Since the start of the COVID pandemic, there has been plenty of talk about taking employee benefits packages above and beyond health insurance and 401k plans to boost recruitment and retention efforts. But a new survey from CNBC and SurveyMonkey points us back to where we were pre-COVID: health insurance rules the day.
It is clear that employees still want health insurance. More importantly, the poll shows that they want it fully covered by their employers. Few companies offer the perk for obvious reasons. Yet the data suggests that giving employees health insurance they do not have to pay a dime toward is a big winner.
More About the Survey
The survey polled employees of all generations regarding a variety of workplace issues. Benefits packages were just one topic. Employees were asked about health insurance, retirement plans, gym memberships, and even free food. Interestingly, younger workers did not place as much emphasis on health insurance as their older counterparts.
Nonetheless, 51% of the surveyed employees ranked fully paid health insurance as number one on their benefits wish lists. They even said they would be willing to forgo other benefits to not have to pay anything toward their health plans.
Retirement plans took second place on the wish list at 37%. Some 27% said they would appreciate some sort of gym or health facility benefit while 26% reported being big fans of free food.
Affording Healthcare Expenses
The survey dug a little deeper to determine how well employees are faring in terms of affording their healthcare expenses. The good news is that, among all workers surveyed, roughly 75% report being able to cover their healthcare needs without a significant financial burden. But when accounting only for low-income workers, the number drops to 50%.
Even if an employer cannot afford to fully cover the cost of health insurance for its employees, absorbing as much of the cost as possible can be a big help. Fortunately, this is something we have seen quite a bit in the turnaround from 2023 to 2024. Heading into this year, employers were trending toward absorbing premium increases as much as possible so as to not have to pass them on to employees.
What It Means to Recruitment and Retention
So what does all of this mean to employee recruitment and retention? It means that health insurance has retaken its place at center stage. Retirement plans are still important. Voluntary benefits can be an immense help in terms of customization. But at the end of the day, employees worry about covering healthcare costs. They see ever increasing health insurance premiums and it scares them.
Employers should be going to their insurance brokers and asking for more options. Likewise, brokers should be working through general agencies that give them access to more carriers and products. BenefitMall is one such brokerage general agency. They represent more than a hundred carriers nationwide.
More carriers equal more products. More products equal more choices for brokers. In the end, this means more opportunities to find health insurance plans than actually appeal to employers.
Forever a Wish List Item?
The previously mentioned survey verifies what should be common sense: employees want as much help as possible paying for health insurance. But knowing what we know about the insurance industry, is it reasonable to believe that fully paid health insurance will forever remain a wish list item?
Covering health insurance entirely is a noble thing if a company can afford it. But with fewer companies doing it with every passing year, it’s hard to imagine fully paid health insurance being checked off the wish list.