Employees Satisfied with Health Plans

Posted on Monday, April 29, 2019

While our satisfaction with the U.S. health care system as a whole seems to be falling, individuals, by and large, remain satisfied with their own employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. Concerns about costs are driving the system-wide dissatisfaction, but rising costs do not seem to be affecting how employees feel about their own coverage.

The system-wide assessment comes from the Employee Benefit Research Institute's (EBRI) annual Health Confidence Survey. In the  latest edition, 31 percent rated the U.S. health care system as fair and 28 percent 

The $7,800 Question

When asked in one previous EBRI survey which they would prefer, $7,800 in employment-based health care coverage, or $7,800 in additional taxable income, 72 percent chose the health care coverage over the cash.

This should be valuable information for employers who have trouble recruiting or retaining quality staff. When they put together compensation packages as well as when they advertise open positions, they may want to redirect the emphasis to health care benefits. 

rated it as poor. This "poor" rating has doubled since the survey's inception seven years ago, but has barely changed from the previous year. Only 17 percent said the health care system is very good or excellent. 

In contrast, another survey from the National Business Group on Health showed the following:

67 percent of employees considered their own employer-sponsored health plan to be excellent or very good. 
About 70 percent of the surveyed employees said their current health plan was excellent or very good at providing easy access to providers and in covering a wide range of services. 
Roughly two-thirds said their plan gives them a sense of security that they will be able to afford good health care.
A similar percentage -- 65 percent -- said their health coverage has remained about the same over the past three years, despite the cost increase that 60 percent of those surveyed reported.

Employees Prefer to be Flexible in Other Areas of Compensation

Given the huge investment that employers make in health benefits, it is important to see that employees continue to appreciate these benefits, and feel strongly about them, despite the fact that they, too, have seen costs rise. For example, 75 percent ranked their health plan as their most important employee benefit, and 83 percent said they'd rather see their salary or retirement benefit -- and not their health benefits -- reduced if their employer needed to reduce total compensation. Costs do matter, however, with more than half saying they would accept fewer plan choices in order to keep their premiums low.

Clearly, employers need to continue cost containment efforts, both for their own pocketbooks, and for their employees. However, it is also important to remember that, despite rising costs and increasingly negative feelings about the U.S. health care system as a whole, on an individual basis health benefits remain a crucial piece of the total compensation package, essential to attracting and retaining the best employees.

Posted in Tax Topics For Individuals

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