• Survey: Employees Frustrated With Lower Quality, Higher Cost Health Care Benefits

    Health care costs have been skyrocketing for both businesses and employees for years, but a new survey has found that workers aren’t happy with their employers cutting back on health care benefits.

    The survey of over 5,000 full-time workers nationwide, released Tuesday by consulting firm Towers Watson, found that not only are employees unhappy with companies scrimping on their health care plans, they’re also increasingly upset with the growing costs they absorb themselves.

    The percentage of employees who are satisfied with their employer-provided health care benefits has fallen from 69 percent in 2007 to 59 percent in 2013.

    But while dissatisfaction with the quality of health care benefits is growing, so is unrest over growing costs. Only 38 percent of workers were satisfied with their share of their health care costs in 2013, compared to 53 percent in 2007.

    There are few palatable solutions to the problem for employers. Just 34 percent of employees would be willing to give up some amount of pay for more predictable health care benefits — in 2010, 42 percent were willing to do so.

    And just 27 percent want more withheld from their paychecks each moth for better health benefits.

    Employees may not have much of a choice in several years, however. Though Obamacare’s employer mandate is has been delayed for all companies until 2015 and for mid-sized companies until 2016 amid pusback from businesses predicting job losses, if the mandate does go into action employees should expect wage cuts, at least.

    “Rising medical costs have prompted employers to shift a larger share of health care costs to workers, many of whom are already feeling financially stressed from the recession and benefit cutbacks, said David Speir, a senior consultant at Towers Watson. “While employees rely on and value their health care benefits, they are clearly not happy about their health care costs.”

    Towers Watson’s results are valid through 2013, before most Obamacare regulations became active. Now that most portions of the health care law are active, both the cost of health care is escalating for both employers and employees.

    A Monday survey of health care benefits managers from PlanSource found 60 percent of health care benefits managers expect Obamacare to hike employers’ health care costs even further. (RELATED: Survey: 60 Percent Of Health Care Benefits Managers Expect Obamacare To Increase Costs)

    Employers are being required to provide more employees with more inclusive health care plans due to Obamacare regulations mandating minimum essential health benefits. But at the same time, medical companies and insurers are being hit with billions in taxes to pay for the costly health care law.

    The cost crunch is forcing many insurers to create much narrower networks of medical providers covered by their health care plans, potentially contributing to workers’ perception of lower-quality health care benefits.

    Meanwhile, insurance premiums are rising at the sharpest level seen in years.

    Now many workers have shifted their focus to retirement benefits instead. Workers’ willingness to sacrifice more for health care may have fallen in the past several years, but a 62 percent majority of those surveyed would give up pay for a new guaranteed retirement benefits.

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