[Excerpt] Many employers offer some type of health or retirement package, but their provisions vary considerably from employer to employer. Knowing the details of the types of coverage available affords a better understanding of benefits in the workplace. For example, health plans may be prepaid (health maintenance organizations, or HMOs) or fee for service (such as preferred provider organizations, or PPOs), and may or may not offer dental coverage. Defined contribution plans may be structured around company matches on employer contributions or may consist of non-elective employer contributions alone. The Bureau of Labor Statistics refers to these details as plan provisions.
This Beyond the Numbers article describes the prevalence with which people working for private employers in the United States are given the opportunity to enroll in health and retirement plans with various provisions—the extent to which they have access to those provisions. But note: just because a worker has access to a given plan does not mean that he or she participates in the plan. Once given access, the worker often must affirmatively enroll in the plan in order to be counted as a participant (and to receive and enjoy the plan’s benefits laid out in its provisions). The rate at which workers enroll in plans to which they are given access is known as the takeup rate. Often, the takeup rate for a plan is less than 100 percent, perhaps because enrolling in the plan requires that the worker incur some cost or because the worker also has access to several alternative plans. As a result, the participation rate—the extent to which workers in the economy participate in plans—is often lower than the corresponding access rate. The analysis that follows explores this dynamic by presenting participation and takeup rates for plan provisions alongside the access rates