Views on Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2012 Health Confidence Survey

Employee Tenure Trends, 1983–2012

December 2012, Vol. 33, No. 12
Paperback, 24 pp.
PDF, 1,221 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2012

Download Notes PDF pdf

Executive Summary

Views on Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2012 Health Confidence Survey



  • Enactment of PPACA has raised questions about whether employers will continue to offer health coverage to their workers in the future. Yet the importance of benefits as a criterion in choosing a job remains high, and health insurance in particular continues to be, by far, the most important employee benefit to workers.
  • The 2012 EBRI/MGA Health Confidence Survey (HCS) finds most Americans are satisfied with the health benefits they have now and prefer not to change the mix of benefits and wages. Three-quarters (73 percent) report that they are satisfied with the health benefits they currently receive while 15 percent say they would trade wages to get more health benefits, and 9 percent say they would surrender health benefits for higher wages.
  • Choice of health plans is important to workers, and they would like more choices, but most workers expressed confidence that their employers or unions have selected the best available health plan. Moreover, they are not as confident in their ability to choose the best available plan if their employers or unions did, in fact, stop offering coverage.
  • If current tax preferences were to change, and employment-based coverage became taxable, 39 percent of individuals say they would continue with their current level of coverage, compared with 29 percent who indicated that preference in 2011.

Employee Tenure Trends, 1983–2012



  • The most recent U.S. Census Bureau data show that the overall median tenure of workers—the midpoint of wage and salary workers’ length of employment in their current jobs—was slightly higher in 2012, at 5.4 years, compared with 5.0 years in 1983.
  • However, the median tenure for male wage and salary workers was lower in 2012 at 5.5 years, compared with 5.9 years in 1983. In contrast, the median tenure for female wage and salary workers increased from 4.2 years in 1983 to 5.4 years in 2012. Consequently, the increase in the median tenure of female workers more than offsets the decline in the median tenure of male workers, leaving the overall level slightly higher.
  • The data on employee tenure—the amount of time an individual has been with his or her current employer—show that career jobs never existed for most workers and have continued not to exist for most workers. These tenure results indicate that, historically, most workers have repeatedly changed jobs during their working careers, and all evidence suggests that they will continue to do so in the future.