While majority of workers currently satisfied with benefits, fears of future affordability rise

The majority of U.S. workers (66 percent) are satisfied with their current health care coverage, but are concerned about the future affordability of those benefits, according to a recent survey from Mercer. The Inside Employees’ Minds survey found that only 41 percent of workers see health care as affordable five years from now compared with 62 percent today. And more workers say they are concerned about the cost of health care in retirement—32 percent today are concerned about this, up from 24 percent five years ago.

“Employees of all types continue to value benefits, with nine in ten saying they are just as important as getting paid,” said Gillian Printon, senior partner in Mercer’s health and benefits business. “This is remarkable despite a marked shift toward greater cost sharing with employees and a perception that benefits are less robust today than in the past. Combined with younger generations seeking more flexible offerings, this study suggests we have an increasingly benefit-savvy working population that is accepting shared accountability but with grave concerns over affordability in just a few short years.”

Multi-generational workforce. Workers ages 34 and younger are demanding more flexibility in the benefits delivered by employers, with 70 percent of that group saying they would like to reduce the value of some benefits while increasing the value of others. They also rank retirement benefits ahead of low health care costs, Mercer found.

“The multi-generational workforce of today is forcing employers to carefully assess the health, wealth and career elements that make up their overall rewards strategy,” said Ilene Siscovick, partner in Mercer’s talent business. “With 63 percent of all employees saying benefits are a major factor in choosing to work where they do, employers need to rethink and reshape their value propositions in a way that reflects the evolving workforce composition.”

SOURCE: Mercer press release, November 5, 2015.

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