Most employees are willing to pay for drug benefits, survey finds – Consortium Health Plans study

Most employees are willing to pay for drug benefits, survey finds – Consortium Health Plans study – Brief Article

James Frederick

ATLANTA — Health benefits are playing an increasingly important role in how employees choose and remain at their work sites and most are now willing to pay extra to hold on to their health plan’s prescription drug benefits.

Those are among the findings of the fourth annual workplace study sponsored by Consortium Health Plans, an alliance of 14 Blue Cross-Blue Shield plans aimed at multi-state employers. The poll, conducted in February, examined the attitudes toward employee health benefits of more than 1,000 adults nationwide and found increasing demand for prescription drug benefits as part of any healthcare insurance package offered by employers.

“Our annual survey findings increasingly affirm that health benefits are key to job satisfaction, both in terms of employment choices and staying with the same company,” said Debra Shepard, vice president of marketing for the consortium. “What is startling to me is the price elasticity with regard to employees being willing to share in paying benefits. Furthermore, quality has emerged as a vital factor. Employees are ready to pay out of their own pockets for continued prescription drug coverage.”

Specifically, more than 80 percent of those surveyed assert that health insurance has become a major factor in their decision to accept or keep a job. Given the choice, 45 percent of employees said they would prefer better health benefits to a pay increase–a rate that jumps to 53 percent for minorities and 54 percent for those over the age of 45.

“One of the key findings of this year’s survey shows that there is now price flexibility,” noted a report from the group. “Members are now willing to pay more for healthcare services, including prescription drug coverage.”

Indeed, 64 percent of the employees questioned expressed a willingness to pay a greater premium to keep their drug coverage. The average amount an employee would pay in addition to their current premium is over $35 a month, according to the report.

On another front, employees want the government to play a role in healthcare reform, the survey indicates, but many are split about prospects for the Bush administration to bring about any significant or meaningful reform. Of those polled, 58 percent said healthcare reform under Bush likely will include drug coverage for seniors under Medicare, while 56 percent feel the administration will reform the system to provide health insurance coverage for children.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Lebhar-Friedman, Inc.

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