In many cases, savings for retirement decreases as employees spend more to cover health care costs, according to a recent study of workplace savings conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The study shows that 80 percent of those surveyed have experienced an increase in health care costs over the last two years. As a result, 56 percent of those people are saving less for retirement, according to the 2013 Workplace Benefits Report, which examines the 401(k) and health savings accounts and retirement planning of 1,014 employees from companies of all sizes.
Health savings accounts are becoming the norm, according to the survey, which found that 76 percent of employees say their employer now offers a health savings account. Thirty-eight percent of those that are offered a health savings account participate in the plan.
Forty-seven percent of those who participate in a health savings account started doing so because of rising health care costs, the survey says. Health savings accounts grew to $15.5 billion as of the end of 2012 and are projected to reach $26 billion by 2015, Bank of America says.
To better judge the state of employees’ financial lives, Bank of America developed a 10-point scale that takes into consideration a person’s household finances, workplace benefits and financial behavior. Using this measurement, Bank of America found 65 percent of the employees received a score of four or less, making them financially unwell. Only 11 percent achieved a score of eight or higher, making them financially well.
More than half of the employees (58 percent) are seeking advice across all aspects of their financial lives and 51 percent say they would like employers to provide access to one-on-one assistance from a financial professional. This was followed by a desire for online assistance, financial seminars, and research and literature.
Retirement savings is a problem for many employees, with 85 percent saying they are not saving enough and 60 percent believing it will be very difficult to ever save enough to support their standard of living during retirement.
This lack of confidence may be one of the reasons why 78 percent see themselves working into their late 60s or 70s, up from 72 percent one year ago, says Bank of America.
The study found that the majority of people (71 percent) believe their workplace retirement savings plan will be their largest or second-largest source of retirement income, followed by Social Security and other savings and investments.
Two-thirds (66 percent) of employees contribute 5 percent or more of their salary to a 401(k) plan. Among employees who are within five years of retirement more than half (56 percent) contribute at least 10 percent of their salary to their 401(k), and 29 percent contribute 15 percent or more to their 401(k). Among those under the age of 30 saving in a 401(k) plan, 55 percent contribute 5 percent or more of their salary and just 8 percent contribute less than 3 percent.