We would like to pose a question to business owners and managers, a question we never would have considered asking prior to the COVID pandemic. But as we know, COVID changed everything. So here’s the question: are traditional health benefits still a top priority for your employees?
The reflexive response would be ‘yes’. But before you answer, consider a number of studies done from mid-2020 onward, studies designed to help employers better understand what it would take to get remote workers to come back to the office. Some of the study data surprised company owners and managers.
Sacrificing Pay to Stay Home
Among the previously mentioned studies is one released in the summer of 2021 clearly demonstrating that employees were willing to give up quite a bit in order to continue working from home. After being home for so long, their priorities had changed.
According to the study, nearly two-thirds of remote workers would be willing to take a 5% pay cut to stay remote. Nearly 25% said they would be willing to take a 15% pay cut while an additional 15% would sacrifice up to 25% of their pay to continue working remotely. Surprised? If so, here are a few more interesting numbers:
- 46% would give up 25% of their paid time off
- 15% would give up all their paid time off
- 39% would trade their health plans for remote work
- 36% would give up their retirement accounts.
Remote work opportunities were so important to the surveyed employees that more than half said they would be willing to work 10 more hours per week as long as they could do so from home.
Questioning the Value of Health Benefits
No doubt the COVID pandemic led to a realignment of priorities among a fairly large number of U.S. workers. The fact that so many people are willing to give up pay and benefits to continue working remotely is proof of that. But let us focus mainly on the health plan aspect for the remainder of this post.
Traditional employer sponsored group health insurance has been a mainstay in this country for decades. As important as it has been to so many workers, why would those same workers be willing to give it up just to stay home?
We do not have any data to support this, but we suspect that plenty of American workers are beginning to question the value of their health benefits. The cheapest traditional plans can cost hundreds of dollars per month and come with significant copays and deductibles. The most expensive plans offer lower copays and deductibles, but they can cost thousands of dollars per month.
To a family just barely making ends meet, it is hard to see value in that. Spending thousands per month can be a hard pill to swallow when you are only using your health plan for annual physicals, well child visits, and routine primary care.
Alternative Plans Are Available
We are by no means suggesting that employers should forego offering health plans to their employees. We are suggesting that there are alternatives. StarMed is a low-cost alternative to traditional medical insurance. Our plan offers three levels of coverage to meet a variety of price points. And we aren’t the only provider in this space.
Traditional health benefits may no longer be a top priority for your employees. They may value other things like remote work, flexible scheduling, and childcare assistance. Is it possible that your employees would rather have a low-cost alternative health plan? We think it is at least worth finding out.