METLIFE STUDY REVEALS EMPLOYERS OF ALL SIZES CLOSELY FOLLOWING HEALTH CARE REFORM WHILE CONSUMERS’ ATTENTION IS SPLIT ALONG GENERATIONAL LINES
New York, NY, December 28, 2009
Health care legislation continues to be a very hot topic among Americans today. According to new research from MetLife, 75% of individuals and 83% of employers report paying close attention to health care legislation developments. Regardless of company size or whether or not they currently offer medical benefits, eight-in-ten employers say they are on top of the legislation. However, interest is very different among generations as 83% of Baby Boomers and 74% of Generation Y individuals say they are closely following reform developments, compared to 63% of Generation X.
As for where they obtain information about health care reform legislation, consumers and businesses alike turn to traditional media outlets. More than eight-in-ten (85%) individuals and 56% of employers cite traditional media outlets (TV, radio, newspapers and magazines) as preferred sources. However, more than half (57%) of larger employers (500 or more employees) are also turning to their benefits brokers or consultants for information, more so than to business media (42%), general audience media (37%) or industry publications (32%).
“We have seen a great appetite for information on health care reform,” said Ronald Leopold, MD and vice president, U.S. Business, MetLife. “Our study also reveals a tremendous opportunity for insurance brokers and benefits consultants to help better educate their clients. In turn, well-informed employers will be better positioned to share with their employees the implications of health care reform on their personal situations.”
Current Satisfaction Impacts Attitudes Toward Health Care Reform
Not surprisingly, levels of satisfaction with current medical benefits impact Americans’ attitudes toward health care reform. More than six-in-ten (62%) Americans without any medical insurance feel that health care reform will be “good for America,” contrasted with 42% of those with medical insurance. 65% of Generation Y individuals believe that health care reform will impact them favorably, but only 44% are satisfied with their current medical insurance. On the other hand, while only 34% of Boomers believe that health care reform will have a positive impact on them personally, 63% also say they are satisfied with their current medical coverage.
Attitudes toward health care reform also correspond to health status. According to the MetLife study, 65% of consumers who assess their health as fair or poor say that health care reform will have a positive impact on them and their families, contrasted to 28% for those who say their health is very good or excellent.
Employers’ Next Steps
Three-quarters of employers strongly agree that employees consider health insurance a critical component of a compensation package. Virtually all (96%) also say promoting a culture of health and wellness for employees is important. However, many of today’s employers (41%) aren’t sure what they will do regarding medical benefits should legislation pass. Thirty percent of those that do offer medical coverage expect their health benefits to remain unchanged, while 39% of those employers who do not currently offer medical coverage are not anticipating offering that benefit.
While 36% of employers are unsure about what they will do regarding non-medical benefits like life insurance, disability income protection, and dental benefits should legislation pass, 44% of those that offer these benefits anticipate that they will make no changes to them. Only 5% of employers who offer these benefits say they would consider reducing them.
“Effective communications for diverse audiences is a critical component for the success of health care reform. While there is understandably a reason for a ‘wait and see’ approach by employers as the legislation is debated, communicating to employees that their current benefits are not changing in the short-term can be surprisingly reassuring,” continued Dr. Leopold.
The MetLife Study of Employer/Consumer Attitudes on Health Care Reform surveyed employers and working age consumers to assess their attitudes toward potential health care reform legislation. The telephone survey was fielded by GfK Custom Research North America between November 2, 2009 and November 22, 2009. 501 interviews were conducted with benefits decision-makers at companies with ten or more employees, representing a mix of industries and geographic regions, and 701 interviews were conducted with consumers between the ages of 21 and 65.
MetLife is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance, employee benefits and financial services with operations throughout the United States and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife, Inc. reaches more than 70 million customers around the world and MetLife is the largest life insurer in the United States (based on life insurance in-force). The MetLife companies offer life insurance, annuities, auto and home insurance, retail banking and other financial services to individuals, as well as group insurance and retirement & savings products and services to corporations and other institutions. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.