Guide to supplemental insurance at work

​​​

When injury and disease strike, supplemental health insurance can help pay for unexpected medical expenses. Here are the types of plans available, reasons employers should offer them, and why employees should get them.

Even if you have healthcare coverage, if you get injured or are diagnosed with a serious illness, you can face all sorts of expenses not covered by your health insurance plan. In addition to coinsurance, copays, and deductibles, you could also have extra expenses at home for childcare, transportation, and other things. Supplemental health insurance plans are an increasingly necessary way to help pay for these costs. A growing number of companies are offering them as a voluntary (i.e., employee-paid) workplace benefit. The plans pay a cash benefit directly to the covered employee or family member, not the hospital or doctor. The cash benefit amount varies based on covered sicknesses, injuries, treatments, and services. The cash can be used any way they see fit — to cover the out-of-pocket costs for a hospital stay, prescription drugs, and even non-medical expenses like childcare, car payments, even groceries.

Benefits to employees Benefits to employers
While employees may purchase these types of supplemental health insurance plans as individuals, they can often save money by getting a group plan at work. Voluntary group insurance plans may also offer better coverage and benefits than many individual plans. These sought-after benefits can add financial independence that helps companies attract and retain personnel. And because they are voluntary, there is little or no added cost to the company.

Surprise! Voluntary benefits cover that

What exactly does supplemental health insurance supplement?

The different types of supplemental health plans and how they work

Guardian offers four different kinds of voluntary supplemental health plans for employers. Benefits are complementary, and many companies offer their workers a choice of plans.

Accident Insurance1 Cancer Insurance2
Accident insurance provides benefits for more than 40 different accidental injuries requiring treatment, urgent care, or hospitalization, including common injuries such as burns and fractures. It also covers treatment and recovery services such as ambulance transportation, physical therapy, and X-rays. Payouts are based on covered treatments, regardless of whether a health insurance plan also covers treatment costs, and plans will increase benefits for covered children injured while participating in an organized sport. Cancer insurance provides a lump-sum payment for cancer diagnosis, screenings, and treatment. Payments are made to the employee, regardless of medical insurance, and can be used for any purpose.
Advantages for employees include: Advantages for employees include:
  • Wellness riders can be included for screenings and preventive procedures, including smoking cessation, weight-loss programs, and annual physicals
  • The Child Organized Sport Benefit pays up to an additional 25% of child benefits if your covered dependent child (aged 18 or younger) is injured while participating in an organized sport.*
  • Chiropractic visits can be a covered benefit, depending on the plan selected
  • Benefits for procedures and treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation
  • Cancer screening benefit available that includes procedures such as mammograms and colonoscopies
Advantages for employers include: Advantages for employers include:
  • A choice of four standard schedules of coverage paid, with additional options for flexibility
  • The ability to offer multiple accident insurance plan options for employees to choose from
  • A simple four-tier rate structure with 24-hour or off-the-job plan design options
  • Three insurance plan levels to cover a wide range of budgets and employee needs
  • Composite, Attained-age, or issue-age, rates available
  • Guaranteed Issue coverage or just one health question required
  • Special underwriting consideration on takeover opportunities
Critical Illness Insurance3 Hospital Indemnity Insurance4
Critical illness insurance complements medical and disability insurance plans by providing a lump-sum benefit paid directly to the employee on the diagnosis of more than 30 different major, chronic, and debilitating illnesses such as stroke, heart attack, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. Hospital indemnity insurance softens the financial impact of higher health plan deductibles and other out-of-pocket hospitalization costs by paying benefits to employees who are admitted to a hospital or ICU for a covered sickness or injury.
Advantages for employees include: Advantages for employees include:
  • Lump-sum benefits are available up to $50,000
  • Benefit options let employees select the coverage that best meets their needs
  • Pays for the first occurrence of a critical illness, with the option to include recurrence benefits
  • No lifetime maximum; benefits are payable on all conditions
  • Children are covered at no additional cost, and no health questions are required
  • Helps reduce the financial burden of high deductibles, coinsurance, and copays
  • Pays benefits directly to the employee whether or not charges are covered by a medical plan
  • Hospital indemnity benefit can be used for any purpose by employee
Advantages for employers include: Advantages for employers include:
  • Plans can be tailored for different sized groups and with varying coverage riders.
  • Guaranteed issue amounts available starting at employee groups of at least 10
  • Cancer benefits can be excluded to ease bundling with a stand-alone cancer insurance plan
  • Attained-age or issue-age rates are available
  • Highly flexible plan design
  • Sickness-only coverage option

Note that "Medigap plans," which supplement Medicare health coverage, are not typically offered as an employee benefit because most working-age employees are not eligible for Medicare.

Fact: Nearly 3 in 5 working Americans would have to borrow money to pay for a $3,000 medical bill.⁵

Why health insurance just isn't enough anymore

The insurance industry has faced tremendous changes in traditional health care benefits. As costs for hospital stays and other treatments continue to climb, insurers are shifting more costs to users in an effort to keep premiums at reasonable levels for companies and their people. It's not just out-of-pocket coinsurance and copay treatment charges that keep going up. As the number of Americans enrolled in a high deductible health plan rises, they have to pay for more treatments out of their savings before their medical plan starts to pay anything. Supplemental health plan benefits can be a powerful source of protection against these costs, and that's why so many people want them.

​​​​​​​How to get supplemental health benefits at work

If you're an employee, ask your HR manager what supplemental health benefits are available and when you can sign up. If you're an employer, talk to a Guardian representative to learn more about your group benefit options and how to find the right mix for your employees and your business.

Frequently asked questions about supplemental insurance

What is supplemental insurance?

Supplemental health insurance helps pay for unexpected costs that may not be covered by regular health insurance. You receive cash benefits directly from the insurance company based on covered sicknesses, injuries, treatments, and services. The claims process is typically straightforward, and cash can be used any way you see fit — to cover out-of-pocket health care costs or non-medical costs like groceries, childcare, and housekeeping. There are different types of plans available, and many employers offer them on a voluntary basis (i.e., employee-paid) to provide added financial protection to their workers.

What is the best supplemental insurance?

There is no single best supplemental insurance plan because people in different situations have varying needs. For example, Medicare supplement insurance (also called Medigap coverage) can help pay for claims and costs not covered by regular Medicare health insurance – but it is of no use to anyone too young to be eligible for Medicare. However, generally speaking, insurance plans that cover more types of injuries or illnesses and provides higher benefit payments are more valuable – and likely more costly – than plans which cover fewer conditions and offer lower benefit payments on claims. 

How much does supplemental insurance cost?

Costs vary widely depending on the insurance company, type of plan, conditions covered, and cash benefits offered. However, even at the higher end of the price range, premiums are much more affordable than regular medical insurance.

Do I need supplemental insurance?

Even with a good health plan, you could incur thousands in out-of-pocket costs if you slipped down icy steps and had to visit an emergency room. If you have enough saved to cover those costs comfortably, you may not need supplemental health insurance. Otherwise, you should consider getting accident insurance and other supplemental coverage.

What other types of insurance coverage should I look for at work?

First of all, make sure to sign up for regular health insurance plus drug coverage, unless you have other coverage (for example, through your spouse). The same holds for a dental insurance policy. Here are some other types of insurance you should consider getting through work, if available:

  • If your employer offers group-rate life insurance, it can cover at least some of your family's needs, and the rates may be more affordable than coverage purchased individually from a life insurance company.
  • Disability insurance can help replace your income if you become disabled and can't work.
  • Long term care insurance can help pay for treatment in a long-term care facility and help save your retirement savings from being exhausted.
feature
Get the voluntary benefits your employees will love
Let's go

Disclaimer

* Child must be insured by the plan on the date the accident occurred. The child must be 18 years of age or younger. In some states, the Child Organized Sport Benefit pays an additional 20%, while other states pay up to 25%. Not available in NY. Please see your plan for more details.

1 Guardian's Accident Insurance is underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY.  Products are not available in all states.  Policy limitations and exclusions apply.  Optional riders and/or features may incur additional costs.

2 Guardian's Critical Illness Insurance is underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY.  Products are not available in all states.  Policy limitations and exclusions apply.  Optional riders and/or features may incur additional costs.

3 Guardian's Cancer Insurance is underwritten and issued by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY.  Products are not available in all states.  Policy limitations and exclusions apply.  Optional riders and/or features may incur additional costs.

4 Guardian Hospital Indemnity Insurance is underwritten by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY and will not be effective until approved by a Guardian underwriter.  Products are not available in all states. Policy limitations and exclusions apply. Optional riders and/or features may incur additional costs.

5 The Guardian Annual Workplace Benefits Studysm: Fourth Annual, 2016

[This advertising content is not currently intended for anyone in the state of New Mexico.]

For Wyoming residents:

Cancer Insurance Disclosure Information

Right to Return: If you are not satisfied, you may return the certificate within 30 days after receipt. The amount of premium you have paid will be refunded provided no claim has been incurred during the 30-day period. Your certificate will then be void, as though you had never applied for the insurance.

Proof of Insurability: If your plan requires proof of insurability, it will be shown in the schedule of insurance. Your coverage may not become effective until you submit proof of insurability to us.

Pre-Existing Conditions: If your plan has a pre-existing condition limitation, it will be shown in your certificate. A pre-existing condition is a cancer, whether diagnosed or misdiagnosed, for which in the 90 days before you become covered by this plan, you: (1) received advice or treatment from a doctor; (2) underwent diagnostic procedures; (3) were prescribed or took prescription drugs; or (4) received other medical care or treatment, including consultation with a doctor. This plan will not pay benefits for cancer that is caused by, or results from, a pre-existing condition if the cancer occurs during the first 12 months that you are covered by this plan.

Exclusions: This plan will not pay benefits for the following: services or treatment not included in the schedule of insurance; services or treatment provided by a family member; services or treatment provided primarily for cosmetic purposes; services or treatment for premalignant conditions; services or treatment for conditions with malignant potential; services or treatment for non-cancer sicknesses; cancer caused by, contributed to by, or resulting from: (1) participating in a felony, riot or insurrection; (2) intentionally causing a self-inflicted injury; (3) committing or attempting to commit suicide while sane or insane; (4) your mental or emotional disorder, alcoholism or drug addiction; or (5) engaging in any illegal activity; or (6) serving in the armed forces or any auxiliary unit of the armed forces of any country; cancer arising from war or act of war, even if war is not declared.

Benefits: Your plan may include the following benefits: air ambulance; alternative care (palliative care or Lifestyle benefits); ambulance; anesthesia; anti-nausea medication; attending doctor; blood, plasma and platelets; bone marrow and stem cells; cancer screening, cancer screening follow-up; experimental treatment; extended care facility/skilled nursing care; government or charity hospital; home health care; hormone therapy; hospital confinement; immunotherapy; intensive care unit confinement; inpatient special nursing; medical imaging; outpatient and family member lodging; outpatient or ambulatory surgical center; physical or speech therapy; prosthetic devices; radiation therapy and chemotherapy; reconstructive surgery; reproductive benefits; second surgical opinion; skin cancer; surgical benefits; and transportation/companion transportation.

Material discussed is meant for general information purposes only and is not to be construed as medical, tax, legal or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon only when coordinated with individual professional advice.

Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.

GUARDIAN® is a registered trademark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY. © 2022 Copyright The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.

2021-131010 20240530