Going Beyond Voluntary Benefits with Supplemental Health Insurance

Executive Health September 27, 2023

Over time, supplemental health insurance has become interchangeable with voluntary insurance in the minds of many, both brokers and employers alike. Years of miscommunication and inefficient marketing have led to this misconception which, unfortunately, has a very limiting result.

In actuality, supplemental insurance does not equal voluntary insurance, and this misinterpretation completely cuts out another sub-category of supplemental insurance: expense reimbursed insurance. Let’s take a closer look.

What’s the difference between voluntary benefits and supplemental health insurance?

Let’s start with definitions. It is common for the terms voluntary benefits and supplemental health insurance to be used interchangeably, but they are not the same.

“Supplemental” is a category of insurance that layers additional health coverage on top of the primary plan. But there are two types of supplemental health insurance: voluntary insurance and expense reimbursed insurance.

  • Voluntary Insurance: Also known as a worksite voluntary plan, is a type of supplemental insurance that employees can elect. They’re generally employee-funded, though the employer may choose to contribute as well. Common voluntary insurance plans are hospital indemnity, critical illness and cancer policies. These plans typically only offer coverage when narrow conditions are met.
  • Expense Reimbursed Insurance: Also referred to as a medical reimbursement insurance plan. Expense reimburse plans are employer-sponsored and can be layered over the primary health insurance plan to provide additional coverage. These plans offer reimbursement for routine and unexpected healthcare expenses and are not subject to event-driven qualifications. Expense reimbursed plans can be offered to all employees or select group(s) of employees, enabling employers to strike the right balance between controlling benefit costs and recruiting and retaining talent.

An increasing focus on supplemental insurance

Benefits are still a top priority for talent, so employers and employees alike are paying more attention to what makes up total rewards. Recent insights suggest non-traditional voluntary benefits are all trending upward on employees’ “must-have” lists.1

At the same time, research shows that 90% of employees would prefer quality healthcare benefits over a pay raise.2 And employers are responding: 85% recognize the importance of supplemental insurance to their rewards benefits and 81% opt for supplemental insurance tools to enhance their already existing core benefits.3

Add to this that the right supplemental insurance plans can help keep employees healthy and productive: research reveals that 90% of employees who had access to ten or more benefits were confident they could afford the healthcare they needed.4 After years of sky-high stress, employees are continuing to rethink their relationship to work and its effect on their health. These shifts have driven millions of exits during the Great Resignation as well as less obvious disruptions like quiet quitting, ‘bare minimum Mondays’ and ‘try-less Tuesdays.’ Access to care—and the ability to afford it—can matter a great deal to productivity and the bottom line for employers.

These insights and trends are helping employers see the link between benefits and business success. Robust benefits packages help give employees access to the care they need while reducing the financial strain that has come with rising out-of-pocket healthcare spending. With the ability to offer to all employees or select group(s) of employees, employers can also manage cost containment, even amid inflation and rising healthcare costs.

An innovative approach to boosting benefits

The right supplemental benefits go beyond typical voluntary plans to provide valuable, meaningful insured coverage. While exact coverage varies by product, expense reimbursed plans can:

  • Close common coverage gaps to help reduce out-of-pocket healthcare spending
  • Pay for primary health insurance plan gaps (deductibles, coinsurance and co-pays)
  • Go beyond the primary health plan with coverage for brand name Rx, dental, vision, extra PT visits, mental health and more
  • Exceed expectations with coverage for elective executive physicals, acupuncture and prescribed massage therapy
  • Be put in place at the start of any month (there is no need to wait until the primary plan renews)

Employers can use the flexibility of expense reimbursed plans to their advantage to strengthen recruitment, boost retention, incentivize key employees and much more. Today, employers face ongoing challenges and evolving employee needs. Supplemental health insurance can help them go beyond the limitations of voluntary plans to offer robust benefits employees will love.

Expense reimbursed insurance isn’t your typical supplemental health insurance plan. It’s a lot more than that. Learn more about ArmadaCare’s expense reimbursed insured plans today.

Premiums, insurance plans, coverage and availability may vary by state.


1 MetLife, 2021

2 SHRM, 2021

3 Willis Towers Watson, 2021

4 Mercer, 2022

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