Workers Choose Health-Care Over Higher Salary

August 20, 2003 ( - Americans are apparently seeing no relief in sight for the ever rising health-care cost tide, to the point that more workers would rather take a lower paying job with health coverage than a higher salary and no health benefits.

More than seven out of 10 (71%) non-retired workers surveyed opted for health-care coverage in lieu of higher salary. Further this trend appears blind to demographic trends, as the same prevalence was found among professional and blue collar workers, those without a high school diploma and college graduates, and members of high and low income households, according to The Health Pulse of America survey conducted by Stony Brook University.

Health care is definitely weighing heavily on the mind of the 865 respondents. W hen Americans are asked to separately rate the importance of different job attributes, good health benefits was rated “very important” by 73% of the poll. Comparatively, job security received a 71% share in the “very important” category, followed by 66% for retirement benefits and 38% for higher salary.

Taken Away

Workers are not one to take what they have currently for granted either. Asked about their level of satisfaction with their health care benefits, 64% said they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.” However, even for those workers covered with an employer-provided health insurance benefits, half are worried that the benefits will be cut back, a trend much more pronounced among women (56%) than men (44%), and among high school (58%) than college graduates (40%). Additionally, 29% workers are worried about a complete loss of health coverage.

Only fueling the anxiety fire for many workers is that once coverage is lost, they would not be able to afford private health benefits. A full half of all individuals said they could not afford to purchase health insurance on their own and this response was much more common among women than men and those living in lower than higher-income households.

Stressed Out

Perhaps a way at the problem is a way around it. More than four out of 10 (42%) of those polled said an increase in the amount of paid vacation would improve the overall health of Americans. Comparatively, 12% thought a few extra days off would serve to worsen the economy and a third said there it would actually help.

The study points to this sentiment among workers as a possible by-product of increasing stress loads. Where 43% reported at least some stress in their current jobs, three out of 10 said their current position carried with it a lot of stress – mostly among workers living in low-income households and rural areas.

A complete copy of the survey results can be found at .