Workers Value Tax Advantages of Health Benefits

December 20, 2012 ( – If Congress taxes health benefits, most workers would change or even drop their current coverage, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found.

If current tax preferences were to change and employment-based coverage became taxable, 26% of workers surveyed would want to find a less costly plan, 21% would want to shop for coverage directly from insurers, and 9% would want to drop coverage altogether. Nearly four in 10 (39%), however, reported they would continue with their current level of coverage, up 10 percentage points from EBRI’s Health Confidence Survey (HCS) findings last year.

As to their preferred means of receiving health insurance, four in 10 (38%) prefer to continue getting coverage as they do today; 34% would prefer to choose their insurance plan, have their employers give them the money that was being spent on their behalf and pay the difference themselves; and 23% would like their employers give them the money and let them decide whether to purchase coverage and how much to spend.

Workers also claimed that having a choice of health plan is important to them, and they would prefer to have more choices. The majority of those surveyed, however, claimed they were confident that their employers or unions picked the best plan for them, and many admitted they were less confident in their ability to choose the best available plan if coverage was no longer offered.

“Most Americans are satisfied with the health benefits they have now and prefer not to change the mix of benefits and wages,” said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s health Research and Education Program and author of the report. “About three-quarters say they are satisfied with the health benefits they currently receive, while 15% say they would trade wages to get more health benefits, and 9% say they would surrender health benefits for higher wages.”

The full results of the survey are published in the December 2012 EBRI Notes, “Views on Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2012 Health Confidence Survey,” online at


Sara Kelly