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Employers Shift Funding from Retirement Benefits to Health Care

By Stephen Miller, CEBS  4/18/2014
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Employers in the U.S. report that the need to dedicate more of their benefits budget to health care coverage has reduced the dollars they spend on their retirement plans, according to a new study by the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute (LIMRA SRI), a provider of research for the retirement industry.

Spending on defined contribution and defined benefit retirement plans together declined 7 percentage points since 1990, while employer spending on group health premiums rose 8 percentage points during the same period, according to the firm's analysis of federal data.

Separately, in a LIMRA SRI survey of U.S. employers, 43 percent said the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had affected their current retirement benefits strategy and spending, and 45 percent believed the ACA will change their retirement plans in the future.

Of those who said the ACA has changed their retirement benefits strategy:

  • 55 percent said they are spending less money on retirement benefits and shifting costs to employees.

  • 42 percent said they are spending less time evaluating their retirement benefits.

  • 3 percent reported making other changes.

"The added complexity and costs of health care are definitely taking a toll on employers' ability to manage their retirement savings plans," said Alison Salka, corporate vice president and director at LIMRA SRI, in an e-mail to SHRM Online. "As a result, employers are looking for more support [from their plan administrators] to help them provide a comprehensive retirement savings program for their employees."

The findings, she continued, "underscore the opportunity for plan providers and advisors to help employers better manage the challenges associated with their retirement plans."

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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