In response to a new American Payroll Association survey showing 43% of employees valuing health benefits more important than higher wages, Dan Maddux, the group’s executive director has suggested that employees consider pretax voluntary payroll deductions and flexible spending accounts to ease the sting of rising health care costs and uncertainty about health care reform.

The Getting Paid In America survey of more than 31,000 U.S. adults, which was released during National Payroll Week to mark the most recent Labor Day, also found that about two-thirds of the respondents live paycheck to paycheck and most misperceive the cost of health care.

With regard to the latter finding, which could artificially inflate the value of health insurance relative to a pay increase, 67% of those polled thought health care costs increased in the 7% to 9% range last year, whereas research by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Education Trust indicated a 5% rise.

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