Why this CEO says additional health benefits will be essential for businesses next year


For most employers, getting workers to pay attention to their benefit options during open enrollment has been an uphill battle. But in the wake of the pandemic, employees are more engaged than ever and are once again focusing on previously overlooked voluntary options like life and disability insurance.

Before the pandemic, employees spent an average of 17 minutes signing up for all benefits, according to a Voya study. In 2021, 56% of employees say they spent more time reviewing options than in previous years, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

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“We’ve seen a huge acceleration in benefits that are portable and live with the person,” says Alex Frommeyer, CEO of benefit provider Beam, noting that workers have shown particular interest in voluntary benefits. “We have seen an increased interest in our core business, which is dental insurance as well as vision, and we have also seen that life insurance has had a particularly strong year because the pandemic has forced people to think about life insurance in a way they haven’t done it before.

Frommeyer recently connected with Employee Benefits News to discuss the increased interest and awareness around voluntary benefits, the benefits that will be critical in 2022, and the lessons employers are expected to learn from 2021.

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What has changed in the benefits space this year, in terms of what employees have started to focus on?
An exciting trend has been the emergence and growing popularity of complementary health, both in its traditional definition as accident, critical illness and hospital insurance policies that are used to help supplement health insurance. But we’ve also really seen new and emerging categories like mental health benefits take off.

Do you think we’ll see employees offering even more of these voluntary options in 2022?
Of course, especially if they have two key characteristics: portability, which means that it stays with the employee and is not tied to the employer or an office environment, and digital is the other. key feature. Over the past two years, Digital-first has gone from being a good-to-have to a need-to-have. Employers need this integration with payroll systems and benefits administration tools. It is the underlying infrastructure for doing quotes, registrations, complaints handling, customer support and member management.

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Of the benefits we’ve discussed, which do you think will be the most important for next year?
It’s tricky because there are several answers. I am very excited about complementary health because I am particularly sensitive to small employers who are just starting to become aggressive buyers of complementary health. There’s something really exciting about employers being able to complete an offer that helps solve a critical issue for them in this job market, because it’s very tight, obviously, and it changes very quickly. They try to attract and retain the talent they need to be successful in business.

What do you think has been the biggest lesson for employers in 2021?
Being able to access, elect and manage benefits in a digitally native way is critical because we all work from home, and frankly, these days the workforce is dominated by millennials, and their expectation is. let everything be digital. This has certainly been a lesson for many employers. Traditionally, your annual registration was done by walking around the office and passing health registration forms that people filled out by hand and then picked them up. It no longer works. Many employers need to step up their game and work seriously with brokers who have digital tools and carriers who have digitally native approaches to the benefits experience.

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