On the Job

Want More Health Plan Choices? It'll Cost You ...<@VM>... But That May Be Good If You Tire of That Tattoo

Most workers want more employer-sponsored health benefits and are willing to pay for them, according to a study of 255 large employers and 10,000 employees by Watson Wyatt & Co., a Washington-based human resources consulting firm.

Fifty-five percent of employees said they want greater choice in medical plans, and most said they would pay more for fewer restrictions. Fifty-four percent said they prefer paying larger co-payments instead of larger premiums.

"Allowing employees to choose from a variety of health plans is associated with employee satisfaction," said Steve Richter, co-author of the study. "But employers will need to carefully consider the various implications of expanding employee choice."

Only 15 percent of employers said increasing health plan choices is a high priority. Eighty-three percent said adding options would increase their administrative burden; 75 percent said it would reduce negotiating power with health plans. Seventy-nine percent said it would increase employee confusion, while half said it would improve employee satisfaction.A survey of more than 500 readers of career Web site Vault.com of New York found 52 percent of employees and 46 percent of employers have tattoos or body piercings in places other than their ears.

The survey found that 28 percent of employees have one piercing in a place other than an ear, 13 percent have two and 8 percent have three or more. Forty-five percent of respondents said they have two or more tattoos, most commonly on the arm, back, leg and shoulder. Sixty-nine percent of managers and 67 percent of non-managers said they hide their body art while on the job.

Despite the proliferation of body art, 42 percent of employers said their opinion of an employee would be lowered by visible markings. However, half said they would not be swayed to think better or worse.

Seventy-seven percent said their opinions would be unaffected by concealed body markings; 15 percent said they would think less of an employee they knew had covered up body art.

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