Here’s some breaking news for you:  Employees still really care about health benefits—apparently now more than ever.

In fact, it’s so important to them employees say (via a Mercer workplace survey) they’re willing to take on higher out-of-pocket costs if it means they get to keep them.

It’s not surprising benefits remain vital to the employee-employer relationship, but it’s a little surprising to learn price—at least in this arena—doesn’t seem to faze workers. This comes at a time when people are cutting costs and the economy’s tanking. Heck, people are out on the streets complaining about being the 99 percent and demanding for—well, that part I’m not really sure about. But they certainly seem upset about it.

In Mercer’s study, nearly eight out of 10 employees say their benefits are one of the reasons they work where they do, and almost as many (76 percent) say benefits make them feel appreciated by their company. And virtually all respondents say getting health benefits through work is just as important as salary.

And I’ll admit, I’m one of ’em. I wouldn’t consider a job that lacked decent health benefits. I’d take a much lower salary simply to get them, and I really wouldn’t question paying more instead of the alternative of losing my benefits entirely.   

Maybe it’s because we’re all finally impressed with our health care options, or at least content with them.

Maybe we’re finally realizing we’re lucky we have a job, and we’re lucky to have health care in general.

But maybe it’s simply because we don’t have much of a choice.

Perhaps contributing to this growing importance of employer-sponsored care is the still uncertain impact of health care reform. The survey suggests some employees believe their employer will make some sort of change due to reform, but the only changes we’ve been reading about is employers will likely drop their coverage if health care reform becomes a reality. So I can’t imagine these employees will be all that thrilled with whatever changes employers make to their plans.

And with news this month of Obama & Co. killing the CLASS Act, a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act they’d been pushing for, I’m curious what’s next. Given this alternative, I’d rather pay more for my employer-sponsored care, too.

I’ve lost my faith in health care reform—and the administration that’s pushing for it. Have you?