Category Archives: Benefits

Changes in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: 2001 to 2005

Source: Lisa Clemans-Cope, Bowen Garrett, Urban Institute, February 26, 2008

From the abstract:
This issue brief focuses on how employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) coverage has changed among employees. It begins with a brief description of major forces driving ESI: changes in the workforce and the rising costs of health insurance over the four year period. Next, it examines the decline in ESI among employees and the underlying reasons determining whether an employee has ESI, specifically: employer sponsorship of ESI, employee eligibility, employee participation, and employee participation in ESI available through another family member’s job. The issue brief concludes by examining how the reasons for the decline in ESI varied across different groups of employees.

EEOC and Retiree Health Benefits

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

From the press release:
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)…announced the publication of a final rule allowing employers that provide retiree health benefits to continue the longstanding practice of coordinating those benefits with Medicare (or comparable state health benefits) without violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The regulation, which safeguards retiree health benefits, was published in the December 26, 2007 Federal Register.

Final Rule: Age Discrimination in Employment Act; Retiree Health Benefits, Federal Register Notice, December 26, 2007

Questions & Answers about the EEOC’s Retiree Health Rule

Comparing Employer-Provided Medical Care Benefits for Lower and Higher Wage Full-Time Workers

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

According to a new report, higher wage workers are considerably more likely to have access to employer-provided medical plans and to participate in such plans when they are offered to them. Higher wage workers also pay a smaller portion of their health insurance premiums than do lower wage workers.

Private Pensions: Low Defined Contribution Plan Savings May Pose Challenges to Retirement Security, Especially for Many Low-Income Workers

Source: Government Accountability Office

Over the last 25 years, pension coverage has shifted primarily from “traditional” defined benefit (DB) plans, in which workers accrue benefits based on years of service and earnings, toward defined contribution (DC) plans, in which participants accumulate retirement balances in individual accounts. DC plans provide greater portability of benefits, but shift the responsibility of saving for retirement from employers to employees. This report addresses the following issues: (1) What percentage of workers participate in DC plans, and how much have they saved in them? (2) How much are workers likely to have saved in DC plans over their careers and to what degree do key individual decisions and plan features affect plan saving? (3) What options have been recently proposed to increase DC plan coverage, participation, and savings? GAO analyzed data from the Federal Reserve Board’s 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), the latest available, utilized a computer simulation model to project DC plan balances at retirement, reviewed academic studies, and interviewed experts.

Full report

2007-08 Holiday Season Shows Employers Demonstrating Unprecedented Generosity to Workers in the Form of Parties and Paid Leave, While External Charitable Giving Drops

Source: BNA

Employers are expressing gratitude in the form of more holiday parties and paid leave, while participation in charitable activities has dropped substantially from 2006 and 2005. Gift items are becoming rare, as cash and bonuses have replaced the traditional holiday turkey.

For more than two decades, BNA’s Year-End Holiday Practices Survey has offered an annual snapshot of companies’ plans for marking the year’s end and recognizing employees’ contributions with benefits like paid time off, special holiday work schedules, holiday parties and celebrations, employee gifts and bonuses, and holiday charity. This year’s results are based on the responses of human resources executives representing 210 U.S. employers.

Survey highlights include:
* Companywide holiday parties are enjoying unprecedented popularity and employer spending appears to be rising. Two-thirds of employers will sponsor a holiday party, tying the record set last year. Most employers will pay the full cost of these parties without contributions from workers.
* Fewer employers will be participating in charitable activities. Fifty-eight percent of all employers plan to be involved in community activities, such as toy, food or clothing drives. This continues a trend that saw a drop from 72 percent in 2004 and 2005 to 66 percent in 2006.

Decline in Employer Sponsored Health Insurance Traced to New Small-Business Owners

Source: National Federation of Independent Business

From press release:
The primary reason for the decline in the number of small businesses providing health insurance appears to be that owners of new firms are reluctant to introduce health benefits, according to a National Federation of Independent Business Small-Business Poll released today. The poll on purchasing health insurance found that 52 percent of small-business owners do not offer either employee health insurance or an insurance purchase subsidy.

Excluding those who switch insurers or go out of business, very few small employers drop health insurance benefits all together, about 1 – 2 percent of the population annually.

For the 47 percent of small employers who do offer some type of employee health benefit, 36 percent offer insurance to all or most full-time employees, 5 percent offer insurance to some or a few full-time employees, and 6 percent offer premium reimbursement to employees who purchase health insurance on their own.

Purchasing Health Insurance – NFIB National Small-Business Poll (PDF; 452 KB)

Co-pays and Coinsurance Percentages for an Office Visit to a Physician for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance in the Private Sector, by Firm Size Classification, 2002-2005

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

In recent years, premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance have risen dramatically. However, premium costs are only one of several factors that determine costs of health care for enrollees. Other factors, such as whether an enrollee has a co-pay and the size of co-pays and coinsurance percentages, also contribute to differences in cost of care.

This Statistical Brief examines what percentage of enrollees had a co-pay and the amount of such co-pays and coinsurance percentages. Using private sector estimates from the Insurance Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, data for 2002 are compared to those for 2005. Estimates for small firms (fewer than 50 employees) and large firms (50 or more employees) are analyzed.

+ Full Document (PDF; 90 KB)

Deductibles for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance in the Private Sector, by Firm Size Classification, 2002-2005

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

In recent years, premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance have risen dramatically. However, premium costs are only one of several factors that determine costs of health care for enrollees. Other factors, such as whether an enrollee has a deductible and its amount, also contribute to differences in cost of care.

This Statistical Brief examines what percentage of enrollees had a deductible and the amount of such deductibles. Using private sector estimates from the Insurance Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, data for 2002 are compared to those for 2005. Estimates for small firms (fewer than 50 employees) and large firms (50 or more employees) are analyzed.

+ Full Document (PDF; 196 KB)

Dept. of Labor Launches New Website on Retirement Laws

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today announced a new interactive Web tool to serve as a resource for employers in complying with federal employee benefit laws. The ERISA Fiduciary Advisor is designed to help employers and others who provide services to private sector retirement plans understand their responsibilities. The advisor provides an overview of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), including the most common mistakes EBSA finds in its investigations, and provides links to additional information as well as tools to assist plan officials. Strong fiduciary oversight and compliance assistance are both high priorities for EBSA.

Family Values at Work: It’s About Time! Why We Need Minimum Standards to Ensure a Family-Friendly Workplace

Source: Multistate Working Families Consortium

“Family Values at Work” documents the consequences on workers, families, businesses and the nation when family values end at the workplace door. The document details the wrenching stories of workers suffering from the lack of family-friendly work rules, summarizes key research, and lays out a policy agenda modest compared to that of other advanced nations yet urgently needed by U.S. workers and their families. These policies include a minimum number of paid sick days for routine illnesses as well as a family leave insurance fund to provide income during longer-term leaves for a new baby or serious health condition.

The report is being released by the MultiState Working Families Consortium, a network of state coalitions working for policies that value families. Joining them are ten national organizations, including 9to5, National Association of Working Women, ACORN, the AFL-CIO, Moms Rising, and Service Employees International Union. Together these groups and others are building a movement to win changes at the local, state and national level. Funding for the report was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.