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even with costs rising, employees value their benefits: mercer study

October 21, 2011

in health care,health care reform

employees have been paying more for their benefits, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want them. or wouldn’t be willing to pay even more for them. so finds the 2011 mercer workplace survey, a national survey conducted by mercer’s US outsourcing business.

some of the topline findings from the survey are around value, price sensitivity and health care reform.

value

employees still highly value the benefits they receive from their employer. that’s echoed in other studies, such as metlife’s 9th annual benefits trend study. as with metlife’s study, employees in mercer’s study say benefits are one way their company shows it cares about them. even though 44% of the respondents are paying more out of pocket this year, 46% said their benefits are worth the cost.

price sensitivity

the perceived value of employer-provided benefits

what this study also shows is that employees are willing to pay more for the benefits they want. this also echoes metlife’s findings. employees indicated they were happier paying more for benefits than losing them. (at the same time, employees did note that their company should offer better benefits.)

health care reform

employees seem to be viewing health care reform more positively since the last time mercer conducted this study. that doesn’t necessarily mean they expect to be better off. when asked whether they’d be better or worse off once health care reform provisions are in place, employees answered that they expect to be worse off when it comes to what they pay for care, their health benefits at work, and the federal income taxes they pay.

it’s a good thing employers are getting the message that they need to communicate about health care reform—even when there’s not a lot to communicate. mercer’s study found that more than a third of the respondents’ employers informed employees that they’ll be making changes as a result of health care reform. employers must continue communicating with employees so that sentiments about their financial well-being are confirmed, or negated, by the facts.

sidenote

this annual survey tracks changes in attitudes and experiences with employer-provided retirement, health and benefit programs. the executive summary contains terrific data on what keeps employees up at night about retirement savings. the focus on retirement may explain why the answers are only from employees who are enrolled in their employer’s health plan and are active 401(k) participants (mercer’s definition of active: contributing or with a balance of at least $1,000). frankly, it’d be interesting to see whether the answers about value and price sensitivity differ between those who are active and those who are not participating or inactive. for example, is there any correlation between being active, risk-averse and holding your benefits in greater esteem? or, wanting to pay more to keep your health benefits?

download the executive summary.

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