Last April, Eastbridge Consulting Group examined the interchangeability of key phrases describing “voluntary” benefits and the "worksite" market.

Among the conclusions: Traditional benefit brokers preferred the former to the latter, whose product line was viewed as inferior, but that any distinctions have evaporated over time with the cross pollination of individual and group sales platforms.

Now there’s more such food for thought – this time in an Employee Benefit Adviser commentary by Nelson Griswold , who says the labels "core" and "worksite voluntary" benefits are no longer useful or descriptive.

His point is that in the wake of aggressive cost shifting driven largely by the spiraling cost increases in group health insurance, employee contributions are now required for almost all benefits. And as such, employers can use the disappearance of these cost distinctions to repackage benefits as part of a single product suite that casts a wider safety net of financial protection.

"Yet this outdated terminology blinds many benefits brokers and HR professionals to exactly how valuable voluntary benefits are to employees ... and how they complement and improve the core plan," opines Griswold, who trains employee benefit brokers on cross-selling and consultative selling as president of Bottom Line Solutions, Inc.

He went on to describe critical illness, cancer, accident, supplemental health, permanent life and short-term disability insurance as the most popular worksite voluntary benefits. But in his view, all employee benefits "work together to create a nearly seamless blanket of protection for employees," he wrote, adding that they also can serve to plug any coverage gaps in group medical plans.

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