Benefits consulting firm Mercer, a part of publicly-held Marsh MacLennon, surveyed about 1500 employees regarding retirement, health and other benefit issues in 2013 and recently released the findings. (Mercer Survey) One prominent finding is that employees have not expanded their retirement savings, for example, in 401k plans, despite the ongoing economic recovery. The primary reason appears to be concern about health care costs in retirement and the need to save for those expenses. This concern seems particularly acute among workers near retirement age. These works by a very large margin perceive the reform law as worsening their situation.
Most workers anticipate continued economic growth in the coming year and about half expect home values in their area to be higher. The percent of workers considering delaying retirement remains relatively high at 40%, and a fair number of employees are anxious about their job security. The decline in retirement savings intentions, while somewhat surprising, is likely linked to stagnant real personal income growth, but about 34% of all employees now say that saving for health care in retirement is important to them, up from only 17% in 2007, and for people over 50, 45% are focused on retirement health care saving. In fact, the biggest single worry regarding retirement is now cited as health care by 23% of respondents, with general retirement saving close behind at 22% of respondents. When coupled with the 16% who cited long-term care as their major concern, it is apparent that health care is very much on the minds of people near retirement.
Majorities of workers say that the health reform law will make them pay more taxes, pay more for health care and 46% say that it will make their health benefits worse, and 41% believe they will less choice of providers and their quality of care will decline. One none of these issues does even 20% of respondents think improvement will be caused by the law. Most employees are anticipating more health care cost sharing, and 62% say their company is offering a high-deductible plan and 33% are enrolled in one. Most workers continue to say that benefits, and especially health benefits, are very important to them, with 49% saying they strongly agree that health benefits are as important as salary, but they clearly feel that the benefits they have are worsening.