Labor Events and Resources Blog

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Retirement And Medical Benefits: Who Has Both?

Beyond the Numbers, April 2013, vol. 2, no. 10



Retirement And Medical Benefits: Who Has Both?

By Lindsay B. Kimbro and Michelle B. Mayfield


[full-text, 8 pages]


Employee compensation packages commonly include both wages and benefits. For decades, employee benefits have been used as part of the total compensation package to attract and retain highly qualified workers. Just as workers in various occupations receive different levels of pay, they also receive access to different types and combinations of employee benefits.1 This article uses March 2012 National Compensation Survey (NCS) data to examine private industry workers’ access to medical benefits, retirement benefits, and combinations of the two benefits, by major occupation group, wage category, part-time and full-time status, union and nonunion status, and establishment size.2 The study finds notable differences in the patterns of access to medical and retirement benefits—separately, and in combination—among the various worker groups.


Throughout this analysis, each worker characteristic (wage category, establishment size, etc.) is treated independently. Of course, the workers who make up these data points do not fall neatly into one category; in reality, there is considerable overlap, which adds complexity to the overall picture. Since 1980, the NCS and its predecessor the Employee Benefit Survey (EBS) have published data on the incidence of specific types of employee benefits and many provisions of employer-provided retirement and health plans. In 2009, the NCS published for the first time estimates on the incidence of combinations of benefits among various groups of workers.3 Although the provisions, and value, of the plans themselves can vary widely among these categories of workers, the combined benefits incidence data provide greater insight into the benefits package that workers actually receive than the incidence of specific benefits alone. Major benefits such as medical insurance and retirement plans are not always offered together or to the same workers.


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