The most surprising finding from the new survey was that 43% of retirees responded their employers had taken no steps at all to help them understand and manage the cost of retiree medical benefits before they retired, and only 9% of employers admitted that they had offered no assistance.
The TW employer survey was conducted September 2014, and 144 human resources execs at both large and midsize employers that offer retiree medical benefits responded. Towers Watson also surveyed 3,384 retirees aged 65 and older who formerly worked at similar large and midsize employers in March of this year.
More on benefit expectation gap for retirees
The TW survey also showed that 34% of retirees said their employers communicated with them about the out-of-pocket costs of their medical coverage (costs not covered by an employer subsidy), versus the more than half (53%) of employers that said they did so.
Furthermore, a mere 19% of retirees replied that they were offered financial planning resources and decision-support tools to assist them in understanding the role of medical coverage in the retirement planning process, compared to 41% of employers that said they did provide planning resources.
“These results show a significant mismatch between what employers told us and what retirees said they experienced in preparation for health care costs, which are a significant retirement expense,” John Barkett, a director for Towers Watson’s Individual Exchange line of business, commented about the survey results. “While the difference in employers’ and retirees’ opinions may be closing slightly, it’s evident that employers can do a better job of educating employees about retiree medical costs and benefit options as well as explaining more clearly the support retirees can expect with benefits after they’ve stopped working.”
ValueWalk also reported earlier this week on another Towers Watson employer survey, this one focusing on the general dissatisfaction with employee performance management programs today.