What's New - December 2015



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!


Index to All Months                                                                                                    Return to Current Month


As a research site, EBRI.org 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.


[12/24/15] Prudential’s Pension Analyst: “2015 Plan Year: Year-End compliance reminders - For defined contribution plans subject to ERISA

[12/24/15] Prudential’s Pension Analyst: “2015 Year-End compliance reminders: For defined contribution plans not subject to ERISA

[12/24/15] PlanAdviser: “Large Plans Still Leading the Plan Design Charge

[12/24/15] Principal Financial Group: The Principal Financial Well-Being Index: Employees [4th Quarter 2015]

[12/24/15] NJ.com: “N.J. Senate budget panel approves mandatory retirement savings plan

[12/24/15] PIMCO DC Dialogue: “Living Beyond 100 Years of Age” [“In this PIMCO DC Dialogue, we speak with Professor Joshua Grill about increasing longevity and the challenges it may bring.”]

[12/24/15] Groom Law Group Benefits Brief: “Year-end Spending and Tax Deal Affects Health, Retirement and Fringe Benefit Plans

[12/24/15] HR Dive: “Consumer-driven healthcare may finally be getting traction

[12/24/15] Buck Consultants [Blog]: “Why Your Wellness Program Isn’t Working

[12/24/15] Reuters: “Telehealth services becoming popular with US consumers and insurers

[12/23/15] Sibson Consulting: 2016 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans

[12/23/15] 401k Specialist: “Confusion Reigns in 401(k) Participation Rates

[12/23/15] BrightScope and Investment Company Institute: The BrightScope/ICI Defined Contribution Plan Profile: A Close Look at 401(k) Plans, 2013

[12/23/15] USA Today: “Don’t let these unexpected costs derail your retirement: Plan ahead instead

[12/23/15] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Partitions of Eligible Multiemployer Plans; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on December 23, 2015 - Effective January 22, 2016.]

[12/23/15] PlanSponsor: “GASB Issues Several New Standards for Governmental Plans -- The guidance is related to accounting and financial reporting of fiduciary activities, certain asset retirement obligations, and pension issues.

[12/23/15] Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development: Pensions at a Glance 2015: OECD and G20 Indicators - [“The 10-year anniversary edition of Pensions at a Glance highlights the pension reforms undertaken by OECD and G20 countries over the last two years. Two special chapters provide deeper analysis of first-tier pension schemes and of the impact of short or interrupted careers, due to late entry into employment, childcare or unemployment, on pension entitlements. Another chapter analyses the sensitivity of long-term pension replacement rates on various parameters. A range of indicators for comparing pension policies and their outcomes between OECD and G20 countries is also provided.”] - [Note: A PDF is available at the website for downloading.]

[12/23/15] Sibson Consulting Update: “2016 Appropriations Law Delays Three Affordable Care Act Taxes, Including the 40 Percent Excise Tax on High-Cost Health Plans

[12/23/15] The Commonwealth Fund Blog: “2015: The Health Care Year in Review

[12/23/15] TIME: “Who Gets to Keep My Unused FSA Money?

[12/22/15] The Commonwealth Fund: “Consumer Cost-Sharing in Marketplace vs. Employer Health Insurance Plans, 2015

[12/22/15] Employee Benefit Adviser: “Employer groups want more than two-year delay to Cadillac tax

[12/22/15] Reuters: “Healthcare costs a top concern for Republican and Democratic voters

[12/22/15] KHN Morning Briefing: “Baby Boomers Set Another Trend: More Golden Years in Poorer Health

[12/22/15] BenefitsPro: “What the Fed’s interest rate increase means for pension funding

[12/22/15] PlanSponsor: “IRA Rollovers Won’t Slow Post Fiduciary Reform

[12/22/15] About.com: “How to Save for Retirement with a MyRA -- Is the MyRA a Smart Way to Save for Retirement?

[12/22/15] Brookings [Opinion]: “Good news for retirement policy in spite of gridlock

[12/22/15] NAPA Net: “Lawyers Get More Than Plaintiffs in Excessive Fee Case” [Tussey v. ABB Inc.]

[12/22/15] BloombergBusiness: “More Companies May Start Helping Employees Buy Homes

[12/21/15] Life & Health Advisor: “Generational Differences About Benefits: Millennials Less Interested

[12/21/15] KHN Morning Briefing: “Employers Feel the Pinch of Rising Drug Costs

[12/21/15] Congressional Research Service: Employer Wellness Programs and Genetic Information: Frequently Asked Questions

[12/21/15] Human Resource Executive Online: “Taking Family-Leave Benefits to the Next Level

[12/21/15] Internal Revenue Service: Employee Plans News [Dec. 21, 2015]

[12/21/15] Governing: “Public Pensions’ Latest Challenge: Longer Lives

[12/21/15] ThinkAdvisor: “Young 401(k) Participants Aren’t Using Advisors: Spectrem

[12/21/15] Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association: Retirement Income Solutions: A Guide for Plan Sponsors -- Considerations and case studies to help employers understand and evaluate retirement income options

[12/21/15] NAPA Net: “Bill Bans Fiduciary Rule Without Congressional Approval

[12/21/15] Social Security Administration, Office of Retirement & Disability Policy: International Update, December 2015 [“This monthly publication covers recent developments in foreign private and public pensions, social security, and retirement. In this issue: Global Aging Institute, OECD, United Kingdom.”]

[12/18/15] Financial Advisor: “Study: Millennials ‘Meh’ on Employer Benefits

[12/18/15] PlanSponsor: “Budget Deal Would Provide ‘Cadillac Tax’ Relief -- A provision in the budget deal approved by Congress would delay the tax for two years.

[12/18/15] Internal Revenue Service: Minimum Value of Eligible Employer-Sponsored Plans and Other Rules Regarding the Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit; Final regulations [as published in the Federal Register on December 18, 2015 - These regulations are effective on December 18, 2015.]

[12/18/15] Internal Revenue Service: “Health Insurance Providers Must Report Certain Information to the IRS and Covered Individuals” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2015-83, Dec. 17, 2015]

[12/18/15] National Center for Employee Ownership: “A Statistical Profile of Employee Ownership: Number of ESOPs and Participants, and Plan Asset Value” [Updated December 2015]

[12/18/15] Towers Watson Insider: “Class-Action Lawsuit Prevails in Cash Balance Conversion” [Osberg v. Foot Locker Inc.]

[12/17/15] Internal Revenue Service: Further Guidance on the Application of the Group Health Plan Market Reform Provisions of the Affordable Care Act to Employer-Provided Health Coverage and on Certain Other Affordable Care Act Provisions [Notice 2015-87]

[12/17/15] Segal Consulting: “Spending Deal Delays Affordable Care Act’s 40 Percent Excise Tax on High-Cost Health Plans

[12/17/15] Society for Human Resource Management: “Delayed or Not, Employers Adopt ‘Cadillac Tax’ Strategies

[12/17/15] USA Today: “State by state data show bigger 2016 exchange premium, deductible jumps

[12/17/15] Trucker Huss: High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)--How Do Those Plans Work?

[12/17/15] Employee Benefit Adviser: “What the Fed rate hike means for retirement plan sponsors, participants

[12/17/15] Government Executive: “TSP Board Starts to Tackle Military Retirement Reform

[12/17/15] PlanAdviser: “Where the Retirement Money Will Go -- As 66 million Americans retire over the next decade, their assets will shift into income products, and rollovers, with some going toward professional financial planning.

[12/17/15] CBS MoneyWatch: “Retire early? Some jobs give you little choice

[12/17/15] Congressional Budget Office: Social Security Policy Options, 2015

[12/16/15] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College: Investment Returns: Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution Plans [1990-2012]

[12/16/15] BenefitsPro: “Women’s Pension Protection Act introduced in House

[12/16/15] Mercer: “Retirement Plans Are Not Enough: Employers Advised to Expand Offerings to Meet Workforce’s Changing Needs

[12/16/15] Towers Watson: Accounting for Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits, 2015: Reporting Under U.S. GAAP Among Fortune 1000 Companies [Note: The full report can be downloaded at the website.]

[12/16/15] USA Today: “You Need $1M to retire: Blame the Fed

[12/16/15] NAPA Net: “No Fiduciary Rule Relief in Budget Bill

[12/16/15] Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute: 2015-2016 Prescription Drug Benefit Cost and Plan Design Report [Note: Free registration is required to access the report.]

[12/16/15] American Enterprise Institute: Improving Health and Health Care: An Agenda for Reform

[12/16/15] Jackson Lewis P.C.: “Don’t Forget Year-End Amendment to Cafeteria Plans Allowing Revocation for Marketplace Coverage

[12/16/15] Davis Wright Tremaine LLP: “Going Green: What Procedures Should You Consider for 2016 Electronic ERISA Disclosures?

[12/15/15] Human Resource Executive Online: “’Back-Sweeping’ to Boost 401(k) Participation

[12/15/15] NAPA Net: “TDFs Top Outflow List in November

[12/15/15] Institutional Investor: “DoL Fiduciary Rule: ‘Disruptive but Manageable’

[12/15/15] Internal Revenue Service: 2015 Cumulative List of Changes in Plan Qualification Requirements [Notice 2015-84] - [“This notice contains the 2015 Cumulative List of Changes in Plan Qualification Requirements (2015 Cumulative List) described in section 4 of Rev. Proc. 2007-44, 2007-2 C.B. 54. The 2015 Cumulative List is to be used by plan sponsors and practitioners submitting determination letter applications for plans during the period beginning February 1, 2016 and ending January 31, 2017.”]

[12/15/15] AARP Public Policy Institute: What Types of Costs Would a State-Sponsored Retirement Savings Plan Impose on Employers: A Case Study Using the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program

[12/15/15] Calpensions: “State savings plan may have no firm guarantee

[12/15/15] Governmental Accounting Standards Board: “Statement No. 78 of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board: Pensions Provided through Certain Multiple-Employer Defined Benefit Pension Plans

[12/15/15] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College: “The 2016 Presidential Candidates’ [proposed changes] on Social Security” [Note: The comparison chart can be downloaded at the website.]

[12/15/15] BenefitsPro: “Shifting health benefits to the consumer

[12/15/15] Towers Watson Insider: “New FAQs on ACA Preventive Services, Wellness Programs and Mental Health Parity

[12/14/15] Internal Revenue Service: “Why the Number of Your Employees Matters” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2015-81, Dec. 10, 2015]

[12/14/15] Devenir Research: "Credit Union HSA Update: 9/30/2015"

[12/14/15] The Wall Street Journal: “Prescription Drugs’ Sizable Share of Health Spending

[12/14/15] The Wagner Law Group Health and Welfare Law Alert: “DOL Says Certain Stop-Loss Insurance Policies Are Not Plan Assets

[12/14/15] Towers Watson: “Surveys Reveal Disconnect Between Retirees and Employers Over Retirement Medical Benefits

[12/14/15] Fox Business: “An Overhaul of the Military Retirement Program

[12/14/15] Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Insights™: “Plan Wellness Scorecard -- For the period ending June 30, 2015

[12/14/15] J.P. Morgan Asset Management: Money Market Reform: Understanding the Impact on Defined Contribution Plans

[12/14/15] CNBC: “What the looming Fed rate hike means for your retirement

[12/14/15] Social Security Administration Issue Paper: “Income Taxes on Social Security Benefits

[12/11/15] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Employer Costs for Employee Compensation -- September 2015” [News Release]

[12/11/15] CFO: “74% of Employers Exposed to ‘Cadillac Tax’ -- Rather than applying only to the most generous health plans, a survey says the tax will ‘weigh heavily’ on most businesses.

[12/11/15] Sibson Consulting: “Bills to Delay, Amend or Repeal the Affordable Care Act’s Excise Tax

[12/11/15] The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Small Employers and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP): Results from a National Study of Employers with 50 or Fewer Employees about Health Insurance

[12/11/15] HealthPocket: “Insurance Out-of-Pocket Charges for Specialty Drugs Increase as Retail Prices Surge

[12/11/15] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: “Retirement Matters: Risk Transfer Activity Significant; Over One Million People Affected

[12/11/15] PlanSponsor: “A Shift in DB Investing Strategies Expected in 2016 -- Market and regulatory factors will lead defined benefit plan sponsors to pursue more active strategies and different asset classes.

[12/11/15] Plan Sponsor Council of America: 2015 403(b) Snapshot Survey: Fiduciary Responsibilities in 403(b) Plans

[12/11/15] Business Insurance: “Pennsylvania Senate approves bill for hybrid retirement plan for new employees

[12/11/15] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College’s Squared Away Blog: “How Couples Deplete Retirement Savings

[12/10/15] Employee Benefit Adviser: “Voluntary Benefits: Multiple markets require multiple strategies

[12/10/15] ThinkAdvisor: “The Right Time, and Tool, for Reaching Out to 401(k) Clients

[12/10/15] MetLife: 2015 Stable Value Study: A Survey of Plan Sponsors, Stable Value Fund Providers and Advisors

[12/10/15] MFS Fund Distributors: Post-Recession Investors Show Depression-Era Fears

[12/10/15] Morningstar: “Fighting Inflation in Retirement

[12/10/15] Corporate Synergies®: “5 Reasons Your Plan Document Needs an ACA Compliance Check

[12/10/15] Milliman: “Ten potential drivers of ACA premium rates in 2017

[12/10/15] Congressional Budget Office: How CBO Estimates the Effects of the Affordable Care Act on the Labor Market [Working Paper]

[12/10/15] Congressional Research Service: Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act [Updated December 7, 2015]

[12/10/15] Internal Revenue Service: Application of Obergefell to Qualified Retirement Plans and Health and Welfare Plans [Notice 2015-86] - [“This notice provides guidance on the application of the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2584 (2015), to retirement plans qualified under section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) and to health and welfare plans, including cafeteria plans under section 125 of the Code. This guidance relates solely to the application of federal tax law with respect to same-sex spouses.”]

[12/9/15] Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index: “Milliman analysis: Corporate pension funded status drops by $3 billion in November

[12/9/15] NAPA Net: “Target-Date Fund Misperceptions Abound

[12/9/15] Gallup: “Flexible Retirement May Help Labor Markets and Well-Being

[12/9/15] InvestmentNews: “Insurers slow to introduce QLACs for 401(k) market

[12/9/15] ABC7News: “San Jose Reaches Tentative Agreement with Unions on Pension Reforms

[12/9/15] Palisades Hudson Financial Group LLC: “The Rise of State-Mandated Employee Retirement Systems

[12/9/15] Hospitals & Health Networks: “Will Boeing Change Health Care?

[12/9/15] HartfordBusiness.com: “Employers focus on health care cost shifts, wellness

[12/9/15] CreditUnionTimes: “5 Ways Employees Lose Out With Proposed Wellness Rules

[12/9/15] Transamerica Center for Health Studies® Survey: Companies Navigate the Health Coverage Mandate

[12/9/15] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Nothing (Still) Matters: ERISA Preemption Returns to the Supreme Court” [Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.]

[12/9/15] OUPblog [Opinion]: “The Little Sisters, the Supreme Court and the HSA/HRA alternative” by Edward Zelinsky

[12/8/15] Forbes: “3 Emerging Trends in Employee Benefits

[12/8/15] Segal Consulting: Survey of Plans’ Zone Status [Fall 2015]

[12/8/15] MassMutual Financial Group: 2015 MassMutual Generations@Work Study: Research Results – Summary of key findings about the employee benefits America’s workers value the most

[12/8/15] PlanSponsor: “Making the Best Auto Enrollment Decisions

[12/8/15] Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies: The Current State of Retirement: Pre-Retiree Expectations and Retiree Realities

[12/8/15] InvestmentNews: “Legislation to replace DOL fiduciary could be tied to must-pass bill to keep government open

[12/8/15] MorningstarAdvisor: “HSAs Underused – Workers, facing behavioral barriers, don’t take full advantage of benefits.

[12/8/15] SCOTUSblog: “Argument analysis: Justices spar over ERISA preemption of state health-care databases” [Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company]

[12/8/15] KHN Morning Briefing: “Senate GOP Agenda on Health Law May Hinge on Supreme Court Decision

[12/8/15] Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008; Proposed rule; extension of comment period [as published in the Federal Register on Dec. 7, 2015 - SUMMARY: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC” or “Commission”) is extending the comment period for the proposed rule “Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008” published on October 30, 2015. The Commission is extending the comment period in response to a stakeholder request for an extension. DATES: Comments regarding this proposal must be received by the Commission on or before January 28, 2016. The comment period was originally scheduled to end on December 29, 2015.]

[12/3/15] NAPA Net: “A Generation Gap in Benefits Preferences

[12/3/15] Towers Watson: “Understanding How Employees Make Their Health Plan Election Decisions: 2015 Towers Watson Medical Plan Election Survey

[12/3/15] HR.BLR.com: “HSA enrollment booming, according to new survey

[12/3/15] Forbes: “How the Cloud Is Revolutionizing Healthcare

[12/3/15] Internal Revenue Service: “Health Care Law: Tax Considerations for Employers with Fewer than 50 Employees” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2015-78, Dec. 1, 2015]

[12/3/15] Modern Healthcare: “Supreme Court justices’ questions hint at leanings in healthcare data case” [Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.]

[12/3/15] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Interpreting New Data on Health Care Spending Growth

[12/3/15] Hospitals & Health Networks: “What Do Most Health Care Systems Have in Common?

[12/3/15] U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions: Hearing titled “Principles for Ensuring Retirement Advice Serves the Best Interests of Working Families and Retirees” [Hearing held Dec. 2, 2015, includes links to witness testimonies]

[12/3/15] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans: Multiemployer Retirement Plan Landscape: A Ten-Year Look (2004-2013)

[12/3/15] NerdWallet [Blog]: “How to Prioritize Key Retirement Savings Steps

[12/3/15] ThinkAdvisor: “How Financially Smart Are Americans? -- The U.S. ranks 14th among the more than 140 countries surveyed in a global financial literacy survey

[12/2/15] Harvard Business Review: “Need a Good Parental Leave Policy? Here It Is.

[12/2/15] Gallup: “Cost Still Delays Healthcare for About One in Three in U.S.

[12/2/15] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2017; Proposed rule [as published in the Federal Register on Dec. 2, 2015 -- To be assured consideration, comments must be received at one of the addresses provided below [see full text] no later than 5 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2015.]

[12/2/15] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Proposed HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2017 [Fact Sheet]

[12/2/15] Bloomberg BNA: “Justices Urged to Save State Health Databases

[12/2/15] U.S. News & World Report: “Is an HSA Missing from Your Retirement Savings Strategy?

[12/2/15] NAPA Net: “Little Change, But Positive Movement for 401(k) Balances

[12/2/15] PlanSponsor: “Managed Accounts May Suit Some Participants

[12/2/15] The Heartland Institute: “Risky Missouri Teachers Pension Plan Proves Investment Return Assumptions Matter

[12/2/15] The Wall Street Journal: “Rule Changes on Money-Market Funds: What Investors Need to Know” [Note: A subscription may be required to view the full article.]

[12/1/15] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Allocation of Assets in Single-Employer Plans; Valuation of Benefits and Assets; Expected Retirement Age; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2015 - Effective January 1, 2016]

[12/1/15] Milliman: Milliman 2015 Public Pension Funding Study

[12/1/15] PlanSponsor: “Shifting Demographics a Challenge for Multiemployer Plans

[12/1/15] MorningstarAdvisor: “Focus on the Workplace -- Small businesses can be a solution to closing the retirement gap.

[12/1/15] The Wall Street Journal: “Behavioral Economist Richard Thaler on the Key to Retirement Savings” [Note: A subscription may be required to view the full article.]

[12/1/15] NAPA Net: “Another Excessive Fee Suit Settled” [Anderson et al. v. Principal Life Insurance Co. et al.]

[12/1/15] HRO Today: “Coping with Cost Increases -- Organizations are turning to analytics platforms to help curb rising healthcare premiums and deliver better care options for employees.

[12/1/15] KHN Morning Briefing: “Senate Scheduled to Vote This Week on Obamacare Repeal


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


December 2015 EBRI Issue Brief - "Findings from the 2015 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey"

December 2015 EBRI Notes - "The Effect of the Current Population Survey Redesign on Retirement-Plan Participation Estimates" and "Worker Opinions About Employee Benefits: Differences Among Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Generation X Have Implications for Plan Sponsors"


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.

Private Health Insurance: The Range of Premiums and Plan Availability for Individuals in 2014 and 2015. GAO-15-687, August 10. Highlights.

401(K) Plans: Clearer Regulations Could Help Plan Sponsors Choose Investments for Participants. GAO-15-578, August 25. 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 12/24/15