“Self-Insured Health Plans: State Variation and Recent Trends by Firm Size, 1996-2013,” and “Auto-IRAs: How Much Would They Increase the Probability of 'Successful' Retirements and Decrease Retirement Deficits? Preliminary Evidence from EBRI’s Retirement Security Projection Model®”

June 2015, Vol. 36, No. 6
Paperback, 32 pp.
PDF, 1,461 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2015

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Executive Summary

Self-Insured Health Plans: State Variation and Recent Trends by Firm Size, 1996?2013



  • Federal law provides the legal framework for the uniform provision of benefits by multistate employers to self-insure (or directly fund health care expenses of workers) in order to offer consistent health benefits across states, which results in ease of administration and lower expenses. Self-insured plan sponsors are also not required to cover health care services for state-mandated benefits. In contrast, fully insured plans—plans offered by employers where a premium is paid to an insurance company—are required to cover state-mandated benefits.
  • This analysis finds that the percentage of workers in self-insured plans has been increasing. In 2013, 58.2 percent of workers with health coverage were in self-insured plans, up from 40.9 percent in 1998. Large employers (with 1,000 or more workers) have driven the upward trend in overall self-insurance.
  • There is concern that passage of PPACA will result in an increasing number of smaller employers offering self-insured plans. However, as of 2013, there is no evidence that smaller firms were increasingly self-insuring their health plans.

Auto-IRAs: How Much Would They Increase the Probability of “Successful” Retirements and Decrease Retirement Deficits? Preliminary Evidence from EBRI’s Retirement Security Projection Model®



  • This study analyzes the potential of a generic auto-IRA proposal to increase the probability of a “successful” retirement and decrease retirement deficits.
  • Assuming no opt outs, this analysis finds that the introduction of an auto-IRA for households currently ages 35?39 working for small employers, would increase the probability of a “successful” retirement (as measured by the Retirement Readiness Ratings, or RRR) by 8.4 percent, declining as employer size increases. Even in the worst-case scenario (75 percent opt out) there was an increase in RRR, albeit only 2.2 percent for those working for small employers and 1.1 percent for those with large employers.
  • Among all families where the head is ages 35–64, the aggregate national retirement deficit (in 2014 dollars) decreases from $4.13 trillion without auto-IRAs to $3.86 trillion (or a 6.5 percent decrease) with auto-IRAs and no opt outs. As opt-out rates rise, there is progressively less reduction in the aggregate deficits; at a 75 percent opt-out rate, the aggregate deficit is $4.06 trillion (only a 1.7 percent decrease).