Are Your Benefits Holding Up?


So-called fringe benefits such as health care and pensions account for perhaps 25% to 35% of a typical employee's total compensation. That's large enough to be important to employees and also to make

benefits a target for corporate cost-cutting. How are your benefits holding up in the current economy?

That's the subject of this Reader Survey, which as always is unscientific, since anyone who wishes to can participate:

Which of these benefits does your employer provide (or do you buy if you're self-employed)? Please check off every one that you have:

Health-care plan

Pension plan

Paid vacation

Paid holidays

Other

My employer provides no benefits

I'm not employed

Don't know

Taking into account the amount you're required to contribute and the breadth of care you get, how would you say your company-provided health plan compares with three years ago? It's:

Much better

Somewhat better

About the same

Somewhat worse

Much worse

My employer doesn't provide health benefits

Not sure

Taking into account the rate at which your nest egg has grown and the amount you think you'll need for retirement, how would you say your company-provided pension plan compares with three years ago? It's:

Much better

Somewhat better

About the same

Somewhat worse

Much worse

My employer doesn't provide pension benefits

Not sure

Regardless of the cost of your health plan, how would you describe the level of care it provides for you and your family?

Much more than adequate

Somewhat more than adequate

Adequate

Somewhat less than adequate

Much less than adequate

My employer doesn't provide health benefits

Not sure

Hospital charges (for operations, for example) are usually the biggest expense covered by a health-care plan. Not counting monthly premiums and co-payments for doctor visits, what's the maximum out-of-pocket amount for hospitalization an employee has to pay under your current health plan?

Zero

Up to $2,000 a year

Up to $4,000 a year

Up to $6,000 a year

More than $6,000 a year

My employer doesn't provide health benefits

Not sure

Based on your recent experience, do you think that three years from now your health plan will be:

Much better

Somewhat better

About the same

Somewhat worse

Much worse

Not sure

When employers raise employee costs for health care, they often say one goal is to dissuade employees from going to the doctor or the hospital more often than they need to. Over the past five years, how often would you say you or members of your familly have made doctor or hospital visits that weren't absolutely necessary?

Very often

Somewhat often

Neither more nor less often

Rarely

Never

Not sure

Who or what do think is most responsible for causing health-care costs to rise much faster than the overall rate of inflation? (Choose as many as you feel are responsible):

The aging of the population

Excessive doctor fees

Ineffective hospital cost-management

Excessive drug prices

Excessive health-care use by patients

Lack of federal pressure to keep costs under control

Other

Not sure

How would you describe the amount of income your pension plan or individual retirement account is likely to provide once you reach retirement age?

Much more than adequate

Somewhat more than adequate

Adequate

Somewhat less than adequate

Inadequate

My employer doesn't provide a pension plan

Not sure

What percentage of your gross income do you contribute each year to your pension plan?

Zero

Less than 5%

5% to 10%

11% to 15%

16% to 20%

More than 20%

Not sure

Based on your recent experience, do you think that three years from now the amount you'll have for retirement will be:

Much higher

Somewhat higher

About the same

Somewhat lower

Much lower

Not sure

Who or what do you think is most responsible for the fact that the amount of money your pension plan isn't growing faster? (Choose as many as you feel are responsible):

Yourself, for investing that money too conservatively

The economy

The markets

Employers, for switching employees to 401(k) plans rather than guaranteeing pension benefits

Federal law, for allowing companies too much leeway to change plans

Not sure

Given your current assessment of how adequate your pension is likely to be, what do you plan to do when you reach retirement age?

Quit working

Work part-time

Work full-time at a different occupation

I don't plan to retire

I don't have a pension plan

Don't know

Assuming that you have the money to do so, how willing would you be to contribute more to your pension plan now in order to be able to retire earlier?

Very willing

Somewhat willing

Neither more nor less willing

Somewhat unwilling

Not willing at all

I don't have the money to do so

I don't have a pension plan

Don't know

Once companies start to hire again, how likely will you be to look for a new job primarily to get better health and pension benefits?

Very likely

Somewhat likely

Neither more nor less likely

Somewhat unlikely

Unlikely

Not sure

If you would like to be notified by e-mail of the results of this poll, please enter your e-mail address:


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