Workers Like Their Benefits, Are Confident of Future Availability, But Dissatisfied With the Health Care System and Pessimistic About Future Access and Affordability,

October 2016, Vol. 37, No. 11
Paperback, 12 pp.
PDF, 1,589 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2016

Download Notes PDF pdf

Executive Summary

The EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey (WBS) examines a broad spectrum of health care issues, including workers’ satisfaction with health care today, their confidence in the health care system and the Medicare program, and their attitudes toward benefits in the workplace. It is co-sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald & Associates with support from eight private organizations.


The 2016 survey was conducted online June 16-23, 2016, using the Research Now consumer panel. A total of 1,500 workers in the United States ages 21-64 participated in the survey. The data have been weighted by gender, age, and education to reflect the actual proportions in the employed population.


This EBRI Notes article identifies the key findings of the 2016 survey:



  • Health Care System: Workers generally are not satisfied with the health care system overall.


o When asked to rate the U.S. health care system overall, many workers describe it as poor (27 per-cent) or fair (33 percent) and only a small minority rate it as excellent (3 percent) or very good (12 percent).


o Dissatisfaction with the health care system is focused primarily on cost: Just 17 percent are extremely or very satisfied with the cost of their health insurance plan, and only 15 percent are satisfied with the costs of health care services not covered by insurance.



  • Their Own Health Care: Workers tend to be more favorable about their own health plans than they are about the health care system overall.


o One-half of those with health insurance coverage are extremely or very satisfied with their coverage, while only 12 percent are not satisfied with their current health plan.


o Forty-five percent of workers say they are extremely or very satisfied with the quality of the medical care they have received in the past two years, 33 percent are somewhat satisfied, and 15 percent are not too (9 percent) or not at all (6 percent) satisfied.



  • Effects of Cost Increases: One-half of all workers report having experienced a health care cost increase in the past year, down from 61 percent in 2013.


o Those experiencing an increase report they are changing the way they use the health care system, such as trying to take better care of themselves, choosing generic drugs, or delaying going to the doctor.


o Of the workers reporting cost increases in their plans in the past year, 28 percent state they have decreased their contributions to retirement plans, and one-half (48 percent) have decreased their contributions to other savings as a result.



  • Future of Health Care: Workers tend to be confident that their employers and unions will continue to offer health coverage, but they are generally pessimistic about the future.


o Twenty-five percent of workers report that they are extremely confident their employers or unions will continue to offer health coverage in the future, 38 percent are very confident, and 28 percent are somewhat confident.


o While 48 percent of workers indicate they are extremely or very confident about their ability to get the treatments they need today, only 34 percent are confident about their ability to get needed treatments during the next 10 years, and just 29 percent are confident about this once they are eligible for Medicare.


o Forty-two percent are confident they have enough choices about who provides their medical care today, but only 31 percent are confident about this aspect of the health care system over the next 10 years, and just 26 percent are confident that they will have enough choices once they are eligible for Medicare.


o Thirty-two percent of workers say they are confident that they are able to afford health care without financial hardship today, but this percentage decreases to 25 percent both when they look out over the next 10 years and when they consider the Medicare years.