The passage of the Affordable Care Act led many experts to question whether employers would continue to offer health insurance to employees. With online exchanges providing easy access to affordable coverage, the reasoning went, companies could get out of the health insurance business altogether.
Yet, employers continue to offer health insurance -- and mostly at levels comparable to before the act was passed in 2010. In part, that's because employers use benefits, generally, as a recruiting and retention tool. As long as workers value health coverage, employers will continue to provide it.
But that could be changing. A recently published survey of 2015 data shows that 1 in 5 (20 percent) workers would be willing to have fewer health care benefits in exchange for higher wages -- double the number who said the same in 2012.
The survey by the Employee Benefit Research Council also showed that trend is expected to continue. Though fully two-thirds (66 percent) of employees expressed satisfaction with the current mix of wages and benefits afforded them, that figure is down from 74 percent just two years ago. That suggests that as Americans become more comfortable purchasing their own policies, more workers will prefer higher wages and fewer health benefits, using the money to purchaser their own coverage.
But a greater percentage of those surveyed in 2015 (50 percent) than in 2014 (47 percent) indicated that they'd stick with the coverage currently provided to them. In fact, fewer respondents in 2015 than in 2011 -- a year after the Affordable Care Act passed -- would prefer to shop for their own insurance.
The results also show that Americans are mostly confident in their ability to compare different plans, should their employer or union stop offering coverage. Further, the percentages of those who felt unconfident about their ability to choose the right plan fell to their lowest levels since 2012. Slightly more than 1 in 9 (12 percent) respondents said they were "not too confident," while just 4 percent said they were "not at all confident" in their ability to compare plans.
Taken as a whole, the results suggest that while Americans are becoming more accustomed to the idea of shopping for and purchasing their own insurance, the vast majority of workers would still prefer to have health insurance provided to them by their employers.
EBRI noted that benefits remain a key factor -- and health insurance in particular -- in a worker's decision to accept a particular position when job searching.