Help Employees Prepare For The Inevitable: Aging

Consider packages that address the financial and emotional toll of end-of-life care

Cora Tellez, Sterling Health Services Administration, Inc.
Originally published in: | May 23rd, 2019

There is a growing, and often overwhelming,a problem for human resource professionals. The American workforce is aging. In many fields, the rates are exponential. The nearly 10,000 Americans who are aging into the Medicare-eligible bracket each day are not prepared for retirement, long-term health care needs or inevitable end-of-life expenses.

This trend, called the “silver tsunami,” is negatively impacting the workplace in two ways: directly through the aging demographic and indirectly through the 44 million employees who are now serving as caregivers. According to a new study by Harvard Business School researchers, nearly three out of four employees report having some type of care giving responsibility for family members.

As HR managers build their benefits packages, it is crucial that they address this issue and consider new savings solutions that can help employees pay for medical or support services as they or their loved ones age.It’s what employees want. A2018 Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates survey found that seven out of 10 employees say it would be helpful if their workplace offered resources for planning for health care expenses in retirement. It’s good for them financially, as well. Money is available pre- or post-tax and can be allocated for a specific purpose.

Providing benefit solutions centered around aging and end-of-life is also good for the company. Unplanned leaves of absence, missed days of work, late arrivals and early departures are the top behaviors employers say undermine career progression (Harvard Business School study). All issues frequently arise for caregivers.

Health-related retirement costs are largely underestimated by aging employees and their caregivers. The average healthy 65-year-old couple retiring this year can expect to pay $363,9461 ($537,334 in future value) in lifetime Medicare and supplemental insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, says HealthView Services.

There are new benefits packages available that provide the financial benefits and security of dedicated savings account for aging, such as Amazing Care Network by Sterling Administration. Like an HSA or FSA, the money can be allocated for a specific purpose, and there are post-tax savings options, as well. A limited-use debit card is provided as part of the program with customizable spending parameters.

Programs are also available that pair savings accounts with in-person networking around aging and/or end-of-life caregiving, so that employees feel heard and understood. Effectively navigating insurance and medical systems, along with the associated emotional and financial challenges of aging requires two things: a network of amazing people, and a plan. Every employee can benefit from more resources and knowledge to navigate their future, such as being able to manage asset accumulation and expected and unexpected expenses during later years in life.

Look for benefits that offer an anonymous donor function, which add the concept of crowd-funding for the times when legitimate caregiving needs become even more burdensome. Some benefit options even include access to retired physicians and pharmacists who can answer questions.

It is crucial that employers seek out these new offerings, in order to stay relevant in the marketplace.Financial security, combined with the right resources for end-of-life care, is often the missing component of benefit packages.

Recommended Resources
Interactive Report: The Caring Company
Interactive Website: Amazing Care Network