The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)/Greenwald & Associates Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey recently released “studies a wide array of topics related to employee benefits including employees’ knowledge of their benefits, confidence in making benefit decisions and satisfaction with their benefits package.”
The 2017 survey was conducted on line last June and used the Research Now consumer panel. Over 1500 U.S. workers between the age of 21-64 participated in the survey and the data was weighted by gender, age, and education to reflect the actual proportions in the employed population.
Some of the key findings identified by EBRI can be found below:
- Most employees are satisfied with their benefits: Nearly one-half of employees indicate they are very or extremely satisfied with their benefits; another 36 percent say they are somewhat satisfied. In addition, employee satisfaction with benefits relates to overall job satisfaction. Employees who are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits are more likely to say they are extremely/very satisfied with their job.
- Benefit offerings generally remain similar between years, with the most frequently offered benefits being health insurance (67 percent), dental insurance (59 percent) and retirement savings plans (57 percent). Health Savings Account (HSA) offerings continue to rise. The exceptions are disability insurance and traditional pension plans, which have declined in prevalence since 2013.
- Just over one-half (52 percent) of employees say they understand their health benefits and 43 percent indicate they understand their non-health benefits very/extremely well. Both statistics are down from 2016, when 61 percent indicated they understood their health benefits and 48 percent said they understood their non-health benefits very/extremely well.
- Further, benefits continue to be valued by employees. Health insurance, retirement plans, dental, vision and life insurance continue to be highly important when making job change decisions. In fact, more than 4 in 10 say they would forgo a wage increase to receive an increase in their work-life balance benefits, and nearly two in ten state a preference for more health benefits and lower wages.
- In addition to traditional benefits, a small percentage of employees access voluntary benefits (13 percent). As in past years, employees say they purchase this coverage because it is less costly than what they can purchase on their own (51 percent), they like the ease of payroll deductions (46 percent) and they want to protect against financial loss (39 percent).
- Employees with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) are slightly more likely to have voluntary benefits (18 percent versus 13 percent for non-HDHP participants). When asked why they choose to purchase voluntary benefits, HDHP participants are more likely to note cost and a desire to protect against income loss or unexpected expenses than non-HDHP participants.
- Fewer than one-half of employees are confident that in three years their employer will offer benefits similar to today. Those anticipating change tend to predict weakening benefits offerings.
In another study recently released, the National Health Interview Survey for 2017 by National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found:
- In 2017, 43.7% of persons under age 65 with private health insurance were enrolled in a high deductible health plan, including 18.2% who had an HSA and 25.5% without an HSA.
- The percentage of people under age 65 enrolled in a high deductible health plan with an HSA has more than doubled since 2010, increasing from 7.7% in 2010 to 18.2% in 2017.
Participation in consumer-directed healthcare continues to rise. Employees rely on Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to afford current care and save for future care.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has previously reported that 178 million Americans rely on employer-based health care as the source for their health insurance, and as the study has indicated, workers find health insurance from their employer as the most important workplace benefit. Although the Cadillac tax has been further postponed to 2022, elimination of the Cadillac tax and preservation of the employer exclusion on health care will remain key components to the continuance of employer-based coverage.