Americans still want their health plans to be more flexible, but they are unwilling to pay more for that flexibility.

Researchers at the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago, have published that finding in Health Affairs, a health care administration journal.

“Overall, Americans seem to be looking for a better deal, [but] there is little evidence of self-sacrifice,” said Daniel Gaylin, an author of the NORC article. “They want employers and the government to do more to help pay for coverage but they still want the right to choose from different policies.”

Authors of another article in the latest issue of Health Affairs, which focuses on the private health insurance market, report that only about 25% of private-sector employees worked at companies that offered retiree health benefits in 2003, down from 32% in 1997.

Although a high percentage of government employers still offer retiree health benefits, those benefits are also under pressure, according Thomas Buchmiller of the University of Michigan and other study authors.

Researchers at Yale University and Harvard University note in another article in Health Affairs that Americans who still have employer-based health coverage are getting to be older and wealthier than the general population.

The aging of commercial group plan members will “make it harder for health insurers to pool risks, since fewer younger people with lower health costs are covered by these plans,” the researchers write.