NEW YORK — Nearly one in seven Americans have absolutely no plan for their future financial and health care needs, according to a recent study of 2,000 working Americans. In fact, only 26 percent have a one-to-four-year financial plan in place. Another seven in 10 have grossly underestimated the amount of money they think the average retirement-aged couple needs for health expenses.
Although nearly three in five respondents are using a 401(k) retirement account and 31 percent are leveraging a health savings account, nearly three-quarters admit they had no clue how any of these accounts worked when they got their first job.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bend Financial, the study also discovered that nearly 40 percent of respondents believe they weren’t well-informed about health benefits at their first professional job and were left to research the benefits offered on their own. Moreover, more than half the poll felt overwhelmed by the mountain of paperwork surrounding their benefit options.
Roughly three in five have also felt stuck in a job, but not always for obvious reasons. While nearly half feared they wouldn’t be able to find a similar or better salary, 41 percent admitted being afraid of losing their benefits — much more than those who feared their skills weren’t transferable to another job (22%).
Respondents also noted a number of changes that could have been made to improve the role they felt stuck in. While a better salary ranks as the top perk for 64 percent of Americans, half would have preferred better health benefits — more than those who mentioned a better work/life balance (46%) and tuition assistance (25%).
Confusion over health savings accounts
To better understand health benefits, most respondents consulted their parents (43%) and co-workers (42%), while only 31 percent reached out to HR representatives. Of the 871 who knew what an HDHP and HSA are, more than one in five incorrectly stated that HSAs don’t stay with you if you lose your job/insurance coverage. Of those currently utilizing an HSA, 62 percent cited lack of HSA information and knowledge as the biggest challenge they faced when opening and beginning to use their account.
“Forty-six percent of respondents who were offered an HDHP/HSA option chose to stick with a traditional health plan because they didn’t receive enough information on what HDHPs and HSAs are and how they work,” Torre adds. “With employees continuing to shoulder more of the costs surrounding their health care, employers and HSA providers need to work together to provide clear, comprehensive educational tools and resources to help employees feel confident in making the best benefit choices.”