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Most employees - both younger and older -believe benefits like medical insurance, defined contribution plans and dental insurance, are important; yet four out of 10 employees lack any knowledge of how much their medical insurance costs. Of the 60 percent of employees who think they know the cost of their medical insurance, just 15 percent were able to provide a reasonable estimate.

“One common employer misconception is that older employees value benefits more than younger employees,” said Anita Potter, assistance vice president, LIMRA group product research. “In fact when it comes to benefits, younger employees value benefits nearly as much as older employees. The different values that employees place on benefits appear to be more a function of life experience rather than life stage, income or education levels.”

In the past, employers felt they needed to provide robust benefits package to attract and retain good employees. The struggling economy with close to nine percent unemployment rate and the rising costs of benefits has many employers choosing to downgrade or eliminate their benefits or shift the costs to their employees. In a 2009 LIMRA study, employers who felt that offering benefits was necessary to attract and retain good employees had declined from 2004 levels.

Sixty-two percent of employees rated benefits (medical, dental, retirement plans) as an important factor when comparing job offers from two separate companies ( chart). However, the study found that in general, employees significantly underestimate the percent of medical premiums their employers covers. Conversely, they also underestimate the percent of premium they pay for many non-medical benefits.

“Overwhelmingly, our research found that employees simply did not know how much their benefits were worth,” noted Potter. “Without understanding the value of their benefits, how are employees making knowledgeable choices about who they work for and the benefits they select?”

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