Perceived Benefits value Falls Amid High Out-of-Pocket Costs

By SHRM Online staff Jan 23, 2014

Benefits remain a critical element of the employee experience, and the vast majority of workers agree that they are just as important as their salary. But according to the 2013 Mercer Workplace Survey of 1,506 U.S. retirement plan participants who also receive health benefits, the perceived value of benefits is eroding among workers in the wake of steadily higher out-of-pocket health care expenses. The falloff is most pronounced for workers under age 50, among whom 30 percent say benefits are “definitely worth it”—down from 45 percent who said so in 2011.

“Workers in smaller organizations of 500 or less employees are likelier than those in large firms of 2,000 or more to report that their health benefits were scaled back,” said Rich VanThournout, relationship management leader for Mercer’s benefits administration business. “This reflects efforts by smaller businesses to control health benefit costs by increasing the deductibles and co-pay amounts of health plans.”

Still, “our survey shows that employees are satisfied with the quality and accessibility of benefits information,” VanThournout added. “And thanks to continued efforts by employers and their benefits administrators, workers are finding it easier to manage and understand their health plan choices.”

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