Some big benefits buyers would like to see Congress combine all tax-advantaged health savings arrangements into a single “401-H” system that would give employees incentives to save for post-retirement health care needs.

Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, Washington, discussed the 401-H proposal here today while discussing the results of a nationwide survey of 1,619 Americans who work for large U.S. employers.

The majority of the workers said they are satisfied with their health care benefits, and few expressed any interest in buying health coverage on their own.

Few employees are interested in reducing health benefits to increase other benefits, such as retirement benefits, Darling said.

“Overall, no aspect of a job is more important to workers of large companies than having good benefits,” Darling said. “Our survey results clearly show that the benefit most important for most workers is the health plan.”

But few workers understand how much they will be paying for post-retirement health care, Darling said.

Although health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements and flexible spending accounts are all good, “it is essential for Americans to start putting money aside for their post-retirement health care costs, and it makes no sense to have all these different accounts,” Darling said.

Like 401(k) plans, 401-H plans could be portable and tax-advantaged, Darling said.

Also at the NBGH press conference:

- NBGH Chairman Harry Spencer said business groups have told President Bush that his proposal to cap deductibility of group health costs at $15,000 per couple is a “non-starter.”

- Employees show some support for charging smokers extra for health coverage, but 51% oppose charging obese plan members higher rates.