A young woman who is in the dark about group insurance

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They aren’t aware their employers offer insurance for costs unrelated to healthcare.

Most companies that offer health insurance to employees also offer group insurance plans that cover outside costs like child care and travel. The only problem is, Americans don’t know about them.

Only 44 percent of Americans with work health insurance are aware of their company’s group insurance options, says a survey from Securian Financial Group.

Outside car and basic health insurance, most people aren’t sure what’s worth it and don’t pay attention. Traditional health care plans only cover a portion of specific medical procedures, testing, treatments and hospital visits — there are still many out-of-pocket expenses that are not covered. Roughly 25 percent of American households struggle paying their medical bills, especially when treatment involves long-term or high intensity care, says Aegis Security Insurance.

How supplemental plans help

According to the survey, 28 percent with health insurance through work who faced an out-of-pocket expense of $5,000 or more would use their personal savings to pay. Only seven percent would use supplemental group insurance to pay.

The top financial concern for many employees (42 percent) facing a critical illness, injury or hospitalization is affording the out-of-pocket expenses.

However, 58 percent said their top financial concern would be their lost wages from work, their ability to purchase groceries, and other regular monthly expenses — or the need to take on additional expenses like lawncare or cleaning.

“If you break your leg, or your critically ill spouse needs specialized medical care out of state, these benefits can be used to help pay for expenses like hiring out your household chores, paying for travel costs, extra child care and more,” says Securian director Elias Vogen. “You don’t have to turn in your receipts; you’re able to use the funds as you wish. The flexible nature of these benefits can be instrumental in warding off financial troubles from an unexpected health event.”

Health savings accounts

Another overlooked option: HSAs. They’re savings accounts specifically for health-related expenses — and they cover a lot more than your traditional health plan. Health savings accounts were created in 2003 to assist consumers with high-deductible health insurance plans.

Those with higher deductibles get lower premiums, but pay more out of pocket before their insurance kicks in — letting them tuck away the savings in an HSA. Health insurance holders with lower deductibles pay more in a monthly premium, and probably don’t need an HSA.

Over 20 million used HSA benefits in 2016, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans. Still only eight percent in Securian’s survey say they would use an HSA to pay for an out-of-pocket expense of $5,000 or more.

HSAs can be used to pay medical costs that health plans usually don’t cover, like: LASIK eye surgery, nursing homes and tuition for children with disabilities.

“HSAs give consumers more options and control over their health care – and that will help bring down costs,” says Marilyn Tavenner, president and CEO of AHIP. “With an HSA, consumers can look for the most cost-effective services and products that meet their individual needs.”

Any time is a good time for employers to educate their staff on some additional options their health plans provide. Most employers are offering these plans, but still the majority (56 percent) aren’t aware of them.

“The rising cost of health care has driven many employers to offer supplemental group insurance products, often in conjunction with a health savings account,” says Vogen. “This combination can be cost-effective for both employer and employee, and … when employees are aware that these benefits are available to them through work they opt in at a high rate.”

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Joe Pye

Joe Pye

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Pye is the associate editor of

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