EBRI Notes

"Employment-Based Health Promotion and Wellness Programs" and "Retirement Annuity and Employment-Based Pension Income"

Jul 1, 2001 16  pages


Employment-Based Health Promotion and Wellness Programs—Employment-based programs are designed to promote health and prevent disease. This article assesses health promotion objectives, plan prevalence, and effectiveness, as well as recently released regulations that will affect many of these programs.

Work site health promotion and wellness plans' objectives include improving and sustaining employees' health, increasing worker productivity, recruiting and retaining good employees, improving employee morale, reducing absenteeism due to illness, and reducing health care costs. The major lifestyle behaviors targeted by health promotion programs include smoking, nutrition, exercise, and stress. In 1997, 36 percent of full-time employees in medium and large establishments were eligible for wellness plans, and 21 percent were eligible for subsidized exercise facilities or fitness centers.

Retirement Annuity and Employment-Based Pension Income—Data from the March 2000 Census Population Survey show that gender, marital status, age, education, and income have a significant impact on the likelihood of an individual receiving a retirement annuity and/or employment-based pension payment in retirement. There also appears to be a strong correlation between these same variables and the amount of pension income received from employment-based retirement plans. An important consideration in the debate is that the reliance of individual accounts on the stock market adds a new element of uncertainty to already uncertain projections of the Social Security program's future benefits and actuarial balance. For proposals such as those of Gregg/Breaux and Kolbe/Stenholm, this increased uncertainty relates to future individual account benefits. For a proposal like that of Archer/Shaw, which guarantees current-law benefits, it affects the program's actuarial balance.