– Predictions Mark MetLife’s 50th Anniversary in Disability Insurance Business –

Speaking today at the National Business Group on Health’s Joint Forum on Health, Productivity and Absence Management, MetLife vice president Ronald Leopold, M.D., illustrated how employee benefits are more of a strategic business driver than ever before and challenged employers to rethink how they approach their benefits programs.

“Competition for talent has made retention employers’ top benefits objective,” says Dr. Leopold.  “Benefits satisfaction is becoming a more important factor in workplace loyalty.   Whereas health insurance receives the lion’s share of employer attention, medical benefits do not necessarily differentiate an employer from its competition.   Offering a broad portfolio of benefits can help a diverse employee population obtain the coverages that they need and want.”

While a MetLife study reveals retention is the number one benefits objective for employers, controlling health care costs is a close second.   “As MetLife celebrates its fiftieth anniversary providing disability income protection, we encourage the growing employer commitment to a culture of health and financial security.   The health delivery infrastructure needs to transition from one that rewards acute and tertiary care to one that encourages wellness and prevention.   For example, many types of disabilities and workplace absences can be mitigated when prevention, wellness and disease management programs and health incentives encourage employees to become part of the solution,” adds Dr. Leopold.

In his presentation, entitled Eight Conversations About Benefits, Dr. Leopold underscores how employers have an opportunity to drive job loyalty through benefits.  As employees are forced to assume greater financial and personal responsibility for their medical well-being, the more value they will place on benefits provided through the workplace for maintaining a strong personal financial safety net. 

Regarding the future of employee benefits, Dr. Leopold believes:

1: Risk Protection Will Be More Valued by American Workers in the Coming Years

Over the years, employee risk has escalated, with individuals taking on more responsibility for selecting and funding their own health care and retirement solutions.  Offerings that protect against that risk have become a critical workplace need.  To help meet this need, employers will offer employees a broader portfolio of benefits, together with customized communications.  Additionally, as employers reevaluate their role and fiscal commitment regarding health care, they will take on a greater stewardship of health, wellness, primary care and prevention by creating a culture of health and financial security through solutions ranging from nurse help-lines, disease management and patient advocacy agencies to onsite wellness and exercise campaigns.

2: Boomers Stay Longer in the Workforce, but Not Necessarily with Incumbent Employers

As the population ages, employees will stay longer in the workforce, but perhaps not at their current jobs.   Some employers could see an exodus as older workers move to less physically demanding responsibilities or less stressful positions, and decide to try different jobs for personal fulfillment.   Benefits should continue to be a top attraction tool, especially for workers in their 40s, 50s and 60s, for companies seeking experienced talent – and an important retention tool for those companies hoping to curb their “brain drain.”   Post-retiree benefits should emerge as an important draw for seasoned employees.

3: Voluntary Benefits Grow as Attractive Way to Offer Employees What They Need and Want

As employees make and fund more of their benefits selections, product features (i.e., coverage levels, co-pays, deductibles) and service levels should become increasingly important.  Online platforms make personal tailoring increasingly possible.  As the competition for talent continues to escalate, benefits have become a deciding factor for many seasoned employees.  Over the next five to ten years, expect to the competition for talent to push employers to focus on broader benefits offerings such as critical illness insurance, disability insurance and long-term care insurance.

Ronald S. Leopold, M.D., MBA, MPH, is vice president and national medical director of MetLife Institutional Business. He is a board certified occupational medicine physician who holds masters degrees in Business Administration and Public Health.

MetLife’s group disability income insurance programs provide comprehensive coverage and flexible solutions that are valuable to both employees and employers.  MetLife is celebrating fifty years as one of the leaders in the group disability insurance business.

MetLife is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the United States and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.   Through its domestic and international subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife, Inc. reaches more than 70 million customers around the world and MetLife is the largest life insurer in the United States (based on life insurance in-force).   The MetLife companies offer life insurance, annuities, auto and home insurance, retail banking and other financial services to individuals, as well as group insurance, reinsurance and retirement & savings products and services to corporations and other institutions.   For more information, please visit


Karen Eldred