WASHINGTON - Most U.S. workers still have access to health insurance and pension benefits, according to two new reports by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
The percentage of workers whose employers offer health insurance fell slightly between 1988 and 1993, but the percentage of those working for companies offering a retirement plan remained the same. Retirement plan participation and vesting rates also rose during the period.
The two EBRI reports are based on the benefits part of the federal government's April 1993 Current Population Survey. The September 1994 report deals with retirement income benefits, while the August report deals with health benefits.
Among the retirement benefit findings:
The percentage of firms offering employee-sponsored retirement plans held steady at 57% from 1988 to 1993, but participation rose to 44% from 43% and vesting to 38% from 34%.
Thirty-seven percent of workers were at a company that sponsored a salary reduction plan, such as a 401(k), compared with 26.9% in 1988.
Participation in such plans increased to 64.6% compared with 57%, and the percentage of participants who described the plan as their primary retirement vehicle increased to 73.3% compared with 49.1% in 1988.
Last year, 12.4 million workers reported ever receiving a lump-sum distribution from a retirement plan.
The mean amount was $10,795, and the median was $3,507. Among these workers, 41.5% said they used at least some of the payout for tax-qualified saving, and 19% used the entire amount for this purpose.
Findings of the health benefit report included:
Seventy-three percent of civilian workers between the ages of 18 and 64 were employed at a company that offered health insurance, and 58% participated in the health plans.
Almost all (94%) of workers at companies with more than 1,000 employees were offered health benefits, and more than 77% participated in the plan.
At very small firms, however - those with fewer than 100 employees - about one-third of employees worked for firms that offered health benefits, and one-quarter of the employees at these firms participated in the health plans.
Fifteen percent of workers whose employers offered health plans did not participate in them.
More than one-half of these workers chose not to be covered, while 36% either were ineligible or were denied coverage.
16.7 million workers did not have health insurance coverage last year. Of those, 66% were self-employed or worked for firms with fewer than 100 employees.
More than 66% of ineligible workers did not participate in an employer-offered plan because they were part-time, contract, or temporary workers.
Another 26% were still on probation.