What's New

What's New - May 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.

Live, Interactive Two Hour Audio/Video Briefing:

The 1.5 Million Question: How to Provide -- and Pay for-- Retiree Health Care?

The Employee Benefit Research Institute in Collaboration with the Medical Business Exchange presents an in-depth discussion on one of the most pressing social/welfare issues of our age.   There is a 30% discount for EBRI Members.  Click here to register.

Date/Time of Briefing: June 26, 2003 / 2:00 –4:00 pm (Eastern)

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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:

2003 Texas Retirement Confidence Survey

2003 Florida Retirement Confidence Survey

2003 EBRI Annual Report

The Social Security Administration and the American Savings Education Council launched the national Save For Your Future™ Campaign to educate Americans about saving and planning for all stages of  life, including retirement.

EBRI Research Highlights: Health Benefits

Making Coverage Decisions

Social Security Actuarial Balance and the Labor Force Participation Rate

The Basics of Medicare: Updated With the 2003 Board of Trustees Report

The Basics of Social Security: Updated With the 2003 Board of Trustees Report

2003 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS)

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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
Federal Pensions: DOL Oversight and Thrift Savings Plan Accountability.  GAO-03-400, April 23, 2003.  Highlights

Retirement Income: Intergenerational Comparisons of Wealth and Future Income.  GAO-03-429, April 25, 2003.  Highlights

Social Security and Minorities: Earnings, Disability Incidence, and Mortality Are Key Factors That Influence Taxes Paid and Benefits Received.  GAO-03-387, April 23, 2003.  Highlights.

Social Security Reform: Information on Using a Voluntary Approach to Individual Accounts.   GAO-03-309, March 10, 2003.  Highlights

Testimony
Social Security: Issues Relating to Noncoverage of Public Employees, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the Subcommittee on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means.  GAO-03-710T, May 1, 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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[5/27/03] The annual study by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's WorkNet project, The State of the Workplace for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans, is posted online.

[5/27/03]   The 2003 Mutual Fund Fact Book is available from the Investment Company Institute.

[5/27/03]   An Economic Primer to White-Collar Reform by the Employment Policy Foundation “finds that the workforce has experienced dramatic shifts in three key areas--job availability, occupational structure and educational attainment of workers-since the Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted in 1938.”

[5/27/03]   What Employers Need to Know About Proposed Changes to DOL's White-Collar Exemption Rules is available from the thompson Publishing Group.

[5/27/03]  During a recent Wharton Pension Research Council conference, Decision-Making under Uncertainty: Implications for Pensions, the “Will Baby-Boomers' Retirement Years Go Bust from a Lack of Savings?” issue was explored.

[5/27/03]  The Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) posts: "Health Care Cost and Access Problems Intensify: Initial Findings From HSC's Recent Site Visits," a May 2003 Issue Brief by Cara S. Lesser and Paul B. Ginsburg.

[5/27/03]  The Future Supply of Long-Term Care Workers in relation to The Aging Baby Boom Generation, a May 14 report to Congress, was prepared by staff from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA) and from the Department of Labor's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Employment and Training Administration (ETA).

[5/27/03]  The Commonwealth Fund recently published:

[5/27/03]  Developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV at Work offers resources to address HIV and AIDS in the workplace.

[5/27/03]  According to a May 2003 CBS News/New York Times poll, “Americans are more concerned about access to health insurance than the implementation of new tax cuts.”

[5/27/03]  The State Coverage Initiatives program “is a national initiative of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that helps states improve the availability and affordability of health insurance through grants, technical assistance, workshops, and written products.”

[5/27/03]  HealthCareCoach.com, a project of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), has facts and do-it-yourself tips on everything from health insurance to patient care to help you help yourself.

[5/22/03]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide posted a May 21 article titled Accounting-Rule Change Would Sharply Increase Balance-Sheet Cost of Many Cash-Balance Pension Plans.

[5/22/03]  The Spring 2003 issue of Milliman USA’s Multiemployer Review features an article titled “Multiemployer Pension Plan Funding Problems.”

[5/22/03]  The office of U.S. Senator Judd Gregg issued a press release May 21 titled “Senate HELP Committee Passes Bipartisan Bill to Protect Against Genetic Discrimination.”

[5/22/03]  The Dieringer Research Group issued a press release May 14 titled “Savvy Consumers Ready to Step into Healthcare Cost Containment Fray,” which includes findings from the 2003 Consumer Directed Health Care Survey, conducted by DRG in collaboration with the Pareto Health Group.

[5/22/03]  The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released May 16 The State of the Workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans 2002, which includes statistics on the number of employers offering domestic partner health insurance benefits.

[5/22/03]  Rep. Rahm Emanuel introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives May 15 H.R.2127,”To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal tax benefits relating to company-owned life insurance.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[5/21/03]  The U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation posted May 19 Technical Explanation of H.R.1000, The “Pension Security Act of 2003,” As Passed by the House of Representatives on May 14, 2003.

[5/21/03]  The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America posted a summary of the House-passed Pension Security Act titled HR1000, The Pension Security Act of 2003--As Passed by the House of Representatives on May 14, 2003.

[5/21/03]  Health Affairs posted a May 21 Web exclusive article titled “Use Of Subsidies To Low-Income People For Coverage Through Small Employers,” by Ed Neuschler and Rick Curtis.

[5/21/03]  Wilshire Associates issued a press release May 14 titled “Corporate Pension Funds Suffer Worst Year Ever in 2002,” which includes highlights from the 2003 Corporate Funding Survey of Pensions.

[5/21/03]  The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises held a hearing May 15 titled Retirement Security: What Seniors Need to Know about Protecting Their Futures.  A witness list with links to testimonies is available.

[5/16/03]  The Segal Company posted an abstract of the Spring 2003 Multiemployer Universe: “Another Rough Year: Multiemployer Funds Hit Hard by Disappointing Investment Performance in 2002,” which includes highlights from Segal Advisors’ annual Survey of the Universe of Multiemployer Pension Funds Investment Performance.

[5/16/03]  MetLife issued a press release May 13 titled “Older Americans Month: MetLife Analysis Reveals Most Common Disabilities Among Older Employees,” which includes key findings from a recent analysis of disability trends.

[5/16/03]  Hewitt Associates issued a May 12 press release, “Finance Executives Believe Pension Shortfalls Are Manageable, Says Hewitt Study,” which includes key findings from an email survey sponsored by Treasury and Risk Management magazine.  Click here for “Tough, But Not Impossible,” an article from the April 2003 issue of the magazine on the survey.

[5/16/03]  The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) launched a website, California Health Consensus,  “designed to encourage consumers, employers, hospital administrators and health care providers to come to consensus on universal health care.   The website is sponsored by the FTCR's California Health Consensus Project (Project) -- a coalition of health care stakeholders working together to identify common problems and solutions in health care….”

[5/16/03]  Provizio released a report titled: Employers' Perceptions and Strategies for Countering Rising Healthcare Costs.

 

[5/16/03]  A recent national survey commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Financial Planning Association (FPA) addresses personal financal concerns and financial planning.

[5/16/03]  Joint Economic Committee Democrats posted an Economic Policy Brief on “Why the Pension Preservation and Savings Expansion Act of 2003 Fails To Live Up To Its Name.”

[5/16/03]  E&Y has published a paper on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act: A Point of View on HIPAA Security.  It lists the administrative, physical, and technical security safeguards as published in the Federal Register of February 20, 2003.

[5/16/03]  Nationwide Retirement Solutions has introduced a Spanish-only Web site to provide retirement education services.  

[5/16/03]  The Annuity Advisors Reference Center, intended for licensed professionals, appears to have complete coverage on the subject of annuities, while also providing detailed information on retirement plans, IRAs, and taxation.

[5/14/03]  GovBenefits.gov, the official U.S. government benefits website is now complete with information on all 417 benefit programs.  This free, confidential site helps individuals find government benefits they may be eligible to receive.

[5/14/03]  Fidelity Investments released the report, HR and Benefits: The Next Outsourcing Wave, based on a recent study of finance executives and HR/benefits decision makers at 190 large companies.

[5/14/03]  On February 11 Rep. John Conyers, Jr., introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.676, United States National Health Insurance Act (or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act).  Bill Summary and Status information is available.  The Physicians for a National Health Program posted an executive summary of this bill.

[5/14/03]  The Michigan Retirement Research Center released the April edition of the MRRC Newsletter  which contains  two "Issues in Brief" -- "Stochastic Rates of Return for Social Security Under Various Policy Scenarios" and "The Social Security Early Entitlement Age in a Structural Model of Retirement and Wealth."

[5/14/03]  A survey of 1,000 employees at large employers across the nation, conducted by Towers Perrin to gauge employee perceptions on health care, is detailed in the report: Keeping Employees Engaged About Health Care.

[5/14/03]  Principal Financial Group announces The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security.

[5/14/03]  Work/Life Today issued a press release May 1 titled “AWLP, Work/Life Today Survey Confirms Changes in Field,” which includes highlights from a survey by the Alliance for Work-Life Progress and Work/Life Today, the newsletter for work/life professionals.

[5/13/03]  The Congressional Budget Office published a May 2003 paper titled: How Many People Lack Health Insurance and For How Long?

[5/13/03]  Standard & Poor’s published an analysis May 7 titled Navigating the International Pension Accounting Maze, by Neri Bukspan, Emmanuel Dubois-Pelerin, and Ralf Kortuem.  [NOTE:  To access this paper, one must become a registered user.]

[5/13/03]  The Employment Policy Foundation features in the May 1 issue of HR Benchmarks the article  “Employer Share of Health Benefit Costs Could Top $10,000 Per Employee by Decade’s End.”

[5/13/03]  The New York Times online features a May 12 article, “New Study Finds 60 Million Uninsured During a Year,” by Robert Pear. [Registration is required to view article.]

[5/13/03]  Health Affairs posted an April 23 Web exclusive titled “Creating Consensus On Coverage Choices” by Karen Davis and Cathy Schoen.

[5/13/03]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting posted a May 8 press release, “Rebalancing Decisions Are Paramount To Building an Effective Portfolio,” which analyzes data presented in Mercer Investment Consulting’s first-quarter 2003 Defined Contribution Universe Summary.

[5/13/03]  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an April 21 paper titled “Examining the New Portman-Cardin Legislation: Are Further Pension Tax Subsidies for High-Income Households Affordable or Sound as Pension Policy?” by Peter R. Orszag.

[5/13/03]  The National Retiree Legislative Network released the complete text of an April 21 letter from NRLN president A.J. Norby to Congress titled “NRLN Urges Rejection of Portman-Cardin Bill Provisions Altering Funding Assumptions So That Companies Can Reduce Their Contributions to Their Pension Plans.”

[5/13/03]  Early Retirement Health Benefits Shrinking by Bob Rosenblatt was posted May 12, 2003, by the California HealthCare Foundation.

[5/13/03]  The May/June 2003 issue of  Health Affairs features an article titled “It’s the Prices, Stupid: Why the United States Is So Different from Other Countries,” by Gerard F. Anderson et al.  This article compares total health spending in thirty countries.

[5/13/03]  In April, Deloitte & Touche released the 2003 Consumer-Driven Health Care Survey Synopsis.

[5/13/03]  The Sunday, May 11, 2003; Washington Post “Cash Flow” column, “A Saving Credit for Those Who Aren't Already Rich,” by Albert B. Crenshaw, concerns the "saver's credit" program which provides a tax credit for low-income workers who contribute to a retirement account.

[5/6/03]  The National Center for Policy Analysis issued a press release May 5 titled “Iowa Voters Overwhelmingly Say Social Security Is In Trouble, Says New NCPA Poll.”

[5/6/03]  The American Association of University Women Educational Foundation released key findings from a new report, Women At Work, in a May 5 press release titled “Technology Gender Gap Halts Working Women:  New Report Finds Women Still Concentrated in Low-Paying, ‘Pink Collar’ Jobs.”

[5/6/03]  The CIGNA survey titled The 'Net Effect: Online Health-Care Tools Still Missing the Mark for Consumers [PPT format] randomly sampled 1,000 adults over age 18 nationwide.  Click here for the press release.

[5/6/03]  “Seeking Health Care Information: Most Consumers Still on the Sidelines” is a March 2003 Issue Brief by Ha T. Tu and J. Lee Hargraves published by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

[5/6/03]  The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing May 1 titled “Social Security Provisions Affecting Public Employees.”  A witness list with links to testimonies is available.

[5/6/03]  On April 30 the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures held a “Hearing on Challenges Facing Pension Plan Funding.”  A witness list with links to testimonies is available.

[5/6/03]  Rep. Donald Manzullo introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 30 H.R.1873, Self-Employed Health Care Affordability Act of 2003.  Bill Summary & Status information is available.

[5/6/03]  Private Pensions: Issues and Options by William G. Gale and Peter Orszag, published April 16, 2003, is available at the Urban Institute site.

[5/6/03]  The Health Privacy Project provides a consumer’s pamphlet, Health Privacy: Know Your Rights, although “HIPAA privacy rules provide covered entities with discretion in this area; no special or separate mailings or distributions are required to satisfy the Privacy Rule's notice distribution requirements.”

[5/6/03]  The Segal Company’s April 2003 Bulletin is on the “Final HIPAA Security Rules.”

{5/6/03]   The American Benefits Council posted a Summary of the Pension Preservation and Savings Expansion Act of 2003, Introduced by Congressmen Rob Portman (R-Oh) and Ben Cardin (D-Md).

[5/6/03]   The Economic and Social Research Institute presents Issues in Coverage Expansion Design: Options for Financing Health Coverage Expansion by Jack A. Meyer and Elliot K. Wicks.

[5/6/03]  A recent study by the SPARK Research Group says that 401(k) Participants Dissatisfied With Providers.

[5/6/03]   Among the latest technical guidance from the Internal Revenue Service is Notice 2003-20 which describes reporting and withholding for distributions from eligible 457(b) plans.

[5/6/03]   Milliman USA posts its third annual survey of the annual reports of 100 of the largest U.S. corporations: 2003 Study of 100 Large U.S. Companies with Pension Plans.

[5/1/03]  The U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation prepared an April 29 report titled Present Law and Background Relating to the Funding Rules for Employer-Sponsored Defined Benefit Plans and the Financial Position of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”), scheduled for a public hearing before the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures of the House Committee on Ways and Means on April 30, 2003.

[5/1/03]  The International Longevity Center-USA issued a press release April 14 titled “The International Longevity Center-USA and the AARP Foundation Examine the Financial Plight of Older Women in a New Consumer Oriented Publication,” which includes findings from Unjust Desserts:  The Financial Realities of Older Women.

[5/1/03]   Allan Baumgarten’s Managed Care Reviews, April 16, 2003, features “Trend Note: HMO Enrollment Continues to Decrease in 2001-2002.”

[5/1/03]   Whither Pensions? A Brief Analysis of Portman-Cardin III is an April 2003 paper by William Gale and Peter Orszag.

[5/1/03]   The latest Kaiser Family Foundation Health Poll Report, the March/April 2003 edition, shows Americans are most concerned about health care costs.

[5/1/03]   The Employment Cost Index--March 2003 shows total compensation rose 1.3 percent from December 2002 to March 2003 the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reports.   "Employer costs for benefits account for nearly 30 percent of compensation costs and include such items as health and other insurance, retirement plans, paid leave, and legally-required benefits like Social Security."

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Updated 5/30/03