Most U.S. employers say they are trying to keep existing employee benefits, and some hope to add new benefits.

Researchers at LIMRA International, Windsor, have reported that finding in a summary of results from a survey of 1,000 employers of all sizes conducted in December 2008 and January 2009.

More than 95% of the participating employers said they intend to continue to provide the same health and retirement benefits for their employees over the next 12 months, LIMRA researchers report.

Only 2% of the participants said their companies had dropped health coverage, retirement benefits or other retirement benefits within the past 12 months.

Only 3% said they plan to drop health benefits or other group insurance benefits in the next 12 months.

When the researchers asked the employers that had dropped benefits about their decisions, 25% said they had eliminated 401(k) plans, 11% said they had eliminated life insurance, and about 10% said they had eliminated health coverage.

Only 5% of the employers with 401(k) plans said they had cut or suspended matching contributions.

The benefits that employers said they are most likely to cut in the next 12 months are life insurance, short-term disability insurance, long-term disability insurance and medical insurance.

About 8% of the participating employers said they plan to add a benefit this year, and many of those employers are thinking about adding dental, vision or disability benefits, the LIMRA researchers report.

Although the employers are not eliminating benefits, the researchers found that more are sharing the cost with employees, or asking employees to pay the full premium for some benefits, the researchers report.