Benefits

Most U.S. Workers Satisfied with Health Care Benefits

By Jay Polansky editors@plansponsor.com | July 27, 2012
Page 1 of 2
View Full Article

July 27, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Despite higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs for health care benefits, U.S. workers’ satisfaction levels with employer-provided health care coverage has either risen or remained the same compared to three years ago, according to a survey.

Nearly two in three workers (63%) are very satisfied with the health coverage currently provided by their employer or union, and roughly one-third (35%) are more satisfied with their coverage now than they were three years ago. Only 12% are less satisfied, and the remaining 53% reported their satisfaction level has remained the same.

The National Business Group on Health also found that roughly one in three (37%) employees are not confident in their ability to shop for health insurance on their own, and more than half (53%) doubt they could purchase the same or better quality insurance than their employers offer on their own. While workers are satisfied with their health benefits, a majority (62%) are unable to estimate how much their employers pay for their health benefits.

Eighty-seven percent of employees rated health benefits as very important when making a decision about accepting a new job or remaining with their employer. Seventy-eight percent rated retirement benefits as very important, a sharp increase from the 63% who agreed in 2007.

The survey also asked employees their attitudes toward trading retirement and health care benefits now versus five years ago. Today, slightly fewer employees -- 27% down from 34% in 2007 -- are open to decreasing retirement benefits in order to have increased health benefits. One in three employees (36%) is willing to accept a reduction in health benefits in order to have increased retirement benefits, compared to 34% in 2007. Employees are more than twice as likely to accept reduced health benefits for an increased salary (44%), than to take reduced salaries for improved health benefits (21%). And if their employer had to reduce total compensation, most employees (46%) prefer to see their retirement benefits reduced, followed by health benefits (32%) then salaries (22%).

“Although employees would like to see their retirement benefits improved, and may feel their retirement savings have suffered over the past five years, they aren’t willing to have that improvement come at the expense of their health benefits or even salary,” said Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. “The weakened economy and higher unexpendable expenses such as gas and commuting have likely put pressure on just how far their take home pay can go.”