What's New - August 2011

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What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2011 Spring Policy Forum: “Is There a Future for Retirement?” ["gavel to gavel" webcast - Prerecorded broadcast available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans]

Visit EBRI's Blog!

EBRI's Recent Media Coverage

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

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility


August 2011 EBRI Issue Brief - "Target-Date Fund Use in 401(k) Plans and the Persistence of Their Use, 2007-2009"

August 2011 EBRI Notes - "The Impact of Repealing PPACA on Savings Needed for Health Expenses for Persons Eligible for Medicare" and "The Importance of Defined Benefit Plans for Retirement Income Adequacy"


Sixth Edition of EBRI's Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs Is Now Available

New Survey Released March 19, 2008: Preparing for Their Future: A Look at the Financial State of Gen X and Gen Y - Press Release


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:

Cost and Legal Authority for Selected Financial Literacy Programs and Activities. GAO-11-781R, July 13.

Private Health Insurance: Waivers of Restrictions on Annual Limits on Health Benefits. GAO-11-725R, June 14.

Private Health Insurance: Early Experiences Implementing New Medical Loss Ratio Requirements. GAO-11-711, July 29. Highlights.

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans: Program Features, Early Enrollment and Spending Trends, and Federal Oversight Activities. GAO-11-662, July 27. Highlights.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Carrier Interest in the Federal Program, Changes to Its Actuarial Assumptions, and OPM Oversight. GAO-11-630, July 11. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: State Oversight of Premium Rates. GAO-11-701, July 29. Highlights.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Asset Management Needs Better Stewardship. GAO-11-271, June 30. Highlights.

Value in Health Care: Key Information for Policymakers to Assess Efforts to Improve Quality While Reducing Costs. GAO-11-445, July 26. Highlights.

Retirement Income: Ensuring Income throughout Retirement Requires Difficult Choices. GAO-11-400, June 7. Highlights.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: IRS Should Expand Its Strategic Approach to Implementation. GAO-11-719, June 29.

Financial Literacy: A Federal Certification Process for Providers Would Pose Challenges. GAO-11-614, June 28. Highlights.

Defined Benefit Pension Plans: Plans Face Challenges When Investing in Hedge Funds and Private Equity, by Barbara Bovbjerg, Managing Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security, before the U.S. Department of Labor's Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans. GAO-11-901SP, August 31. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: State Oversight of Premium Rates and Changes in Response to Federal Rate Review Grants, by John E. Dicken, director, health care, before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. GAO-11-878T, August 2.

Social Security Statements: Observations on SSA's Plans for the Social Security Statement, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, managing director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Subcommittee on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means. GAO-11-787T, July 8. 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.

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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

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 Retirement Plans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  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.

[8/30/11]  Workforce Management:  “401(k)s Hang on as Stock Market Ride Gets Rough

[8/30/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[8/30/11]  PricewaterhouseCoopers HRS Insight:  “Agencies Propose Rules for Uniform Statements of Benefits under PPACA

[8/30/11]  Washington Examiner:  “Plan to Keep Your Health Plan? Don’t Count on It

[8/29/11]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  National Compensation Survey: Health and Retirement Plan Provisions in Private Industry in the United States, 2010

[8/29/11]  Center for Studying Health System Change Tracking Report:  “Mixed Signals: Trends in Americans’ Access to Medical Care, 2007-2010

[8/29/11]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Realizing Health Reform’s Potential--When Unemployed Means Uninsured: The Toll of Job Loss on Health Coverage, and How the Affordable Care Act Will Help

[8/29/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “’Covered’ Calls: Are You Ready for DoL Service Provider Disclosure Requirements?

[8/29/11]  Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letter:  “Boomer Retirement: Headwinds for U.S. Equity Markets?

[8/25/11]  Internal Revenue Service:

[8/25/11]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  “PBGC Announces Regulatory Review to Help Plan Sponsors

[8/25/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Measuring the Affordability of Employer Health Coverage

[8/25/11]  Associated Press (via PennLive.com):  “Obamacare May Push Employee Benefits Shift

[8/25/11]  Congressional Budget Office:  The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update

[8/24/11]  Towers Watson:  “Employers Committed to Offering Health Care Benefits Today; Concerned About Viability of Insurance Exchanges” [Press Release]

[8/24/11]  Workforce Management:  “Small Businesses Wary on Health Insurance Exchange

[8/24/11]  Sibson Consulting’s Capital Checkup:  “Proposed Rule Implementing the Affordable Care Act’s State Exchanges Published

[8/24/11]  MSNBC:  “Forget the Market: We Can’t Afford to Retire Anyway

[8/23/11]  Employee Benefit News:  “Health Benefits Report May Miss Deadline

[8/23/11]  Principal Financial Group:  The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security [“The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security recognizes growing companies nationwide that excel in giving their employees the financial edge they need in life.  This year marks the 10th Anniversary of The Principal 10 Best Program.”]

[8/23/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “2011 403(b) Plan Buyer’s Guide

[8/23/11]  Reuters Money:  “Time to refinance? How low can mortgage rates go?

[8/22/11]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  Fact Sheet: Providing Clear and Consistent Information to Consumers about Their Health Insurance Coverage

[8/22/11]  U.S. Departments of the Treasury (IRS), Labor (EBSA) and Health & Human Services:

[8/22/11]  TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  “Rethinking Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Design: A Survey of Experts

[8/22/11]  Payson Roundup:  “Women Business Owners Need Retirement Plans Too

[8/22/11]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Don’t Panic in Reaction to Stock Market Swings

[8/19/11]  National Business Group on Health:  “Majority of Large Employers Revamping Health Benefit Programs for 2012, National Business Group on Health Survey Finds” [Press Release]

[8/19/11]  Business Insurance:  “Federal Rules Would Dictate How Employers Explain Health Plan Coverage

[8/19/11]  Mercer:  2011 US Defined Contribution Investment Survey [PDF can be downloaded at the website]

[8/19/11]  MarketWatch:  “Retirement Savers Who Didn’t Blink Saw Big Gains - 401(k) participants who stuck with equities saw balances grow

[8/19/11]  U.S. News & World Report:  “3 Arguments for Delaying Retirement

[8/19/11]  SecondAct:  “Older People Struggle with Financial Decision-Making

[8/18/11]  The Washington Post:  “New Health Insurance Rules Would Let Consumers Compare Plans in ‘Plain English’

[8/18/11]  Groom Law Group Benefits Brief:  “Legislative Update - Budget Control Act of 2011: How the Debt Limit and Budget Negotiations Could Impact Health and Retirement Plans

[8/18/11]  TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  “Retirement Confidence Among State and Local Government Employees

[8/18/11]  PricewaterhouseCoopers HRS Insight:  “VEBA Prefunding Can Preserve Tax Advantages of Medicare Subsidy

[8/17/11]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

[8/17/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit; Notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of public hearing [as published in the Federal Register on August 17, 2011]

[8/17/11]  Institutional Retirement Income Council:  Retirement Income Products: Will Employees Welcome or Resent This Form of Employer Activism?

[8/17/11]  Society of Professional Benefit Administrators:  “Everything You Wanted to Know About TPAs But Were Afraid to Ask

[8/16/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  “What Is the Average Retirement Age?

[8/16/11]  Manhattan Institute for Policy Research:  Cadillac Coverage: The High Cost of Public Employee Health Benefits

[8/16/11]  The Wall Street Journal [Law Blog]:  “Obama Confident Supreme Court Will Defend Health Care Law

[8/16/11]  MetLife:  Where Do We Go from Here? Prospering in a Post-Health Care Reform World: Findings from MetLife’s Broker and Consultant Study

[8/15/11]  Kaiser Health News:

[8/15/11]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  Affordable Insurance Exchanges: Seamless Access to Affordable Coverage - Overview

[8/15/11]  Chicago Tribune:  “Tracking the Steady Annuity

[8/15/11]  USA Today:  “States Start to Require Courses in Financial Literacy

[8/12/11]  Business Insurance:  “COBRA Program Subsidies to Expire at End of August

[8/12/11]  Sibson Consulting’s Capital Checkup:  “Affordable Care Act Expands Preventive Services for Women

[8/12/11]  Towers Watson:  Session: Improving Health and Retirement Choices: Background Paper

[8/12/11]  The Hill’s Congress Blog:  “Department of Labor fiduciary rule: Major unintended consequences

[8/11/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Use of Actuarial Tables in Valuing Annuities, Interests for Life or Terms of Years, and Remainder or Reversionary Interests; Final regulations and removal of temporary regulations [as published in the Federal Register on August 10, 2011]

[8/11/11]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Tweaking ‘Target’ Lineups: Some employers replace--or customize--the one-stop funds in their 401(k)s

[8/11/11]  Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index:  Milliman Analysis: Corporate Pensions Experience Largest Funded Status Decline of the Year

[8/11/11]  National Association of State Retirement Administrators:  More Faulty Pension Analysis Unhelpful to State and Local Recovery Efforts

[8/11/11]  Social Security Administration:  Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2011

[8/11/11]  AARP Public Policy Institute:  Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update: The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving

[8/10/11]  Milliman Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments [August 2011]

[8/10/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Mapping Premium Variation in the Individual Market

[8/10/11]  Investment Company Institute:  Defined Contribution Plan Participants’ Activities, First Quarter 2011

[8/10/11]  Associated Press (via The Boston Globe):  “For 401(k) investors, the dives are dramatic, but the recoveries can be, too

[8/10/11]  Mercer:  “Market Turmoil and Flight to Quality Jolt US Pension Plans -- First trading days of August see funded status deterioration of nearly $200B for S&P 1500” [News Release]

[8/10/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Experts Predict Improved Retirement Plans

[8/9/11]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  12-Month Private Industry Compensation Costs, June 2011

[8/9/11]  Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company:  “Employers Expect to Add Voluntary Benefits to Their Plans” [News Release]

[8/9/11]  Investment News:  “Health Savings Account Balances Rise in June

[8/9/11]  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:  “Stockholders at Loss Over Steepest Drop Since 2008

[8/9/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “PSNC 2011: Who Is the New Fiduciary?

[8/9/11]  PIMCO DC Dialogue™:  “Mother of innovation” [“In this PIMCO DC Dialogue, we talk with Judy Mares, Chief Investment Officer of Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK), about the redesign of their defined contribution plan.”]

[8/8/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “The Budget Trigger and Health Reform

[8/8/11]  Government Health IT:  “CMS Unveils Quality Compare Finder Portal” [“a single online location for consumers to find quality information about hospitals, nursing homes and physician offices so they can make informed choices about their health care”]

[8/8/11]  Medicare.gov:  Quality Care Finder: Find & Compare…Health care providers like Hospitals, Nursing Homes, and Physicians; Health and Drug Plans; Equipment Suppliers and More

[8/8/11]  SmartMoney:  “The 2011 Correction: Another Bad Turn for Boomers

[8/8/11]  Center for American Progress:  “Top 10 Reasons Middle-Class Retirement Is at Risk

[8/8/11]  H.R. 2656:  “Pension Technical Modifications Act”

[8/4/11]  Reuters Money:  “What You Need to Know about Consumer-Driven Health Plans

[8/4/11]  Mercer:  “Mercer Analysis Reveals Automatic Plan Features Help Passively Enrolled Participants

[8/4/11]  Aon Hewitt:  2011 Trends & Experience in Defined Contribution Plans: Paving the Road to Retirement [Overview]

[8/4/11]  U.S. News & World Report:  “How to Predict Your Social Security Payout

[8/3/11]  Towers Watson Insider:  “The Economic Recession: Impact on Employment Trends and Retirement Patterns

[8/3/11]  Financial Advisor Magazine:  “The Coming Retirement Wave -- Are Americans financially prepared for life after work?

[8/3/11]  U.S. Departments of the Treasury (IRS), Labor (EBSA), and Health & Human Services:  Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers Relating to Coverage of Preventive Services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Interim final rules with request for comments [as published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2011]

[8/3/11]  Mercer:  “US Employer Health Plan Enrollment Up 2% under PPACA’s Dependent Eligibility Rule

[8/3/11]  U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:  Full committee hearing on “Health Reform and Health Insurance Premiums: Empowering States to Serve Consumers” [Hearing held August 2, 2011, includes links to archived webcast and written testimonies]

[8/2/11]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Labor Pains Wall Street -- Rules Would Toughen Pension Oversight

[8/2/11]  Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association:  Plug the Drain: 401(k) Leakage and the Impact on Retirement

[8/2/11]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary:  National Health Expenditure Projections 2010-2020

[8/2/11]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  Women’s Preventive Services: Required Health Plan Coverage Guidelines

[8/2/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together…Are We Headed for a Government Takeover of Health Care?” from Drew Altman

[8/2/11]  Congressional Budget Office:  CBO Analysis of August 1 Budget Control Act

[8/1/11]  Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Access to Benefits in Private Industry, March 2011

[8/1/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Automation and Advice Becoming Standard in DC Plans

[8/1/11]  Financial Accounting Standards Board:  “FASB Improves Employer Disclosures for Multiemployer Pension Plans” [News Release]

[8/1/11]  Virgin HealthMiles, Inc.:  Exploring Incentives: A Survey of Incentives Practices Among U.S. Employers

[8/1/11]  The Commonwealth Fund:  The U.S. Health System in Perspective: A Comparison of Twelve Industrialized Nations

[8/1/11]  The New York Times:  “When to Collect Social Security? -- A New Calculator

[7/29/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

Updated 8/31/11