What's New

What's New - September 2003

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EBRI Celebrates 25th Anniversary in 2003:  The Employee Benefit Research Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary  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:

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

EBRI Health Research and Education Program: check out this program under its new name.

 

EBRI Priorities Survey:  Complete EBRI's online Priorities Survey and give us your input on future EBRI research topics.

EBRI/ICI  401(k)  2002  Data:  The September 2003 EBRI Issue Brief, "401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2002," examines asset allocation, account balance, and loan activity of a large and representative group of 401(k) plan participants as of year-end 2002 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.

Press Release | September 2003 EBRI Issue Brief | Appendix

Findings From the 2003 Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS)

Compensation Costs in State and Local Governments: March 1991 to March 2003

EBRI Special Report:   “How Many Medicare Beneficiaries Will Lose Employment-Based Retiree Health Benefits if Medicare Covers Outpatient Prescription Drugs?”  This analysis estimates it is possible that between two percent and nine percent of current Medicare beneficiaries with employment-based retiree health benefits for prescription drug coverage would lose those benefits if Medicare provides outpatient prescription drug benefits, solely as a result of that change in the program.

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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:

Correspondence and Briefing

Health Care: Approaches to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities.  GAO-03-862R, July 8, 2003.

Reports
Prescription Drug Discount Cards: Savings Depend on Pharmacy and Type of Card Used.  GAO-03-912, September 3, 2003.   Highlights

Medical Malpractice: Implications of Rising Premiums on Access to Health Care. GAO-03-836, August 8, 2003.  Highlights.

Opportunities for Oversight and Improved Use of Taxpayer Funds. GAO-03-1006, August 1, 2003.

Public Accounting Firms: Mandated Study on Consolidation and Competition.  GAO-03-864, July 30, 2003.

Private Pensions: Participants Need Information on Risks They Face in Managing Pension Assets at and during Retirement.   GAO-03-810, July 29, 2003.  Highlights.

Social Security Reform: Analysis of a Trust Fund Exhaustion Scenario.  GAO-03-907, July 29, 2003.  Highlights.

Medical Malpractice Insurance: Multiple Factors Have Contributed to Increased Premium Rates.  GAO-03-702, June 27, 2003.  Highlights

High-Risk Series: An Update. GAO-03-119, January 2003.

Testimony
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Single-Employer Pension Insurance Program Faces Significant Long-Term Risks, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  GAO-03-873T, September 4, 2003.  Highlights.

Social Security Reform: Analysis of a Trust Fund Exhaustion Scenario Illustrates the Difficult Choices and the Need for Early Action, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.  GAO-03-1038T, July 29, 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.


[9/25/03]  The Fall edition of the IRS’s Employee Plans News contains “Employee Plans Published Guidance” (Revenue Rulings, Notices, Regulations, Revenue Procedures) for the period July 2003 - September 2003.

[9/25/03]  Towers Perrin’s Global Consulting Group prepared the Second Quarter 2003 [performance] Results for Defined Benefit Pension Plans in Selected Countries.

[9/25/03]  Staying Ahead of the Curve 2003: The AARP Working in Retirement Study was released September 2003.

[9/25/03]  Preliminary study results of University of Minnesota research on consumer-driven health care plans are reported in a September 15 press release: “Consumer-Driven Health Care Research Findings Released.”

[9/25/03]  The U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration’s Advisory Opinion 2003-11A addresses the issue of whether a 401(k) plan may provide to plan participants a special summary (or “profile”) of a mutual fund’s prospectus rather than the prospectus in some circumstances and remain eligible for ERISA Sec. 404(c) protections.

[9/25/03]   Trends and Variability in Individual [health] Insurance Products in California is a Web exclusive on healthaffairs.org.

[9/25/03]  Read “Senators Debate About Social Security” by Leigh Strope of the Associated Press and published September 23 on Washingtonpost.com.

[9/25/03]  A Guest Article on BenefitsLink from the September 22, 2003, issue of Deloitte & Touche's Washington Bulletin says “DOL Says Plans Can Provide Profiles Instead of Prospectuses in Most Cases Under ERISA 404(c).”

[9/25/03]  The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) released its annual State of Health Care Quality report.

[9/25/03]  The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) launched a new Web site to help California business owners with 50 or fewer employees make informed decisions about offering health benefits.  HealthCoverageGuide.org will provide unbiased health coverage information.

[9/25/03]  A new series on national retirement income system reform in developed nations has been created by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.  The first brief is on the United States: “Reforming the U.S. Retirement Income System: The Growing Role of Work.” 

[9/22/03]  The American Association of Health Plans (AAHP) and the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) announced today they will merge into a single health plan trade group.  Under the temporary name of AAHP/HIAA, the group will represent more than 1,400 health insurers, health maintenance organizations, and preferred provider organizations.

[9/22/03]  Grace-Marie Turner, of the Galen Institute, participated in the Iowa Association of Health Underwriters 2003 Annual Healthcare Symposium with her presentation titled: Trends in the Health Insurance Marketplace: Consumer-Driven Health Care.

[9/22/03]  CCH INCORPORATED's Federal and State Tax Group released their Projected Inflation-Adjusted Tax Brackets and Other Amounts for 2004.

[9/22/03]  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics latest data on Employee Benefits in Private Industry, 2003 is online.   The press release contains a text summary with tablesThe table of contents has links to tables and text explanations.

[9/22/03]  MEPS Statistical Brief  # 23, Employer-Sponsored Single, Employee-Plus-One and Family Health Insurance Coverage: Selection and Cost, 2001, is posted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

[9/22/03]  Click here for the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Exposure Draft: Proposed Statement of Financial Accounting Standards: Employers' Disclosures About Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits: an amendment of FASB Statements No. 87, 88, and 106 and a replacement of FASB Statement No. 132.

[9/17/03]  Seven candidates for the U.S. presidency have proposed extending health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans.  The Commonwealth Fund reviews the candidates' strategies and compares the numbers of uninsured who would be covered under each plan as well as estimated costs in Health Care Reform Returns to the National Agenda: The 2004 Presidential Candidates’ Proposals.  Press Release   /  Summary of the report  /  Full report

[9/16/03]  The National Coalition for Corporate Reform, powered by state treasurers and pension funds, “seeks to restore investor confidence through better corporate governance.”

[9/16/03]  The Lipper Research Study, Does Fund Size Affect Performance?, is the result of a survey by Andrew Clark of performance data from hundreds of mutual funds between 1991 and 2001.

[9/16/03]  The 2003 State-by-State Medicaid Fact Sheets from the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions and the American Academy of Pediatrics update their series of one-page fact sheets on children and Medicaid in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and includes a one-page national overview.

[9/16/03]  The 2003 edition of Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security  has been released by the Social Security Administration.

[9/16/03]  The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America provides an overview of the 46th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans results, reflecting the plan year 2002 experience of 1,046 profit sharing and 401(k) plans.

[9/16/03]  The “Description of the Senate Finance Committee Chairman’s Mark of the ‘National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Guarantee Act,’” prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, is available.

[9/16/03]  A witness list with links to testimonies at the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Financial Management, the Budget, and International Security’s September 15 hearing, “Safeguarding America’s Retirement Security: An Examination of Defined Benefit Pension Plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation” is available.

[9/16/03]  Vanguard Group research, Participant Report Card for June 2003: Stock Market Gains Contribute to Improved Returns, is available.

[9/12/03]  “GE Financial Survey Shows Americans Unrealistic, Unaware and Undereducated about Retirement Income Planning; Many Building 'Nest Egg' With No Idea How to Make it Last in Retirement.”

[9/12/03]  Stephen Rosenberg is the author of the Commonwealth Fund report: New York's HealthPass Purchasing Alliance: Making Coverage Easier for Small Businesses. Summary / Full Report

[9/12/03]  Click here for the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration’s September 8 Advisory Opinion 2003-11A on the use of mutual fund profiles for ERISA 404(c) compliance.

[9/10/03]  “HMO or PPO: Picking a managed-care plan” is an October 2003 article on ConsumerReports.com based on a Consumer Reports survey of readers.


[9/10/03]  The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) issued September 5 Technical Update 03-17 which provides guidance on whether a plan administrator of an underfunded single-employer defined benefit pension plan insured by PBGC is required to issue a 2003 participant notice.

[9/10/03]  According to the 2003 Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET), employers continue to offer health benefits to their workers at the same rate as last year.

[9/8/03]  There will be a live webcast Tuesday, September 9 at 9:00 a.m. on Kaisernetwork.Org for the release of the 2003 Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.  The live webcast of this event will be available from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. EST.  An archived version of the webcast will be available after 5:00 p.m. EST.

[9/8/03]  The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s September 4 hearing, “Strengthening Pension Security and Defined Benefit Plans: Examining the Financial Health of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation,” as available online, includes a witness list with links to testimonies and a chart.  Click here for the Committee’s press release, “Committee Seeks Ways to Bolster Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Prevent Taxpayer-Funded Bailout.”

[9/8/03]  Circadian Technologies, Inc. released highlights from a study, Cost Benefits of Child Care for Extended Hours Operations, in an August 12 press release, “Companies Can Reap Large Returns by Offering Employees Off Hours Child Care Assistance.”

[9/8/03]  Strong Retirement Plan Services released highlights from the Picturing Retirement Survey which found that many Americans expect to continue working after retiring.  Click here for the September 2 press release from Strong, “The American Work Ethic in Retirement: Many Plan to Keep Those Paychecks Coming In,” made available by the PR Newswire service.

[9/8/03]  On August 21 Reuters posted a corrected version of its press release, “Pension Funds to Rebound from 2002 Lows - Report,” which includes highlights from a recent Bear Stearns report on corporate pension plan funding

[9/4/03]  An Internal Revenue Service September 3 news release, “Over-the Counter Drugs To Be Covered by Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts,” contains highlights from Revenue Ruling 2003-102 to be published September 22 in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2003-38.

[9/4/03]  Hewitt Associates’ September 3 press release, “U.S. Employers Remain Committed to 401(k) Plans Despite Weak Economy,” includes key findings from its recent study 2003 Trends and Experience in 401(k) Plans.

[9/4/03]  The Allstate Insurance Company September 3 news release, “Generation X Carves Out Its Own Retirement-Savings Style,”  includes highlights from Allstate’s third annual Retirement Reality Check SurveyClick here for the executive summary of the survey..

[9/4/03]  The Hay Group’s August 18 press release, “New Study from Hay Group Predicts Another Year of Sharp Increases in Medical Premiums,” highlights key findings from the 2003 Hay Benefits Report.

[9/4/03]  Beyond the Numbers: The 2003 Annual 401(k) Report is the first annual 401(k) report from Principal Financial Services.

 

[9/4/03]   The 2002 Transamerica Small Business Retirement Survey was released in November 2002.

[9/4/03]  The 2004 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey: Preliminary Findings has been posted by The Segal Group.

[9/4/03]  Consumers Want Health Care Costs Information by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn was published by the California HealthCare Foundation on September 1, 2003.  Consumers search for comparative health cost information on the Internet according to findings in the 2003 Consumer Directed Health Care Survey, conducted by the Dieringer Research Group.

[9/1/03]   The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has released five working papers.  View the executive summary or full paper via the links provided below:

1.   Employment, Social Security, and Future Retirement Outcomes for Single Mothers by Richard W. Johnson, Melissa M. Favreault, and Joshua H. Goldwyn

Executive Summary

Full paper

2.  The Outlook for Pension Contributions and Profits in the U.S. by Alicia H. Munnell and Mauricio Soto

Executive Summary

Full paper

3.   Social Security Reform and the Exchange of Bequests for Elder Care by Meta Brown

Executive Summary

Full paper

4.   Annuities and Individual Welfare by Thomas Davidoff, Jeffrey Brown, and Peter Diamond

Full paper

5.   Becoming Oldest-Old: Evidence from Historical U.S. Data by Dora L. Costa and Joanna Lahey

Full paper

[9/1/03]   Projected Retirement Adequacy of Workers Age 50 to 61: Changes Between 1998 and 2001, by Sherman Hanna, E. Thomas Garman and Rui Yao, with data from the 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances, updates their previous analysis.

[9/1/03]   September 2, 2003, is 401(k) Day as presented by the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA).

[9/1/03]   The following documents have been added to the Congressional Budget Office site:

[9/1/03]  Wellness programs good for bottom line writes Lou Marano of United Press International as reprinted at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans site.

[9/1/03]  Prescription Drugs: Comparison of Drug Costs and Patterns of Use in Workers Compensation and Group Health Plans is new research from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

[9/1/03]   The Workers Compensation Research Institute's August Research Brief is The Anatomy of Workers' Compensation Medical Costs and Utilization: Trends and Interstate Comparisons, 1996-2000.

                                


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