What's New - February 2016

Index to All Months


SIGN UP FOR: EBRIef, a weekly update featuring both current and past EBRI research, testimony and presentations, as well as ASEC activities, regulatory updates, applicable court decisions, and research and news from across the employee benefit industry. Sign up here.

EBRIef archives:

Visit EBRI's Blog!


[2/11/16] U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch & Congressman Erik Paulsen: “The Health Savings Act of 2016” [Summary] - [“This bill simplifies and enhances Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) by addressing some of the questions and concerns that have been raised since HSAs were first enacted in 2003 but were not addressed by the HOPE Act of 2006.”]

[2/11/16] CBS MoneyWatch: “The painful rise of high-deductible health insurance

[2/11/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “The Budget and Health Care: A Quick Rundown

[2/11/16] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration: Parity of Mental Health and Substance Use Benefits with Other Benefits: Using Your Employer-Sponsored Health Plan to Cover Services

[2/11/16] Principal Financial Group: The Principal Financial Well-Being Index: Business Owners [February 2016] – [Note: “The Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM: Business Owners survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the Principal Financial Group® between July 29 and August 25 among 600 business owners in companies of 10-500 employees. Business Owners consisted of adults 21+ who own at least 5 percent of the company and are actively involved in making decisions for the business and managing the business in small and mid-sized (SMB) U.S. businesses (firm size 10-500 employees). Results were weighted as needed for representation of the SMB firms.”]

[2/11/16] PlanSponsor: “Employees Value Overall Financial Help from Employers -- Eighty-one percent of employees would be less likely to leave a company that was helping them improve their financial standing.

[2/11/16] The Wall Street Journal: “Are Too Many Choices Costing 401(k) Holders? A study of a plan that shrank its fund menu found that investors saved on fees

[2/11/16] Seeking Alpha: “The Real Cost of Missing Out on the 401(k) Match

[2/11/16] NAPA Net: “Obama’s Final Budget: What’s in it for Retirement Plans?

[2/11/16] Internal Revenue Service: Additional Limitation on Suspension of Benefits Applicable to Certain Pension Plans Under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014; Notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of public hearing [as published in the Federal Register on Feb. 11, 2016 - DATES: Comments must be received by March 15, 2016. Outlines of topics to be discussed at the public hearing scheduled for March 22, 2016 must be received by March 15, 2016.]

[2/10/16] Willis Towers Watson The OneExchange Blog: “’Panda Days’ and Paid Time Off: What Perks Perk Up Employees

[2/10/16] O’Reilly Media, Inc.: Serving Workers in the Gig Economy: Emerging Resources for the On-Demand Workforce, by Nick Grossman & Elizabeth Woyke [Free Ebook from O’Reilly]

[2/10/16] Kaiser Family Foundation Issue Brief: “A Comparison of the Availability and Cost of Coverage for Workers in Small Firms and Large Firms: Update from the 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey

[2/10/16] Health Affairs and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Brief: “High-Deductible Health Plans. As high-deductible health plans become increasingly prevalent in both group and individual markets, it remains to be seen how they will affect health care access and outcomes.

[2/10/16] Congressional Research Service: Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program: An Overview [Feb. 3, 2016]

[2/10/16] Milliman Pension Funding Index: “Milliman Analysis: 2016 opens with dismal performance of the financial markets lowering funded status--Milliman 100 PFI funded ratio falls to 80.9%

[2/10/16] ThinkAdvisor: “Target Date Funds Post First Yearly Loss Since 2008: Report

[2/10/16] Society for Human Resource Management: “Auto Escalation Beats Inertia, So Why the Hesitancy?

[2/10/16] WealthManagement.com: “Finance Is Being Radically Disrupted, and Millennials Are Leading the Charge -- How and why people invest will change as more millennials enter the market and demand impact investing opportunities

[2/10/16] Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Economic Quarterly: “Are We Saving Enough? Households and Retirement

[2/10/16] Reuters: “Bankrupt San Bernardino, California, reaches deal on pension obligation debt

[2/10/16] Internal Revenue Service: Inflation-Adjusted Amounts Resulting from the Enactment of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 [Rev. Proc. 2016-14] - [Excerpt: “.02 Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefit. For taxable years beginning in 2016, the monthly limitation under § 132(f)(2)(A) regarding the aggregate fringe benefit exclusion amount for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and any transit pass is $255. This section modifies section 3.17 of Rev. Proc. 2015-53. (For taxable years beginning in 2015, see Notice 2016-6, 2016-4 I.R.B 287, Application of Retroactive Increase in Excludable Transit Benefits.)”]

[2/5/16] The Wall Street Journal: “Companies Form New Alliance to Target Health-Care Costs

[2/5/16] MPRnews: “Employers focus on BMI as health indicator. Should they?

[2/5/16] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “Obama’s ‘Cadillac Tax’ Changes Deserve Serious Look

[2/5/16] Investment Company Institute: American Views on Defined Contribution Plan Saving, 2015

[2/5/16] U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Private Retirement Benefits in the 21st Century: Achieving Retirement Security

[2/5/16] MassMutual Financial Group: A Winning Combination: What retirement plan sponsors value most from financial advisors [A Research Study]

[2/5/16] Voya Investment Management: Participant Preferences in Target Date Funds: Fresh Insights -- Findings, Insights and Opportunities [White Paper]

[2/5/16] Segal Consulting: Study of Multiemployer Defined Contribution Plans: Key Findings

[2/5/16] Society for Human Resource Management: “ESOPs Turn Workers into Owners -- The switch requires careful financial management and clear communication to employees

[2/5/16] FMLA Insights: “Use the ‘Rolling’ Method to Calculate FMLA Leave! This Employer Learned the Hard Way

[2/5/16] NAPA Net: “Congress Makes Another Move Against Fiduciary Rule

[2/5/16] PlanSponsor: “Millennials Working on Financial Goals, but Not Retirement

[2/5/16] InsuranceNewsNet: “Sen. Warner Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Expand Telehealth Services

[2/5/16] The Alliance [Blog]: “Look to the Community to Build a Results-Oriented Wellness Program

[2/4/16] Internal Revenue Service Fact Sheet: “2015 Tax Changes Include: Key Benefits Renewed; A New Way to Save for Retirement; New Accounts for People With Disabilities; Health Care Updates” [FS-2016-8, February 2016]

[2/4/16] Willis Towers Watson: Global Pension Assets Study 2016

[2/4/16] DCIIA Research Brief: “Plan leakage: A study on the psychology behind leakage of retirement plan assets

[2/4/16] BloombergBusiness: “Here’s the Toll That Student Debt Can Take on Retirement

[2/4/16] PlanAdviser: “Are Americans Healthy Enough to Retire Later?

[2/4/16] Realtor.com: “Is Buying a Home Better Than Investing in a 401(k)?

[2/4/16] Internal Revenue Service: “Averaging Full-time and Full-time Equivalent Employees and Why it Matters” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-14, Feb. 3, 2016]

[2/4/16] Kaiser Health News: “Obama To Propose Changes in Health Law’s Cadillac Tax in His Budget, Aide Says

[2/4/16] The Wall Street Journal: “What New Data Tell Us About Doctor Choice

[2/4/16] CNBC: “How to bring sky-high health-care plan costs down to Earth

[2/4/16] CIO.com: “3 reasons why healthcare CIOs love wearables

[2/4/16] Modern Healthcare: “The health insurance industry’s identity crisis

[2/4/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Claims That The ACA Would Be a Job Killer Are Not Substantiated by Research

[2/4/16] PlanSponsor: “Health Benefits Dispute Sent Back to District Court Again” [Tackett v. M&G Polymers]

[2/3/16] U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce: “Committee Approves Legislation to Strengthen Protections for Retirement Savers, Ensure Access to Affordable Retirement Advice

[2/3/16] NAPA Net: “Senate Finance Takes on Retirement Concerns

[2/3/16] FiduciaryNews.com: “White House Retirement Plan Budget Proposal Buzz Fizzles Flat with Experienced Pros

[2/3/16] The Motley Fool: “Here’s the Typical American’s Retirement Age. How Will You Compare? -- And do you have a backup plan ready?

[2/3/16] Consumer Federation of America: America Save$ is a campaign coordinated by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and is dedicated to helping individuals save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. America Saves Week 2016 runs from February 22-27, 2016. The America Saves Week 2016 Digital & Social Media Kit can be downloaded at the CFA website.

[2/3/16] Politico: “House fails to override veto of Obamacare repeal

[2/3/16] The Commonwealth Fund: The Affordable Care Act and the U.S. Economy: A Five-Year Perspective

[2/3/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “An Employer Mandate for Wellness

[2/3/16] Thompson Coburn LLP: “Staffing agency workers and ACA offers of coverage

[2/3/16] The Rocky Mountain Collegian: “FitBit and other wearables: detriment or savior to health insurance costs?

[2/3/16] Accenture: “Healthcare For Here or To Go? Rising investment in on-demand health services reflects an appetite for change.

[2/2/16] Internal Revenue Service: Mid-Year Changes to Safe Harbor Plans and Safe Harbor Notices [Notice 2016-16]

[2/2/16] Employee Benefit News: “Q&A: EBRI’s new CEO Harry Conaway outlines the retirement industry’s key issues

[2/2/16] The Principal Financial Group [Blog]: “7 Habits of Highly Successful Defined Benefit Plan Sponsors

[2/2/16] Society for Human Resource Management: “Companies Eye Pension De-Risking -- More employers are ditching pension liabilities by transferring funds to annuities or offering lump-sum payments.

[2/2/16] NAPA Net: “Contributions Blunt January Market Slide in 401(k)s

[2/2/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise -- Large employers report a collective desire to expand financial well-being programs in 2016, according to a new report. How can HR help both the company and its workforce get a bigger bang for the buck?

[2/2/16] Forbes: “Extreme Asset Allocation Can Hurt Your Retirement At 25 Or At 60

[2/2/16] PlanSponsor: “Plan Document Updates May Be Needed After ‘Montanile’ Decision

[2/2/16] Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies: The New Flexible Retirement: The Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2015

[2/2/16] Fox Business: “U.S. Health Spending Tops $3 Trillion


What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2015 Fall Policy Forum: "What Moves the Retirement Readiness Needle During the Accumulation Period: Quantification of Risks and Evaluation of New Proposals" [“gavel-to-gavel” webcast - Prerecorded broadcast available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans]

EBRI's Recent Media Coverage

“EBRI Now on Twitter” [EBRI Press Release, 2/6/09]

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility


January 2016 EBRI Notes - "Impact of Workplace Wellness-Program Participation on Medication Adherence" and "Differences in Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses of Older Single and Couple Households"


What's new in employee benefits:

The following items have been added to the Government Accountability Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

Social Security's Future: Answers to Key Questions. GAO-16-75SP, October 27.

Retirement Security: Federal Action Could Help State Efforts to Expand Private Sector Coverage. GAO-15-556, September 10. Highlights.

Pension Advance Transactions: Questionable Business Practices and the Federal Response, by Stephen Lord, managing director, forensic audits and investigative service, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-15-846T, September 30. Highlights.


If a title link above no longer works, click here for the GAO home page and search for the report by keyword or report number. Click here to browse by date, topic, or agency.   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.



Updated 2/11/16