Pros: Great coverage; great claims processing; some premiums can be pre-tax; can take coverage with you
Cons: Some premiums are a bit high; may pay for coverage you never need/use
Note: I do NOT have a personal affiliation with Aflac. I do not work for Aflac and I do not have any friends or relatives who work for Aflac. My only association with Aflac is as an employee and as an employer/Human Resources representative.
I'm one of those people who would rather be way over-insured than under-insured. I have a variety of different insurance policies (both through my employer and privately) for various things (life, cancer, etc.) because I'm always afraid that if I get seriously ill, not only am I not going to be able to pay my bills, but that if I die, my boyfriend and my mother will have to come up with thousands of dollars to bury me. So I'm a subscriber to the "get as much insurance as you can afford" theory. Enter my Aflac-rich employment with my current employer.
What Is Aflac?
Aflac offers various insurance policies for any size employer from 1 to 1,000+ employees. Aflac’s policies are 100% employee-paid and are purchased on a voluntary basis. Many companies choose to make Aflac policies available as a cost-effective solution to help employees with the rising cost of out-of-pocket health care expenses. When a claim is filed, the covered individual will receive a cash payment from Aflac, which is a fixed amount, and is paid regardless of any other insurance coverage the individual has. The money can be used to pay for anything - medical bills, household bills, groceries, childcare, rent, car payments - Aflac does not monitor how the money is spent once they send a check.
Aflac - As An Employee
When I started with my company eight years ago, we had three types of Aflac coverage in force, available in both single and family policies. The three policies employees could choose from were Cancer, Hospital Intensive Care and Accident. The Cancer coverage offers payment if you are diagnosed with any type of cancer. It not only gives you a flat amount upon diagnosis, but pays each time you get chemotherapy and other treatments. The Intensive Care coverage pays a flat amount when you are hospitalized in the intensive care unit. The Accident pays flat amounts for emergency room visits, x-rays and follow-up care for any type of accident from car accidents to sprained ankles.
A couple of years later, my company added a new policy, which was the Specified Health Event. This coverage pays flat amounts for major health events such as strokes and heart attacks.
At one time, I carried three of the four Aflac policies. It was a bit expensive to have these policies but they gave me peace of mind and I felt that they were worth the expense. All of the premiums were eligible for pre-tax premium deduction from my paycheck except for one (I forget which one), which offered me a tax savings. I liked that quite a bit. It helped to justify the expense. At open enrollment last year, I dropped the Cancer policy but have been thinking about it lately and may pick it up again at open enrollment (which is once per year).
The Cancer coverage also pays a flat amount to women who receive their yearly mammogram and pap screening. I have filed claims for this myself (when I had the Cancer coverage) and the claims process was easy (simply print a claim form from Aflac's website, fill out the form and include proof of service, such as an EOB from your health insurance company or a bill from your ob/gyn physician). Aflac has never asked me any questions about a claim and always paid me via check promptly.
Some of the other types of Aflac coverage that employers can offer their employees are: Dental, Vision, Hospital Confinement Indemnity, Hospital Confinement Sickness Indemnity, Life, Long Term Care and Short Term Disability.
I don't know how to give you an accurate picture of what the premiums are like. I don't know if it varies by the size of your company, by your age, etc. I currently have the Hospital Intensive Care, Accident and Specified Health Event. All three policies are single coverage (as I am not married and do not have children). My bi-weekly (every two weeks) premium for all three is just under $25. $50 per month, to me, isn't a bad price to pay for peace of mind. However, if you are someone who is living paycheck to paycheck and are struggling to pay your bills, then Aflac is probably not a good option for you until you are more able to afford the premiums.
If you leave your employer voluntarily or involuntarily, you can take your Aflac coverage with you. You will pay Aflac the premium directly instead of it being deducted from your paycheck. You own the policy and you can choose to discontinue your coverage if you do not want to continue the coverage. The Human Resources/Benefits/Payroll person at your company will inform Aflac that you have left and Aflac will contact you directly via postal mail.
One important thing to note is that when an employee files claims with Aflac, their premium does not increase. So if you get cancer, your premiums for your Cancer policy stay the same and will not increase just because you filed a claim.
Overall, as an employee, I would recommend Aflac coverage. If you can afford the premiums, the coverage is great for added peace of mind.
Aflac - As An Employer/Benefits Administrator
As the Human Resources person at my company (there used to be four of us when we were a bigger company - I'm the last one standing these days!), Aflac has been pretty easy to deal with. We have had a variety of different Aflac representatives that we have dealt with, but I have dealt mainly with the Aflac branch office manager who is also a salesperson and an administrative person who is always in the office. All have been fine. I particularly enjoyed working with one woman about five years ago who is now in Pittsburgh, and her brother, who I believe works out of the Pittsburgh office now as well. We are near the Youngstown area, so Pittsburgh is only about an hour and fifteen minutes away. There is/was an office we dealt with in Canfield, Ohio, but the Aflac reps I deal with are now in Pittsburgh.
Open enrollment is easy. All I have to do is put a notice on the bulletin boards and e-mail the employees in all of our locations to let them know what date(s) the Aflac representatives will be in. We have three locations in three states, and I have the office managers at the other two locations post a notice on the bulletin boards in their offices and warehouses. My local Aflac branch manager contacts Aflac representatives in the other two states to let them know that they need to spend a couple of hours or a day in our Florida and Texas locations so that I don't have to travel to those states, and neither does our local Aflac representative. The Aflac representative comes in and spends at least a few hours in our office. If an employee is interested in signing up for Aflac benefits or is interested in learning more, the Aflac representative takes care of it. He is usually stocked with stuffed Aflac ducks and pens and gives those out to any employee interested in learning more or signing up.
In order to sign up for Aflac coverage, the employee must fill out a couple of enrollment forms. As the Human Resources/Benefits/Payroll person, I get a copy of this form for my records. The form indicates the bi-weekly deduction that will be deducted from the employee's paycheck.
A couple of years ago we had an employee who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She filed a claim and received a $10,000 cash payment from Aflac. She had to be off work for quite a long time for treatment, and she told me that she had just bought new furniture and that $10,000 payment not only helped her pay her bills while she was off, but she also was able to pay off her new furniture. She also told me that she received cash payments from Aflac for subsequent chemotherapy treatments and they also paid her a flat rate for mileage to and from the medical facility.
I had one other employee file a claim for his wife on their Cancer policy (he had family coverage) about two years ago, and he told me that the process was very smooth and that Aflac paid his wife promptly. He was so happy about this, in fact, that he said he was recommending Aflac to everyone he knew. He said that the Aflac payments not only paid for their out-of-pocket medical expenses but also paid off all of their credit card debt. He felt that it was a big burden off his and his wife's shoulders. I don't know of a LOT of employees who have filed claims, but the ones I know of have been happy. And I haven't had to file major claims myself, but I have been happy with the tiny claims I've filed.
There is no direct cost to an employer to carry Aflac coverage for their employees, as the employee pays the entire premium from their paycheck. However, as my boss's boss loves to point out, there is an administrative cost - meaning that the company must pay me to process the monthly invoice, submit it to Accounts Payable, and then the company must pay the Accounts Payable person to process the invoice and cut a check. And then we have to pay for the postage to mail the check to Aflac. I don't see how the small administrative cost is a big deal, but he doesn't care for Aflac. However, back in the old days when we were hiring for both manufacturing and professional positions, when I mentioned that we carry Aflac, many candidates were excited by that - who hasn't seen the commercials where the guy is out of work due to injury and states that Aflac helps him pay his bills? Ordinary people like to have peace of mind. (My boss's boss is far from ordinary, and he doesn't seem to understand this.)
Aflac bills us monthly for our employee's premiums. I've had a couple of problems with Aflac processing our payments. I always send in the payment stub with our payment - and when I have changes, I always send in all pages of the invoice with the changes clearly marked so that Aflac can reconcile the payment. Despite this, there have been a couple of times when I've had an Aflac accounting employee call me and tell me that they needed help knowing how to apply our payment. Apparently when the payment comes in, the check and the invoice are separated immediately and sometimes the accounting person doesn't know how to apply the person. My response to that is this: Rather than calling the customer, go to the department and FIND the invoice and make a copy of it and take it back to your desk and reconcile the payment that way. If you can't reconcile the payment, THEN call the customer. In the eight years that I have been dealing with Aflac, this has happened probably only three times - so it's not a big deal.
If you have three outstanding invoices at one time (no matter how late they are), Aflac will begin to send non-payment notices to your employees. They will receive them at the last known home address that Aflac has on file. In these notices, Aflac will tell the employees that they have not received payment, that the coverage is cancelled and will invite the employees to continue coverage on their own. This is NOT a good thing if the employees have had the premiums deducted from their paychecks and the company did not meant to let the policies lapse. We had this happen a couple of times and it turned into "mutiny" in the workplace. What I had to do to fix this problem was notify Aflac that we were going to pay the outstanding invoices immediately and ask them to reinstate the policies. It was a big pain in the butt. The huge lesson learned here is that a company doesn't need to let these invoices get that far behind, especially when the premiums are employee-paid!
I've had to call Aflac customer service several times in my eight years of being an Aflac customer. Each time, I get pretty good service. There have been a handful of times where I have been disappointed in the customer service, but for the most part I get great service. I definitely think that Aflac is good in this department. And I have never been on hold waiting for a customer service representative for an extraordinarily long period of time, which is also a plus. Most of the representatives are great with helping me to resolve any employee question premium deduction question I might have.
More About Aflac:
Aflac's worldwide headquarters is located in Columbus, GA. Their phone number is 1-800-99AFLAC. You can also fill out an online form to be contacted by an Aflac representative for more information on Aflac policies.