BLR News


Domestic Partnerships, Healthcare Costs Changing Benefits Landscape

Old Saybrook, CT - January 2005 - The benefits world is changing. Domestic partnership benefits are more common. Employee healthcare deductibles are rising. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are more popular. And do you remember sign-on bonuses? They're gone., where compensation professionals go for reliable compensation data, conducted its annual Survey of Employee Benefits in late 2004. The Business & Legal Reports website surveyed over 3,000 U.S. employers on employee benefit practices; from health care and paid-time off programs to leaves of absence.

"There are a number of startling changes in this year's results," commented Susan Schoenfeld, BLR's senior compensation editor. "One of the most interesting is the increase of the number of companies offering domestic partnership benefits - only 13% of employers offered such benefits in 2003; in 2005 this figure increases to 19% for exempt employees," she added. Domestic partnership benefits are offered to attract talent, for fairness, and local law. Healthcare insurance and leave benefits are most commonly offered.

Healthcare Deductibles Increasing

Schoenfeld pointed out the newest healthcare cost management strategy: "Employers are starting to combine health deductibles with Health Savings Accounts to reduce healthcare costs." Employers with an employee deductible of more than $1,000 increased from 18% in 2004 to 27% in 2005, as employers hope employees will take more responsibility for their own healthcare, make fewer doctor visits, and help monitor costs. HSAs help employees manage these increased deductibles through a tax-exempt trust or custodial account.

Kiss that Porsche Goodbye

Remember those Porsches given away to lure new IT hires during the dot-com days?'s 2005 Survey of Employee Benefits shows that sign-on bonuses to new IT employees have run out of gas - companies offering them declined from 15% in 2003 to 3% in 2005. The drop comes as IT jobs have been outsourced to other countries and the market has softened. Sign-on bonuses for other job categories have also disappeared.

Executive Summary

Employers may obtain a free Executive Summary of BLR's 2005 Employee Benefits Survey at

Old Saybrook, Conn.-based Business & Legal Reports, Inc. has published plain-English HR and compensation compliance and training materials since 1977. Contact BLR: 800-727-5257 or

BLR: Susan Schoenfeld
860-510-0100 Ext 2182