Employers generally pay for short-term disability plans. These plans may be financed under the following:

  • A group insurance contract with a private insurance carrier.
  • An employer self-insurance arrangement.
  • An employer-established employee benefit trust fund.
  • General corporate assets (such as for a sick leave plan).

Long-Term Disability
In most long-term plans, disability for the first two years is defined somewhat differently from disability under short-term plans (for example, an employee’s inability to perform the duties of the employee’s occupation vs. the duties of the current position). If the disability continues for more than two years, the definition of disability usually changes to the inability to perform any occupation that the person is reasonably suited to do by training, education, and experience.

Private sources of long-term disability benefits include the following:

  • Disability provisions under long-term disability plans.
  • Group life insurance.
  • Employment-based pension plans.
  • Other insurance arrangements (such as individual insurance protection).

Like short-term benefits, long-term disability benefits are integrated with benefits from other sources to produce reasonable replacement rates and to control costs.

Long-term benefits generally begin after short-term disability benefits (such as sick leave, and illness or accident insurance) expire. Most plans provide benefits for the length of a disability up to a specified age (for example age 65, when Social Security and employment-based retirement benefits usually begin).

Typically, long-term disability plans pay benefits amounting to approximately 60 percent of a person’s predisability monthly pay. However, some plans provide as much as 70 percent of predisability pay. Additionally, some plans contain a provision stating that private-sector long-term disability benefits plus Social Security disability benefits cannot exceed a stated amount (for example 75 percent of predisability salary). Most plans set a limit on monthly payments. The cost of long-term disability benefits may be financed by the following:

  • Employer contributions.
  • Employee contributions.
  • Employer/employee cost sharing.

Similar to short-term disability plans, long-term plans usually specify when successive periods of disability are considered to be separate disabilities and when they are considered to be a continuous disability. In addition, some long-term plans provide for continued payment of at least some disability benefits when long-term disabled persons engage in rehabilitative employment.

The disability insurance plans offered by Healthcare Consultants include “employer-choice” or “employee-choice” options, which include but are not limited to: elimination periods, benefit duration, and benefits as a percentage of salary.

Healthcare Consultants can assist in setting up disability insurance as part of an overall benefits program for your business. For more information, please call us at 713-626-2838 or complete our Contact Form.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care (LTC) insurance is important coverage that provides valuable support and financial resources that help cover the cost of long-term care you might need in the event of an illness, accident, or through the normal effects of aging. LTC insurance generally covers assisted living, respite care, hospice care, skilled nursing and Alzheimer’s facilities. If home care coverage is purchased, the policy will pay for home care, often from the first day it is needed. It will pay for a visiting or live-in caregiver or a private duty nurse up to seven days a week, 24 hours a day (up to the policy benefit maximum).

Unlike traditional health insurance, long-term care insurance is designed to cover long-term services and supports, including personal and custodial care in a variety of settings such as your home, a community organization, or other facility.

Long-term care insurance policies reimburse policyholders a daily amount (up to a pre-selected limit) for services to assist them with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or eating.  You can select a range of care options and benefits that allow you to get the services you need, where you need them.

The cost of your long-term care policy is based on:

  • How old you are when you buy the policy
  • The maximum amount that a policy will pay per day
  • The maximum number of days (years) that a policy will pay
  • The maximum amount per day times the number of days determines the lifetime maximum amount that the policy will pay.
  • Any optional benefits you choose, such as benefits that increase with inflation

If you are in poor health or already receiving long-term care services, you may not qualify for long-term care insurance as most individual policies require medical underwriting. In some cases, you may be able to buy a limited amount of coverage, or coverage at a higher “non-standard” rate.  Some group policies do not require underwriting.

If you would like more information about protecting your family’s financial future with a long-term care insurance policy, please call Healthcare Consultants at 713-626-2838 or complete our Contact Form.

Group Dental Insurance

A frequently overlooked reason for employee absences or poor work performance is dental disease or discomfort. And as every human resources professional knows, days lost can mean money lost. In addition to promoting oral health, a quality dental benefits plan can aid in the recruitment and retention of employees. Dental benefits are consistently cited as one of the most sought after employee benefits.

Ask yourself the following questions before selecting a new dental insurance plan:

  1. Will employees retain the freedom to choose their own dentists?
  2. Is the type of treatment determined by the patient and the dentist?
  3. Does the plan cover diagnostic, preventive and emergency services? Will it cover preventive services such as sealants and fluoride treatments, which may save patients money in the future? Will it provide for full-mouth x-rays?
  4. What type of routine dental care is covered? Does the plan cover crowns and bridges, braces, root canals, oral surgery and treatment of periodontal diseases?
  5. What major dental care is covered? Does the plan cover dentures, implants or treatment for TMJ disorders?
  6. Will the plan allow for referrals to specialists? If so, will the dentist be limited to a list of specialists from which to choose?
  7. How does the plan provide for emergency treatment? What provisions are made for emergency care when you are away from home?

There are numerous models of dental plans. In general, they can be divided into two categories: fee-for-service and managed care.

Fee-for-Service Dental Insurance Plans are typically freedom-of-choice arrangements under which a dentist is paid for each service rendered according to the fees established by the dentist.

Managed Care Dental Insurance Plans are cost containment systems that direct the utilization of health care by a) restricting the type, level and frequency of treatment; b) limiting the access to care; and c) controlling the level of reimbursement for services.

Healthcare Consultants can assist you in setting up a Group Dental Insurance Plan as part of an overall benefits program for your firm. Please call Healthcare Consultants at 713-626-2838 or use our contact form.

 

Work Site Benefits

Work site benefits through payroll deduction can provide your employees with supplemental, low-cost, portable protection against the rising cost of health problems that occur in everyday life.  Offering these products, at little or no expense to the employer, often will save him/her on the cost of offering group major medical health insurance.  Also, offering supplemental benefits aids in the retention and workplace satisfaction of the employee.

Worksite Benefits allow employees to select the benefits that are best suited for their own particular needs and fund these benefits themselves, using payroll deduction. This type of plan allows you to offer your employees more benefit choices without impacting your company’s benefits budget, while still sending the message, “We care about you.”

Some of the advantages for you are:

  • No Company Premium Costs – Voluntary benefits are a great way to provide employees with the benefits they want and desire with little or no premium cost to the company.
  • Enhanced Benefit Program – Employees or prospective employees have access to a greater array of discounted benefits at group rates than they can afford directly, based on their individual needs.
  • Employee Retention – Companies with strong employee benefits packages have lower employee turnover and find it easier to attract new employees. This is critical as the employment pool is reduced and baby boomers leave the workforce.
  • Favorable Underwriting – Disability coverage and life insurance are difficult to acquire individually if the insured has a less than favorable medical history.
  • Individual Counseling – Our trained enrollers meet with each of your employees to assist in the selection of programs that meet that employee’s needs, avoiding wasted spending on unnecessary coverages, and continuing to reinforce your message of caring for each employee.

We believe that products should be both high quality and affordable. However, the real value of providing worksite benefits goes beyond simply providing products — it’s about providing service. We will work with you every step of the way to make sure your plan works for you and your employees.

HCI can help you design a workplace voluntary benefits strategy that works best for you and your employees and complements other plans you may have. For more information, please call HCI at 713-626-2838 or use our contact form.

Vision Insurance

Why offer vision Insurance?

Vision care is a relatively simple yet valuable benefit, and is important for the well-being and overall health of your employees. Good visual health plays an extremely important role in contributing to overall health. Periodic eye examinations are an important part of routine preventive healthcare. Because many eye and vision conditions have no obvious symptoms, your employees may be unaware of problems. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for maintaining good vision and preventing permanent vision loss.5 Vision care is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eye exams can detect symptoms of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.6

Focusing on the facts of vision

  • A vision plan is one of the top five most-desired benefits, after medical insurance, by employees.¹
  • More than 75 percent of U.S. residents between age 25 and 64 require some sort of vision correction.²
  • Vision problems affect 120 million Americans and cost businesses an estimated $8 billion annual because of reduced productivity.³
  • Employers gain up to $7 for every $1 spent on vision coverage.4
  • More than 70 percent of Americans reported loss of eyesight as “10” on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the worst thing that could happen to them. It means a loss of independence, mobility and quality of life.4

1. LIMRA International
2. Jobson’s Optical Research
3. Vision Council of America
4. National Eye Institute and Lions Clubs International Foundation
5. American Optometric Association
6. Thompson Media Inc.

Healthcare Consultants can plan a Vision Program that is dedicated to preserving employees’ eye health and wellness, while focusing on choice and value. For more information, please call Healthcare Consultants at 713-626-2838 or use our contact form.