What's New

What's New - December 2004

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What's new at EBRI this month:


December 2004 EBRI Issue Brief - "Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2004 Current Population Survey"

December 2004 EBRI Notes - "Tracking Health Care Costs: Spending Growth Slowdown Stalls in First Half of 2004"

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 Spring Policy Forum - EBRI's spring Policy Forum entitled "ERISA AT 30: The Decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?" was held in Washington, DC on May 6, 2004. Policy Forum Materials

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:

Prescription Drugs: Trends in Usual and Customary Prices for Drugs Commonly Used by Medicare and Non-Medicare Enrollees. GAO-05-104R, October 6.

Health Coverage Tax Credit: Simplified and More Timely Enrollment Processes Could Increase Participation. GAO-04-1029, September 30.  Highlights

Private Pensions: Airline Plans' Underfunding Illustrates Broader Problems with Defined Benefit Pension System, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. GAO-05-108T, October 7.  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.

[12/29/04]  Rocky Mountain News:  "Advice: Retiree Health Issues"

[12/29/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Medicare Prescription Drug Law Requires New Disclosures for Retiree Health Plans"

[12/29/04]  Inside Consumer-Directed Care [via AISHealth.com]:  "Enrollment in Account-Based CDH Plans Will Surpass 3 Million Lives on Jan. 1"

[12/29/04]  Congressional Budget Office:  Long-Term Analysis of the Diamond-Orszag Social Security Plan

[12/29/04]  The Christian Science Monitor:  "One Man’s Retirement Math: Social Security Wins"

[12/21/04]  USA Today:  "Workers Forfeit Millions in Health Spending Accounts"

[12/21/04]  Los Angeles Times:  "Medicare’s Troubles May Be Sleeping Giant" [registration may be required]

[12/21/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Improving 401(k) Investment Performance

[12/21/04]  National Center for Policy Analysis:  Social Security Reform without Illusion: The Five Percent Solution

[12/20/04]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Top 10 Health Policy Stories of 2004

[12/20/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Health Plans Morph As CDH Demand Grows"

[12/20/04]  San Francisco Chronicle:  "Domestic Program’s Big Goals: Bush Ready for Fights on Social Security, Tax Code, Tort Law"

[12/20/04]  The Washington Post:  "Bush Lauds TSP as Outline of Future Social Security"

[12/20/04]  Monthly Labor ReviewEmployer Costs for Paid Leave

[12/20/04]  Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies:  Sixth Annual Transamerica Small Business Retirement Survey

[12/20/04]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Field Assistance Bulletin 2004-03: Fiduciary Responsibilities of Directed Trustees

[12/20/04]  Financial Accounting Standards Board:  FASB Issues Final Statement on Accounting for Share-Based Payment

[12/16/04]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation--September 2004

[12/16/04]  Aon Consulting:  2005 Limits for Benefit Plans--Updated

[12/16/04]  The New York Times:  "Bush Puts Social Security at Top of Economic Conference" [registration may be required]

[12/16/04]  The Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  Expectations for Retirement: A Survey of Retirement Investors

[12/15/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Current Trends and Future Outlook for Retiree Health Benefits: Findings from the Kaiser/Hewitt 2004 Survey on Retiree Health Benefits

[12/15/04]  The New York Times:  "Most G.O.P. Plans to Remake Social Security Involve Deep Cuts to Tomorrow’s Retirees" [registration may be required]

[12/15/04]  The Washington Post:  "Flaws of Private Accounts" [opinion]

[12/15/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "DB Plan Sponsors Scrutinize Early Retirement Contracts"

[12/15/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  American Jobs Creation Act Has Broad Range

[12/9/04]  Financial Times:  "Legislators Join Forces on Social Security Reform"

[12/9/04]  National Underwriter:  "Bill Puts Annuities At Social Security Reform Table"

[12/9/04]  Allstate:  Fourth Annual Allstate “Retirement Reality Check” Survey - Mini Executive Summary (Year-to-Year)Press Release

[12/9/04]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  US Education, Government, and Nonprofit Sectors Make Up in Benefits What They May Lack in Pay

[12/8/04]  The Boston Globe:  "Unmarried Gay Couples Lose Health Benefits"

[12/8/04]  The Washington Post:  "Bill to Phase Out Open Seasons for Savings Plan Awaits Bush’s Signature"

[12/8/04]  The Segal Company:  2005 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Plans

[12/7/04]  National Center for Policy Analysis:  Flexible Spending Accounts: Making a Good Deal Better

[12/7/04]  PlanSponsor.com:  2004 Defined Contribution Survey

[12/7/04]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  PBGC Announces Maximum Insurance Benefit for 2005

[12/7/04]  Managed Care Magazine:  "Accrediting Agencies Turn Attention To Consumer-Directed Health Plans"

[12/7/04]  Business Week Online:  "A New Level for Tiered Health Care"

[12/6/04]  HealthLeaders News:  "Consumer-Driven Care: Eight Directions for 2005"

[12/6/04]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Prescription Drug Plans: Draft Drug Benefit Materials for [Public] Comment

[12/6/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement Source for Plan Participants/Employees

[12/6/04]  The New York Times:  "Phased Retirement Contains Pros, Cons" [registration may be required]

[12/6/04]  The Washington Post:  "The Cost of [Social Security] Reform" [editorial]

[12/6/04]  Congressional Budget Office:  CBO’s Recent Social Security Analyses

[12/3/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   A Bird’s Eye View of the Social Security Debate

[12/3/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Employee Satisfaction With Health Benefits Remains Surprisingly High, Watson Wyatt Survey Finds

[12/3/04]  USA Today:  "Doses of Reality Not Covered by New Medicare Drug Benefit"

[12/3/04]  Aon Consulting FORUM:  "2004 United States @Work: Redefining the Employer/Employee Relationship"

[12/3/04]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:   HIPAA Administrative Simplification - Educational Materials

[12/2/04]  Center for Studying Health System Change Issue Brief:  "Tracking Health Care Costs: Spending Growth Slowdown Stalls in First Half of 2004"

[12/2/04]  BenefitNews.com:  Acquisition Would Create Largest Provider of CDHPs

[12/2/04]  The Boston Globe:  "Healthcare Bill Pushes Businesses"

[12/2/04]  The Washington Times:  "Social Security Reform Mulled"

[12/2/04]  Associated Press (via Yahoo! News):  Questions, Answers About Social Security

[12/1/04]  Principal Financial Group:  The Principal Financial Group Hails Introduction of DB(k) Legislation: Hybrid Plan Combines Defined Benefit with 401(k) -- Retirement Leader Urges Prompt Hearings

[12/1/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Caution Advised on Company Stock in Plans"

[12/1/04]  National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis:  "Retirement Savings Reforms on Which the Left and the Right Can Agree"

[12/1/04]  Monthly Labor Review:  "Measuring Defined Benefit Plan Replacement Rates with PenSync"

[12/1/04]  Business Insurance:  "U.K. To Give Tax Break for Pension Advice"

[12/1/04]  The Segal Company:  2005 Minimums and Maximums for High-Deductible Health Plans, Health Savings Accounts and Archer Medical Savings Accounts

[12/1/04]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  Senate OKs Bill Barring Source of Injury Clauses

[12/1/04]  The Christian Science Monitor:   "A Massachusetts Republican Aims for ‘Universal Healthcare’"


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Updated 12/30/04