What's New - September 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.

September 2006 EBRI Issue Brief - "Measuring Retirement Income Adequacy: Calculating Realistic Income Replacement Rates"

September 2006 EBRI Notes - "Debt of the Elderly and Near Elderly, 1992-2004"

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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
"21st Century Challenges: Retirement Insecurity," before the Southern Employee Benefits Conference, in Charlotte, North Carolina. GAO-06-1108CG, September 22, 2006 [PowerPoint slides]

Reports
Social Security Reform: Implications of Different Indexing Choices. GAO-06-804, September 14.  Highlights.

Consumer-Directed Health Plans: Early Enrollee Experiences with Health Savings Accounts and Eligible Health Plans. GAO-06-798, August 9.  Highlights.

Testimony
Health Savings Accounts: Early Enrollee Experiences with Accounts and Eligible Health Plans, by John E. Dicken, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Health Care, Senate Committee on Finance.
GAO-06-1133T, September 26.  Highlights.

Health Information Technology: HHS Is Continuing Efforts to Define Its National Strategy, by David A. Powner, director, information technology management issues, before the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce and Agency Organization, House Committee on Government Reform, in St. Louis, Missouri. GAO-06-1071T, September 1.  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.


[9/29/06] Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper:  "Health Insurance Eroding for Working Families: Employer-Provided Coverage Declines for Fifth Consecutive Year"

[9/29/06] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "Medicare Part A and Part B Adjustments Announced for 2007"

[9/29/06] National Conference of State Legislatures:  2004-2006 State Legislation on Health Savings Accounts and Consumer-Directed Health Plans

[9/29/06] National Committee for Quality Assurance:  The State of Health Care Quality 2006

[9/28/06] America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Small Group Health Insurance in 2006: A Comprehensive Survey of Premiums, Consumer Choices, and Benefits

[9/28/06] Towers Perrin:  "Towers Perrin Survey Shows Employer-Sponsored Health Benefit Costs Continue to Outpace the CPI -- Projected 6% Increase for 2007 Means Annual Cost Per Employee Will Approach $9,000"

[9/28/06] U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Health Care:  Hearing on "Health Savings Accounts: The Experience So Far" (includes links to testimonies)

[9/28/06] U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  Present Law and Analysis Relating to the Tax Treatment of Health Savings Accounts and Other Health Expenses

[9/27/06] U.S. Department of Labor:  "U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao Announces Proposed Rule on Default Investment Alternatives for Participant-Directed Plans - First Pension Law Regulation Would Boost 401(k)sFact Sheet.   Proposed Rule as published in the Federal Register of September 27, 2006.

[9/27/06] MarketWatch:  "Boost for Retirement-Savings Efforts: Labor Dept. Rules Would Remove Obstacle to Automatic 401(k) Enrollment"

[9/27/06] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Retirement and Savings Plans, June 2006

[9/27/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Roth 401(k) Plans Remain Popular but Scarce"

[9/27/06] Deloitte:  Annual 401(k) Benchmarking Survey, 2005/2006 Edition

[9/26/06] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  "Employer Costs for Employee Compensation--June 2006"

[9/26/06] Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust:  Employer Health Benefits 2006 Annual Survey

[9/26/06] Buck Consultants Newsflash:  "Reminder: Creditable Coverage Notices Must Be Provided before November 15"

[9/26/06] National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis No. 572:  "Update 2006: Why Are Health Costs Rising?"

[9/26/06] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  "DOL Mandates Electronic Filing of Form 5500, Proposes New Disclosures"

[9/22/06] Prudential Financial’s Pension Analyst:  "Pension Protection Act of 2006 Provides Retirement Savings Incentives" [featuring a discussion of the new automatic enrollment provisions]

[9/22/06] Society of Actuaries:  Key Findings and Issues: The Impact of Retirement Risk on Women: 2005 Risks and Process of Retirement Survey Report

[9/22/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Health Care Coverage and Access for Hispanics: How Does It Differ Across America

[9/22/06] AARP Data Digest:  "Boomer Wealth--Beware of the Median"

[9/21/06] Health Affairs:  "U.S. Health System Performance: A National Scorecard"

[9/21/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Say What? Why Concept Communications Are Critical" by Richard D. Quinn

[9/21/06] Fidelity Research Institute:  Beyond Conventional Wisdom: New Strategies for Lifetime Income [Overview]. Full Report.

[9/21/06] AARP Public Policy Institute:  Retirement Plan Coverage of Boomers: Analysis of 2003 SIPP Data

[9/20/06] National Journal Group (via BCBS HealthIssues.com):  "Association Health Plan Proponents May Change Senate Bill"

[9/20/06] Towers Perrin Monitor:  "Using Account-Based Plans to Engage Employees in Health Care"

[9/20/06] Workforce Management:  "Firms Try New Ways to Replace Frozen Defined-Benefit Plans" [Access may require registration]

[9/20/06] Internal Revenue Service:  FAQs Regarding Loans

[9/19/06] Buck Consultants Newsflash:  "IRS Issues Guidance on Airline Alternative Funding Schedule"

[9/19/06] Internal Revenue Service:  Election of Alternative Funding Schedule [Announcement 2006-70]

[9/18/06] The Commonwealth Fund:  "Workers Shouldering the Erosion of Employer Coverage" by Karen Davis

[9/18/06] Internal Revenue Service:  FAQs Regarding Hardship Withdrawals

[9/18/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Pension Law Changes Require Deliberate Response"

[9/18/06] CFO.com:  "Can 401(k)s Replace Pensions?"

[9/15/06] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "House Panel Passes Bill to Require Electronic Health Records for FEHBP Members"

[9/15/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Wellness Winners Share Their Success Strategies"

[9/15/06] National Retirement Partners:  Rising Interest Rates - Caveat Emptor: 401k Fiduciary Risks in a Rising Interest Rate Environment [Special White Paper Report]

[9/15/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "Analysis Needed on ROI of Benefits for Expats"

[9/14/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Analysts Drill Down on Health Care Cost Drivers"

[9/14/06] The Commonwealth Fund:  Squeezed: Why Rising Exposure to Health Care Costs Threatens the Health and Financial Well-Being of American Families [Overview]  Full Report.

[9/14/06] InvestmentNews.com:  "Small Biz: 401(k)s Too Costly"

[9/14/06] InvestmentInsights:  "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee! DC Plans Aren’t Working -- Here’s How to Fix Them" by M. Barton Waring and Laurence B. Siegel

[9/13/06] Internal Revenue Service:  Employer Comparable Contributions to Health Savings Accounts Under Section 4980G; Correction [published in the Federal Register on September 13, 2006]

[9/13/06] Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report:  "Prospect for Passage of Final Health Care Information Technology Bill Uncertain"

[9/13/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Pension Funding and Business Risk in 2005"

[9/13/06] Economic Policy Institute:  EPI Issue Guide: Retirement Security

[9/13/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Automatic Enrollment Beats Company Match, Research Shows"

[9/12/06] Business Insurance:  "Massachusetts Finalizes Health Plan Coverage Test"

[9/12/06] Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Congressional Activity Report -- 109th Congress

[9/12/06] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Electronic Filing of Form 5500 and Proposed Form Revisions"

[9/12/06] Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Personal Finance Poll:  "Vast Majority Say the Government Should Take Action to Ensure Americans Have Enough to Live on in Retirement"

[9/11/06] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Saving for Your Golden Years: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities [2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings Final Report]  News Release.

[9/11/06] National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis:  "Will Mandatory Health Insurance Work?"

[9/11/06] The Segal Company Public Sector Letter:  "Designing a Retiree Rx Strategy for 2007 and Beyond"

[9/11/06] American Academy of Actuaries Issue Brief:  "Wading Through Medical Insurance Pools: A Primer"

[9/7/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Benefit Offerings Holding Steady"

[9/7/06] Business Insurance:  "No Rehearing of IBM Cash Balance Ruling: Court"

[9/7/06] A.G. Edwards:  2006 Nest Egg Index: How Well Are Americans Saving Money?

[9/7/06] The Century Foundation Issue Brief:  "Meeting Social Security’s Long-Range Shortfall: How We Can Cope-Calmly-with a Readily Manageable Challenge" by Robert M. Ball

[9/6/06] Monthly Labor ReviewLeave Benefits in 2006

[9/6/06] The Hill:  "Congress Likely to Tackle Only Modest Healthcare Measures before November Elections"

[9/6/06] TheStreet.com:  "Life-Cycle Funds Not a Retirement Cure All"

[9/6/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  "Investment Returns: Defined Benefit vs. 401(k) Plans"

[9/6/06] Investment Company Institute:  Data Elements Related to Defined Contribution Plan Fee Disclosure. Comment Letter to EBSA.

[9/6/06] Internal Revenue Service:  Listing of Published Guidance (January 2006 - August 2006)

[9/5/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "Workers Motivated by Richer Benefits"

[9/5/06] Business Insurance:  "California Lawmakers Pass Single-Payer System"

[9/5/06] HR Magazine:  "Retiree Drug Coverage Comes Up for Renewal"

[9/5/06] Buck Consultants InsightOut:  "Health Care Consumerism: An Employer’s Perspective"

[9/5/06] Congressional Research Service:  Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends [Updated August 31, 2006]

[9/1/06] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  401(k) Day Is September 8, 2006

[9/1/06] Internal Revenue Service:  Dividends Paid Deduction for Stock Held in Employee Stock Ownership Plan; Final Regulations [published in the Federal Register on August 30, 2006]

[9/1/06] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Technical Update 06-3: 2006 Participant Notice

[9/1/06] Milliman’s PERiScope:  "Pension Protection Act of 2006: Provisions for Governmental Plans"

[9/1/06] Physicians for a National Health Program:  "Pros and Cons of Single-Payer Health Care"

[9/1/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "Notching Up Commuter Benefits"

Updated 9/29/06