Healthcare Concerns Weigh on Well-Being Index

September 3, 2002 ( - Healthcare benefits continue to enjoy a healthy amount of support from US workers - but they'd like it to cost less and cover more, according to a new survey.

In fact, the Third Quarter 2002 Principal Financial Well-Being Index found that American workers continue to rank health insurance as the most important employer-sponsored benefit AND the benefit they most wish their company would improve. As for specific improvements, most employee respondents said:

  • lower monthly premiums (63%)
  • lower co-payments (48%)

Employees also expressed a desire for more choice in health insurance plan design, providers and health provider networks. The Index also revealed continued strong interest by workers in other benefits such as pensions – which the survey continues to find as the number one benefit employees wish they could add to their benefits package.  More than two-thirds of employees surveyed believe a good benefit plan encourages them to work harder and perform better.

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The latest national survey of 1,600 American workers commissioned by the Principal Financial Group(R) and conducted by Harris Interactive(R) found that most noted they work to provide for basic needs (79%) and improve their standard of living (66%), as well as saving for the future (52%).

Staying Put

When it comes to saving for retirement, the Principal study revealed that American workers still believe in the stock market despite its volatility, and are staying in it for the long term.

An all-time index high of 80% of workers, up 7 points from last quarter, have not shifted their retirement savings away from more volatile investments like equities into more stable investments, according to the survey.

Most respondents, 69%, said they have not changed their asset allocation in response to low investment returns. Yet:

  • some reassessed how their retirement savings are invested, 16%
  • others postponed their planned retirement age, 9%
  • some increased their savings rate, 7%
  • some changed financial products 6%.

Also evidence of steadiness, the vast majority of Americans (84%) said they have not changed their investment behavior as a result of news of corporate scandals. Some 11% did react by reallocating their portfolios, while 4% said they saved less and another 3% saved more. 

Security “Blanket”

Job security concerns have decreased somewhat this quarter, although 47% of American workers ranked it as their number one concern, down from 52% the previous quarter, followed in priority by long-term financial future (34%) and challenging work (19%.

Only 20% of respondents said they are extremely happy with their current financial well-being, the lowest satisfaction level yet recorded.

The third quarter survey was conducted online among 1,612 employees of growing businesses (10 to 1,000 employees) from July 26, 2002 to August 9, 2002.