Access to Benefits Lower for Small Businesses

July 17, 2012 ( - Access to employer-provided benefits was greater in medium and large private industry establishments than in small establishments in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Access, or availability of a benefit, was 57% for medical care benefits in small establishments (those with fewer than 100 employees), compared with 89% in large establishments (those with 500 employees or more). In private industry, retirement benefits were available to 50% of workers in small establishments, 79% of workers in medium-size establishments (those employing between 100 and 499 workers), and 86% of workers in large establishments.  

Employee and employer shares of medical premiums did not vary significantly by establishment size for single coverage, but did for family coverage. On average, small establishments assumed 63% of the cost of family coverage, whereas large establishments paid for 77% of the cost of family medical plans.  

Participation and take-up rates were typically higher in state and local government than in private industry. For example, 84% of state and local government workers participated in retirement benefits, compared with 48% of private industry workers. For retirement benefits, the take-up rate was 95% for state and local government workers, compared with only 75% for private industry workers. Employees were considered participating in a plan if they paid any required contributions and fulfilled any applicable service requirements. Take-up rates are the percentage of workers with access to a plan that participate in the plan.    

State and local government employers paid a greater share of medical premiums than private industry employers.  For single coverage, 87% of the total premium was assumed by employers in state and local governments, compared with 79% in private industry. For family premiums, the corresponding figures were 71% and 68%, respectively.   

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