Only 52 percent of American households had retirement accounts in 2016, which, according to the Federal Reserve, did not change significantly compared to 2010, when that number was 50 percent. The racial differences in account ownership are particularly pronounced: 58 percent of white households had retirement accounts in 2016, compared with only 33.6 percent of black households and 27.8 percent of Latino households.
The federal government's efforts to increase the availability of pension accounts failed over the decade. During the Obama administration, Congress refused to adopt a mandatory automatic registration system for the IA that President Barack Obama had proposed for workers who had no access to work plans. since then, 10 states have adopted similar plans and launched several.
The increases in households with company pension schemes were substantial. According to Vanguard, the average account balance increased by 22 percent from 2006 to 2018.
With the widespread acceptance of automatic registration functions by plan sponsors, more employees contribute to plans. Equally important was a significant shift towards the use of target futures funds that enable a higher level of professional management by automating asset allocation between stocks and fixed income securities and adjusting the mix to approach retirement. Last year, 52 percent of participants used a target date fund, after 13 percent in 2008, according to Vanguard – a number that the company expects to reach 70 percent in 2023.
Health insurance: "How do we pay?"
Workers who lost their jobs in the recession often lost not only their income but also their health insurance. Older unemployed people who were not yet eligible for Medicare were exposed to the individual insurance market. Because of the likelihood of existing conditions, they paid much higher premiums – and higher deductibles – if they found cover at all.
But the adoption of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 changed that, and the number of older Americans without Medicare health insurance has fallen over the decade.
This year, 9.4 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 were uninsured, down from 14 percent in 2010, the Commonwealth Fund said. The decline would have been much greater if, according to the Commonwealth, 14 states had not refused Medicaid's expansion – in states that expanded, the rate for this age group fell to 6.4 percent.