Why a Job Without Health Insurance Terrifies Many

When job seekers evaluate job offers and opportunities, they look at more than just the hourly wage or base salary. According to a new survey from Express Employment Professionals, the vast majority-91%-consider health insurance and other benefits a “deciding factor.”

Express surveyed 672 job seekers and posed the question, “Are employer-provided benefits and/or health insurance a deciding factor in your decision to work for a company?”

  • Ninety-one percent said, “Yes, it is a deciding factor.”
  • Nine percent said, “No, it is not a deciding factor.

Express also asked about the effect of losing such benefits. Respondents were asked, “Would you continue working at your company if benefits and/or health insurance were not provided?”

  • Seventy-seven percent said “no.”
  • Twenty-three percent said “yes.”

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Current U.S. federal law requires companies with more than 50 full-time employees to offer health insurance to those employees, though some health care reform proposals and litigation in recent years have sought to end or invalidate that requirement. Other proposals have sought to supplant employer-based insurance with government-provided coverage.

Express franchise owners emphasize that in the current market, job seekers can afford to be picky about benefits.

“It’s still a job candidate’s market, and savvy businesses realize that they will need to offer a strong benefits package to attract and retain top talent,” said Terri Greeno, an Express franchise owner in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

Still, entry-level employees are less likely to consider health insurance a deciding factor.

“Professional candidates are usually much more interested in benefits than the average worker and not just healthcare,” Greeno added. “They’re interested in paid time off, 401(k) plans, flexible work environments, and a wide variety of other benefits.”

David Robb, director of marketing at the Express franchise in Grand Rapids, Michigan, agrees.

“The importance of benefits really depends on the level of the position and candidate,” he said. “For many industrial positions, the candidates are mostly focused on the pay rate, a $0.50 pay bump is more important to them than benefits. Typically, non-management candidates in the industrial sector are more concerned about the amount of money being taken out of their check for benefits than they are about the type of benefits.”

The rising cost of health insurance does put pressure on employers, and more of those costs could be passed on to employees if the trend continues.

“As the cost of health care continues to climb, I would expect companies would try to pass on more of that cost to their employees, or perhaps provide coverage that might not be as robust,” Greeno explained.

Yvonne Rockwell, an Express franchise owner in Santa Clarita, California, says that employer-provided health insurance is becoming a “must-have” for employers to attract top talent. But she says she can see with the escalation in health care costs that employee contributions will need to rise to offset the increases.

Health care is not the only benefit that’s becoming a must-have, said West Omaha, Nebraska, Express franchise owner Bernie Inbody. Employees are also relying on “tuition reimbursement to help with upskilling or reskilling.”

Employer-provided health insurance takes on an even greater importance-and can be a source of anxiety-when the employee is providing it for the whole family.

“Carrying the health benefits for the family is incredibly scary, and a job candidate would likely pass on an offer that doesn’t include a comprehensive package,” Greeno said.

In Canada, Express franchise owners expressed similar views.

“There’s no question that employees and job seekers value employer-provided health care benefits,” according to Bruce Hein, an Express franchise owner in Sarnia, Ontario. “It is significantly harder to attract the right candidates if a strong medical benefits package is not on offer. To many, it matters just as much as salary.”

“Even though Canada has a taxpayer-funded health care system, it does not cover essentials like prescription drugs, dental care, or vision care,” Hein added. “These things can add up fast and are difficult to afford if you don’t have benefits covering some of the costs.”

But health care is not the only benefit that’s becoming a must-have, according to Hein.

“Aside from health benefits, flex time and working remotely are probably the most talked about perks right now,” Hein said. “Time off has also become a key component in the negotiation process. Candidates, especially those with families, will often go where there is the most vacation time, sick time or personal days.”

Employer-provided health care is a critical factor in the job search, agrees Bill Stoller, CEO of Express.

“For workers with families, the fear of not having health care is real,” he said. “In such a tight labor market, very few workers are willing to leave their health care up to chance. And as long as we continue seeing a tight labor market, the level of benefits that employees expect-and can demand-will continue to rise.”

The survey of 672 job seekers and decision makers was conducted in September 2019 through the Express Job Journey and Refresh Leadership blogs.

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