Top 3 Trends in Voluntary Benefits in 2019

While the Open Enrollment Period for 2019 wrapped up in mid-December, benefits managers are already looking ahead to new offerings and benefits changes for next year. As medical costs and healthcare premiums continue to rise, voluntary benefits offerings are an increasingly popular option to attract talent without breaking the bank. Voluntary benefits plans lower costs for employers while bolstering value by providing flexibility to an increasingly diverse workforce. Employees also benefit from better pricing, plan design, and underwriting support than what they may find on the individual market.

With 2018 behind us, keep an eye out for the rise of these three voluntary benefits in 2019.

Employee purchase programs. Employee purchase programs allow employees to spread out payments on products over time through payroll deduction. This allows employees to acquire items they need immediately, like appliances or car parts, even if they lack the cash or credit to do so. Employee purchase programs can be especially beneficial for cash-poor young people trying to establish credit while repaying their student loans.

Group legal insurance plans. Group legal plans provide value for both young and old employees by offering them access to attorneys at a low cost. For employees looking to prepare their will or purchase real estate, group legal plans save them both time and money trying to find adequate legal representation on their own. These plans are also beneficial to employees without an immediate need for an attorney as they will have access to legal representation if they have to deal with an unexpected traffic ticket or other legal matter in the future.

Student loan benefits. Student loan benefits were one of the hottest topics in the voluntary benefits/rewards space in 2018 and should continue to be in 2019. As the tuition debt crisis continues to grow, employers are looking for ways to support their employees. For many employers, a student loan repayment plan may be the answer. Employer contributions to student loan debt can help employees pay off their tuition loans years earlier and have led to upticks in recruiting and retention for employers that have adopted these plans.

Employers have also looked to other options beyond direct repayment plans to support their employees. Some offer student loan solution partners to provide educational materials, debt navigations tools, personal counselors, and webinars.