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April 16, 2009
When Employers Drop Benefits, Which Are First to Go?
A new survey report reveals surprisingly good news about employee benefits—the vast majority of more than 1,000 employers said they were retaining benefits offered to their employees. Of the small percentage that reported they had dropped a benefit, the type most often eliminated was 401(k) plans.

LIMRA International found that only 2% of the small, mid-size and large employers it surveyed in December 2008 and January 2009 had dropped a group insurance, health care or retirement benefit within the last 12 months.

LIMRA reports that of employers who dropped a benefit, the 401(k) plan was most likely to be eliminated—by 25%, followed by life insurance (11%) and medical insurance (nearly 10%). Smaller companies (those with less than 100 employees) were less likely to have cut benefits than their larger counterparts.

In terms of future plans, 5% of employers with 401(k) matches planned to cut or suspend their matching contributions in the next 12 months. And just 3% planned to drop a group insurance or healthcare benefit, according to LIMRA.

“At a time when companies are looking for ways to cut costs and save money, we were surprised that more than 95 percent of employers said they plan to continue to provide the same group, health and retirement benefits to their employees over the next 12 months,” Jennifer Parmelee Witt, assistant research director, LIMRA Group Product Research, said in a press release announcing the survey report. “Employees have come to rely solely on their company-sponsored benefits to provide for the health and retirement needs as there is less public assistance available. Employers understand this and are committed to sustaining them.”

A bit of more good news from the report: 8% employers said they were planning to add a benefit this year—the benefits most often mentioned as under consideration were were dental, vision and short- and long-term disability.

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