Friday, June 15, 2012

Employee benefits increase for Idahoans

Report shows jump in employers offering medical coverage

Express Staff Writer

A report by the Idaho Department of Labor released earlier this month showed that more Idaho employers are offering medical and dental benefits to full-time employees, ending a decline that began in 2005.

According to the report, in 2010, 56 percent of Idaho employers offered medical insurance to full-time employees. In contrast, 66 percent of employers offered those same benefits in 2011.

Only 11 percent of employers surveyed said they offered individual medical coverage to part-time employees. And while 61 percent of employers offered family medical coverage to full-time employees as well, only 10 percent said part-time employees were offered family benefits.

The report stated that the public administration industry—including government jobs—were statistically the most likely to offer both single and family medical and dental coverage.

In 2011, 97 percent of employers in this industry offered single medical insurance, 94 percent offered family coverage, 88 percent offered single dental and 88 percent offered family dental.

However, being offered family benefits does not mean that the employee takes advantage. Seventy-eight percent of employees surveyed said they take advantage of their individual medical benefits, but only 42 percent said they enrolled in their company's family benefits plan.

That's is a sharp decline from past years, and the study attributes it to a corresponding drop in the portion of medical and dental premiums that employers were willing to pay.

In 2011, employers paid an average of 84 percent of the individual medical premiums for full-time employees and 39 percent of family premiums.

Employers in the public administration industry paid an average of 99 percent of an employee's individual medical premium, and correspondingly had the highest enrollment, at 95 percent.

These employers also paid an average of 51 percent of employees' family benefits, in which 43 percent of employees chose to enroll.

Slightly more than half of Idaho employers reported offering some retirement package to full-time employees—whether a defined contribution, a defined benefit or both—compared with 21 percent that offered retirement benefits to part-time employees.

Forty-six percent of employers offered no retirement benefits to full-time employees, and 79 percent said they did not offer such benefits to part-time workers.

The Department of Labor selected 1,933 employers to participate in the 2011 Idaho Fringe Benefits Survey. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Benefits studied included health and dental insurance coverage, paid leave including vacation, sick time, undesignated leave and holidays and retirement plans.

Katherine Wutz:

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