What's New - December 2006

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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 ".gov" 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.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

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What's new at EBRI this month:

Publications:

EBRI Publishes Detailed Look at U.S. Retirement System:  With the oldest of the nation’s baby boomers turning 60 this year, the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has published an in-depth book on the U.S. retirement system and how it may change in the future.

December 2006 EBRI Issue Brief - "The 2nd Annual EBRI/Commonwealth Fund Consumerism in Health Care Survey, 2006: Early Experience With High-Deductible and Consumer-Driven Health Plans"

December 2006 EBRI Notes - "Survey Finds Federal Workers Share Poor Retirement Planning With All Workers, but Have More Savings"

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October 6, 2005 - Updated Ballpark E$timate Available, Americans trying to estimate how much they need to save for a comfortable retirement now have an updated and easy-to-use tool -- the Ballpark E$timate.

EBRI Fact Sheet on PBGC - A four-page fact sheet with background information, key data and charts, and information links about the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the federal agency that insures the traditional pensions of about 44 million Americans.

Frequently Asked Questions About Benefits - This section of EBRI's Web site is designed to answer basic questions about major benefit issues and trends. It provides short, graphical answers, with links to the detailed data underlying the figure. In addition, references are provided to the relevant EBRI publication.


EBRI Research Findings for 2003-2004:

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What's new in employee benefits:

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

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

Presentation by the Comptroller General
"Increasing Financial Literacy in America" by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, in Washington, D.C. GAO-07-284CG, December 11, 2006.

"21st Century Challenges--Key Areas for Oversight: Retirement, Pension, and Health Care Insecurity" by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, in Washington, D.C. GAO-07-270CG, December 7, 2006.

"Saving Our Future Requires Tough Choices Today" by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, on the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour at Denver City College, Denver, Colorado. GAO-07-269CG, November 28.

Reports
Financial Literacy and Education Commission: Further Progress Needed to Ensure an Effective National Strategy. GAO-07-100, December 4.  Highlights.

Private Pensions: Changes Needed to Provide 401(k) Plan Participants and the Department of Labor Better Information on Fees. GAO-07-21, November 16.  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 Government Accountability 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


The Internal Revenue Service has announced that technical or procedural questions relating to retirement plans are answered at the EP Customer Account Services site.  Answers to many questions may already be available under Frequently Asked Questions about Retirement Plans.  If not:

Call:   TE/GE Customer Account Services at (877) 829-5500 (toll-free number).
            The call center is open 8:00am to 6:30pm Eastern Time.

Write:   Internal Revenue Service
               TE/GE Division, Customer Service
               P.O. Box 2508
               Cincinnati, OH 45201

Email:   RetirementPlanQuestions@irs.gov
               Note: All questions submitted via e-mail must be responded to via telephone,
               so please remember to include your phone number in your message.


[12/15/06] Aon Consulting Alert:  "Congress Passes Improvements for HSAs and FSAs"

[12/15/06] Office of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden:  "Wyden Proposes Historic New Health Care Plan; Effort Has Business and Labor Support"

[12/15/06] The Lewin Group:  Cost and Coverage Estimates for the “Healthy Americans Act” [Staff Working Paper]

[12/15/06] PricewaterhouseCoopers:  Rethinking Postretirement Benefits - The FASB’s Proposal, Its Impact on Companies and Capital Markets, and the Changing Pact with the American Worker [White Paper]

[12/15/06] Pension Rights Center:  Protection for Early Retirement Benefits: New Rule Will Preserve Reemployment Rights

[12/14/06] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  "Employer Costs for Employee Compensation--September 2006"

[12/14/06] U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Nondiscrimination and Wellness Programs in Health Coverage in the Group Market; Final Rules [published in the Federal Register on December 13, 2006]

[12/14/06] Principal Financial Group:  Pension Protection Act (PPA) of 2006 [Resources]

[12/14/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Watson Wyatt’s Survey on Default Investments and the DOL’s Proposed Regulations"

[12/14/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "Employer Survey: 1 of 4 Boomers Won’t Retire Because They Can’t"

[12/14/06] AARP:  The Costs of Long-Term Care: Public Perceptions Versus Reality in 2006

[12/13/06] Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates:  2006 Kaiser/Hewitt Retiree Health Benefits Survey

[12/13/06] Milliman’s Multiemployer Review:  "To-Do’s for Trustees: Addressing a Plan’s Funded Status Today to Face the Challenges of Tomorrow"

[12/13/06] Business Insurance:  "U.K. Sets Details for National Pension Saving Plan"

[12/13/06] Department for Work and Pensions [U.K.]:  Personal Accounts: A New Way to SavePress Release.

[12/12/06] Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments, December 2006

[12/12/06] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Five U.S. Firms To Fund EHR Network for Employees as Way To Reduce Costs"

[12/12/06] U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Proposed Revision of Annual Information Return/Reports; Notice of Supplemental Proposed Forms Revisions [published in the Federal Register on December 11, 2006]

[12/8/06] Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health National Survey:  The Public’s Health Care Agenda for the New Congress and Presidential Campaign

[12/8/06] Galen Institute:  "The Movement toward Consumerism Will Continue" by Grace-Marie Turner

[12/8/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "Health Care Costs, Taxes, and the Retirement Decision: Conceptual Issues and Illustrative Simulations" [Working Paper]

[12/8/06] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "IRS Issues Model Notice, Transitional Guidance on Diversification Rights"

[12/7/06] Segal Advisory:  "Asset Allocation Funds: Investing Simplified"

[12/7/06] The Century Foundation:  "The Medicare Drug Benefit Enters Year Two"

[12/7/06] Segal Public Sector Letter:  "Providing Clarity Amid Confusion: Communicating Medicare Part D Choices"

[12/6/06] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "Deadline for Health Plans to Use New HIPAA National Provider Identifier Approaching"

[12/6/06] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  "PBGC Announces Maximum Insurance Benefit for 2007"

[12/6/06] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  Self-Assessed Retirement Outcomes: Determinants and Pathways [Working Paper]

[12/6/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "There Is No Place Like Work for the Holidays"

[12/5/06] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Model Notice of Pending Election of Multiemployer Plan Status [published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2006]

[12/5/06] U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Diversification Requirements for Qualified Defined Contribution Plans Holding Publicly Traded Employer Securities [Notice 2006-107]

[12/5/06] Investment Company Institute Research Fundamentals:  "The Economics of Providing 401(k) Plans: Services, Fees, and Expenses"

[12/5/06] University of Michigan Retirement Research Center:  Consumption, Retirement, and Social Security: Evaluating the Efficiency of Reform with a Life-Cycle Model [Working Paper]

[12/1/06] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:

[12/1/06] Center for Studying Health System Change Issue Brief:  "Behind the Slow Enrollment Growth of Employer-Based Consumer-Directed Health Plans"

[12/1/06] The Segal Company's Capital Checkup:  "2007 Minimums and Maximums for High-Deductible Health Plans, Health Savings Accounts and Archer Medical Savings Accounts"

[12/1/06] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Health Savings Accounts in National Compensation Survey Data

[12/1/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "DOL Clarifies Interaction Between HSAs and ERISA"

[12/1/06] AISHealth.com:  "CIGNA Finds Consumer-Directed Care Lowers Expenses, Increases Preventive Care" [reprinted from the Nov. 24, 2006, issue of Inside Consumer-Directed Care]

[12/1/06] Health Affairs:  "The Uninsured and the Affordability of Health Insurance Coverage"

[12/1/06] Aon Consulting’s Research Brief:  "The Impact of Consumer-Directed Health Plans with Integrated Health Improvement Services on Health Care Consumers"

[12/1/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Phased Retirement: A Conflict in the Works?"

Updated 12/15/06