Go with the group or go it alone? Understanding the difference between group and individual insurance coverage

    By | AFLAC

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    We all need to be alone sometimes, but it’s often hard to escape the throng. After all, our days are filled with work activities, shopping in crowded stores, and the hustle and bustle of family time.

    The “group vs. alone” conundrum also comes into play when it comes to insurance: Sometimes it’s smart for employers to make group insurance available to employees, while at other times it’s best for them to provide individual coverage options.

    Most employer-paid health insurance benefits options, including major medical coverage, fall into the category of “the more the merrier,” with employees enrolling in group plans. But when it comes to voluntary insurance, both group and individual plans have distinct advantages, and employers can choose to provide workers with access to one or the other — or even both.

    One way today’s companies are keeping expenses under control while providing employees with the health care options they want is by making voluntary insurance available, including critical illness, short-term disability, accident, dental and life insurance plans. These options give employees the freedom to select coverage that suits their particular needs and life stages and, at the same time, allow businesses to differentiate their benefits plans from those of rival companies. After all, voluntary insurance can be a powerful tool when it comes to attracting and retaining a talented workforce.

    The advantages of voluntary benefits options are clear, but it’s up to employers to decide what type of coverage they’ll make available to workers:

    Facts about individual plans:

    • They may offer coverage options without needing applicants to answer health-related questions and may not have a maximum issue age after the age of 18 absent of age requirements or other such factors.
    • Coverage is generally not guaranteed-issue and may feature more strenuous underwriting.
    • The policy belongs to the insured and is portable, meaning it remains in effect if the employee changes jobs or retires, as long as premiums are paid.

    Facts about group plans:

    They may offer coverage options without needing applicants to answer health-related questions and are absent of age requirements or other such factors.

    Coverage may be guaranteed-issue, with fewer underwriting stipulations, although participation requirements must be met.

    Coverage is portable, but with certain limitations. If the employer cancels the group’s master policy, the employees’ coverage may be terminated.

    Learn more about the differences between individual and group voluntary insurance — and make informed decisions about which to make available to employees — with Aflac’s handy guide.

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