Because health-care costs can derail a retirement plan, financial advisors should weigh in on health insurance and protection decisions with their clients, according to Rob Grubka, president of Voya’s employee benefit business.

“If I was a financial advisor, I would want to be part of that conversation with my clients,” whether they are employers or employees, Grubka said in a recent interview with Financial Advisor magazine. “The financial and insurance industries and employers are throwing more decisions back to the individual these days. The individual needs to know how all of his plans work together” and that can be difficult. “You can have the best investment and savings plans, but if that gets interrupted by unexpected health-care costs, the plans won’t work.

“Financial advisors sometimes do not get into enough detail to know what the client wants or needs, but there are decisions an advisor can help make to protect clients from unexpected costs, just as they help clients make investment decisions,” he added.

Advisors also can help employers offer good benefits packages, which can enable them to hire and retain the best talent. Benefits represent such an important part of an employee’s compensation that it becomes an important element of an employer’s level of competitiveness with other employers, Grubka said.

For instance, if an employer offers high-deductible health insurance policies as one option, the employer may want to offer access to health savings accounts to enable employees to pay the deductibles. “All of the benefits have to work together,” Grubka said, and employers need to make sure employees understand their options.

“Employees know there are no define- benefit pension plans anymore. These plans are relatively easy to compare [so] employers are looking at how they stack up against their competition,” Grubka said. “This is still an emerging field” and financial advisors can help employers select the best benefits and help them explain the plans to employees.

These decisions are particularly relevant as the open enrollment for health benefits approaches as the year draws to a close, allowing employees to select new plans or new provisions within a plan.

“Voya provides new products and solutions to employers all the time and helps them determine how all the benefits can fit together. Employees should start early making comparisons. Financial advisors can use this time period as a real opportunity to connect with their end clients in making important decisions about benefit packages,” he said.