EBRI Issue Brief

Questions and Answers on Employee Benefit Issues

Oct 1, 1991 34  pages


  • Total participation in private pension plans grew to 78.2 million in 1987, up 1.5 million from the prior year. Since 1975, pension plan participation has experienced a net increase of 33.7 million.
  • Defined benefit plans as a percentage of all private pension plans have fallen from 33.2 percent in 1975 to 19.3 percent in 1988. At the same time, there has been an increase in the percentage of defined contribution plans from 66.8 percent to 80.7 percent.
  • Private and public pension funds held more than $2.9 trillion in assets at the end of 1990, with an increase of $17 billion from year-end 1989. The 1990 year-end assets are more than double the asset level of 1982.
  • In 1989, almost 180 million persons under age 65 had health insurance coverage, while 34.4 million people—or about 16 percent of the nonelderly population—received neither private health insurance nor publicly financed health coverage. Most of the uninsured were working adults (54.6 percent), while the remainder were nonworking adults (16.7 percent) or children (28.7 percent).
  • U.S. expenditures on health care totaled $666.2 billion in 1990, up from $602.8 billion in 1989, accounting for 12.2 percent of Gross National Product (GNP) in 1990. The federal government projects that spending will reach 16.4 percent of GNP in 2000.
  • Employer outlays for group health insurance as a proportion of total compensation have increased since 1980, most recently edging up from 4.3 percent in 1985 to 4.7 percent in 1989.