What's New - August 2005

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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 ".gov" 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.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

What's new at EBRI this month:


August 2005 EBRI Issue Brief - "Employment-Based Health Benefits: Trends in Access and Coverage"

August 2005 EBRI Notes - "Retirement Income Security: A Look at Social Security, Employment-Based Retirement Plans, and Health Savings Accounts"


Choose to Save Campaign Wins Emmy Award, A Choose to Save® public service campaign designed to encourage saving for retirement and a 30-minute CTS informational program have won regional Emmy awards from the National Capital/Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

New Social Security Research From EBRI -- A far greater portion of all current and future Americans would have a higher initial retiree benefit from the current Social Security program than from an individual account plan if the existing $90,000 wage cap was eliminated and all local, state, and federal workers were brought into the program to fill the projected funding deficit, a new EBRI analysis of various Social Security options shows.  But the study also shows that more of today’s younger workers would have a higher initial retiree benefit from an individual account plan than if nothing is done to reform the currently projected underfunded program. Press Release. Futher information can be found in this supplemental material

Research findings from EBRI's Social Security Research Program [includes Information and Resources for Reporters]

Frequently Asked Questions About Benefits - This section of EBRI's Web site is designed to answer basic questions about major benefit issues and trends. It provides short, graphical answers, with links to the detailed data underlying the figure. In addition, references are provided to the relevant EBRI publication.

EBRI Research Findings for 2003-2004:


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:

Highlights of a GAO Forum: The Future of the Defined Benefit System and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. GAO-05-578SP, June 2005.  Highlights

Social Security Reform: Considerations for Individual Account Design, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, director, education, workforce, and income security sssues, before the Subcommittee on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means. GAO-05-847T, June 23.   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.

[8/31/05] U.S. Census Bureau:  Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004.  Press Release.

[8/31/05] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Preliminary Private Pension Plan Bulletin: Abstract of 2000 Form 5500 Annual Reports

[8/31/05] Internal Revenue Service:  Defined Contribution Listing of Required Modifications and Information Package (LRM)

[8/31/05] MarketWatch:  "Age Appropriate: AARP’s Top 50 Firms Offer Flexibility, Respect to Older Workers"

[8/31/05] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans:  2005 Directory of Multiemployer and Public Health Care Purchasing Coalitions

[8/30/05] Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  Employee Benefits Most Generous in US Government, Education, and Nonprofit Sectors

[8/30/05] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  "Electronic Filing of Annual Reports; Proposed Rule" [published in the Federal Register 8/30/05]

[8/30/05] United Benefit Advisors:  2005 UBA/Ingenix Health Plan Survey

[8/30/05] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Tales of the Dodo Bird and the Yellowstone Wolf: Lessons for DB Pensions and the Retirement Ecosystem"

[8/30/05] U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Dividends Paid Deduction for Stock Held in Employee Stock Ownership Plan (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking)

[8/29/05] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2005

[8/29/05] Employment Policy Foundation:  The American Workplace 2005: The Changing Nature of Employee Benefits [Executive Summary]

[8/29/05] Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:  Employer-Sponsored Single, Employee-Plus-One, and Family Health Insurance Coverage: Selection and Cost, 2003

[8/29/05] Towers Perrin:  Health Care Consumerism: A Look at the Current State

[8/29/05] U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Employer Comparable Contributions to Health Savings Accounts under Section 4980G (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking)

[8/29/05] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Retirement Savings on Congress’ Radar Screen"

[8/24/05] Workforce Management:  "Health Care Premium and Cost Trends" [A set of charts showing how health care costs have changed since 2000]

[8/24/05] Workforce Management:  "Traditional Health Plans Begin to Adopt Elements of Consumer-driven Approach"

[8/24/05] Salary.com:  2005 Small Business Basic Medical Coverage Survey

[8/24/05] Towers Perrin:  "Employers Make Progress Preparing for Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit"

[8/22/05] U.S. Small Business Administration:  Cost of Employee Benefits in Small and Large BusinessesPress Release.

[8/22/05] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  7th Annual Conference of the Retirement Research Consortium [includes links to conference papers and presentations]

[8/19/05] Hewitt Associates:  "IRS Issues Proposed Regulations on Electronically Transmitted Employee Benefit Notices, Elections, and Consents"

[8/19/05] Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  HSA State Implementation Report

[8/19/05] Buck Consultants LLC:  "IRS Says No to Medical Reimbursement Accounts in Profit Sharing Plans"

[8/19/05] BenefitNews Connect:  "Consumers Elevate HMOs over PPOs"

[8/19/05] UCLA Center for Health Policy Research:  The State of Health Insurance in California: Findings from the 2003 California Health Interview Survey

[8/19/05] Congressional Budget Office:  The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update [Box 2-2: Employers’ Contributions to Defined-Benefit Pension Plans]

[8/19/05] Watson Wyatt Insider:  "Pension Fund Finances and Business Risk"

[8/19/05] Investment Company Institute Fundamentals:  "Mutual Funds and the U.S. Retirement Market in 2004"

[8/18/05] Hewitt Associates:  "Pension Reform -- Update Reflecting NESTEG"

[8/18/05] Aon Consulting:  "US Pension Plans Four Times More Likely to Be Fully Funded Than UK Plans"

[8/18/05] Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University:  A Work-Filled Retirement: Workers’ Changing Views on Employment and Leisure

[8/18/05] Workforce Management:  "Hispanic Americans Ill-prepared for Retirement"

[8/17/05] American Academy of Actuaries:  Administration’s Retirement Savings Proposals: An Updated Analysis by the Pension Committee of the American Academy of Actuaries

[8/17/05] Congressional Research Service:  S.219: The National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Guarantee [NESTEG] Act

[8/17/05] American Academy of Actuaries:  Cash Balance Equivalences

[8/17/05] Towers Perrin:  "United Kingdom: Rule Requires Employers to Consult on Pension Plan Changes"

[8/17/05] Spencer Benefits Reports:  "Many Employers Act Quickly on New Sec. 125 Grace Period"

[8/17/05] National Conference of State Legislatures:  2005 Prescription Drug State Legislation [updated August 15, 2005]

[8/15/05] Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  "Lawmakers Aim to Secure Pensions"

[8/15/05] Managed Care Magazine:  "Momentum Shifts Toward Consumer-Directed Plans"

[8/15/05] Galen Institute:  Consumerism in Health Care: Early Evidence Is Positive

[8/15/05] The Century Foundation:  Health Care: Universal Coverage -- Four Plans for Health Care Reform

[8/15/05] Internal Revenue Service:  "IRS, Treasury Issue Priority Guidance Plan for 2005-2006" [press release]. 2005-2006 Priority Guidance Plan

[8/12/05] AARP:  Social Security 70th Anniversary Survey Report: Trends over TimePress Release.

[8/12/05] Scripps Howard (via Blackenterprise.com):  "Milestones in 70-Year History of Social Security"

[8/12/05] The ERISA Industry Committee:  "ERIC and Deloitte Receive Results of Flexible Spending Arrangement Survey"

[8/12/05] National Bureau of Economic Research:  Social Security Programs and Retirement around the World: Fiscal Implications [forthcoming conference volume]

[8/11/05] BenefitNews Connect:  "Average 401(k) Balance Climbs Up"

[8/11/05] Workforce Management:  "State of the Sector: Pension & Retirement Benefits"

[8/11/05] Knowledge@Wharton:  "How Well Has Chile’s Retirement Program Aged?"

[8/11/05] Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Statistical Brief:  "The Uninsured in America, 1996-2004: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population under Age 65"

[8/10/05] Hewitt Associates:  "Kaiser/Hewitt Retiree Health Care Survey Underway"

[8/10/05] AARP Data Digest:  "Health Coverage Among 50-64 Year-Olds in 2003"

[8/10/05] The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief:  "Options for Federal Coverage of the Uninsured in 2005"

[8/10/05] Galen Institute:  "Health Savings Accounts -- California Dreamin’"

[8/10/05] Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:  "When the Price Isn’t Right: How Inadvertent Payment Incentives Drive Medical Care"

[8/10/05] HR Policy Association:  "Revival of 30-Year Treasury Bond Will Not Solve the Pension Funding Dilemma"

[8/10/05] AARP:  "The UK Pension System and International Best Practice"

[8/9/05] Business Insurance:  "Court Approves IBM Pension Conversion Settlement"

[8/9/05] HR Policy Association Policy Brief:  "Hybrid Reform in Finance Committee Pension Bill Leaves Existing Cash Balance Plans Open to Legal Attack"

[8/9/05] H.R.3574, Lifetime Prosperity Act of 2005:  “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand incentives for saving.” Bill Summary & Status Information

[8/9/05] Principal Financial Group:  Bridging the Income Gap with Annuities - A Plan Sponsor’s Guide

[8/9/05] The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief:  "Issues Related to State and Employer Innovations in Insurance Coverage"

[8/9/05] Employee Benefit News:  "Tax Reform Touted as Health Care Remedy"

[8/9/05] Congressional Budget Office:  Employment During the 2001-2003 Recovery

[8/9/05] The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  "New Research Finds One in Three Uninsured Children Had No Medical Care for an Entire Year"

[8/8/05] The Segal Company:  2006 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey

[8/8/05] Health Data Management:  "Health I.T. Bills Pile Up in Congress"

[8/8/05] San Francisco Chronicle:  "Personal Saving Rate Drops to Zero Percent"

[8/8/05] Society for Human Resource Management:  "Nominees Sought for Pension Benefit Advisory Council" [ERISA Advisory Council]

[8/5/05] Milliman, Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments

[8/5/05] Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Basic Questions & Answers about Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

[8/5/05] The Segal Company Bulletin:  Retiree Drug Subsidy Application Process Begins

[8/5/05] Kaiser Family Foundation and Consumers Union:  A Consumer Guide to Handling Disputes with Your Employer or Private Health Plan, 2005 Update

[8/5/05] California Department of Insurance:  Priced Out: Health Care in California

[8/5/05] Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  401(k) Day Tools (in English & Spanish) [Log-in required]

[8/4/05] AARP:  2005 US-UK Dialogue on Pensions, July 19-21, 2005 [including links to presentations and conference-related research]

[8/4/05] Workforce Management:  "401(k)s: How Much Employers Are Matching"

[8/3/05] The Christian Science Monitor:  "Spendthrift Nation"

[8/3/05] BenefitNews.com:  "Workers Blame Insurers for Rising Health Care Costs"

[8/3/05] Employee Benefit News:  "Breaks in Canada Health System May Invite U.S. Solutions"

[8/3/05] Benefits & Compensation Digest [Web Exclusive]:  "Union Self-Directed Annuity Plans: Present Trends and Future Directions"

[8/3/05] Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  Retirement Perspective: A Proposal to Break the Cash Balance Logjam

[8/2/05] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Compensation Costs Up 3.2 Percent in Private Industry Over the Year

[8/2/05] BenefitNews.com Industry Currents:  "Benefits Perception Can Use Some Clarity, MetLife Benchmarking Study Finds"

[8/2/05] Employee Benefit News:  "Part D Regs Rolled Out: Medicare-Eligibles Must Receive Notice on How Employer Rx Plan Stacks Up"

[8/2/05] Towers Perrin Perspectives:  "Helping Retirees ‘Get It’: The Critical Ingredient in Successfully Implementing Medicare Part D"

[8/2/05] Employee Benefit News:  "Small Plans Buck Trend: Few Employees Play Catch-Up with 401(k)s"

[8/2/05] Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  Selecting a Default Fund for a Defined Contribution Plan

[8/2/05] Employment Policy Foundation Issue Backgrounder:  "The Benefits of Hybrid Pension Plans and the Efforts to Clarify Their Legality"

[8/1/05] Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Health Savings Account (HSA) Info Center

[8/1/05] The Commonwealth Fund: Reinsurance:  How States Can Make Health Coverage More Affordable for Employers and Workers

[8/1/05] TIAA-CREF Institute Policy Brief:  "Options and Alternatives to Fund Retiree Health Care Expenditures"

[8/1/05] Business Insurance:  "Bush Signs Medical Error Database Bill Into Law"

[8/1/05] Hewitt Associates:  "Hewitt Study Shows Nearly Half of U.S. Workers Cash Out of 401(k) Plans When Leaving Jobs"

[8/1/05] Chicago Consulting Actuaries:  Senate and House DB Funding Reform Alternatives

[8/1/05] The ERISA Industry Committee:  Assessing the Status of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

[8/1/05] FTC Facts for Consumers:  “Prescreened Offers of Credit and Insurance

Updated 8/31/05