Media Coverage of Benefits Issues Inaccurate, Unfair – American Benefits Council

September 21, 2000 ( - Congress is willing to listen, but is not very knowledgeable about benefits issues, according to a new employer survey. Employers also feel that while Congress is most influenced by the media on these issues, the media is neither accurate nor fair in their coverage.

The American Benefits Council (formerly APPWP) Membership Survey found that just 28% of respondents agree that Congress has sufficient understanding of the role of employers in providing benefits through the workplace. 

Just 38% feel that Congress has sufficient understanding of the laws and regulations governing these programs.


Respondents felt that Congress was most influenced by:

  • 66% – Media
  • 48% – Employees, including unions and employee advocacy groups
  • 14% – Policy think tanks/academics
  • 9% – Benefit plan service providers

Only 17% felt that employers (and their advocacy groups) have a lot of influence in Congress, though 80% believe employers have some influence.

Over half (56%) of respondents say the media’s coverage of employer-sponsored benefits issues is either not at all (10%) or not very (46%) accurate. Nearly two-thirds (62%) find the media’s coverage of employer-sponsored benefits issues is either not at all (11%) or not very (51%) fair.

Legislative Agenda

Sixty-four percent believe that Congress is willing to seriously consider employer perspectives in developing benefits legislation. However, 81% don’t believe that Congress gives appropriate priority to legislation that would strengthen the employer-provided system.

Over half (53%) say that election year discussions of health and retirement issues have made no difference in the public’s understanding, and 38% believe the discussions have actually hurt public understanding of these issues.

Looking Ahead

Respondents would like to see action on the following areas:

  • 71% – favor facilitating phased retirement by allowing distributions of retirement payments prior to normal retirement age to be either a very (36%) or somewhat (35%) high priority
  • 65% – consider enactment of incentives that will encourage employers to offer long-term care insurance to employees to be either a very high (19%) or somewhat high (46%) priority
  • 57% – are concerned about rules that hinder providing benefits to an international workforce
  • 53% – would like to see additional tax incentives for broad-based employee participation in stock plans.

The American Benefits Council Membership Survey was conducted by Harris Interactive. The survey was conducted via the Internet with 200 members of the Council between August 28 and September 6, 2000.