Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Employers Should Stop Penny Pinching on Health Coverage

This post was written by EOI Floyd Jones Fellow Brandon Bannister.

Many millennials – who now constitute the biggest generation in the U.S. with the largest share of the workforce – have enjoyed the benefits of health care through either their employers or their parents, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The desire for health insurance is also at the top of the priority list for job-seekers.

In a recent study of 1,000 millennials, 51 percent of respondents reported ranking classic benefits as essential. When asked if they would rather take a 10 percent raise or health coverage, they chose health care. Further, respondents find health care indispensable. 85 percent of respondents said health care is essential or very important to have, ranking it ahead of home internet, mobile phone data, TV and entertainment.

With the labor market tight now, providing quality health insurance is one way employers can compete for and retain talent. The current Washington State unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, and the present national rate hovers around 4.1 percent.

In a study conducted by America’s Health Insurance Plans of 1,000 U.S. adults receiving health care through their workplace, 56 percent of them stated that the health coverage they received was a key factor in their decision to stay at a workplace.

Studies show the costs employers experience from having unhealthy employees is significantly greater than the cost of providing employees health care (on average 2.3 to 1). With health care premiums projected to rise by 19 percent next year, employees are particularly interested in controlling their own out-of-pocket costs for health care. This is a critical point for employers in the labor market to stand out against their competitors.

When employers provide competitive and affordable health care coverage, everyone wins. Not only are employees healthier and more productive at work, but, employers are cutting costs by getting a more efficient workforce. By keeping their health plans competitive, employers in the labor market attract the talented workers they desire, and employees receive the affordable health care they deserve. While these benefits at times can seem unworthy of a heavy upfront cost for providing the health insurance, it will pay itself off. Lastly, a talented workforce deserves to be compensated for those talents in a fair way, and affordable health insurance that meets there needs is a great way to do it.

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