Flex benefits: When choice is no choice at all

By Daphne Woolf
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/26/2003

It’s hard to disagree with the idea of choice. After all, a consumer who can choose is considered an empowered consumer. In the field of benefit plans, choice among benefit options is often seen as an attractive feature by employees.

Plans that offer choice are called flex plans because they are flexible enough to be adjusted to the requirements and preferences of individual employees. One form of flex plan is the health services spending account, in which employees are given a fixed amount to purchase whatever services they need (see "How spending accounts work" below).

Choice within the private-sector benefits field involves three parties: the employer (who decides what benefit plan to provide to employees), the employee (who is the benefactor and may choose among several options), and the benefits provider (who administers, adjudicates and underwrites the plan).