Employers spice up benefits, offer help with pets, debt
Would you like some pet insurance to go with the health coverage your employer provides? Or maybe you need help paying student loans or saving for your kid’s college.
Companies have been broadening their menu of benefits to meet the changing demands of younger employees and to make up for health insurance that covers less. In the next month, many businesses will start giving employees a chance to sign up for coverage or change benefits plans for next year. It’s worth taking a look at all options available to you. Some employers help pay for these extras, others don’t.
Key points to consider.
What’s on that menu?
Popular extras — called voluntary benefits — include accident and critical illness policies. Generally, these plans provide a lump sum to help cover expenses if you wind up hospitalized with a broken leg or if you are diagnosed with a serious condition like cancer. Benefits experts say companies are offering these more to help workers handle bigger medical bills that they pay now because their insurance covers less.
Employers also are offering programs that monitor for identity theft or compensate for losses from it. Some also will help with mortgage payments or provide insurance that covers unexpected veterinary bills.
Next year, the health insurer Aetna will start matching employee student loan payments, paying up to $2,000 annually
with a $10,000 lifetime maximum.
Benefits consultant Willis Towers Watson says that only 4 percent of its customers offered that coverage last year, but that could rise to 26 percent by 2018.
found that 11 percent of its members made a 529 college savings plan available to their workers. But only a small slice of those employers actually contribute to the account, said Evren Esen, the group’s director of workforce analytics.