What's New

What's New - December 2000

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What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI Conclave - EBRI held a “Members’ Conclave” on December 7, 2000, in Washington, D.C.  The purpose of the conclave was to help EBRI identify research and education topics and opportunities, while also providing Members with information and ideas that will assist them in setting strategic directions and in planning future design and implementation courses of action. Conclave Fact Sheets and PowerPoint Presentations are available.

The EBRI monthly publications for December 2000, are available online for ordering.  The December Issue Brief is entitled “Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2000 Current Population Survey.”  The December Notes article is “Privacy and Quality in Health Care.”

The Social Security Administration and the American Savings Education Council  Announce a New Partnership and the Establishment of the "National Save for Your Future" Campaign: Kenneth S. Apfel, Commissioner of Social Security, and Dallas L. Salisbury, Chairman of the American Savings Education Council (ASEC),  announce the first annual "National Save for Your Future" campaign, a partnership between the Social Security Administration (SSA) and ASEC.  The campaign, to be launched in the fall of 2001, will focus on educating Americans about the need to save and plan for a comfortable retirement. 

For more information contact Cathy Noe, SSA, at 410-965-8904; Variny Paladino, ASEC, at 202-775-6321 or Danny Devine, EBRI, at 202-775-6308.

EBRI's 2000 Health Confidence Survey (HCS), the third such annual survey, was released on November 3.  This survey examines Americans' attitudes toward aspects of the health care system as it currently exists and their confidence in managed care, Medicare, and the system's future. The survey was sponsored by EBRI, the Consumer Health Education Council (CHEC), and Mathew Greenwald & Associates.  The findings reflect many Americans' confusion about managed care and concern over increasing medical costs.

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What's new in employee benefits:

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

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the GAO Index of Reports and Testimony, FY99, and search for the report by entering words or phrases from the title. Reports will also be added to GAO's searchable WAIS database in ASCII and PDF formats within 24 hours of the original posting. Any individual report may be retrieved directly in text and PDF formats with the following URL: http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?RPTNO replacing RPTNO with the report number (e.g., GAO/OCG-98-1).

 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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(12/22/00) The Health Insurance Association of American has released a study by William S. Custer and Pat Ketsche entitled The Changing Sources of Health Insurance.

(12/21/00) On December 20, 2000, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release announcing a new regulation to protect the privacy of Americans’ medical records. A fact sheet is also available online.

(12/21/00) On December 15, 2000, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4577, Consolidated Appropriations Act 2001, which includes a provision to extend the Medical Savings Account (MSA) program for two more years. The Bill Summary & Status is available.

(12/20/00) In a press release dated December 18, 2000, Watson Wyatt Worldwide announced key findings from its fifth annual Strategic Rewards Survey entitled Playing to Win: Strategic Rewards in the War for Talent.

(12/19/00) The Internal Revenue Service has made available online Employers' Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits for Benefits Provided in 2001, Publication 15-B, dated November 2000.

(12/18/00) In a press release dated November 28, 2000, Hewitt Associates announced some of the findings from its Domestic Partner Benefits 2000 survey.

(12/15/00) In a news release dated December 12, 2000, the National Conference of State Legislatures announced the release of its annual "State Legislative Forecast," while NCSL's Health Policy Tracking Service released the results of the annual 50-state survey, the State Health Priorities Survey, on the major health care issues to be considered by state legislatures next year.

(12/15/00) The London-based law firm, Linklaters & Alliance, has recently made available a fee-based service called Blue Flag Pensions database, which includes pension legislation information for European countries, aimed at assisting large plan sponsors and others in understanding pension regulations for the European jurisdictions included in this database.

(12/15/00) In a press release on December 7, WorldatWork announced the results of a recent e-mail survey which found that over 90 percent of the responding companies surveyed provide Internet access to their employees, while about 65 percent of those that don’t are considering doing so.

(12/15/00) Circadian Information, the publishing division of Circadian Technologies located in Cambridge, MA, has made available online Shiftwork Practices 2000: A Summary of the Annual Managing 24X7 Survey of 24-Hour Operations, its fourth annual survey of shiftwork practices.

(12/14/00) Employment-Based Health Insurance Coverage, a 2000 report by William S. Custer and Pat Ketsche, has been published by the Health Insurance Association of America.

(12/14/00) In a September 15, 2000, press release, the DOL's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration announced Acting Assistant Secretary Leslie Kramerich's speech before the American Society of Pension Actuaries Conference in Los Angeles on investment advice. The speech, "What Employers Should Know About Investment Education and Advice," is available online.

(12/14/00) Health plan cost information from the latest Mercer/Foster Higgins National Survey of Employer-sponsored Health Plans is being released.

(12/13/00) The latest innovative employer effort to aid employees in balancing work and family is written about in “Housework Tips Help Families Stay in Balance” by Carol Kleiman in the December 12, 2000, Chicago Tribune on the basics of housekeeping.

(12/12/00) The Investment Company Institute posted 12/8/00 to their website:

(12/12/00) The National Survey on Americans as Health Care Consumers: An Update on the Role of Quality Information, from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) is available online.

(12/12/00) The Online Health Care Revolution: How the Web Helps Americans Take Better Care of Themselves released November 26, 2000, is a Pew Internet & American Life Project report.

(12/11/00) The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) has recently released press releases with information from  BNA surveys:

(12/11/00) In an October 17, 2000, press release, the Consumer Federation of America announced the results of a new analysis of Federal Reserve data that it commissioned, along with Providian Financial Corporation, finding that millions of Americans keep more than $1 trillion in low-interest-yielding savings accounts that could be safely held in higher-rate savings vehicles.  Additionally, a related CFA/Providian public opinion poll entitled “Household Savings” suggests that Americans lack understanding about the various savings vehicles available.

(12/11/00) A 2020 Vision For American Health Care, the 2000 John R. Hogness Award Lecture given by the Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis at the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Health Centers, provides a plan for increased health insurance coverage of American workers.

(12/11/00) In a press release dated December 7, 2000, 401kExchange announced that, in a survey of over 90,000 401(k) employer plan sponsors to ascertain levels of satisfaction in the 401(k) service provider market, it found that nearly half of all dissatisfied plan sponsors indicated they were actively seeking new service providers, as compared with 40.3% in the previous survey.

(12/11/00) Click here to read Applying ERISA's Fiduciary Standards To Cash Balance Plan Conversions by Thomas R. Hoecker of Snell and Wilmer.

(12/8/00) Kaisernetwork.org, an operating program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, posts a Daily Health Policy Report.

(12/8/00) The “Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality/Kaiser Family Foundation National Poll: How Do Americans Make Choices in Health Care? How Much Does Quality Matter?" a session from the conference, "Informing Consumers About Health Care Quality: New Directions for Research and Action," will announce the results of a national survey of consumers on the role of quality information in health care decision making, and their opinions on medical errors and patient safety.  The session will be available live on Monday, December 11 at 9:30 - 11:45 am ET.

(12/8/00) The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America issued a press release on December 6, 2000, announcing a new survey, Profit Sharing and 401(k) Eligibility Study 2000, which found that 52% of the 401(k) plans studied now permit employees to participate in their 401(k) plan within three months of their hire date, up from only 32% of plans in 1998.  The survey is available online.

(12/8/00) The Center for Long-Term Care Financing in Bellevue, Washington, released a report December 7, 2000, entitled The LTC Triathlon: Long-Term Care's Race for Survival.

(12/6/00) In a press release dated December 5, 2000, The Conference Board announced that U.S. institutional investments reached $18.6 trillion in total assets in 1999 and that these same investments continue to control nearly half of the U.S. equity market, according to its Institutional Investment Report.

(12/6/00) The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has recently released two new working papers:

(12/6/00) John M. Wachowicz, Jr., Professor of Finance at the University of Tennessee, has posted Annuities: Ordinary? Due? What do I do?, a tutorial to help students of finance "better identify, understand, and calculate future and present values of both ordinary annuities and annuities due." 

(12/6/00) “The Social Security Administration (SSA) presents Mastering the Challenge, a 72-page strategic plan for the Social Security program from 2000 to 2010.   According to the section "The Message of This Strategic Plan," the SSA's priorities over the next five years include a commitment to customer service; program integrity; … investing data, and policy analysis.  This customer-based plan highlights five basic goals: responsive programs, world-class service, valued employees, program integrity, and public understanding, all in careful detail.  Geared towards the American people, this report very clearly explicates the SSA's goals and visions for the near future.”

(12/6/00) According to a press release issued by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, researchers there have found that individuals with private health insurance enjoy better primary care than those who are either publicly insured or not insured at all.  The results of the study will be published in the December 2000 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

(12/6/00) On October 28, 2000, President Clinton signed into law H.R. 4461, “Making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2001, and for other purposes.”  One provision contained in this bill pertains to the importation and reimportation of FDA-approved prescription drugs. A Bill Summary & Status is available online

(12/6/00) The Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration of the Department of Labor published proposed regulations in the Federal Register of October 27, 2000, for determining whether a welfare plan benefiting the employees of separate employers is established or maintained under a collective bargaining agreement and, therefore, exempt from the definition in ERISA of a multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA).  Additionally, DOL proposed new procedures for advising whether a plan meets the new standards if the plan is involved in a dispute over its MEWA status. DOL is accepting comments through December 26, 2000.

(12/6/00) The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) now provides, for a fee, customized versions of health care report cards that employers can post to provide their employees with information on those health plans the employer offers.

(12/5/00) The November 2000 issue of KPMG’s Benefits Spectrum on the Web contains the following item: “IRS Clarifies Proposed Regulations on Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits.”

 (12/4/000 BenefitsLink has posted the following: DOL Request for Information on Agenda for 2001 Retirement Summit.   The 2001 National Summit on Retirement Savings Request for Information Notice is published in the Federal Register, December 1, 2000, (Volume 65, Number 232), Page 75577-75579, by the Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration.

(12/4/000 The 2001 Global Compensation Planning Report from human resource consultant William M. Mercer examines pay and economic trends in nearly 60 countries worldwide.

(12/4/00) Deloitte & Touche and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists have released a revised edition of the Top Five Benefit Priorities for 2000, which indicates that employers regard health care costs as a top benefit priority while employees regard retirement issues as their top concern.  A press release and the survey itself are available online.

(12/4/00) The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) issued a press release November 30 announcing three changes to its premium regulations intended to simplify and ease procedures for administrators of private defined benefit plans insured by PBGC.  The changes become effective January 1, 2001.  Notice and details of the changes will be published in the Federal Register on Friday, Dec. 1, 2000.

(12/1/00) Posted November 28, 2000, on BenefitsLink: a Knight Ridder/Tribune article titled “Employers Sweeten Benefits in Order to Retain Valuable Workers” published in The Star-Ledger of Newark, NJ November 27, 2000, under the byline of Beth Fitzgerald.

(12/1/00) The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE-USA) posted Maintaining Equity in Cash Balance Pension Plan Conversions a position paper approved by their board on November 16, 2000.

(12/1/00) The Work in America Institute report released October 30, 2000, Holding a Job, Having a Life: Strategies for Change, reports on the strategies companies are using to help employees balance their work and personal lives.

(12/1/00) The Widening Gap: Why American Working Families Are in Jeopardy and What Can Be Done About It by Jody Heymann, professor of health and social behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health has been released.  Excerpts from the book with graphs and background on the work and family issues covered are available electronically.

(12/1/00) The fourth edition of Protecting Retirees’ Money: Fiduciary Duties and Other Laws Applicable to State Retirement Systems by Cynthia L. Moore has been released by the National Council on Teacher Retirement.  The introduction to the report on the survey is available.

(12/1/00) BenefitsLink provides ERISA in the United States Code, a very useful “Online Cross-Reference Between ERISA Section Numbers and U.S. Code Section Numbers.”

(12/1/00) Aon Consulting’s November 21, 2000, issue of Alert presents a chart of the  “2001 Limits for Benefit Plans.”

(12/1/00) WorldatWork issued a press release on November 21, 2000, announcing the publication and availability online of its Salary Survey Guidelines, a set of criteria that companies and individuals can utilize for finding and analyzing reliable salary survey information.

(12/1/00) The Maximum Benefits and Contributions Limits for 1996-2001 chart at Carol V. Calhoun's Employee Benefits Legal Resource Web Site includes the recently announced 2001 limits.

(12/1/00) A Glossary of Terms Commonly Used in Health Care has been posted by the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy.

(12/1/00) “The 1999 State and Local Government Public Employee Retirement System survey covers fiscal years that ended between July 1, 1998 and June 30, 1999.  The 1999 survey covered 2,211 public employee retirement systems.”

(12/1/00) The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has posted: Childcare on Board: The Growth of Work-Site Daycare by Lee McIntyre.

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Updated 12/29/00