Views on Health Coverage and Retirement: Findings from the 2012 Health Confidence Survey,®

Tax Preferences and Mandates: Is the Danish Savings Experience Applicable to the United States?

January 2013, Vol. 34, No. 1
Paperback, 16 pp.
PDF, 721 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2013

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Executive Summary

Views on Health Coverage and Retirement: Findings from the 2012 Health Confidence Survey,®



  • More than one-half of Americans (54 percent) reported that access to health insurance in their retirement decision was extremely important, and another 28 percent reported it was very important in 2012.
  • Overall, more than one-half of workers (53 percent) reported that they planned to work longer than they would like in order to continue receiving health insurance through work, although only 19 percent of retirees reported that they had worked longer than they would have liked to in order to continue receiving health insurance through work.
  • In 2003, 15 percent of workers reported that they would retire earlier than planned if they were guaranteed access to health insurance, but by 2012, 27 percent reported that they would retire earlier than planned under that condition.

Tax Preferences and Mandates: Is the Danish Savings Experience Applicable to the United States?



  • In an environment where lawmakers are struggling to raise tax revenue, public-policy tax “expenditures” have come under heavy scrutiny—in particular, tax preferences to boost retirement savings in employer- provided retirement plans.
  • A recent study based on data from Denmark has called into question the usefulness of such retirement tax expenditures in boosting real savings.
  • The study of Danish workers explored only the impact that changes in tax incentives for work place retirement plans might have on worker savings behaviors; of critical importance, it did not explore how employers might respond to changes in retirement savings tax incentives. Evidence suggests U.S. employers would react negatively to a loss of tax incentives by reducing or ending their retirement plans.
  • While the study of Danish savings behaviors presented the impact of tax-incentives and the “nudges” of automatic mandatory savings as an “either/or” solution, the optimal solution—certainly for a voluntary system such as the one currently in place in the U.S.—may well be a combination of the two.