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Most Americans Overestimate Their Benefits Knowledge

Open enrollment is well underway and Americans are approaching it very differently than in years past. For instance, more than half of working Americans said they are likely to make benefits changes as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and nearly half (44%) are likely to make changes as a result of the presidential election.

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These were some of the key findings from Guardian’s “9th Annual Workplace Benefits Study” also aimed to understand where gaps were with overall benefits knowledge.

Working Americans were given a true and false quiz to test their knowledge around insurance benefits. Results showed that the average score in 2020 was a grade of C-minus and of those respondents who scored a grade D or lower, 60% had given themselves a high rating on their benefits knowledge.

“This year’s pandemic has underscored how important it is for employees to understand their benefits, especially non-medical benefits that can help cover for unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses,” said Michael Estep, Vice President Group Products, Guardian Life. “Whether it’s life insurance or hospital indemnity insurance, employees are looking for simple communications that explain what they are, why they matter, and how they can help meet their financial need.”

Workplace benefits continue to be a safety net for many working Americans, according to the survey. For example, 52% of workers said they would face financial hardship without their workplace benefits. If faced with an emergency medical bill, one-third said they would pay with a credit card, and about one in five would take out a bank loan, home equity loan, or borrow from their retirement plan or children’s college savings.

Additional findings from Guardians’ research were:

  • 67% said they would not be able to afford benefits if they did not get them through their employer.
  • Four in 10 workers said their medical plan is not enough to cover the cost of a major medical event.
  • Two in five workers report that their annual deductible is $2,500 or more, with roughly half saying they would need to borrow money to pay for an unexpected medical expense.
  • Two in three workers want more personalized, targeted benefits communications.

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