What's New

What's New - September 2004

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What's new at EBRI this month:

Publications:

September 2004 EBRI Issue Brief - "Health Savings Accounts and Other Account-Based Health Plans"

September 2004 EBRI Notes - "Measuring Retirement Income Adequacy, Part One: Traditional Replacement Ratios and Results for Workers at Large Companies"


EBRI 2004 Sponsor Survey -This Sponsor Survey pdf provides a brief description of each project contained in this year's EBRI Sponsor Survey. If you are an EBRI member and have not received an email with the web address for the online survey, please contact Alicia Willis at 202-572-7422 or willis@ebri.org.

EBRI Spring Policy Forum - EBRI's spring Policy Forum entitled "ERISA AT 30: The Decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?" was held in Washington, DC on May 6, 2004. Policy Forum Materials


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
Medicare: Information Needed to Assess Adequacy of Rate-Setting Methodology for Payments for Hospital Outpatient Services. GAO-04-772, September 17.  Highlights

Pension Plans: Additional Transparency and Other Actions Needed in Connection with Proxy Voting. GAO-04-749, August 10.   Highlights

Mutual Funds: SEC Should Modify Proposed Regulations to Address Some Pension Plan Concerns. GAO-04-799, July 9.  Highlights

Social Security: Distribution of Benefits and Taxes Relative to Earnings Level. GAO-04-747, June 15.  Highlights

Testimonies
Social Security: Reform Proposals Could Have a Variety of Effects on Distribution of Benefits and Taxes, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-04-872T, June 15.  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.


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.


[9/30/04]  IBM Corporation:  IBM Settles Certain Claims in Pension Lawsuit

[9/30/04]  Investment Company Institute:  Mutual Funds and the U.S. Retirement Market in 2003

[9/30/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Employers: Do Not Oversell HSAs, Experts Caution"

[9/30/04]  Families USA:  Health Care: Are You Better Off Today Than You Were Four Years Ago?

[9/29/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Fiduciary Responsibility Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 Automatic Rollover Safe Harbor; Final Rule

[9/29/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Changing 401(k) Defaults on Cashing Out: Another Step in the Right Direction

[9/29/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Health Insurance Coverage in America: 2003 Data Update Highlights [Chartpack and Tables]

[9/29/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  The Economic Downturn and Changes in Health Insurance Coverage, 2000-2003

[9/27/04]  Business Insurance:  "Mental Health Parity Extension Nears Approval"

[9/27/04]  Congressional Budget Office:  How Pension Financing Affects Returns to Different Generations

[9/27/04]  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  "Companies Adding Benefits to Help Workers Care for Aging Parents"

[9/27/04]  National Committee for Quality Assurance:  The State of Health Care Quality: 2004

[9/27/04]  BlueCross BlueShield Association:  Medicare: House Panel Rejects Call for Release of Cost Estimates

[9/23/04]  Business Insurance:  "Bill Bars Treasury from Undoing Cash-Balance Ruling"

[9/23/04]  The Washington Post:  "The Politics of Social Security" [registration may be required]

[9/23/04]  Center for Studying Health System Change:  Rising Health Costs, Medical Debt, and Chronic Conditions

[9/23/04]  National Bureau of Economic Research:  Supply or Demand: Why Is the Market for Long-Term Care Insurance So Small? [abstract of working paper]

[9/22/04]  The Segal Company:  2005 Medicare Premiums, Deductibles, and Coinsurance

[9/22/04]  Milliman, Inc.:  Multiemployer Review [Update on Issues Affecting Taft-Hartley Plans]: Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit

[9/22/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Employers Ponder HSA Investment Options"

[9/22/04]  Stateline.org:  States Loathe to Lose Say Over Insurance Plans

[9/22/04]  National Bureau of Economic Research:  Bulls, Bears, and Retirement Behavior [abstract of working paper]

[9/22/04]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Technical Update 04-4: 2004 Participant Notice

[9/20/04]  The Washington Post:  "OMB Says Medicare Drug Law Could Cost Still More" [registration may be required]

[9/20/04]  Economic Policy Institute Issue Brief:   "The Chronic Problem of Declining Health Coverage: Employer-Provided Health Insurance Falls for Third Consecutive Year"

[9/20/04]  RAND Corporation:  Health Status and Medical Treatment of the Future Elderly [Summary]

[9/20/04]  National Association of State Retirement Administrators:  Public Fund Survey Summary of Findings FY 2003

[9/17/04]  The Washington Post:  "IBM Settles Part of Giant Pension Lawsuit" [registration may be required]

[9/17/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "From A to Z: Voluntary Benefits Meet a Wide Range of Employee Needs"

[9/17/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Smaller Employers Bullish on Benefits"

[9/17/04]  Milliman, Inc.  Benefits Perspectives [Summer 2004 issue]

[9/16/04]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation -- June 2004

[9/16/04]  Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions:  Mellon’s HR&IS Conducts Twelfth National Health Care Trend Survey

[9/16/04]  Results for America:  Americans & Health Care Reform: How Access and Affordability Are Shaping Views

[9/16/04]  USA Today:  "Medical Costs Eat at Social Security"

[9/16/04]  Business Week Online:  "The Coming Pensions Crunch"

[9/16/04]  BenefitNews.com:  "More Americans Teleworking"

[9/15/04]  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:  Retirement Security for U.S. Workers: Six Principles for Fixing America’s Outdated Pension Laws

[9/15/04]  U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:  Speech on Airline Pension Troubles, Six Principles to Reform & Strengthen the Defined Benefit Pension System

[9/15/04]  Center on Federal Financial Institutions:  PBGC: When Will the Cash Run Out?

[9/15/04]  Mercer Investment Consulting:  North American Defined Contribution Plans: Where Are They Headed?  Press Release

[9/14/04]  Contingencies Magazine:  "Presidential Prescriptions for Our Ailing Health Care System"

[9/14/04]  The Washington Post:  "Congressman to Push for Tougher Pension Rules" [registration may be required]

[9/14/04]  Congressional Research Service:  Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends [updated September 10, 2004]

[9/14/04]  American Benefits Council:  Talking Points on Hybrid Plans

[9/14/04]  Workforce.com:  Pension Pain for Multinationals

[9/14/04]  BenefitNews.com:  "Group Life Insurance Provides Majority of Coverage"

[9/10/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust:  Employer Health Benefits 2004 Annual Survey

[9/10/04]  Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:  "Health Benefits in 2004: Four Years of Double-Digit Premium Increases Take Their Toll On Coverage"

[9/10/04]  The Segal Company:  2005 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey [abstract]

[9/10/04]  AcademyHealth:  Issue Brief:   "Health Savings Accounts: Issues and Implementation Decisions for States"

[9/9/04]  Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions:  Key 2005 Medicare Values Announced

[9/9/04]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  US Medicare Reform -- Start Planning Now

[9/9/04]  California HealthCare Foundation:  Health Care Costs 101

[9/9/04]  H.R.4851:  “To reform Social Security by establishing a Personal Social Security Savings Program”  Bill Summary & Status Information

[9/9/04]   Economic Policy Institute:  The State of Working America 2004/2005

[9/8/04]  Deloitte Consulting:  Companies Choose Consumer-Driven Health Plans to Curb Double-Digit Annual Cost Increases

[9/8/04]  Center for Long-Term Care Financing:  The Realist’s Guide to Medicaid and Long-Term Care

[9/8/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Rebounding Economy Renews Interest in Lifestyle Benefits"

[9/8/04]  The Washington Post:  "Flextime Bids Fond Farewell to the 9-to-5" [registration may be required]

[9/8/04]  U.S. Department of Labor:  DOL’s FairPay Overtime Initiative

[9/7/04]  HSA Insider:  A website “designed to help individuals and employers have their questions about Health Savings Accounts answered”

[9/7/04]  The White House:  Fact Sheet: President Bush’s Plan to Make Health Care More Affordable

[9/7/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Groups Unite on Pension Reform"

[9/7/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Notice 2004-60: Weighted Average Interest Rates Update

[9/7/04]  Investment Company Institute:  The IRA: Thirty Years of Promoting Savings and Realizing Retirement Goals

[9/7/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Employer Matching and 401(k) Saving: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

[9/3/04]  Aspen Publishers’ Spencer Benefits Reports:   ERISA Celebrates 30th Anniversary As Trouble Brews for the Pension Insurance Program [feature 9/2/04]

[9/3/04]  Alliance for Health Care Reform:  Sourcebook: Covering Health Issues 2004

[9/3/04]  Center for Studying Health System Change:  Trends in Americans’ Access to Needed Medical Care, 2001-2003

[9/3/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Automatic IRA Rollover Rules Nearing Completion"

[9/3/04]  Pension Research Council:  The Future of Pension Plan Design [working paper]

[9/3/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Reform Model Two of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security: Distributional Outcomes Under Different Economic and Behavioral Assumptions

[9/2/04]  Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  September 7, 2004: 401(k) Day

[9/2/04]  Investment Company Institute:  Frequently Asked Questions About 401(k) Plans

[9/2/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Deferring Income in Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans: The Dynamics of Participant Contributions

[9/2/04]  AARP:  Staying Ahead of the Curve 2004: Employer Best Practices for Mature Workers [Executive Summary]

[9/2/04]  Pension Research Council:  Older Workers: Employment and Retirement Trends [working paper]

[9/1/04]  Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Monthly Labor Review, August 2004 issue:

[9/1/04]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  Will Poverty, Income, and Health Insurance Coverage Improve Significantly in 2004?

[9/1/04]  Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:  "Managed Care Rebound? Recent Changes in Health Plans’ Cost Containment Strategies"

[9/1/04]  The Segal Company:  Accounting and Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefits Other Than Pensions: GASB’s Final Standards

[9/1/04]  The Federal Reserve Board:  Remarks by Chairman Alan Greenspan at a Symposium Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City [including remarks about Social Security and Medicare]

[9/1/04]  Pension Research Council:  Looking Backward, Looking Forward: Where Is Pension Policy Headed? [working paper]

                               


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Updated 9/30/04