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Variety is the Name of the Employee Benefits Game in the Public Sector Small Employer Market

New research shows cities, counties, school districts take a variety of approaches to purchasing, administering benefits

ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Employee benefit providers looking at the small public sector employer market (75 – 999 full time employees) will have to do some homework.

According research conducted last summer by Minnesota Life Insurance Company1, purchasing and administration procedures used by cities, counties, school districts and other small government employers vary widely. Minnesota Life is the third largest US group life insurer2 and the largest subsidiary of Securian Financial Group, Inc.

Minnesota Life Group Insurance is represented in the small public sector employee market by Ochs, Inc., a benefits brokerage and consulting firm. Ochs formed The Municipal Pool that gives small-to medium-sized public employers the same insurance buying advantages as large employers. It offers life and AD&D products underwritten by Minnesota Life and administered by Ochs, Inc.

“The Minnesota Life study shows there’s no one way to approach small public employers,” said Cambra Aasen, president of St. Paul, MN-based employee benefits broker Ochs, Inc. “Some of them purchase employee benefits through associations, some issue requests for proposal and others join a statewide buying pool.”

Aasen says one common thread across the market is rising interest in voluntary benefits3. In a 2010 survey, nearly 90% of the 569 U.S. municipalities, states, educational institutions and other public entities offer – or were planning to offer – voluntary benefits. The most popular voluntary benefits offered in this market are dental insurance, long- and short-term disability coverage, and Medicare Supplement, according to a May 2012 study4.

“We also found that, for the most part, small public employers deploy little technology for benefits administration,” said Aasen. “Carriers often perform services such as forms access, re-enrollment and billing. The smaller the employee group, the more likely the carrier will handle many of the administrative functions.”

With regard to group life insurance, the study found that most group life offered by public employers:

  • is paid by employees through payroll deduction,
  • is guaranteed issue for new hires, and
  • requires evidence of insurability for coverage that exceeds a cap.

More detail about employee benefit trends from the Minnesota Life study of public sector small employers is available in an article from the company’s web-based monthly newsletter AWARE.

Since 1880, Securian Financial Group and its affiliates have provided financial security for individuals and businesses in the form of insurance, investments and retirement plans. Now one of the nation’s largest financial services providers, it is the holding company parent of a group of companies that include Minnesota Life Insurance Company and Securian Life Insurance Company, a New York admitted insurer. Both are headquartered in St. Paul, MN.

1 Voluntary Benefit Strategies Employer & Producer Clients’ Research Results, Securian Market Research, July 2012
2 A.M. Best; US Group Life issued, ranked by 2011 group life business issued, July 2012
3 International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and State and Local Government Benefits Association, Trends in Public Employee Plans; 2010
4 CIRISIL, Public Sector Small business’ Employee Benefits; May 2012

DOFU – 10-2012
A03862-1012

Ochs, Inc., A Securian Company
Maggie Jensen, 651-665-7558
APR, Media Relations Consultant

Source: Ochs, Inc., A Securian Company