Many Americans stress about finances. In fact, according to a 2022 study from the American Psychological Association, 65% of people say money is a significant source of their stress.1 Unchecked, that stress can lead to a series of physical and mental conditions such as muscle knots, headaches, irritability and anxiety. Some of these health concerns may land employees in the hospital or force them out of a job – or both – all while their bills keep piling up.
"Financial wellness is increasingly considered part of a person’s overall well-being, right alongside physical and mental health,” says Laura Marzi, benefits expert and head of marketing for Group Benefits at The Hartford. “And yet, managing finances is easier said than done. It’s important for employees to understand how supplemental health benefits they may have access to through their workplace can offer peace of mind (and extra cash) for life’s most stressful moments.”2
Here are key questions employees often ask about supplemental health benefits:
What Are Supplemental Health Benefits?
Supplemental health benefits can help you pay for expenses not covered by health insurance. These expenses may come from accidents, illnesses, hospital stays and severe injuries not related to your job. There are three main types of benefits:
- Accident insurance, which we call accidental injury benefits, provides a cash benefit for an accident.
- Critical illness insurance, which we call critical illness benefits, provides a cash benefit for a covered illness.3
- Hospital indemnity insurance, which we call hospital cash benefits, provides a cash benefit for each day you or your dependent is in the hospital.
As with any other insurance, you pay a fixed monthly premium for supplemental health plans. You can usually buy them for yourself, your spouse and your dependents, and the premiums are typically far less than a traditional health insurance premium. These types of plans don’t replace health insurance. They’re designed to work together as a companion benefit.
Most importantly, supplemental health benefits come fast, within a few weeks or less. That means you’ll have cash in your bank account when you need it most.
Why Do I Need Supplemental Health Benefits?
Like exercising and eating right, planning for the unexpected helps improve your total well-being, including financial, mental and physical health.
An unexpected injury or illness can set you back financially, especially if you’re hospitalized. On average, a three-day hospital stay can cost up to $30,000 and traditional health insurance may not cover everything.4
According to research by The Hartford, 76% of U.S. workers feel at least somewhat stressed about their household finances, with 39% saying they feel very or extremely stressed.5
But imagine the relief of getting a cash benefit after a medical accident or illness to use immediately for a car payment, student loan or an electricity bill. Those extra funds may mean you don’t have to use your savings. Having coverage that helps pay for unexpected medical issues is a good financial wellness practice that can also help alleviate the stress of mounting medical bills. And when you have the funds to support your lifestyle, you’re more likely to keep up with regular doctor visits, cook nutritious meals or get more exercise.
The Importance of Understanding Your Benefits
Over time, financial stress from mounting medical bills can spill over into other areas of life, impacting relationships, kids and even productivity at work. Supplemental health benefits can help provide a financial cushion, so it’s important for employees to understand how these voluntary coverages can fit into their life stage.
“Employers’ benefits education materials should clearly explain the financial impact of each benefit to their workers – whether they’ve just landed their first job or are growing their family,” says Marzi. “This will help them better plan for today and for the future. And when employees are financially prepared, their overall well-being improves.”
Read more about supplemental health insurance options by age and stage of life.
1 Stress in America: March 2022, American Psychological Association, viewed April 2023
2 Supplemental health products (Accident, Critical Illness and Hospital Indemnity) are independent and do not coordinate with any other health coverage.
3 Critical Illness is referred to as “Specified Disease” in New York.
4 Why health insurance is important, HealthCare.gov., viewed April 2023
5 The Hartford’s 2023 Future of Benefits Study, viewed May 2023
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