Medical and Retirement Plan Coverage: Exploring the Decline in Recent Years: The Percent of Workers with Employer-Provided Medical Care and Retirement Benefits Declined over the Past Decade; a Variety of Potential Explanations Are Explored

By Wiatrowski, William J. | Monthly Labor Review, August 2004 | Go to article overview

Medical and Retirement Plan Coverage: Exploring the Decline in Recent Years: The Percent of Workers with Employer-Provided Medical Care and Retirement Benefits Declined over the Past Decade; a Variety of Potential Explanations Are Explored


Wiatrowski, William J., Monthly Labor Review


Between 1992-93 and 2003, the percentage of private sector workers participating in employer-provided medical care plans steadily declined. Medical care covered 63 percent of workers in 1992-93, compared with 45 percent in 2003. (1) There were less dramatic declines in retirement plan coverage; such plans covered 53 percent of workers in 1992-93, compared with 49 percent in 2003. These declines may be the result of shifts in the composition of the labor force, changes in employer decisions to offer coverage or employee decisions to choose coverage, or some combination of these and other factors. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey, this analysis begins to quantify how some of these factors affect the overall decline in benefits coverage. This is just a first step, however; further analysis planned by BLS is identified at the end of this article. (See exhibit 1 for a discussion of benefit measurement issues.)

Medical care coverage declined for various populations within private industry. Among full-time workers, there was a 17-percentage point decline in medical care coverage over the decade, from 73 percent in 1993-94 to 56 percent in 2003. Part-time workers rarely have medical care coverage, thus there was little change in the percent of part-time workers covered. (See table 1.)

While overall retirement plan coverage declined only slightly over the decade, there was a continuation of the widely reported shift from defined benefit to defined contribution plans. (2) The percent of workers covered by defined benefit plans shows a clear decline--coverage among private industry workers declined by more than one-third over the decade. While such plans are more prevalent among larger employers, coverage has declined in both larger and smaller establishments. At the same time, there have been increases in defined contribution coverage. The net result has been a slight decline in the percent of workers with any retirement coverage as well as a slight decline in those covered by both a defined benefit and a defined contribution plan. The introduction of 401(k) plans in the 1980s led to a period of dual defined benefit and defined contribution plan coverage for many employees. (3) The decline in defined benefit coverage is having the effect of slowly eliminating the occurrence of dual coverage.

Much has been written on trends in employee benefit coverage, and on the data sources that are available to track these trends. Diane Herz, Joseph Meisenheimer, and Harriet Weinstein discuss the two basic sources of data used to measure benefits coverage--data from households and data from employers. (4) Data from households have the advantage of providing good detail on demographics, family income (beyond that from a single employer), and alternative sources of benefit coverage (such as spouse coverage for medical care). Data from employers provide more precise information on the type of plan and details on how the plan works. John Turner, Leslie Muller, and Satyendra Verma look further into definitions of plan participation for defined contribution plans. (5) This work considers a number of variables in arriving at plan participation numbers, including employer sponsorship, job coverage, eligibility, and current contributions. The authors provide a comprehensive analysis of the many alternative questions that need to be considered in counting covered workers. Beth Levin Crimmel analyzes data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component on employer medical care offerings in 2001. (6) Finally, the Employee Benefit Research Institute regularly analyzes the latest benefits coverage data, and has conducted several recent examinations of alternative sources of benefits data. (7) Each of these sources provides background information on the many details involved in tracking benefits coverage.

Causes of declining benefits coverage

Changes in benefit coverage can be the result of many different factors:

* Legal changes, such as the introduction of 401(k) plans, can change the benefit packages available to employees or change the advantages employees can receive from those benefits. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Medical and Retirement Plan Coverage: Exploring the Decline in Recent Years: The Percent of Workers with Employer-Provided Medical Care and Retirement Benefits Declined over the Past Decade; a Variety of Potential Explanations Are Explored
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.