Poll: 56% Say Keep Raise if Health Plan is Unchanged

October 14, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - In an indication of how critical many workers consider it is to have adequate health-care coverage, more than half of respondents in a recent poll (56%) said they would forgo a raise if they could keep their current health-care benefits.

According to the latest WSJ Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll, about a third (29%) said they would settle for a “decent” pay hike even if that came with a “significant” health-care benefit cut and 16% didn’t know.

Not surprisingly, retirees and near retirees were the largest group wanting to hang on to their health-care coverage – even if that meant no raise – with 77% in the 65+ group and 70% in the 50 to 64-year-old group of that opinion. Those in the 25 to 29-year-old group were the smallest age segment at 4%.

Sliced by income level, those pulling down the biggest bucks were most interested in keeping their health-care benefits stable. Some 57% of those earning $75,000 or more felt that way, 56% of those earning $50,000 to $74,999 and 58% of those earning $35,000 to $49,999 were likewise in that category.

But all that didn’t mean respondents didn’t want more money in their paycheck. Nearly seven in 10 (66%) said getting a “decent” raise was highest on their list with keeping their current health coverage level mentioned by 29%.

Respondents were also asked whether their salary, their retirement benefits or their health insurance coverage had gotten better or worse over the last several years. In the case of retirement benefits and health insurance, the largest chunk of respondents reported that the benefit stayed the same at 41%, and 39% respectively. Some 16% said their retirement benefits had been enhanced while 10% said they had enjoyed a health-care coverage improvement.

Meanwhile, 53% of respondents said their salary was either “much better” or “somewhat better” with 27% describing their paycheck as “somewhat worse.”

The study was conducted online in the US between September 26 and September 30, 2003, among a nationwide cross section of 981 employed adults who have employer-provided health insurance.