More than twice as many companies are now offering workplace financial wellness programs as compared to four years ago, according to a report from Bank of America.

This year, 53% of companies reported offering some form of financial wellness program to their employees, according to the 2019 Workplace Benefits Report, an annual study from Bank of America released on Thursday, up from 24% in 2015.

Yet the proportion of workers who report feeling financially well is declining – in this year’s study, 55% of the employees responding rated their own financial wellness as good or excellent, down from 61% in 2018. Positive financial wellness ratings correlate with employees who are able to track their expenses, pay their bills, save for goals and remain on-track for funding their retirement.

Bank of America reports a gender financial wellness gap -- while 65% of men reported feeling financially well, only 43% of women felt the same. This correlates to a wide gap in retirement savings: on average, women have saved just $30,000 for their retirement compared to $100,000 for men in the survey.

The report’s authors also asked employees about how they’re handling health care issues – on average, the employees in the study were spending $7,685 on health care annually, with most of that amount, $5,547, going to health insurance premiums.

The rising costs of are causing employees to make poor health decisions, according to the report. For example, 32% of employees have skipped medical appointments due to costs, 21% skipped tests or procedures, 14% skipped the purchase of medications, 10% skipped a hospital stay, 7% skipped enrolling for insurance coverage and 4% skipped the purchase of medical supplies. All told, 53% of the employee respondents skipped one or more of these activities to cut costs.

There’s a serious disconnect between employees and employers surrounding caregiving, according to Bank of America, which says that employers may be underestimating caregiving’s impact employee financial wellness. Nearly half of the employees surveyed, 45%, reported that they perform caregiving duties for a family member -- and 62% of those engaged in caregiving don’t believe that their employer knows about it.

While 88% of the employers in the study reported offering some form of caregiving resources,  71% of the employee respondents reported being aware of these benefits, and just 34% of the caregivers in the report were taking advantage of the resources.

Caregivers in the study reported missing an average of 12 hours of work per month due to their caregiving responsibilities.

When asked to prioritize which attributes in an employer financial wellness program were most important, the most common answer was professional financial advice, followed by information on topics beyond 401(k) education.

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