What's New

What's New - October 2002

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What's new at EBRI this month:

October 2002 Facts from EBRI: Employer Spending on Benefits 2001

October 2002 EBRI Issue Brief: "Employer Attitudes and Practices Affecting Health Benefits and the Uninsured"

October 2002 EBRI Notes: "Findings From the 2002 Health Confidence Survey: Five Years of HCS Data Show Little Change in Confidence or Satisfaction" and "Benefit Cost Comparisons Between State and Local Governments and Private-Sector Employers"

2002 Health Confidence Survey (HCS): The fifth annual HCS finds that despite news reports about the troubled state of health care in America, characterized by cost hikes, insurance coverage changes, and quality issues, Americans still have confidence in and satisfaction with health care--but respondents also are still concerned about the future.   Complete results of the 2002 HCS include a summary of findings and five topical fact sheets.  The HCS is sponsored by EBRI, the Consumer Health Education Council (CHEC), and Mathew Greenwald & Associates, and is underwritten by 12 organizations.

Kansas Future Retirement Income Assessment Project: Kansans who retire over the next three decades generally won't have enough money to cover their living expenses, according to an EBRI study presented July 12, 2002, to the state's Task Force on Long-Term Care Services.  The task force, which includes legislators and advocates for the elderly, is in its third year of a five-year study of the needs of senior citizens.  The Kansas Future Retirement Income Assessment Project was conducted by EBRI and underwritten by the Milbank Memorial Fund.

Small Employer Retirement Survey: Results of the 2002 Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS) were released Tuesday, May 7, 2002, during a panel discussion entitled, "Closing the Small Business Retirement Security Gap for Employers and Employees," at the Small Business Week conference in Washington DC.

EBRI Information on Company Stock:

          Congressional Testimony:

Jack VanDerhei, Temple University and research director of the EBRI Fellows Program presented testimony at  congressional hearings during February:

Dallas Salisbury was an expert witness at the February 7, 2002, hearing held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on “Protecting the Pensions of Working Americans: Lessons From the Enron Debacle.”

          EBRI Survey on Company Stock in 401(k) Plans

          EBRI Fact Sheet on Company Stock
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EBRI Research Findings for 2002:

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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:

Private Pensions: Participants Need Information on the Risks of Investing in Employer Securities and the Benefits of Diversification.  GAO-02-943, September 6, 2002.

Answers to Key Questions about Private Pension Plans.
GAO-02-745SP, September 18, 2002.

Military Personnel: Active Duty Benefits Reflect Changing Demographics, But Opportunities Exist to Improve. GAO-02-935, September 18, 2002. 

U.S. Postal Service: Accounting for Postretirement Benefits. 
GAO-02-916R, September 12, 2002.

        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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(10/30/02) The October 2, 2002, issue of Aon Consulting’s Alert features “Pension Plan Sponsors Under Immediate Pressure” on recent funding issues.

(10/30/02) In the October 21 issue of Health Care News, Harris Interactive features an article titled “While Managed Care Is Still Unpopular, Hostility Has Declined.”

(10/30/02) Health Affairs has posted a Web Exclusive dated October 23, 2002, titled “The Nongroup Insurance Market: Short on Facts, Long on Opinions and Policy Disputes,” by Mark Pauly and Len Nichols with perspectives by others.

(10/30/02) Deloitte & Touche has posted “Top Five Benefit Priorities for 2002: A Survey of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists,” conducted by the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and Deloitte & Touche LLP.  [Note: A brief registration will be required to access this survey.]

(10/30/02) On October 24, 2002, American Express Retirement Services issued a press release titled “American Express 401(k) Participant Survey Reveals Goal-Setting Drives Confidence in Retirement Planning,” which includes key findings from its 2002 Participant Satisfaction Survey.

(10/23/02) The Calhoun Law Group, P.C., has updated their chart: Maximum Benefits and Contributions: Limits for 2000-2003.

(10/23/02) The Internal Revenue Service announced October 18 the 2003 cost-of-living adjustments applicable to dollar limitations for pension plans and other items.

(10/18/02) The Vanguard Group has posted: How America Saves: A Report on Vanguard Defined Contribution Plans.

(10/18/02) The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the Medicare premium, deductible, and coinsurance amounts to be paid by Medicare beneficiaries in 2003.

(10/18/02) "Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to more than 50 million Americans will increase 1.4 percent in 2003, Jo Anne B. Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security announced today in a press release." Click here for the fact sheet showing the effect of the various automatic annual adjustments.

(10/18/02) Click here for the Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate of October 9, 2002, on H.R. 5478, Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act: As ordered reported by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on September 25, 2002.

(10/18/02) The "No More Enrons" Coalition, "a rapidly growing alliance of Americans committed to promoting corporate responsibility and the interests of working families," released the results of a American Family Voices study, The Cost of Corporate Recklessness which attempts to measure "the human costs of the wave of corporate malfeasance epitomized by Enron."

(10/18/02) The U.S. Department of Labor Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration issued a press release October 7 titled "Labor Department, IRS Announce Joint Project for Failing to File Form 5500 Returns/Reports - Delinquent Filers Encouraged to Use Compliance Assistance Program."

(10/18/02) On October 7, 2002, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden introduced in the U.S. Senate S.3063, "Health Care That Works for All Americans Act of 2002." A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(10/17/02) Excellus Inc. issued a press release on October 3 titled “Zogby Survey Reveals Wide Gap Between Consumer Perceptions and Reality on Health Coverage,” which includes highlights from its “Survey of Excellus Policy Holders.”

(10/17/02) On March 7, 2002, Ceridian Corporation issued the press release: “First-ever Study Finds Employees Highly Motivated to Use Online EAP [Employee Assistance Plan] and Work-life Services.”

(10/17/02) “Cutting Back But Not Cutting Out: Small Employers Respond to Premium Increases” is the most recent Issue Brief from the Center for Studying Health System Change.

(10/17/02) Standard & Poor's has posted a study, Transparency and Disclosure: Overview of Methodology and Study Results -- United States, that ranks companies in the S&P 500 Index and provides individual company results.

(10/16/02) Dan L. Crippen of the Congressional Budget Office delivered testimony on Disease Management in Medicare: Data Analysis and Benefit Design Issues before the Special Committee on Aging of the U.S. Senate on September 19, 2002.

(10/16/02) On October 14, Hewitt Associates issued a press release on the 2002/2003 Health Care Costs study from the Hewitt Health Value Initiative™.

(10/16/02) In the October 11th issue of  Health Care News, Harris Interactive features an article titled “Quality Ratings Have Almost No Influence on Consumers’ Choices of Hospitals, Health Plans and Physicians.”

(10/16/02) CRA RogersCasey has announced the availability of the 8th Annual CRA RogersCasey / IOMA Defined Contribution SurveyClick here for more details.

(10/11/02) The Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration provides a MEWA guide online: Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act: A Guide to Federal and State Regulation.

(10/11/02) On August 1, 2002, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman introduced in the U.S. Senate S.2877, “Rank and File Stock Option Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(10/11/02) U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin introduced on July 26 in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.5269, “Health Security for All Americans Act.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(10/9/02) "Medicare Versus Private Insurance: Rhetoric and Reality" is a Web Exclusive paper by Karen Davis, Cathy Schoen, Michelle Doty, and Katie Tenney posted at the Health Affairs site.

(10/9/02) The Investment Company Institute posted a press release saying “Mutual Fund Costs Decline Between 1998 and 2001,” about their study titled: Total Shareholder Cost of Mutual Funds: An Update.

(10/9/02) On July 25, 2002, U.S. Rep. William D. Delahunt introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.5221, “Employee Abuse Prevention Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(10/9/02) U.S. Rep. Amo Houghton introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 26 H.R.5242, “Workplace Employee Stock Option Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(10/9/02) On July 23, 2002, U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.5190, “Retirement Security for All Americans Act.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(10/9/02) U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 18, 2002, H.R.5160, “Business, Investors’, and Employees’ Bill of Rights Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(10/9/02) "Challenging the Four Truths of Personal Social Security Accounts: Evidence From the World of 401(k) Plans" by Colleen E. Medill at the University of Tennessee College of Law is a draft of an upcoming North Carolina Law Review article.

(10/8/02) PSCA's 45th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans is available for purchase for $295 by non-PSCA members and for $75 by members.  To order, visit www.psca.org or call (312) 441-8550 at The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA).  Click here for an Overview of Results.

(10/8/02) The Center for Designing Work Wisely states that, “Our Mission:  Enhancing the performance of organizations and outcomes for employees through improvements in organizational design and work processes, and increased flexibility in the location and scheduling of work.”

(10/8/02) The Federal Reserve Board of Governors has posted a June 2002 working paper titled Nature or Nurture: Why Do 401(k) Participants Save Differently than Other Workers? by Karen M. Pence.

(10/8/02) American Century Investments issued a press release September 26 titled “American Century Releases Results of Growth & Value I.Q. Quiz & Attitude Study.”   Click here to read the summary report of of the survey.

(10/8/02) The October 7, 2002, issue of the Federal Register includes a notice of proposed rulemaking by the Internal Revenue Service titled “Disclosure of Relative Values of Optional Forms of Benefit,” which contains “proposed regulations that would consolidate the content requirements applicable to explanations of qualified joint and survivor annuities and qualified preretirement survivor annuities payable under certain retirement plans…”

(10/8/02) The National Association of Pension Funds, “the principal UK body representing the interests of the occupational pensions movement,” issued a press release  October 7 titled “Radical New Proposals Will Boost Savings and Slash Red Tape.”

(10/4/02) The Internal Revenue Service posted a news release dated September 18, 2002, titled “IRS Announces 2003 Standard Mileage Rates.”

(10/4/02) The Internal Revenue Service posted a news release dated October 3, 2002, titled “IRS Helps Taxpayers Preserve Retirement Savings by Allowing a Change to Pension Distribution Amounts.”

(10/4/02) The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on October 3 titled “Final Report Produced by the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security.”  A witness list with links to testimonies has been posted.

(10/4/02) The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on October 3 titled “Medicare Payments for Currently Covered Prescription Drugs.”  A witness list with links to testimonies has been posted.

(10/3/02) "Benchmark Bonanza," from the Employee Benefit News October 2002 issue, reports on some of the findings in the 2002 EBN-Hay Benefits Study, an annual survey of EBN readers and visitors

(10/3/02) An Analysis of Investment Advice to Retirement Plan Participants by Zvi Bodie is a recent Pension Research Council working paper.

(10/3/02) The Welfare Information Network (WIN) “provides information on policy choices, promising practices, program and financial data, funding sources, federal and state legislation and plans, program and management tools, and technical assistance” related to welfare reform.  The Health Care and Medicaid page starts off with "Current Issues and Announcements Related to Health Care and Medicaid" followed by a list of WIN publications and then a list of Federal/MultiState Programs.  Also available are exhaustive entries for State Specific Initiatives, Links to Health Care Related Organizations, and Publications on Health Care Statistics.

(10/2/02) FACSNET, a service for reporters, provides various Reporting Tools.  Of particular interest is How To Read the Future in Financial Reports as in "Look beyond short-term earnings to find out how healthy it is, accountant advises," by Fielding Buck, FACSNET Associate Editor.  He reports on accounting expert Baruch Lev’s advice on “how to read a financial report to separate the truth from the hype.”  This guide tells reporters and investors “what to look for and what questions to ask.”

(10/2/02)  The September 2002 issue of KPMG's Benefits Spectrum on the Web contains:

  • HHS Finalizes HIPAA Privacy Regs (Again)

  • IRS Is Restructuring Employee Plans Voluntary Compliance Organizations

  • Eighth Circuit Affirms that ESOP Could Not Be Aggregated

(10/2/02) A new workplace survey press release, by CIGNA Retirement & Investment Services,  is titled: "In Wake of `Stock Shock,' New Survey Shows 80% of Americans Want More Active Role in Managing Their Retirement Investments."  For more detail, go to:

(10/2/02) Lost Retirement Money and Social Security by John Turner of AARP and Ellen A. Bruce is available at the BenefitLinks site.

(10/2/02) The Maturing of the ADEA: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act turns 35 this year, and an attorney explains why the law has a few new wrinkles is an article by Gillian Flynn available from Workforce.com.

(10/2/02) The following documents have been added to the Congressional Budget Offfice site:

(10/2/02) CoveringTheUninsured.org, a project of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, issued a press release on September 30 titled “Former Presidents Lend Support to National Grassroots Initiative for the Uninsured,” announcing that former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter will serve as honorary co-chairs of “Cover the Uninsured Week,” which is being organized by The Foundation and a diverse group of national organizations.   The week-long series of events will be held from March 10 to March 16, 2003, in communities from coast to coast.

(10/2/02) A report on Plan Sponsor’s first survey of investment consultant services is online, but login may be required.  Available are industry statistics and consultant ratings.

(10/2/02) The U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, has filed an Amicus Brief in the Enron Case on Fiduciary Liability Issues, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern district of Texas, Houston Division.

(10/1/02) A Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate has been added to the CBO Web site: H.R. 4600, Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2002 As ordered reported by the House Committee on the Judiciary on September 10, 2002.

(10/1/02) The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) and Deloitte & Touche have produced a "Side-by-Side Comparison of 401(k) Legislation Pending Before the House and Senate, September 24, 2002."    In addition, it also describes the pension-related aspects of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (P.L.107-204).

(10/1/02) The U.S. Census Bureau reported its latest uninsured number in Health Insurance Coverage: 2001.

(10/1/02) Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, has posted “A Consumer Guide to Handling Disputes with Your Private or Employer Health Plan.”

(10/1/02) On June 24, 2002, CIGNA issued a press release titled “CIGNA Survey Shows Online Disconnect: While Most Employers Now Offer Online Benefits, 4 of 5 Workers Say Effort Still Misses the Mark,” which includes links to the following:

(10/1/02) Fidelity Workplace Services has made available their white paper titled: Retiree Health Care Costs: Addressing the Growing Gap.

(10/1/02) A new study released last week by the Investment Company Institute and the Securities   Industry Association examines U.S. households' ownership of equities.  “Half of American Households Own Equities” headlines the press release for the study titled Equity Ownership in America.

(10/1/02) The August 2002 issue of KPMG's Benefits Spectrum contains the following articles:

  • Top-Hat Plan Exists Where Benefits Are Funded and Paid Through an Insurance Policy

  • IRS Modifies Two Section 4980 Private Letter Rulings

  • Final Regulations Released on Notice to Interested Parties

  • ERISA Preempts State Contract Law Where a Participant Fails to Comply with Plan's Beneficiary Designation Requirements

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