One of the enduring frustrations among employees covered through employer-sponsored benefits is that choosing and paying for the benefits are managed in silos. Even more frustrating is that the modeling tools show the ideal coverage scenarios.
Often, each of those ideal benefit scenarios may seem affordable but, when added together, they cost more than the employee’s budget allows.
Tina Wilson, senior vice president of Product Management for MassMutual, said her company’s new benefit tool is designed to overcome those limitations.
“Many tools in the market today, you’ll get recommendations around retirement and benefits but when you add it up, it’s not affordable,” Wilson told InsuranceNewsNet.
She said modeling scenarios that build a coverage plan based on spending $3 when employees have only $1 to spend on benefits doesn’t help employees.
“The other thing that we look at that is unique, is we show the affordable recommendation and we also show the ideal recommendations,” she also said. “If they can afford a bit more, what is ideal coverage amount?”
MassMutual’s tool, branded as MapMyBenefits, is one of the latest to take a broader, more holistic approach to benefits purchasing and coverage. This is becoming more important as employer-sponsored benefits move from an “employer-funded” to an “employer-enabled” model where employees pay more of the costs.
MapMyBenefits also moves MassMutual closer to financial wellness planning, which many employees say they want.
The availability of more comprehensive tools to help employees with finances will help reduce financial stress that spill over into the employee’s job, said Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of Retirement Services and Worksite Insurance, in a news release.
Nearly one in four employees say personal financial problems have become a distraction at work, according to a 2014 PricewatershouseCoopers survey.
Aon Hewitt’s “2015 Hot Topics in Retirement” report found that 90 percent of large employers want to introduce or expand financial wellness programs this year, and other surveys indicate employees want more help with cash flow projections.
MapMyBenefits includes mapping benefits from MassMutual and from other carriers made available by employers to their workers.
MassMutual also said its 401(k) and other defined contribution retirement and life insurance products are available through the tool, and that the company plans to make more insurance products available using the tool in the future.
Wilson said the tool, which is not available in the retail market, can be used by individual employees or by advisors, some of whom work at the employer rather than at the employee level.
“It can be used either way,” she said. “It’s meant to be engaging and interactive regardless of who the user is.”
The tool, which has received “phenomenal” feedback, was launched as a pilot in January and a national rollout is expected later this year.
Wilson also said that MassMutual experts had envisioned heaviest usage of the tool during corporate open enrollment periods, but that interest in the tool seems to peak when employers introduce a new benefit or when a new employee joins an employer.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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