What's New

What's New - November 2003

Index to All Months                                                  Return to Current Month

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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: Declining Levels and Geographic Differences

Findings From the 2003 Health Confidence Survey: Americans Increasingly Worried About Health Care Costs

Facts from EBRI:  Flexible Spending Accounts

1st quarter 2003 Pension Investment Report (PIR):
The EBRI Pension Investment Report (PIR) contains data on private trusteed, private life insurance, and state and local government pension funds.  For more information, contact EBRI Publications at (202) 572-7422 or publications@ebri.org.

The sixth annual Health Confidence Survey:
2003 results released September 29, 2003, by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc. 

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EBRI Research Findings for 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:
Information Technology: Benefits Realized for Selected Health Care Functions.  GAO-04-224, October 31, 2003.   Highlights.

Physician Workforce: Supply Increased in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas but Geographic Disparities Persisted.   GAO-04-124, October 31, 2003.  Highlights.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Single-Employer Pension Insurance Program Faces Significant Long-Term Risks.   GAO-04-90, October 29, 2003.  Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: Federal and State Requirements Affecting Coverage Offered by Small Businesses.   GAO-03-1133, September 30, 2003.  Highlights.

Testimonies:
Private Pensions: Changing Funding Rules and Enhancing Incentives Can Improve Plan Funding, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  GAO-04-176T, October 29, 2003.  Highlights.

Business-Owned Life Insurance: Preliminary Observations on Uses, Prevalence, and Regulatory Oversight, by Davi D'Agostino, director,financial markets and community investment, before the Senate Committee on Finance.  GAO-04-191T, October 23, 2003.  Highlights.

Prescription Drugs: State and Federal Oversight of Drug Compounding by Pharmacies, by Janet Heinrich, director, health care-public health issues, before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  GAO-04-195T, October 23, 2003.  Highlights.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Long-Term Financing Risks to Single Employer Insurance Program Highlight Need for Comprehensive Reform, testimony by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce and income security issues, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.   GAO-04-150T, October 14, 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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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.


[11/21/03]  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued the Reporting and Disclosure Guide for Employee Benefit Plans which will assist employers, plan sponsors, service providers and other plan officials in meeting their reporting and disclosure obligations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

[11/21/03]   Mercer Human Resource Consulting has released data from its first Premium Executive Compensation Survey – A Study of Fortune 500 Corporations.

[11/21/03]   The following documents have been added to the Congressional Budget Office site:

[11/21/03]   The Profit Sharing/401k Council of America (PSCA) joined numerous “associations, service providers, and employers in a letter urging the Securities and Exchange Commission to avoid unnecessarily harming employer-provided retirement plan participants when it considers remedies to the trading problems surrounding mutual funds.”

[11/21/03]   The Kaiser Family Foundation provides a Medicare Drug Benefit Calculator that allows users to enter their annual prescription drug costs and to receive an estimate of what they might pay out of pocket under the Medicare legislation being considered by Congress.

[11/21/03]  The Economic Policy Institute’s JobWatch feature tracks current trends in the U.S. labor market and offers up-to-date readings on jobs and wages.

[11/21/03]  U.S. Internal Revenue Service Rev. Proc. 2003-85 provides inflation-adjusted figures for 2004 for various Code sections regarding fringe benefits as posted at BenefitsLink.

[11/21/03]  “American Express National Survey Finds Workers Coping with the Financial Strain of Recent Health Care Cost Increases: Short-Term Benefits, Expensive Trade-Offs Threaten Long-Term Retirement Savings” according to a recent survey.

[11/21/03]  Click here for highlights from the Mercer/Marsh Survey of Employers’ Time-off and Disability Programs released by Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Marsh Inc.

[11/21/03]  “Mellon Survey of Cash Balance Plans Dispels Common Myths and Affirms Positive Features” reports preliminary findings from Mellon’s 2003 survey of cash balance plans.

[11/21/03]  “Holiday Bonuses Remain Out in the Cold, Hewitt Study Shows” according to the 2003 Holiday Bonus and Gift Study published by Hewitt Associates.

[11/21/03]  Progressivity and Government Incentives to Save by Peter Orszag and Robert Greenstein is available from The Brookings Institution.

[11/19/03]  What Will Judge Posner Do Next? Balm or Bomb for Cash Balance Plans? by Alvin D. Lurie, is a working paper approved for limited distribution via BenefitsLink.com.

[11/19/03]   The National Retirement Planning Coalition (NRPC) promotes the week of November 17, 2003, as National Retirement Planning Week – “a broadbased awareness campaign designed to educate Americans on the importance of retirement  planning and the steps they need to take to ensure their retirement income will meet their desired  retirement lifestyles.”

[11/19/03]  Plan Sponsor’s 2003 Defined Contribution [service provider] Survey results have been published.

 

[11/19/03]  “The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) ….published the Medical Cost Reference Guide, a compendium of the best secondary research available focusing on the key drivers of healthcare costs.”

 

[11/19/03]  The 2003 California Establishment Survey: Preliminary Findings on Employer Based Healthcare Reform is an analysis of California’s SB2, the Health Insurance Act of 2003.

[11/19/03]  Click here for highlights from U.S. Pharmacopeia’s report titled Summary of Information Submitted to MEDMARX in the Year 2002: The Quest for Quality.

[11/19/03]  “Manulife USA-Commissioned Survey Shows Workers Who Set Goals Feel More Confident About Retirement,” according to the second annual Financial Dreams and Fears of American Workers Study.

[11/19/03]  “New Analysis Reveals Wealth Gap between Hispanic and Other Americans” according to data from the Federal Reserve Board that were analyzed by the Consumer Federation of America and Freddie Mac.

[11/17/03]  The AARP report, Pennies from Heaven: Will Inheritances Bail Out the Boomers?, focuses on Boomers as part of an analysis of bequests to all age groups.

[11/17/03]   The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) announced that the maximum benefit it will guarantee for retirees in underfunded single-employer defined benefit plans that terminate in the year 2004 will be $3,698.86 per month, or $44,386.32 per year.

[11/17//03]   A report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, The State of Health Insurance in California: Long-Term and Intermittent Lack of Health Insurance Coverage, is based on data from the 2001 California Health Interview Survey.

[11/17/03]  “Special Pension Funding Break Would Widen Gap in Worst-Funded Plans by $40 Billion: Most Plans on PBGC’s High-Risk List Would Be Exempt from Making Payments,” according to an analysis by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PGBC).

[11/17/03]  “Group Medical Premiums Continue to Rise, Employers Search for Cost-Control Options, CIAB Survey Shows” reports survey results from the Fall 2003 Employee Benefits Market Survey conducted by the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.

[11/17/03]  “Not Your Mother’s Retirement Savings: Allstate Survey Shows Gen-X Women Take an Early, Aggressive Look at Their Finances” reports key findings from the third annual Allstate Retirement Reality Check survey.

[11/13/03]   A Year-End Checkup for Benefit Plans is from eAlert, Aon Consulting's publication that summarizes human  resource and employee benefits developments.

[11/13/03]  The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured released two reports that relate to the current debate on a Medicare prescription drug benefit: Coordinating Medicaid and Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage and Shifting the Cost of Dual Eligibles: Implications for States and the Federal Government.

[11/13/03]   AARP’s Public Policy Institute released Retirement Coverage of Women and Minorities: Analysis of SIPP 1998 Data and Older Workers' Pension Plan and IRA Coverage.

[11/13/03]   Available -- a HealthCast of a teleconference to discuss "Battery Powered Health Insurance? Stability and Instability in Coverage of the Uninsured Over Time" and a companion Commonwealth Fund report, "Churn, Churn, Churn: How Instability of Health Insurance Shapes American's Uninsured Problem."

[11/13/03]   View a webcast on Health Insurance Expansions, 2004: Examining the Options, a November 11 meeting sponsored by the Council on Health Care Economics and Policy which focused on the presidential candidates' health care plans.

[11/13/03]  A Wharton study compares average pharmaceutical prices in nine countries -- the United States, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom: "Prices and Availability of Pharmaceuticals: Evidence from Nine Countries" published in Health Affairs.

[11/13/03]  The study, The Impact of Social Security Reform on Women in Three Countries, from the National Center for Policy Analysis, discusses the experience of Chile, Argentina and Mexico.

[11/13/03]  The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has created the WCRI Medical Price Index for Workers' Compensation (MPI-WC) to track medical price inflation.

[11/13/03] The 2003 Transamerica Small Business Retirement Survey reports on retirement planning guidance and retirement benefits’ importance in recruiting employees.

[11/13/03]  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality posts MEPS Chartbook #11: Health Care Expenses in the Community Population, 1999.

[11/12/03]   The October 27 issue of Pensions & Investments celebrated the publication’s 30th anniversary.  EBRI’s Dallas Salisbury was honored as one of 30 “Difference Makers” in the pension industry during the past 30 years.

 

[11/12/03]  The Pension Research Council releases additional 2003 working papers:

  • Who's Afraid of a Poor Old Age?: Risk Perception in Risk Management Decisions

  • Behavioral Portfolios: Hope for Riches and Protection from Poverty

  • How Much Choice is Too Much?: Contributions to 401(k) Retirement Plans

  • "Money Attitudes" and Retirement Plan Design: One size Does Not Fit All

  • Employee Investment Decisions about Company Stock

  • Implications of Information and Social Interactions for Retirement Saving Decisions

  • Saving and the Effectiveness of Financial Education

  • Sex Differences, Financial Education, and Retirement Goals

  • Retirement Security in a DC World: Using Behavioral Finance to Bridge the Expertise Gap

  • Adult Learning Principles and Pension Participant Behavior

  • How Do Retirees Go from Stock to Flow?

  • Annuities and Retirement Satisfaction

[11/12/03]  The benefits strategies of the Principal┬« 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security are displayed in Innovation at Work: A Guide to Best Practices in Employee Benefits.  Dallas Salisbury of EBRI was a judge for the second annual program.

[11/12/03]  “Hewitt Data Shows U.S. Employees Cash Out of 401(k) Plans When Changing Jobs” highlights recent data analysis by Hewitt Associates.

[11/12/03]  “Fidelity Reports American Workers Need Broader Approach To Retirement Planning” according to a recent Fidelity Investments survey.

[11/12/03]  “American Century Surveys Workers on Rolling Over Retirement Savings” reports key findings from American Century’s Rollover Survey.

[11/12/03]  The Federal Employee Health Benefits Program: A Model for Workers, Not Medicare is from The Commonwealth Fund.

[11/12/03]  “Worker Pain Costs More Than $60 Billion a Year, Study Finds” includes findings as reported in the November 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

[11/12/03]  Rep. Nancy Johnson introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R. 2915, National Health Information Infrastructure Act of 2003.  Click here for Bill Summary & Status information.

[11/12/03]  A summary report of  The Cost Savings of Disease Management Programs: Report on a Study of Health Plans is from  the American Association of Health Plans/Health Insurance Association of America.

[11/5/03]  “The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource.”

[11/5/03]   Posted to Mutual Fund Connection, the website of the Investment  Company Institute, Institutional Investment Management: A Comparison of Portfolio Management Expenses of Mutual Funds and Defined Benefit Pension Plans.

[11/5/03]   Salary survey findings in 2003 Human Resource Management Positions are from Mercer Human Resource Consulting and the Society for Human Resource Management.

[11/5/03]   The U.S. Supreme Court will rule in two cases this year that will settle the issue of patients' right to sue their Health Maintenance Organizations.  Both cases, Davila v. Aetna US Healthcare and Calad v. Cigna Healthcare of Texas, involve Texas state residents who claim their HMOs' refusal to allow doctor-recommended treatment caused injury.

[11/5/03]  The hearing, “Mutual Funds: Trading Practices and Abuses that Harm Investors,” was held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Financial Management, the Budget, and International Security. 

[11/5/03]  "The Future Security of Workers' Pensions" was presented as testimony by J. Mark Iwry before the U. S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Workforce on October 29, 2003.

[11/5/03]  Connecting Organizational Communication to Financial Performance - 2003/2004 Communication ROI Study™ reports the results of the Watson Wyatt survey of 267 U.S. companies.

[11/5/03]   Read 10 Questions to Ask Before Buying a 403(b) Fixed Annuity by G. Wade Caldwell posted at 403bwise.

[11/5/03]   “Retirement Plan Trends: Where are We Headed?” by Amy Stefancic, is posted with permission from the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists’ Benefits Quarterly 4th Quarter 2003 issue.

[11/5/03]  The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College released the working paper, Aggregate Implications of Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Systems by Francisco Gomes and Alexander Michaelides.
Executive Summary           Full Paper

[11/5/03]  Cost and Coverage Analysis of Ten Proposals To Expand Health Insurance Coverage, by the Lewin Group, is part of the Economic and Social Research Institute's "Covering America" project.

[11/1/03]  “Medicare Announces 2004 Physician Fee Schedule and Payment Policy Changes” in a news release from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

[11/1/03]  “HELP Committee Passes Gregg Pension Plan: Three-Year Fix to Ease Pension Crunch Ready for Senate Floor.”

[11/1/03]  Click here for a full copy of the Social Investment Forum's 2003 Report on Socially Responsible Investing Trends in the United States.

[11/1/03]  Reversal of Fortune: The Rising Cost of Public Sector Pensions and Other Post-Employment Benefits is a special report from Fitch Ratings.

[11/1/03]  “2004 HMO Premium Increases to Average 15%: HMOs Prepare the Way for Consumer Driven Approaches” highlights key findings from Milliman USA’s 12th Annual HMO Intercompany Rate Survey.

[11/1/03]  The Hospital Patient Safety Survey Results report is available from The Leapfrog Group.

[11/1/03]  The maximum limits subject to inflation indexing chart, Maximum Benefits and Contributions Limits for 2000-2004, produced at Carol V. Calhoun's employee benefits Web site, now includes the 2004 limits.

[11/1/03]  The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA) announces the winners of the eighth annual Signature Awards competition which recognizes excellence in 401(k) plan communication and investment education.

[11/1/03]  The Pension Research Council posts recent Working Papers:

[11/1/03]   The Kaiser Family Foundation's online news and information service has added an Issue Spotlight on Minority Health and Health Care Disparities.

[11/1/03]   The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and the National Conference of State Legislatures released a new online database, Medicaid Benefits: Services Covered, Limits, Copayments and Reimbursement Methodologies for 50 States, District of Columbia and the Territories.

[11/1/03]   The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research documents the health status, health behaviors, preventive services, and access to medical care of older persons in California in Health Status of Older Californians: County Data Book.

[11/1/03]  The Medicare chartpack of the Commonwealth Fund has been updated: Medicare's Future: Current Picture, Trends, and Prescription Drug Policy Debate.

[11/1/03]   The following cost estimate has been added to the Congressional Budget Office Web site: S. 1708, Unemployment Compensation Extension Act.

[11/1/03]  The U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation has written a Description of H.R. 2896, the “American Jobs Creation Act of 2003."

[11/1/03]  Click here for David C. John’s October 29, 2003, testimony: The Pension Underfunding Crisis: How Effective Have Funding Reforms Been?

 

 


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Updated 11/28/03