Employers and benefit providers are coming up with some rather interesting ways of providing employee benefits in a cost effective manner. 

The first time I saw it was in regard to long-term care insurance. An employer would offer group policy coverage for employees willing to pay the premiums. The idea is the employee got coverage at a more favorable rate than on an individual policy.

Another more recent innovation with regard to long-term care insurance is that the insurance provider allows for the employee to continue the policy even if the employment ends. Unlike the COBRA medical insurance departing employee election, there is no time period limitation on coverage and no increase in the cost of policy premiums to the departing employee.

There is another advantage to many of these policies in that the employee during the open enrollment period might not be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire that would be used to determine eligibility for the coverage of if a higher rate of premiums should apply. A similar trend seems to be developing with regard to disability insurance policy in that, for example, the policy is portable, so the departing employee can continue coverage.

Changes with regard to employee benefits are also seen in the increase in discounts that the employer is offering to employees from third-party providers. It might be for tickets to a play, or for clothing, hotels, and vacations.

At a time when many businesses are trying to keep salary cost increases down, all of these offerings can be seen as a way of providing additional benefits at little cost in lieu of substantial salary increases. Whether you are advising a business or helping an employee decide which benefits to elect, there are now many more different choices out there that you must be aware of in your capacity as advisor. 

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