Majority Of Employees Concerned About Covering Out-Of-Pocket Medical Costs

Concerns about health care costs are impacting both employees and employers: 61 percent of employees are worried about having enough money to meet out-of-pocket medical costs that are not covered by health insurance and employers are facing tighter benefits budgets, with 50 percent of surveyed employers stating that cost-sharing with employees is an important benefits strategy, according to recent research from MetLife. The 11th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends noted that these concerns are creating a delicate balancing act for employers—how to meet employees’ protection needs while keeping benefits costs down and maintaining loyalty.

One strategy is to offer employees voluntary benefits to help employees with unplanned medical costs. “As they continue to recover from the recession, employees are looking to employers to provide a stronger and wider safety net,” said Michael Fradkin, senior vice president of voluntary and worksite benefits at MetLife. “In fact, according to the MetLife Study, 58 percent of employees who are very concerned that their employer will no longer offer medical insurance strongly agree that voluntary supplemental benefits are important for managing their health care costs.”

However, while the number of companies stating that a voluntary benefits strategy is important has grown from 32 percent in 2010 to 58 percent in 2012, employers may be concerned about the effect of benefits cost-sharing on employee loyalty. According to MetLife, 47 percent of employee respondents report feeling very loyal to their company and 34 percent of employees strongly agree with the statement, “Having to pay a larger share of my benefits premium costs would make me feel less loyal to my employer.”

“A strategic use of voluntary benefit offerings can actually be a loyalty booster and a smart solution when walking this loyalty and budget tightrope,” said Fradkin. “Smart employers count on the importance of benefits for their employees and build on the fact that employees place even greater value on having benefits that meet their individual needs. According to the study, 77 percent of workers say that they value a variety of benefits to choose from as well as more personalized options.”

This gives employers an opportunity to strategically and cost-effectively expand their benefits portfolio by adding voluntary health benefits without concern about a negative impact on loyalty. Sixty-one percent of employees said that having a choice of benefits that lets them customize a benefits program to meet their needs would increase their loyalty to their employer.

The study contains responses from 1,503 employer interviews and 1,422 employee interviews. For more information, visit http://www.metlife.com.

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