What's New

What's New - March 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:

Tax Expenditures and Employee Benefits: An Update From the FY 2004 Budget

EBRI Testimony:
EBRI President and CEO Dallas Salisbury testified before the House Committee on Ways and Means March 6, 2003, at a hearing on "The Bush Administration’s Proposal to End Double Taxation of Dividends: Impact on Retirement Accounts."  Click here for the Written Statement.

Paul Fronstin submitted testimony, Small Employers and Health Benefits: Findings from the 2002 Small Employer Health Benefits Survey, for the Senate Committee on Small Business "Hearing on Small Business and Health Insurance" held February 5, 2003.

EBRI at Healthcare Cost Conference:  EBRI will be participating in the Fourth Annual U.S. Employers Summit and Expo on Healthcare Costs March 26-28 in Arlington, VA, with Dallas Salisbury delivering a keynote presentation March 27.   Other EBRI staff, including Paul Fronstin, and Ray Werntz of the Consumer Health Education Council, will lead meetings on March 26 and March 28, respectively.  To register for this conference, call (516) 594-3000 or visit www.ibfconferences.com on the Internet.   Mention EBRI when you register in order to receive a special discount off the registration fee.

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.

Retiree Health Benefits: Savings Needed to Fund Health Care in Retirement
        
Press Release | Fulltext of the Issue Brief | Retiree Health Calculator

Retirees With Pension Income and Characteristics of Their Former Job

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
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.

Older Workers: Policies of Other Nations to Increase Labor Force Participation.  GAO-03-307, February 13, 2003.

Private Pensions: Process Needed to Monitor the Mandated Interest Rate for Pension Calculations.  GAO-03-313, February 27, 2003.Highlights

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

Testimony
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

Social Security: Congress Should Consider Revising the Government Pension Offset "Loophole" by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the Subcommittee on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means.  GAO-03-498T, February 27, 2003.

        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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[3/31/03]  The National Association of State Workforce Agencies posted a January 29 report titled “How Are States Using Their $8 Billion Reed Act Funds?”  The report details states’ uses of last year’s federal unemployment insurance funds.

[3/31/03]  The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College posted an article by Alicia H. Munnell titled “The Declining Role of Social Security” in the February 2003 issue of Just the Facts.

[3/31/03]  Bankrate.com posted March 16 a news release titled “Americans on the Brink of Financial Illiteracy,” which includes key findings from Bankrate.com’s recent Financial Literacy Survey.

[3/27/03]  The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) published the Pension Insurance Data Book 2002.

[3/27/03]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide posted a news release titled “Watson Wyatt’s Position on the Recently Proposed U.S. Retirement Plan Age Discrimination Regulations.”   This news release addresses the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s proposed age discrimination regulations affecting employer-sponsored retirement plans.  These proposed regulations led to the establishment of the Coalition to Preserve the Defined Benefit System, which Watson Wyatt Worldwide helped to organize and which includes more than fifty employers sponsoring a variety of defined benefit plans, including pension equity, cash balance, and traditional designs.  The coalition is preparing oral testimony for presentation at an April 10 public hearing.

[3/26/03]  The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured posted the following two reports:

[3/26/03]  On February 27 Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.953, “To provide for equal coverage of mental health benefits with respect to health insurance coverage unless comparable limitations are imposed on medical and surgical benefits.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[3/26/03]  American Century Investments issued a press release March 19 titled “Rolling Over, Consolidating Retirement Accounts Made Easier by American Century’s Rollover Advisor Service,” which includes results from American Century’s recent Rollover Survey.

[3/25/03]  The Internal Revenue Service posted the Spring 2003 issue of Employee Plans News.

[3/25/03]  Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund, testified on March 10 before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.  Ms. Davis’ testimony is titled “Time for Change: The Hidden Cost of a Fragmented Health Insurance System.”

[3/25/03]  The Conference Board’s Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise posted Findings and Recommendations -- Part 1: Executive Compensation; Part 2: Corporate Governance; Part 3: Audit and Accounting.

[3/25/03]  On February 11, 2003, Rep. Ernie Fletcher introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.660, Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003.   A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[3/25/03]  Rep. Jim DeMint introduced March 11 in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.1177, “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide additional choice regarding unused health benefits in cafeteria plans and flexible spending arrangements.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[3/24/03]  Principal Financial Group posted The Principal Well-Being Financial Index Executive Summary - Fourth Quarter 2002: Summary of Survey Findings.

[3/24/03]  The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey released the following statistical briefs:

[3/24/03]  The February 18 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine features a two-part article titled “The Implications of Regional Variations in Medicare Spending” by E.S. Fisher et al.  Click here for “Part 1: The Content, Quality and Accessibility of Care.”  Click here for “Part 2: Health Outcomes and Satisfaction with Care.”

[3/24/03]  Employee Benefit News posted “Benchmark Bonanza: Results from the 2002 EBN-Hay Benefits Study Offer a Host of Insights on Plan,” which includes highlights from the 2002 EBN-Hay Benefits Survey.

[3/24/03]  Intuit Inc. issued a press release March 5 titled “Recession Forces 2.3 Million Households To Delay Retirement, Quicken Survey Reveals,” which includes key findings from the fourth annual Quicken Fiscal Literacy Survey by Intuit Inc.

[3/24/03]  UnumProvident issued a press release March 6 titled “UnumProvident Study Shows 10 Percent of Employees Are Responsible for More Than Half of Medical Costs.”

[3/24/03]  Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. posted a February 26 report titled "Interim Evaluation Report: Congressionally Mandated Evaluation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program," prepared by Judith Wooldridge et al.

[3/21/03]  Hewitt Associates’ March 2003 report, Total Retirement Income at Large Companies: The Real Deal, is available online in fulltext.

[3/21/03]  Sen. Ron Wyden introduced March 17 in the U.S. Senate, S.629, Catch-Up Lost Retirement Savings Act.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[3/21/03]  On January 30 the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System released the most recent annual seasonal factor review of  Money Stock Measures, reflecting the latest money stock revisions data.  [NOTE:  These data will be only accessible online beginning this year.]

[3/21/03]  Norman L. Jones and Paul Zorn, of Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company, sent a letter March 17 to Stephen Nesbitt, senior managing director of Wilshire Associates, regarding the 2003 Wilshire Report on State Retirement Systems: Funding Levels and Asset Allocations.

[3/21/03]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting issued a press release March 19, “New Survey Suggests Problems with Design, Delivery of Pay Programs,” highlighting key findings from Mercer’s 2002 People at Work Survey.

[3/21/03]  The March 2003 Seyfarth Shaw Management Alert contains an analysis, "First Circuit: Wear-Away to Cash Balance Plan Is OK," on Campbell v. BankBoston, N.A.

[3/21/03]  The New York Times annual Special Section on Retirement was published March 18, 2003.  A one-time registration may be required.

[3/19/03]  The Society of Actuaries has issued a Call for Papers on the topic of Managing Retirement Assets For Longevity And Other RisksClick here for detailed information.  Submit an abstract or outline of your proposed paper by June 2, 2003.

[3/19/03]  The Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees published the Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs: A Summary of the 2003 Annual Reports.  

[3/19/03]  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued the 2003 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds.

[3/19/03]  Click here for report highlights of the 2002 Survey of Actuarial Assumptions and Funding, Watson Wyatt’s 34th annual survey of U.S. pension plans.

[3/19/03]  Cigna Retirement and Investment Services issued a press release March 17 titled “As Wall Street Whiplash & War Jitters Worsen, Growing ‘Awareness Gap’ Threatens Retirement Security, Perplexing and Paralyzing Workplace Investors,” which includes key findings from a recent survey titled Trust & Consequences: Closing the Retirement Awareness Gap.

[3/19/03]  The U.S. Small Business Administration posted a January 2003 report titled Study of the Administrative Costs and Actuarial Values of Small Health Plans.

[3/19/03]  The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services issued a March 12 press release, “Financial Services Committee Releases GAO Findings on Mutual Fund Fees and Expenses.”   Click here for that GAO testimony -- “Mutual Funds: Information on Trends in Fees and Their Related Disclosure.”

[3/19/03]  The January 2003 issue of the newsletter of the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center features articles titled “Dropping Out of Social Security” and “Transition Paths and Social Security Reform.”

[3/19/03]  The Commonwealth Fund posted the March 2003 Issue Brief titled “On the Edge: Low-Wage Workers and Their Health Insurance Coverage: Findings from the Commonwealth Fund 2001 Health Insurance Survey,” by Sara R. Collins et al.

[3/18/03]  The 2003 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds, known as the 2003 trustees report on Social Security, is available on the Social Security Administration Web site.

[3/18/03]  The following reports have been added to the Congressional Budget Office site:

[3/18/03]  Workforce.com presents “Calculate the Cost and Benefit of a Layoff,” – using two worksheets--one to figure out the short-term benefit of a layoff, and another to calculate the long-term cost.

[3/14/03]  Wilshire Associates, Inc. posted the 2003 Wilshire Report on State Retirement Systems: Funding Levels and Asset Allocation.

[3/14/03]  The House Committee on Education and the Workforce posted “Information Pertaining to Cash Balance Plans,” which includes statements and summaries, press releases, other information, and photos.

[3/14/03]  Aon Consulting posted key findings from its Small Business @Work 2002 study.

[3/14/03]  The American Academy of Actuaries posted its February 2003 Issue Brief, “What’s Whipsaw? Why Is It a Problem?”  It addresses cash balance pension plan distribution calculations.

[3/14/03]  Tillinghast-Towers Perrin posted a new report titled U.S. Tort Costs: 2002 Update: Trends and Findings on the Costs of the U.S. Tort System.

[3/14/03]  The National Institute for Health Care Management posted the executive summary of a recent study titled The Uninsured: A Study of Health Plan Initiatives and the Lessons Learned.

[3/14/03]  On March 6 Rep. Judy Biggert introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.1119, Family Time Flexibility Act.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[3/14/03]  The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing March 11 titled “The Funding Challenge: Keeping Defined Benefit Pension Plans.”  A witness list with links to testimonies is available.

[3/14/03]  Sen. Olympia Snowe introduced March 6 in the U.S. Senate S.545, Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[3/14/03]  The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured posted the following new resources:

[3/14/03]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting issued a press release January 16 titled “Worldwide Study Exposes Wide Variation in Parental Benefits,” highlighting key findings from Mercer’s Worldwide Benefit and Employment Guidelines 2002/2003.

[3/14/03]  The Century Foundation has a new addition to its web site titled Public Opinion Watch, “a new feature covering newly released polls, as well as key newspaper and magazine articles that make use of polling data.  The Public Opinion Watch series is written by Century Foundation Senior Fellow Ruy Teixeira.” Click here for further information.

[3/12/03]  Ryan Labs produced The Pension Crisis Revealed in conjunction with Frank Fabozzi.

[3/12/03]  The Commonwealth Fund issued a press release March 11 titled “Health Care Providers Often Face Financial Risk by Investing in Quality Improvements,” which includes findings from an analysis supported by The Commonwealth Fund.  An abstract of  The Business Case for Quality: Case Studies and An Analysis has been posted at the Health Affairs Web site.

[3/12/03]  The U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation released Present Law and Background Relating to Employer-Sponsored Defined Benefit Plans and the Financial Position of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

[3/12/03]  “Managed Care Adviser: Five Key Trends Predicted to Drive Health Insurance Industry in 2003” is a reprint from the December 23, 2002, issue of  Managed Care Week.

[3/12/03]  UnumProvident issued a press release March 6 titled “UnumProvident Study Shows 10 Percent of Employees Are Responsible for More Than Half of Medical Costs,” highlighting key findings from recent research.

[3/12/03]  Buck Consultants posted an overview of its recent survey, 401(k) Plans: Survey Report on Plan Design.

[3/12/03]  Cerulli Associates posts “Targeted Perspective: M & A in Global Asset Management 2003,” which includes findings from the report of the same title.

[3/10/03]  The Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of the new book Protecting American Health Care Consumers by Eleanor DeArman Kinney.

[3/10/03]  The NonProfit Times issued a February 15 press release, “Nonprofits Outpace Business in Pension Offerings,” which includes key findings from a recent survey done in collaboration with Flynn Research.

[3/10/03]  RAND Health Research Highlights posted "Report Cards for Health Care: Is Anyone Checking Them?"

[3/10/03]  The Health Insurance Association of America released an executive summary of the recent study, Long-Term Care Insurance in 2000-2001.

[3/10/03]  The Economic and Social Research Institute released under its Current Policy Series a new report, “Health Insurance for Laid-Off Workers: A Time for Action,” by Lynn Etheredge and Stan Dorn.

[3/10/03]  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report by Edwin Park titled Administration’s Proposed Tax Credit for the Purchase of Health Insurance Could Weaken Employer-Based Health Insurance.

[3/10/03]  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a press release in early March, “Problems Arising from Lack of Health Insurance Ripple Through Whole Communities,” which includes key findings from a new IOM report titled A Shared Destiny: Community Effects of Uninsurance.

[3/10/03]  Deloitte & Touche’s Human Capital Advisory Services posted the March 2003 issue of Human Capital I.Q., featuring articles on HIPAA security rules, phased retirement, defined contribution fiduciary issues, and new ideas on funding retiree health plans.

[3/7/03]  The Internal Revenue Service posted the Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits: For Benefits Provided in 2003.

[3/7/03]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting has posted the following on the US Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans for 2002:

Overview and Web Program

Press release with tables

[3/7/03]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide issued a press release March 6 titled “Employer Health Costs Worse Than Budgeted in 2002,” highlighting key findings from the Eighth Annual Watson Wyatt/WBGH Survey done in collaboration with the Washington Business Group on Health.

[3/7/03]  On February 27, 2003, Rep. John Boehner introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.1000, Pension Security Act of 2003.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[3/7/03]  The U.S. House Committee on Small Business held a hearing March 5 titled “Small Business Access and Alternatives to Health Care.”  A witness list with links to testimonies has been posted.

[3/7/03]  The Medical Student Journal of the American Medical Association has made available via MSJAMA Online the following two articles in its March 5, 2003 issue:

A Historical Survey of National Health Movements and Public Opinion in the United States

Government Share of Health Care Expenditures

[3/7/03]  LIMRA International released key findings from a recent study in a February 27 press release titled “LIMRA International Survey Shows Consumer Preference for Worksite Benefits.”

[3/5/03]  In a Health Affairs Web exclusive interview between Sen. John Breaux and Gail Wilensky titled “Thinking Outside the Box: A Conversation with John Breaux,” Sen. Breaux “discusses his vision for Medicare reform and extending insurance coverage to all Americans,” with the possibility that employer-sponsored health insurance might be replaced over time.

[3/5/03]  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, along with other prominent organizations, are cosponsoring “Cover The Uninsured Week,” which runs from March 10-16, 2003. Click here for further information. In conjunction with “Cover The Uninsured Week,” the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released a report titled Going Without Health Insurance: Nearly One in Three Non-Elderly Americans, prepared by FamiliesUSA Foundation.

[3/5/03]  The Vanguard Center for Retirement Research released the Participant Report Card for 2002: The Impact of the Bear Market on Retirement Savings Plans.

[3/5/03]  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), formerly the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, released a report titled Health Disclosure and Claims Issues: Fiscal Year 2001 Compliance Project Report.   This January 2003 report includes findings from 1,267 investigations conducted in October 2000 of group health plans and their compliance with the new health care laws in Part 7 of Title I of ERISA.

[3/5/03]  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission released a report titled “Summary by the Division of Corporation Finance of Significant Issues Addressed in the Review of the Periodic Reports of the Fortune 500 Companies,” which includes the principal subjects of comment by the Division on the annual reports filed by all Fortune 500 companies in 2002.

[3/5/03]  American Express issued a press release February 24 titled “American Express National Survey Finds Mounting Financial Stress and Growing Requests for Investment Advice,” which highlights key findings from its 2002 National Survey on Financial Stress and Retirement Saving conducted in conjunction with BAI Global and American Express’ Global Marketplace Insights.

[3/5/03]  Health Care Purchasing Among State Employers is a February report from the National Health Care Purchasing Institute.

[3/3/03]  The U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued a press release February 26 titled “Labor Department Announces Compliance Assistance Program for ERISA Health Laws.”  The new program, to be known as the HIPAA Compliance Assistance Program (H-CAP), is being established “to help employers and health plans fulfill their obligations under health laws including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA), the Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act (Newborns’ Act), and the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA).  Generally, all ERISA health plans must comply with these laws with some exceptions for small businesses.”

[3/3/03]  The Kaiser Family Foundation has released its most recent Kaiser Health Poll Report titled “Health Care Worries in Context with Other Worries.”

[3/3/03]  Principal Financial Group has posted information on “The 2003 Search for The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security.” 

[3/3/03]  Recent Changes in U.S. Family Finances: Evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances Data is the latest from the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances.

[3/3/03]  Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has released a February 20 report titled Health Plan Administrative Cost Trends, which was prepared for BCBSA by Milliman USA.

[3/3/03]  In a February 24 press release titled “Time-off and Disability Programs Cost 15% of Payroll,” Mercer Human Resource Consulting highlights key findings from the 2002 Survey of Employers’ Time-Off and Disability Programs, done in collaboration with Marsh Inc.

[3/3/03]  Towers Perrin issued a news release February 24 titled “Pension Plan Funding Levels Experience Declines in 2002 Despite Small Gains in Fourth Quarter,” which includes key findings from the report, Towers Perrin Global Capital Market Update: Fourth Quarter 2002 Results for Defined Benefit Pension Plans.

[3/3/03]   Mutual Fund Connection, the website of the Investment Company Institute posted Mutual Fund Industry Developments in 2002.

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