What's New

What's New - September 2002

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What's new at EBRI this month:

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.

September 2002 EBRI Issue Brief: "An Evolving Pension System: Trends in Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans"

September 2002 EBRI Notes: "Consumer-Driven Health Benefits: A Continuing Evolution?"

Retirement Plan Assets: Year-end 2001: The September 2002 Facts from EBRI, monthly fact sheets providing timely statistics and background on a variety of employee benefit issues.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002, in New York City: the Choose To SaveĀ® Program was a finalist to win a National Emmy for “Best” National Public Education Program.  Even without the win, the nomination was a high honor for Choose To SaveĀ®.

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.

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

Salisbury Testimony: The written testimony of EBRI President and CEO Dallas Salisbury, an expert witness at the February 7, 2002, hearing by the Senate Committe on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on “Protecting the Pensions of Working Americans: Lessons From the Enron Debacle” includes a copy of the recent EBRI survey on company stock in 401(k) plans.

EBRI Survey on Company Stock in 401(k) Plans: The EBRI survey polled members of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) with respect to company stock investment options, whether employer contributions are required to be invested in company stock, average percentage of company stock in the employees' accounts, restrictions on selling the company stock, and blackout periods.  Additional questions examined perceptions of the Enron situation, appropriate limits for investment in company stock and the role of the government, and perceptions on public policy issues related to company stock in 401(k) plans.

EBRI Fact Sheet on Company Stock:  The December 2001 EBRI Fact Sheet provides background on company stock in retirement plans, drawn from the EBRI book, Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs, and the EBRI/ICI 401(k) database.

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:

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.

Social Security Administration: Revision to the Government Pension Offset Exemption Should Be Considered.  GAO-02-950, August 15, 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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(9/27/02) On September 23, 2002, SocialFunds.com issued a press release titled “Survey Reveals High Investor Interest in Socially Responsible Investing,” which includes highlights from a survey commissioned by the Calvert Group and conducted by Harris Interactive.

(9/27/02) The Aspen Institute recently released the report Grow Faster Together Or Grow Slowly Apart: How Will America Work in the 21st Century?

(9/27/02) The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System has posted a study titled Investor Behavior and the Purchase of Company Stock in 401(k) Plans - The Importance of Plan Design, by Nellie Liang and Scott Weisbenner.

(9/27/02) “Tracking Health Care Costs: Growth Accelerates Again In 2001” by Bradley C. Strunk, Paul B. Ginsburg, and Jon R. Gabel is a Health Tracking Trends Web exclusive from Health Affairs.

(9/27/02) On September 23 CIGNA Retirement and Investment Services issued a press release titled “In Wake of ‘Stock Shock,’ New Survey Shows 80% of Americans Want More Active Role in Managing Their Retirement Investments,” which includes highlights from “The Workplace Investor: Taking Control.”

(9/25/02) The Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of about 60,000 households that provides information on the labor force status, demographics, and other characteristics of the civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over, asks supplemental questions about employee tenure.  The latest release focuses on tenure data from 1983 to 2002.

(9/25/02) The American Academy of Actuaries has posted their September 2002 Issue Briefs:

(9/25/02 The 2002 Plan Amendment Checklists from Watson Wyatt reflect all the optional and required Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA) of 2001 changes for defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans.

(9/25/02) “What Makes a Company Great for Older Workers?,” an article in AARP’s latest issue of My Generation, reports on AARP's "Best Companies for Workers over 50" list.

(9/23/02) The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has posted The State of Health Care Quality: 2002.

(9/23/02) The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine issued a press release September 18 titled “Lack of Health Insurance Places Entire Families at Risk, Study Says.”  The fulltext of the study is available: Health Insurance Is a Family Matter.

(9/23/02) The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) report, The Taxation of Individual Retirement Plans: Increasing Choice for Seniors, concerns minimum required distributions from qualified retirement plans.

(9/18/02) The National Center for Health Statistics has released its annual report on national trends in health, Health, United States, 2002 With Chartbook on   Trends in the Health of Americans.

(9/18/02) On September 17, 2002, USA Today featured “401(k)s Beat Out Older Pensions,” by Andrew Samwick and Jonathan Skinner.

(9/18/02) The Confederation of British Industry has posted a press release titled “CBI Briefing on Pensions for Trades Union Congress,” which includes highlights from the CBI/Mercer Human Resources Consulting Employment Trends Survey.  This survey included questions related to UK pension issues as well as other employment issues.

(9/18/02) On September 12, Fitch Ratings issued a press release titled “Fitch: Underfunded Pension Plans Will Weaken, Draw on Cash.” [Note: A brief registration will be required to view this press release.]  It reports on the Fitch special report titled: Pensions in a Post-Bubble Economy.

(9/18/02) Peter Cappelli, director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, asks Why Do Employers Pay For College? in his study on employer-paid tuition.

(9/18/02) A September 12 press release from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Health Insurance Premiums Rose More Than 30 Percent Between 1996 and 2000, is based on new data from the insurance component of AHRQ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).

(9/17/02) The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce issued a press release dated September 5, 2002, titled “New Report Warns Senate Democrat Pension Reform Plan Too Weak to Protect American Workers.”  The report, an analysis by U.S. Rep. John Boehner, is titled Widening the Retirement Security Advice Gap: Why the Senate Democrat Pension Reform Bill Is Too Weak to Protect U.S. Workers.

(9/17/02) The U.S. Department of Labor has posted Association Health Plans: Improving Access to Affordable Quality Health Care for Small Businesses.

(9/17/02) On September 16, Watson Wyatt Worldwide issued a press release titled “Companies Accelerating Cutbacks in Retiree Health Benefits, Watson Wyatt Study Finds,” which includes key findings from the recently-released Retiree Health Benefits: Time to Resuscitate?

(9/17/02) The Principal Financial Group has posted a media alert titled “Principal Financial Group To Release the Inaugural Principal Global Financial Well-Being Study on Sept. 17. -- First-of-its Kind Study Shows Workers Worldwide Are Unprepared for Retirement; Reveals a Severe Gap between Retirement Savings Levels and Expectations.”

(9/17/02) The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations held a hearing on September 10 titled “Retirement Security for American Workers: Examining Pension Enforcement and Accountability.”   A witness list with links to testimonies has been posted.

(9/17/02) The U.S. Department of Labor Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration is seeking written comments through October 15, 2002, on the question of whether or not plan sponsors should provide more plan and investment information than they currently do to participants in participant-directed retirement plans.  Written comments can be sent to Gerald Lindrew, Office of Policy and Research, U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room N-5647, Washington, DC 20210.  The telephone number is (202) 693-8410; the fax number is (202) 219-4745.

(9/17/02) The Stable Value Investment Association, a “non-profit organization dedicated to educating retirement plan sponsors and participants about the importance of saving for retirement and the contribution stable value can make toward achieving retirement security,” has posted a letter to Congress dated August 16, 2002, using data from its Conservative Investments Survey, a survey of 800 Americans with money invested in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

(9/11/02) The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) has posted an Issue Brief titled “ERISA’s Fiduciary Standards: What They Are and Why They Do Not Need Reform,” dated July 8, 2002.  This Issue Brief provides insight concerning Section 304, titled “Liability for Breach of Fiduciary Duty,” of S.1992, “Protecting America’s Pensions Act of 2002,” for which a Bill Summary & Status is available.

(9/11/02) On August 13, 2002, Nationwide Financial issued a press release titled “More High-Income Investors Turn to Banks for Financial Planning Help, Nationwide Survey Shows,” which features highlights from the 2002 Nationwide Financial Survey of High-Income Professionals.

(9/11/02) The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has posted “Meeting Summary, Advisory Panel on Medicare Education (APME), May 23, 2002,” during which new members of the advisory panel, including EBRI’s President and CEO, Dallas Salisbury, were sworn in.

(9/11/02) The National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators has released its NAGDCA 2001 Survey of 457 Plans, conducted every two years and now available on CD-ROM.

(9/11/02) The Houston Chronicle has posted an article titled “Health Insurers Under Microscope: Antitrust Concerns Spur Probe,” by Peter Kaplan dated September 10, 2002.

(9/11/02) The Trades Union Congress in the United Kingdom recently released a report titled Uncovered: Workers Without Pensions calling for mandated employer contributions to occupational pension plans.

(9/9/02) The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured presents the new report, Changes in Insurance Coverage: 1994-2000 and Beyond.

(9/9/02) The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a new publication titled Evaluating the Impact of Value-based Purchasing Initiatives: A Guide for Purchasers.   The guide provides a step-by-step description of an evaluation process for purchasers.

(9/9/02) The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued the final governing regulation for a Medicare-endorsed discount prescription drug card for Medicare beneficiaries. 

(9/9/02) Secretary of Labor Elaine L.Chao has released the final report of the 2002 National Summit on Retirement Savings, Saving for a Lifetime: Advancing Generational Prosperity.

(9/9/02) Preliminary findings from the 2003 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey are available on The Segal Company Web site.

(9/9/02) A national survey conducted by Charles D. Spencer & Associates, Inc., Survey: Spencer, 2002 COBRA Experience, has been released.  Click here to read a very brief description and to get ordering instructions.

(9/9/02) The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has given employers with underfunded pension plans some clarification in the proper way to communicate with participants in Technical Update 02-2: 2002 Model Participant Notice (August 29, 2002).

(9/9/02) The U.S. Department of Labor is soliciting nominations to fill five three-year vacancies on the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, also known as the ERISA Advisory Council according to a press release.

(9/6/02) The Kaiser Family Foundation has released the 2002 Employer Health Benefits Survey, conducted jointly with the Health Research and Educational Trust since 1999. The following items have been made available:

(9/6/02) The Conference Board issued a press release on August 21 titled “Job Satisfaction on the Decline,” which includes highlights from a recent special consumer survey report conducted for The Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup.

(9/6/02) The Consumer Federation of America has posted “Black American Personal Wealth: Current Status,” dated August 2002, which “summarizes the latest data on black American household wealth and financial behaviors.”

(9/1/02) The Principal Best Practices Guide for Employee Financial Security is available at the Principal Financial Services site.

(9/1/02) A survey, released recently by ING, deals with the necessity of professional advice in achieving retirement goals.

(9/1/02) Gallup News Service released a Poll Analyses August 29 which determines that most workers are satisfied with their jobs.

(9/1/02) The Internal Revenue Service has announced that if you have a technical or procedural question relating to retirement plans, go to the EP Customer Account Services site.  If you have a specific concern about your retirement plan, call EP Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500.  The call center is open Monday - Friday, 8:00 am to 6:30 pm, Eastern Time.

(9/1/02) The Congressional Budget Office has posted their Cost Estimate for S. 1971, National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Guarantee Act.

(9/1/02) The seventh-annual American Workplace Report, Challenges Facing the American Workplace, has been posted by the Employment Policy Foundation.

(9/1/02) Will Oregon Voters Say No to HMOs and Yes to Single-Payer Health Insurance?  The consumer insurance guide, insure.com, asks that question as Oregon voters prepare to vote on November 5 on whether employers and insurers should be out of the health insurance business in that state.

(9/1/02) The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA) says the "401(k) System Shows Stability Amid Chaos" as September 3 is recognized as 401(k) Day, “the national day dedicated to celebrating the role of 401(k) plans in helping American workers take control of their long-term financial well-being through employer-sponsored plans.”

(9/1/02) Click here for the PDF of The Erosion of Employer-Based Health Coverage and the Threat to Workers' Health Care: Findings from The Commonwealth Fund 2002 Workplace Health Insurance Survey.

(9/1/02) Click here to read Effect of Stock Price Declines on the Accounting for Pensions by Ernst & Young and posted by the Financial Executives Institute.

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Updated 9/30/02