What's New

What's New - April 2003

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EBRI Celebrates 25th Anniversary in 2003:  The Employee Benefit Research Institute will celebrate its 25th anniversary on September 19, 2003, at a gala event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.

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As a research site, EBRI Online maintains old listings in the “What’s New” page, even though some of the older links may no longer function.  If you reach a bad link, go back to the main site by deleting everything after “.com” or “.org” or “.net” in the address.  Since we maintain www.ebri.org/ as a research and education resource, and not current news, we hope you will understand our policy and the use for which it is maintained.

What's new at EBRI this month:

Employment-Based Retirement and Pension Plan Participation: Geographic Differences and Trends

Will Today's Workers Retire With Adequate Income? How Are Today's Retirees Surviving From a Financial Perspective?

2003 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS)

OurHealthBenefits.org, the Web site of the Consumer Health Education Council, is redesigned and now features a What’s New? section.

Employee Tenure

New EBRI 401(k) Plan Research: The March 2003 EBRI Issue Brief  "401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2001" examines asset allocation, account balance, and loan activity of a large and representative group of 401(k) plan participants as of year-end 2001 using data gathered by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI) in their collaborative effort known as the EBRI/ICI Participant-Directed Retirement Plan Data Collection Project.

EBRI Testimony:

The Small Employer Health Benefits Survey (SEHBS)

Results of the Massachusetts Future Retirement Income Assessment Project

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EBRI Research Findings for 2002-2003:

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What's new in employee benefits:

  • HR News Online -- a daily update from the Society for Human Resource Management

Health and Welfare

Human Resources

Retirement

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The following items have been added to the General Accounting Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

Reports
Social Security and Minorities: Earnings, Disability Incidence, and Mortality Are Key Factors That Influence Taxes Paid and Benefits Received.  GAO-03-387, April 23, 2003.  Highlights.

Social Security Reform: Information on Using a Voluntary Approach to Individual Accounts.   GAO-03-309, March 10, 2003.  Highlights

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Statutory Limitation on Administrative Expenses Does Not Provide Meaningful Control.  GAO-03-301, February 28, 2003.  Highlights

Retirement Income Data: Improvements Could Better Support Analysis of Future Retirees' Prospects.   GAO-03-337, March 21, 2003.

Unemployment Insurance: States' Use of the 2002 Reed Act Distribution.  GAO-03-496, March 6, 2003.

Correspondence
Retiree Health Benefits at Selected Government Contractors
GAO-03-412R, February 27, 2003.

Testimony
Medicare: Observations on Program Sustainability and Strategies to Control Spending on Any Proposed Drug Benefit, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the House Committee on Ways and Means.  GAO-03-650T, April 9, 2003.  Highlights

Medicare: Financial Challenges and Considerations for Reform, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Joint Economic Committee. GAO-03-577T, April 10, 2003.  Highlights

Military Personnel: Preliminary Observations Related to Income, Benefits, and Employer Support for Reservists During Mobilizations, by Derek B. Stewart, director, defense capabilities and management, before the Subcommittee on Total Force, House Committee on Armed Services.   GAO-03-549T, March 19, 2003.  Highlights

Military Personnel: Preliminary Observations Related to Income, Benefits, and Employer Support for Reservists During Mobilizations, statement for the record by Derek B. Stewart, director, defense capabilities and management, before the Subcommittee on Personnel Senate Committee on Armed Services.  GAO-03-573T, March 19. 2003.  Highlights

        If a title link above no longer works, click here for the Find GAO Reports page and search for the report by report number,  title, abstract, agency/organization names, or subject terms.   Searches for reports can also be conducted in the General Accounting Office (GAO) Reports Online via GPO Access database.

 If your computer does not already have the free Adobe Acrobat viewer software to read PDF files, click here for the one-time download necessary to read PDF publications.

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has established a National Call Center to serve its customers.  By calling 1-866-4-USA-DOL, America's employees and employers can find answers to questions on a range of employment issues.  This toll-free service offers live operator assistance and is a central access point for all DOL services and programs.  It serves both English and Spanish speaking callers.  The Call Center can assist workers and employers with questions about job loss, business closures, pay and leave, workplace injuries, safety and health, pension and health benefits, and reemployment rights for reservists.

 Additional Department of Labor toll-free numbers to call for questions regarding specific issues are listed below:

  •  1-877-US-2JOBS     Job Loss, Layoffs, Business Closures, Unemployment Benefits and Job   Training

  •  1-866-4-US-WAGE     Pay, Overtime, Leave and Child Labor

  •  1-800-321-OSHA     Workplace Safety and Health

  •  1-877-889-5627     TTY number for all Department of Labor Questions

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[4/24/03]  Click here for a “Summary of the [Dick] Gephardt Health Care Plan: Guaranteed Care for All Americans," which purposes to provide universal health care coverage for all Americans.

[4/24/03]  Rep. Peter DeFazio introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives January 28, H.R.396, Emergency Anti-Recession Act of 2003.  Bill Summary & Status information is available.

[4/24/03]  On March 19 Sen. Charles Schumer introduced in the U.S. Senate S.661, Commuter Benefits Equity Act of 2003.  Bill Summary & Status information is available.

[4/24/03]  The United States Supreme Court has agreed to review “General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Dennis Cline, et al.,” Supreme Court Docket No. 02-1080.   This lawsuit involves a case brought by workers between 40 and 50 years of age who lost retirement health benefits during contract negotiations between General Dynamics Land Systems and the United Auto Workers.  The workers claim that this action amounted to a type of reverse age discrimination prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned an earlier ruling by a federal trial judge which dismissed the workers’ claims.

[4/24/03]  The New York State Bar Association sent a January 21 report to the U.S. Treasury Department, the IRS, and congressional tax committees with recommendations for simplifying pension plan treatment in the Internal Revenue Code.  The report is titled Simplification of the Internal Revenue Code: Individual Retirement Arrangements, Qualified Retirement Plans, and Employee Benefits.

[4/24/03]  The Milliman USA Spring 2003 Benefits Perspectives contains the following articles:

  • Web-Based Employee Benefits Applications

  • Data Warehousing for Managing Health Plans

  • The Technology Driving Successful Retirement Plan Outsourcing

[4/24/03]  The Next Generation Health Plan: Not If, But When and How, reprinted from Healthplan, discusses how information technology will drive the achievement of consumer-driven health plans.

[4/18/03]  “The Bridges to Excellence coalition is a not-for-profit organization created to encourage significant leaps in the quality of care by recognizing and rewarding health care providers who demonstrate that they deliver safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable and patient-centered care.  Bridges to Excellence participants include large employers, health plans, the National Committee for Quality Assurance and MEDSTAT, among others.  The organizations are united in their shared goal of improving health care quality through measurement, reporting, rewards and education.”

[4/18/03]  The 2003 Study of 100 Large U.S. Companies with [Defined Benefit] Pension Plans by Milliman USA is available with links to survey materials.

[4/18/03]  Fidelity Investments issued a press release April 9 titled “Fidelity Investments Survey of Customers Shows Strong Support for Bush Plan to End Double Taxation of Dividends,” which includes highlights from an online survey conducted by the Forbes Consulting Group earlier this year.

[4/18/03]  On April 8, 2003, Rep. Bernard Sanders introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.1677, Pension Benefits Protection Act of 2003.   Bill Summary & Status information is available.

[4/18/03]  CIGNA’s Pension Analyst Special Edition is the "Compliance Checklist 2003: for Defined Benefit Plans, Defined Contribution Plans, and Nonqualified Executive Benefit Plans."

[4/18/03]  This AARP Public Policy Institute March 2003 Issue Brief by Satyenda Verma and Sara E. Rix is "Retirement Age and Social Security Reform: The Macroeconomic Effects of Working Longer."

[4/18/03]  Click here for MEPS Statistical Brief  #14: "Trends in Access to Routine Care and Experiences With Care: 2001." 

[4/17/03]  The full text of the Portman-Cardin bill, H.R. 1776, The Pension Preservation and Savings Expansion Act of 2003, is available on in hypertext format on Thomas.  Click here for the Bill Summary & Status information.

[4/17/03]  The Society of Actuaries hosts the Post Retirement Needs and Risks Web page which is sponsored by the Retirement Systems Research and Professional Education and Development Committees and is administered by the Post Retirement Needs and RisksProject Oversight Group.  The “page provides information useful to actuaries and other professionals with an interest in modeling and conducting research regarding individual financial risks and needs after retirement.”

[4/17/03]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Mercer Investment Consulting report on pension fund financial management.  Click here for the April 2003 publication, Retirement Financial Management.

[4/17/03]  On April 8, Sen. Tom Harkin introduced in the U.S. Senate S.825, Pension Benefits Protection Act of 2003.  Bill Summary & Status information is available.

[4/17/03]  The Conference Board posted a press release April 10 titled “More Companies Listen to the Needs of the Aging Workforce, But There Is Much Room for Improvement,” which includes key findings from a report titled Valuing Experience: How to Retain and Motivate Mature Workers.

[4/17/03]  The Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center posted Work-Family Policies for Families with Young Children by Jane Waldfogel.  This paper was prepared for presentation at the First Annual Invitational Journalism Work-Family Conference co-sponsored by Boston University and Brandeis University on May 5, 2002.

[4/17/03]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide “Unveils New Defined Contribution Approach for Solving Health Care Cost Crisis.”  The page provides links to supporting documents.

[4/15/03]  Principal Financial Group posted a press release April 10 titled “Principal Financial Well Being-Index Shows American Worker Commitment to Long-Term Financial Plans Strengthening Since Prior to War,” which includes highlights from the First Quarter 2003 Principal Financial Well-Being Index conducted by Harris Interactive.  Click here for the executive summary.

[4/15/03]  The Federation of American Hospitals and the American Hospital Association issued a press release April 10 titled “Report: Recent Premium Increases Exceed Health Care Cost Growth,” which includes key findings from the report, Health Insurance Underwriting Cycle Effect on Health Plan Premiums and Profitability, conducted by Milliman USA.  [NOTE:  The report begins on page three of the press release.]

[4/15/03]  Highlights of the 2002 Survey of the Funded Position of Multiemployer Plans are available at The Segal Company Web site.

[4/15/03]  Aetna has launched Simple Steps to a Healthier Life, an online wellness product consisting of information on disease prevention, condition education, behavior change programs, and health promotion services.

[4/15/03]  New Federal Tax Credits for Health Coverage, a short information piece about new federal health coverage tax credits, is on the OurHealthBenefits.org Web site. 

[4/15/03]   The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College released the working paper, Fiscal Effects of Social Security Reform in the United States, by Courtney Coile and Jonathan Gruber.

[4/10/03]  Deloitte & Touche posted the 2003 Consumer-Driven Health Care Survey: Survey Synopsis, an analysis based on the responses of 287 companies participating in a January 2003 survey.  Access the synposis through the e-Library on the site.

[4/10/03]   The Milbank Quarterly’s first issue of 2003 features “Employers’ Benefits from Workers’ Health Insurance” by Ellen O’Brien.

[4/10/03]  Richard Jackson and Neil Howe co-authored The 2003 Aging Vulnerability Index: An Assessment of the Capacity of Twelve Developed Countries to Meet the Aging Challenge, published by The Center for Strategic and International Studies and Watson Wyatt Worldwide in March 2003. 

[4/10/03]   On January 27, 2003, the Internal Revenue Service posted Bulletin No. 2003-4, which includes Revenue Procedure 2003-13 to provide “guidance for employers that want to amend their plans qualified under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code to include ‘deemed IRAs’ described in Section 408(q).”

[4/10/03]   The Coalition to Preserve the Defined Benefit System issued a press release April 9 titled “Proposed Pension Regulations Would Invalidate the Majority of Fortune 100 Defined Benefit Plans.”  Click here for the April 9 testimony presented on behalf of the coalition at the Internal Revenue Service Hearing on Proposed Regulations on Age Discrimination in Retirement Plans. 

[4/10/03]   The January 2003 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine features a research article by Joseph W. Thompson et al. titled “Health Plan Quality-of-Care Information Is Undermined by Voluntary Reporting.”

[4/10/03]   The Kaiser Family Foundation posted the following March 2003 reports:

[4/10/03]   Health Affairs posted an April Web-exclusive article by Marsha Gold titled “Can Managed Care and Competition Control Medicare Costs?

[4/10/03]  The American Academy of Actuaries presents An Actuarial Perspective on the 2003 Social Security Trustees Report.

[4/10/03]   The Treasury Department posted JS-172, Fact Sheet: Cash Balance Plans, April 9, 2003.

[4/7/03]  Click here for CFO.com's Guide to 401(k) Providers.  CFO also provides a Directory of 401(k) Resources on the Web.

[4/7/03]  This Harris PollĀ® column, published on Thursday April 3, 2003, reviews public attitudes about government regulation of various industries.

[4/7/03]  Click here for the Supreme Court decision of April 2, 2003, Kentucky Association of Health Plans, Inc., et al. v. Miller, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Insurance.  This decision addresses an HMO’s acceptance of doctors into its network who agrees to abide by the healthcare organization’s rules. 

[4/7/03]  The Governmental Accounting Standards Board posted the following proposed new accounting standards:

  • Accounting and Financial Reporting by Employers for Postemployment Benefits Other Than Pensions

News Release

Exposure Draft

Plain-Language Supplement

  • Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefit Plans Other Than Pension Plans

News Release

Exposure Draft

Plain-Language Supplement

[4/2/03]  CalPERS now has an investment disclosure Web page for the Alternative Investment Management Program (AIM) which presents the quarterly performance of its private equity and venture capital investments.

[4/2/03]  The Kaiser Family Foundation posted a March 2003 two-page fact sheet titled Prescription Drug Trends.

[4/2/03]  Eastbridge Consulting Group, Inc., issued a press release January 15 titled “Eastbridge Study Finds Employers Want More Than Just ‘Voluntary Benefits,’” which includes findings from MarketVision -- The Employee Viewpoint.

[4/2/03]  Fidelity Investments issued a press release March 27 titled “Fidelity Reports Trends in Employer Medical Plans and Worker Behavior for 2003,” including results of a recent analysis by Fidelity of 100 medical plans consisting of more than 500,000 active employees and their dependents.

[4/2/03]  The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College posted an article by Alicia H. Munnell titled "A Primer on IRAs” in the March 2003 issue of  Just the Facts.

[4/2/03]  The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research posted a January 2003 report titled Profile of California’s HMO Enrollees: Findings from the 2001 California Health Interview Survey by Gerald Kominski et al.

[4/2/03]  The Commonwealth Fund posted a February 2003 report titled Hispanic Patients’ Double Burden: Lack of Health Insurance and Limited English by Michelle M. Doty.

[4/2/03]  The Kaiser Family Foundation posted an overview of the California Employer Health Benefits Survey, 2002.  The following items are also available:

Chart Pack

News Release

[4/2/03]  The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College published a March 2003 working paper,  Retirement Incentives and Couples’ Retirement Decisions, by Courtney Coile.

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Updated 4/30/03