What's New - February 2006

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What's new at EBRI this month:

Publications:

February 2006 EBRI Issue Brief - "Designing Benefits With Evidence in Mind"

February 2006 EBRI Notes - "Survey of Consumer-Driven Health Plans Raises Key Issues"

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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:

Reports
Employee Compensation: Employer Spending on Benefits Has Grown Faster Than Wages, Due Largely to Rising Costs for Health Insurance and Retirement. GAO-06-285, February 24.  Highlights.

Federal Employees Health Benefits Program: First-Year Experience with High-Deductible Health Plans and Health Savings Accounts. GAO-06-271, January 31.  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.


[2/27/06] Towers Perrin:  Pension Accounting Rules Set for Major Overhaul

[2/27/06] Reuters (via Business Insurance):  "Health Costs for State Retirees to Take Center Stage"

[2/24/06] Compensation and Working Conditions Online: "Another Retirement Savings Option: Roth 401(k) Plan"

[2/24/06] Prudential Financial:  Reinventing the Defined Contribution Plan: Research, Analysis and Recommendations [White Paper]

[2/24/06] Pension Research Council:  The Inattentive Participant: Portfolio Trading Behavior in 401(k) Plans [Working Paper]

[2/24/06] Federal Reserve Board:  "Recent Changes in U.S. Family Finances: Evidence from the 2001 and 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances"

[2/23/06] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  The 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings. Notice of Meeting & Draft Agenda [published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2006]

[2/23/06] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Private Pension Plan Bulletin: Abstract of 2001 Form 5500 Annual Reports

[2/23/06] Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research:  Reducing the Complexity Costs of 401(k) Participation Through Quick Enrollment™ [Working Paper]

[2/23/06] National Conference of State Legislatures:  "2006 ‘Pay or Play’ Bills: Will States Mandate Employer Health Insurance Benefits?"

[2/22/06] Health Affairs:  "Health Spending Projections Through 2015: Changes on the Horizon"

[2/22/06] Buck Consultants LegiSlate:  "President Bush’s 2007 Budget"

[2/22/06] Business & Compensation Solutions:  "The Case for Automating 401(k) Enrollment as a Default Selection"

[2/21/06] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  HIPAA Administrative Simplification: Enforcement; Final Rule [published in the Federal Register on February 16, 2006]

[2/21/06] Business & Compensation Solutions:   “Will ‘Default’ Turn into ‘Your Fault?’

[2/17/06] Hewitt Associates:  Take Control: An Employer’s Guide to Consumer-Driven Health Care, 2006

[2/17/06] U.S. Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [Winter 2006]

[2/16/06] Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  "Employers Expect Rate of Increase in Health Benefit Costs to Slow in 2006, Watson Wyatt, National Business Group on Health Survey Finds"

[2/16/06] The White House:  Reforming Health Care for the 21st Century

[2/16/06] Milliman Client Action Bulletin:  "Higher PBGC Premium Rates Apply to February 28 Filings"

[2/16/06] U.S. Department of Labor:  "Labor Department Unveils Resource to Help Americans Plan for RetirementTaking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning.

[2/15/06] National Health Policy Forum:  Health Benefits in Retirement: Set for Extinction? [Background Paper]

[2/15/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "E-Form Plugs Workers into Retirement Information"

[2/14/06] Congressional Budget Office:  Utilization of Tax Incentives for Retirement Saving: An Update [Background Paper]

[2/14/06] U.S. Department of the Treasury:  General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2007 Revenue Proposals [“The Blue Book”]

[2/14/06] H.R.4579, “To amend title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act, and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend by one year provisions requiring parity in the application of certain limits to mental health benefits.” Bill Summary & Status Information. [Became Public Law 109-151]

[2/13/06] U.S. Internal Revenue Service:  FAQs regarding Designated Roth Accounts

[2/13/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Benefits Activity During 2005 Session Will Continue Into 2006"

[2/13/06] Buck Consultants:  Population Health Management: Achieving Results in a Challenging Environment, Part I

[2/13/06] Buck Consultants:  Population Health Management: Achieving Results in a Challenging Environment, Part II

[2/10/06] CIGNA Healthcare:  "CIGNA Choice Fund(SM) Study Provides New Insights on Consumer Decision-making in Consumer-Driven Health Plans"

[2/10/06] HR Policy Association:  Kennedy Proposes Universal Coverage Through “Medicare for All”

[2/10/06] Watson Wyatt Insider [Special Edition]:  "Trends in Pensions -- 2005"

[2/10/06] Congressional Budget Office:  Long-Term Analysis of the Liebman-MacGuineas-Samwick [Social Security] Proposal. Supplemental data.

[2/9/06] Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments

[2/9/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Pension Fund Finances for 2005: Losing Ground"

[2/8/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Pension Reform Moves Forward -- Stage Set for Final Agreement in 2006"

[2/8/06] AARP:  The Effects of Investing the Social Security Trust Funds in GNMA Mortgage-Backed Securities

[2/7/06] U.S. Office of Management and Budget:  Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2007

[2/7/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Employers Return to Luxury Perks"

[2/6/06] Employee Benefit News:  "New IRS Relative Values Disclosure Rule Presents an Issue for Sponsors of Qualified Pension Plans"

[2/6/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Plan Sponsors Lower Discount Rates to Soften Expenses"

[2/6/06] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Compensation Costs in State and Local Government

[2/6/06] Benefits & Compensation Digest:  "Lessons From the Social Security Debate"

[2/3/06] The Segal Company:  2006 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey

[2/3/06] Congressional Research Service:  Health Savings Accounts: Overview of Rules for 2006

[2/3/06] The Commonwealth Fund:  Rising Out-of-Pocket Spending for Medical Care: A Growing Strain on Family Budgets

[2/3/06] Business Insurance:  "Congress Approves PBGC Premium Increase"

[2/3/06] Investment Advisor: "Inside the Beltway, Movement on Pensions, Taxes, and the Roth 401(k)"

[2/3/06] Hewitt Associates:  Survey Findings: Hot Topics in Retirement 2006

[2/3/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  The State of Private Pensions: Current 5500 Data

[2/2/06] The White House:  State of the Union: Affordable and Accessible Health Care

[2/2/06] Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  2005 US National Employer-Sponsored Health Plans Survey - Overview

[2/2/06] Galen Institute:  Health Savings Accounts: A Survey of the Literature

[2/2/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Retirement Plan Fees Expected to Continue Dropping This Year"

[2/2/06] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "DOL Issues Final Regulation on the New Multiemployer Funding Notice"

[2/2/06] Investment Company Institute Research Fundamentals:  "The Role of IRAs in Americans’ Retirement Preparedness"

[2/1/06] America’s Health Insurance Plans:  The Factors Fueling Rising Healthcare Costs 2006

[2/1/06] MetLife:  MetLife Employee Benefits Benchmarking Report: Findings from a 2004 National Survey of Employers and Employees

[2/1/06] Principal Financial Group:  The Principal Financial Well-Being Index: Executive Summary – Fourth Quarter 2005

[2/1/06] Aon Consulting:  "Baby Boomer and Generation X Workers Agree When It Comes to Voluntary Benefits, Says Aon Consulting"

[2/1/06] U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis:  Personal Income and Outlays: December 2005

[2/1/06] AARP:  The State of 50+ America 2006

Updated 2/27/06