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Stand Out in a Field of Brown Cows Read the Article that originally appeared in Health Insurance Underwriter magazine

This article originally appeared in Employee Benefit News magazine
June 1, 2007

Benefits Markdown

More Companies Using Discount Benefit Cards to Save Money, Increase Benefits


Slash and burn.

If that's what you're forced to do every year to your company's benefits package you're not alone.

Most employers want to do what's right by their employees so they make every effort to offer the best benefit package available. However, as the cost of benefits spirals constantly higher, it's more and more difficult for companies to maintain a stable level of coverage.

While medical insurance usually gets the most attention, it's often dental, vision or other "peripheral" benefits that take a hit. Increasingly, many companies are dropping these benefits or not even offering them in the first place.

That leaves employees with two choices: pay for those services out of their own pockets or forgo them altogether. It's not a situation you want to put your employees in, but what are you going to do, right?

Well, there is a third option and it's growing in popularity among companies. I'm talking about discount benefit cards.

These cards – which are not insurance – offer employees national networks of discounts. For example, a dental discount card provides holders with discounted rates on services such as fillings and cleanings at thousands of dentists across the country. A discount vision card offers reduced rates on eye screenings and glasses.

In addition to dental and vision services, there is a growing list of things employers aren't able to cover these days, including certain prescriptions, hearing aids, chiropractic care, vitamins, and nutritional products. There are discount programs out there for all of those areas.

The following are some benefits of discount benefit cards:

  • Savings are immediate and are given at the time of service. This means is no paperwork and the cards can be used immediately.
  • They can be used by everyone in the holder's immediate family.
  • There is no limit on the number of times they can be used.
  • Discounts can range from 10 to 85 percent off of services.
  • There are no health restrictions.
  • Companies can use them as a voluntary benefit or to provide discount arrangements for part-time or seasonal workers.
  • They are very affordable for employers to offer.
  • Employers win points from their employees when they are made available.

If you decide to purchase a discount benefit card for your employees, here are a few things you should consider:

  • Look for one card that has all of the services "bundled" together instead of making employees carry around multiple cards for different discounts.
  • The cost of each card to an employer should be less than $10 a month.
  • The provider network should be large enough to meet the needs of your employees. Make sure there are a number of reputable providers in your area so employees have an adequate choice.
  • Shop around for the most inclusive package and the best discounts.
  • Companies can either choose to pick up the entire cost of the card or split the cost with employees.

I wish I could tell you that the "slash and burn" days of benefit reduction are ending, but unfortunately that's just not the case. If anything, the costs are only going to go higher and the pressures on companies will only grow more intense.

And since providing a good benefits package remains integral to attracting and retaining good employees, it's more important than ever for companies to find creative ways of providing benefits.

Are discount cards the perfect solution to this national problem? Maybe not, but I do know they are almost always enthusiastically received, particularly in companies that did not previously offer the benefits provided by the cards.

Bottom line: when it comes to benefits, discount benefit cards offer one of the few times company executives can tell employees "we're adding" instead of "we're taking away."

The Atlantic Benefit Card provides discounts on dental care, vision care, prescriptions, legal services, hearing aids, vitamins, supplements and personal care products. For more information send us a message online or call 1-800-918-3070.