Workers Confident Health Care Benefits Will Continue

June 11, 2009 ( - Individuals with employment-based health benefits are confident that employers will continue to offer such benefits, according to the 2009 Health Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

They are much less confident that they would be able to afford coverage on their own, EBRI said, even if employers gave them the money they currently spend on health benefits. However, were employers to stop offering coverage, respondents report that they are likely to purchase it on their own.

The majority of respondents rate the nation’s health care system as fair (30%) or poor (29%). Only a small minority rate it excellent (6%) or very good (10%). While 14% of Americans think the health care system needs a major overhaul, 51% agree with the statement “there are some good things about our health care system, but major changes are needed,” EBRI said.

The survey found that between 68% and 88% of Americans either strongly or somewhat support health reform ideas such as national health plans, a public plan option, guaranteed issue, expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, and employer and individual mandates.

Reaction to capping the current tax exclusion of employment-based health benefits is mixed. Nearly one-half of Americans (47%) would switch to a lower-cost plan if the tax exclusion were capped, 38% would stay on their current plan and pay the additional taxes, and 9% don’t know.

Those experiencing health cost increases indicate that the increases have resulted in a decrease in contributions to a retirement plan (32%) and other savings (53%) and in difficulty paying for basic necessities (29%) and other bills (37%).

Many consumers report they are changing the way they use the health care system in response to rising health care costs. Roughly 80% of those with higher out-of-pocket expenses say these increased costs have led them to try to take better care of themselves and choose generic drugs more often. One-quarter also say they did not fill, or skipped does of, their prescribed medications in response to increased costs.

The full report can be downloaded from here .