Most employment packages include health benefits to attract qualified, reliable employees. When hired, most new employees access these health-related and other benefits. However, because of the sheer amount of professional jargon, new workers who are not familiar with the process or language can find navigating paperwork exhausting and frustrating to the point of stuffing all of the signed paperwork in their glove compartment and hoping there will not be a need for them. Like most paperwork related to employment, healthcare packages and their benefits can be just as frustrating and difficult to wade through. However, health benefits are an integral – and probably one of the most important – advantages of being hired.

In general, employers are not required to provide health benefits to their employees. In fact, the only benefits employers are required by law to give to employees related to health care are workers’ compensation requirements, contributions to short-term disability programs, and Federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) requirements. For an employer to provide a healthcare package that includes a retirement plan, life, dental and vision insurance, along with paid vacations, in addition to holiday and sick leave, they are establishing an organizational policy that values the employee.

These packages are truly important to individuals, but for employees with children, they are necessary because the escalating cost of healthcare makes it unbearably expensive to afford minimum care for children. For example, a common issue such as an ankle sprain costs the uninsured almost $24,000 to treat; an insured person only pays close to $1,500. Ultimately, health benefits protect employees from financial ruin that can sometimes result from suffering long-term illnesses.

In the current environment, healthcare can go a long way with the right coverage. The advantages of having a really great healthcare package are numerous and varied. Most plans cover outpatient care (doctor visits), trips to the emergency room, inpatient care (overnight stays), pre- and post-natal care for mother and baby, mental health and substance abuse counseling and care, prescription drugs, physical and occupational therapies and rehabilitation, lab tests, and pediatric care for children. Of all the benefits offered in these packages, however, preventative care is the one that most helps employees and their families to prevent and avoid many catastrophic illnesses. For example, a person who goes to their doctor for a yearly check-up might get an ALT test, or a liver function test, before seeing a physician, and the visit and the test would be covered by insurance. Health benefits in the workplace help employees and their families remain healthy by providing them with affordable insurance.

Employer-provided health benefits

Structure in the form of HMOs and PPOs: Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) function to provide employees with services for a fixed premium each month. For example, an employee who is covered by an HMO would pay a portion of their salary to the organization monthly, and when he or she makes visits to the hospital or doctor, they would pay a co-pay or a deductible, which is a charge for a visit. However, the employee must see a physician who is within the network.

Mental Health and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Some employers offer coverage for counseling related to dealing with stress and substance abuse, in addition to family issues.

Dental and vision service: Employees are usually only offered partial coverage under these plans, if they are offered at all.

Miscellaneous coverage: Coverage for recurring issues that require rehabilitation, therapies and drug prescriptions are normally a part of healthcare packages.

Life and disability coverage: Life and disability insurance coverage is purchased by the employee, in addition to other coverage. Life insurance protects the immediate family in case the employee unexpectedly passes away, and disability coverage protects the family in case of lost wages due to injury.

Depending on the type of plan, a person might pay less for routine doctor visits and preventative care and more on deductibles for serious ailments or conditions. In the long run, the costs paid by the employee monthly is much less than it would be if they were not insured.

Staying healthy can become expensive without company-provided healthcare packages that defray some of the costs. More importantly, being knowledgeable regarding what services are provided, in addition to knowing rights and responsibilities as an insured employee, prepares individuals for serious illnesses that might require extensive treatment. In the end, both the employer and employee gain from good health benefits that give the insured flexibility in paying for their own care.