Forty-three percent of employees think health benefits are moreimportant than higher wages, according to the recent "Getting PaidIn America" survey conducted by the American PayrollAssociation.

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"With the current changes being made to our health care system,it is no surprise that health benefits are top-of-mind for manyAmericans," said Kevin Hill, vice president of insurance operationsfor Paychex. "While the role businesses will play in providinguniversal access to health insurance continues to be defined,business owners need to carefully weigh their options when decidingwhat's best for their workforce and budget, keeping in mind justhow valuable quality health benefits are to employees."

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Employees also perceive the cost of health care is rising fasterthan the actual rate. While the actual increase for 2009 was 5percent, according to the 2009 Employer Health Benefits survey by the Kaiser FamilyFoundation and Health Research & Education Trust, 67 percent ofrespondents guessed 7 percent or 9 percent. This means that, for 67percent of Americans, the perception of health care costs increaseis 40 percent to 80 percent higher than the actual increase.

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"The uncertainty surrounding health care is a big concern foremployees and business alike," said Dan Maddux, executive directorof the American Payroll Association. "As the costs of health carecontinue to rise, employees should consider flexible spending accounts and other pre-tax, voluntary payrolldeductions to ease the burden of these necessary expenses."

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