To help offset increasing health insurance costs, many HR professionals today are trying to revamp their benefit plans by moving to high-deductible health plans, which often increase out-of-pocket expenses for employees. As a result, serious health issues, which often result in high healthcare expenditures, can put a strain on an employee’s finances.

High deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses may leave many employees exposed financially if they incur a serious health issue. To help reduce this financial burden, brokers can recommend HR managers offer supplemental coverage that helps employees offset some of the costs associated with catastrophic illnesses.

Bloomberg/file photo

Also see:10 healthcare differences between Clinton, Trump.”

Critical Illness insurance plans are one way employees can purchase additional coverage for catastrophic health events. Most CI plans pay a lump-sum cash payment upon diagnosis of a covered illness. This money can be used to pay medical-related expenses — such as deductibles, out-of-network expenses and alternative or experimental treatments — or even everyday living expenses, including mortgages, utilities and groceries.

More than cancer coverage
However, a common misunderstanding in the industry is that CI is just cancer coverage. Although many CI plans cover cancer, products have evolved to provide coverage for additional illnesses.

Certain CI plans cover heart attack, stroke, organ failure, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. From diagnosis to treatment, these diseases can be incredibly expensive for an employee. CI policies can help employees cover those out-of-pocket expenses associated with treatment.

In addition, certain carriers offer the same coverage for children, and include coverage for many congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida. This additional coverage can help give peace of mind to parents, knowing they have coverage for their children, often at little additional cost.

Also see:14 top broker-supported voluntary benefits.”

An important benefit often included with CI plans is a health screening benefit. This benefit incents an employee to receive wellness screenings that can potentially identify critical illnesses in their early stages.

Health screening benefits pay an annual cash benefit to an employee and their covered family members who receive a covered health screening procedure. Typically, this benefit is promoted along with an employer’s wellness program, to increase an employee’s participation in the program.

Educating HR professionals about the benefits of CI plans can provide them with a way to help offset the additional costs employees can incur with an HDHP. CI plans covering a more expansive list of diseases help employees have peace of mind that they and their families will be covered if they are faced with an unexpected illness.

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Danielle Lehman

Danielle Lehman

Lehman, product marketing manager III with Standard Insurance Company (The Standard), is responsible for the product strategy and development of the company’s supplemental product offerings.