Workers Have a Health-y Benefits Perspective

March 29, 2002 ( - The American worker has been through a lot in the past two years - but their benefits priorities remain remarkably consistent, according to a new report.

Despite the dramatic environmental and market differences between 1999 and 2001, health insurance remains the top-rated benefit, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

While 60% of employees ranked health insurance as the number one benefit in the survey conducted last November, that was down slightly from 64% in 1999. 

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However, only 48% of workers age 60 or older chose health insurance as the most important.  Those over age 60 were more likely to prefer long-term care insurance and retiree health insurance, according to EBRI. 

Retirement Plans

Retirement savings plans remained second overall, but saw their importance increase slightly – from 21% in 1999 to 23% last year.  Traditional pension plans were rated as the top benefit by 6% of survey respondents, the same as in 1999.

More than three-quarters (77%) of workers reported that the benefits that a prospective employer offers are very important in their decision to accept or reject a job, roughly the same as the 79% recorded in 1999.

In 2001, 36% said they would choose a retirement savings plan (or more retirement savings benefits) over higher pay, compared with 40% in 1999.  Similarly, just 9% of workers say they preferred stock options to higher pay – down from 13% in 1999.