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Don't touch our benefits! Americans prefer jail to losing job perks Posted: February 20th, 2013

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Jail might not be so bad after all. At least that's the consensus of individuals polled by Ask.com about their workplace benefits. Most say they would rather spend a night in jail than lose perks such as health insurance coverage.

Health insurance named top benefit

The poll found virtually all American workers consider job benefits and perks when deciding whether to remain in their current position or accept a new job. In its report 2012 State of the Workplace: Benefits and Perks, Ask.com reveals 95 percent of respondents indicate perks and benefits are important when making employment decisions.

At the top of the list of coveted benefits is health insurance coverage. Of those polled, 77 percent say medical insurance is the benefit that most impacts their choice of employment. The report notes those without children are actually more likely to value health insurance than those with children, with 80 percent and 70 percent saying, respectively, it is one of their most important workplace benefits.

Other benefits cited as important by a majority of the poll respondents include the following perks:

  • Retirement/401(k) matching: 69 percent
  • Paid time off: 66 percent
  • Life insurance: 54 percent

An easy commute or close proximity to transportation was also cited by nearly half of the poll respondents as an important perk. Meanwhile, stock options, tuition assistance, unlimited time off, telecommuting opportunities and an on-site fitness center or gym were also mentioned by a third or more of respondents.

Worth a night in jail

Americans value their workplace benefits and perks so much that they would be willing to spend a night in jail to preserve them. Ask.com found 60 percent of all workers would take a night in the slammer rather than lose benefits.

Men were more likely to pick the jail option with 64 percent saying their benefits were worth a night in jail. Of women, 56 percent picked a night in jail over losing benefits.

Workers may find their medical insurance benefits are even more important in the future once the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been fully implemented. In 2014, the health reform law will require almost every resident in the country to maintain health insurance coverage.

While the government plans to make affordable health insurance available through state-run marketplaces called exchanges, workers may find the easiest way to meet the new insurance mandate is through coverage provided by their employer.