Automatic for the People

Automatic for the People

With apologies to the band R.E.M., this article is not about their music, nor their album, but about how automatic enrollment has significantly helped people. Think of all the payments you currently have automated. You probably have automatic deposit of your paycheck, automatic bill pay for your utilities and other monthly bills, and maybe even a recurring automatic payment and delivery of pet food from Amazon. Now, think of something that’s important that you wish you could automate. This is not the time to mention your daily fix of Starbucks, but about saving enough money for retirement.
There are families that have a similar system where they placed a large jar in the kitchen. Everyone, kids included, would put their spare change in the jar every day. At the end of the month, the family would use that accumulated money in a fun way. An article titled, “Automation Making Huge Retirement Plan Impact,” in Employee Benefit News references how a defined contribution plan provides an excellent way for employees to seamlessly save money for retirement. As employees started joining the plan, with a typical contribution of 10 percent or higher, including employer matching, participation increased nearly 20 percent in the company’s retirement benefit according to the article. This was up more than seven percent from just five years ago. Looking at this by generation, millennials are used to automation and, consequently, are reaping huge rewards from this type of plan.
However, all age groups benefit and a company can modify the plan to increase participation. For example, if a company has a matching rate of 50 cents on the first three percent to 25 cents on the first six percent, it automatically gets employees saving an additional three percent they wouldn’t normally save. Another way is to have annual automatic increases in contributions. A bump of a percentage point every year up to a maximum rate will help employees the earlier they start.
Of course, there should always be an opt-out option for people who don’t want to have the contribution rate increased, have a separate retirement plan, or simply don’t want to save using the company plan.
By Bill Olson, Originally Published By United Benefit Advisors

Long-Term Care: A Threat to Retirement Security

Long-Term Care: A Threat to Retirement Security

Employers I’ve talked to all have the same goal: to help employees build a sound retirement plan to achieve financial success and security. The main components to protect an employee’s financial future are managing a nest egg, growing investments, and safeguarding against uncertainty.
The Missing Component
As an employer, you may be missing a key component in safeguarding against uncertainty – the need for long-term care. Seventy-five percent of people over the age of 65 will need some form of long-term care in their lifetime1, however, far fewer are financially prepared to handle that need. With nursing home costs averaging $84,000 per year2, it’s not surprising that many Americans are having to spend down their retirement savings to pay for care. Long-term care is custodial care received in an assisted living facility, nursing home, or your own home should you need assistance with activities of daily living or suffer from a severe cognitive impairment.
Long Term Care Insurance
Savvy employers are helping fill the uncertainty gap by introducing long-term care insurance to employees. Employers can offer long-term care insurance plans with reduced underwriting and group pricing that employees wouldn’t be able to get as an individual. Better pricing and easier approval make the product accessible to employees that couldn’t normally qualify for coverage.
Long-term care education is key to helping employees protect their retirement savings. Without your help, employees can fall victim to widely held misconceptions. They may think:

  • Other benefits will cover them
  • The government will pay for their care
  • This is only for old people

The truth is that long-term care insurance is the only benefit that covers this type of custodial care, and government options (Medicaid) are only available to people with low income and limited resources.
Shield and Supplement the 401(k)
Do you already contribute to your employees’ 401(k) plan? If so, you can spend the same amount of employer dollars, but provide richer benefits by pairing a 401(k) with long-term care insurance. By taking a small amount of contributions from the 401(k) plan and directing those toward your long-term care insurance premium, the resulting benefit can provide more than $200,000 of long-term care coverage and only slightly adjust the total 401(k) plan value.
Unlike other benefits, where providers may change from year to year, the majority of long-term care insurance purchasers will hold on to their original plan for life, and 99 percent of employees who have the coverage keep it when they move to their next employer, or into retirement. You can think of it as a “legacy benefit” that employees maintain for life to protect their retirement savings.
By Megan Fromm, Originally published by United Benefit Advisors