EBRI Issue Brief

Questions & Answers on Employee Benefit Issues

Jun 1, 1994 36  pages


  • This Issue Brief addresses 19 topics in the areas of pensions, health insurance, and other benefits. In addition to the topics listed below, the report includes data on the prevalence of benefits, tax incentives associated with benefits, lump-sum distributions, number of private pension plans, pension coverage rates, 401(k) plans, employer spending on group health insurance, self-insured health plans, employer initiatives to reduce health care costs, and employers' response to the retiree health benefits accounting rule, and flexible benefits plans.
  • In 1992, U.S. employers (public and private) spent $629 billion for noncash benefits, representing nearly 18 percent of total compensation, excluding paid time off.
  • In 1992, 71 percent of the 50.1 million individuals aged 55 and over received retirement benefits, including distributions from private and public pensions, annuities, individual retirement accounts, Keoghs, 401(k)s, and Social Security.
  • Among the 76 percent of all private pension plan participants who participated in a single plan, 30 percent named a defined benefit plan as their pension plan type, 58 percent named a defined contribution plan as their pension plan type, and 12 percent did not know their plan type.
  • Private and public pension funds held more than $4.6 trillion in assets at the end of 1993. The 1993 year-end assets are more than triple the asset level of 1983 (nominal terms).
  • According to the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. expenditures on health care were expected to have reached $898 billion in 1993, up from $751.8 billion in 1991, an increase of 19.4 percent in nominal terms. Health care spending accounted for 13.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1991, is estimated to have reached 14.3 percent of GDP in 1993, and is projected to rise to 15.4 percent by 1995.
  • In 1992, 182.3 million persons under age 65 had health insurance coverage, while 38.5 million people—or about 17.4 percent of the nonelderly population—received neither private health insurance nor publicly financed health coverage./li>
  • In 1991, 43 percent of full-time employees of medium and large private establishments with group health insurance coverage had a promise of employer-financed retiree health coverage before age 65, and 41 percent had a promise of such coverage at age 65.
  • As of December 1992, 2.93 million individuals had purchased long-term care insurance from 135 insurers. This compares with 815 thousand policies sold as of 1987.
  • In 1991, 39 percent of all full-time employees in medium and large private establishments were eligible for maternity leave, and 27 percent were eligible for paternity leave.