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New EBN-Genworth Survey Counters Perception That Small Businesses Are Eliminating Benefits for Employees Due to Economic Pressures
Medical Coverage Still a Benefits Staple for Small Employers; Four out of Five Businesses Still Offer 401K Match

RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In contrast to reports that small businesses are discontinuing or paring medical benefits options for employees, small and midsize employers remain strong believers in employee benefits and anticipate maintaining or expanding their offerings in the next two years, according to joint research by Employee Benefit News magazine and Genworth Financial (NYSE: GNW - ).

The 2004 EBN-Genworth "Small to Midsize Employer Benefit Survey" is the first comprehensive study of the attitudes, plans and purchasing practices of small to mid-sized businesses in America as they relate to employee benefits. The survey polled more than 500 benefits decision makers at firms with 10 to 500 employees who visited http://BenefitNews.com between April and July this year.

The all-new research aimed at America's small businesses found that 99% of the employers surveyed offer a medical plan to their employees. Twelve percent of the firms surveyed actually give employees a choice of more than one medical insurance company as their provider.

"The study delivered a surprising burst of good news within a still-uncertain economic landscape," said Rone Baldwin, president of Genworth Financial's Employee Benefits Group. "Employers continue to be committed to offering a wide range of benefits to employees. However, employers are looking for ways to more closely manage benefit costs -- without discontinuing quality benefits packages for valued employees."

Other key findings of the EBN-Genworth Survey Include:

  • The average premium percentage small business employees must bear for medical coverage is 19% for single coverage, and 39% for family coverage. Ninety-nine percent of small and midsized businesses offer medical coverage to employees.

  • Some benefits costs are being shifted to small business employees -- over half of the firms surveyed are now offering some form of "voluntary benefits" (or benefits fully paid by employees) or are "very interested " in them for the future.

  • Eighty-three percent of small businesses offer a company match toward 401K retirement plans.

  • More than 80% of businesses surveyed offer life, disability and retirement benefits.

"The fact that life, disability and retirement benefits remain widely offered by small to mid-sized businesses is further evidence of an impressively strong commitment to offer a broad spectrum of benefits-in spite of other competitive business pressures and generally rising benefits costs," Baldwin added.

For additional coverage of the survey findings, visit EBN's Web site, http://www.benefitnews.com/.

To view a detailed summary of the survey's key findings, visit http://www.genworth.com.

About Genworth Financial

Genworth Financial is a leading insurance holding company, serving the lifestyle protection, retirement income, investment and mortgage insurance needs of more than 15 million customers with operations in 20 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K. and more than a dozen European countries. For more information, visit http://www.genworth.com.

About Employee Benefit News

Employee Benefit News, the leading magazine in its field, is mailed 15 times annually to 60,000 senior executives who are responsible for employee benefit purchasing decisions in their organizations. It is part of Thomson Media's Employee Benefits Group, which includes Employee Benefit News Canada and Employee Benefit Adviser, as well as the electronic newsletters Connect and Adviser. For information, visit http://www.benefitnews.com.

Contact Information:
Media: Neal McGarity, 203-708-3460
Neal.McGarity@genworth.com