What's New - December 2016



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[12/23/16] Bloomberg BNA: “Benefit Plans Not Targeted for Tax Revenue--At Least Not Yet

[12/23/16] NAPA Net: “(Plan) Size Matters in TDF Practices

[12/23/16] Retirement Income Journal: “Policy Forecast: Gloom with a Chance of Doom” [Note: A subscription may be required to view the full article.]

[12/23/16] Fox Business: “3 Serious Problems With the 4% Retirement Rule

[12/23/16] Moss Adams Wealth Advisors LLC: “Avoid Disaster When Designating Beneficiaries on Your Retirement Plan

[12/23/16] PlanAdviser: “Expect More Varied ERISA Litigation in 2017 -- Aside from traditional allegations of excessive fees and mismanagement of company stock, ERISA litigation in 2016 included challenges to fund types, fiduciary processes and provider arrangements; expect more to come.

[12/23/16] Internal Revenue Service: “Questions and Answers about Information Reporting by Employers on Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C

[12/23/16] Chelko Center for Benefits Management: “The Painful Truth: Opioids and Your Health Plan

[12/23/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “What’s Confusing Us About Mental Health Parity

[12/23/16] Vox.com: “Washington, DC, passed one of the nation’s most generous paid family leave laws -- A model for state-level progressives under Trump.

[12/22/16] Mercer: “Rising Interest Rates and Equity Markets Create Opportunities and Risks for Defined Benefit Plans

[12/22/16] PlanSponsor: “Retirement Plan Communications and Planning Going Digital -- Employer-sponsored retirement plan providers are increasing digital offerings, but participants may need prompting to use these tools.

[12/22/16] U.S. News & World Report: “5 Ways to Cut 401(k) Fees Down to Size -- Administration fees can have a major impact on your retirement savings.

[12/22/16] Corporate Insight, Inc.: “Economic hurdles, retirement plan design inefficiencies discourage Millennials from saving for retirement

[12/22/16] Bloomberg BNA: “Delta Airlines Latest Company Hit With 401(k) Class Action

[12/22/16] Willis Towers Watson: “Infographic: Employers Act to Control Pharmacy Trend

[12/22/16] PlanAdviser: “Benefits of HSAs Key to Holistic Retirement Planning

[12/22/16] The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief: “A Long Way in a Short Time: States’ Progress on Health Care Coverage and Access: 2013-2015

[12/22/16] CNBC: “To fix Obamacare, the GOP needs to tackle this major flaw in the health-care system

[12/21/16] PlanSponsor: “Employers Focused on Modernizing Health Benefits in 2017

[12/21/16] Healthcare IT News: “PwC’s Top 10 Healthcare Industry Issues for 2017

[12/21/16] Kaiser Family Foundation: Preventive Services for Women Covered by Private Health Plans under the Affordable Care Act

[12/21/16] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits: 2016 Survey Results [Note: A username and a password are required to view the full survey results.]

[12/21/16] PlanAdviser: “Commitment to DC Plans Remained Strong in 2016

[12/21/16] Fox Business: “Millennials Are Harnessing Their Best Retirement Weapon

[12/21/16] PlanSponsor: “Time to Remind Participants of Saver’s Tax Credit -- Employees who are unable to set aside money for this year may want to schedule their 2017 contributions soon so their employer can begin withholding them in January, IRS suggests.

[12/21/16] FEDweek: “The Best-Laid Retirement Plans

[12/21/16] Principal Financial Group: “Ugh -- The missing participants…

[12/21/16] Bankrate, LLC: “Most workers leave paid vacation time unused, a Bankrate survey finds

[12/20/16] Mercer: “Mercer Outlines 2017 Top Priorities for DC Plan Sponsors

[12/20/16] Plan Sponsor Council of America: “PSCA Releases Results of 59th Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans -- Employee Participation and Deferral Rates See Steady Increase; Participation up Five Percent Since 2010

[12/20/16] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration: Savings Arrangements Established by Qualified State Political Subdivisions for Non-Governmental Employees; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on Dec. 20, 2016 - SUMMARY: This document contains an amendment to a final regulation that describes how states may design and operate payroll deduction savings programs for private-sector employees, including programs that use automatic enrollment, without causing the states or private-sector employers to have established employee pension benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The amendment expands the final regulation beyond states to cover qualified state political subdivisions and their programs that otherwise comply with the regulation. This final rule affects individuals and employers subject to such programs. DATES: This rule is effective 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.]

[12/20/16] 401(k) Specialist: “Top 10 Best (And Worst) States For 401k Financial Literacy -- No state received an A grade

[12/20/16] NAPA Net: “Will Stressed Out Savers Turn to Advisors?

[12/20/16] The Motley Fool: “Are You Caught Up On Catch-Up Contributions? Catch-up contributions allow Americans closing in on retirement a great way to bulk up their retirement savings in 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, and IRAs.

[12/20/16] Willis Towers Watson Insider: “Legislative interest in student loan repayment as an employee benefit grows

[12/20/16] PlanSponsor: “The Burden of Health Care -- How will Trump’s presidency affect employer-sponsored health benefits?

[12/20/16] CNN (via NBC26): “Doctors and hospitals ask patients to pay up before treatments

[12/20/16] Kaiser Health News: “Faced With Unaffordable Drug Prices, Tens Of Millions Buy Medicine Outside U.S.

[12/19/16] Institutional Investor: “The Fear Driving Plan Sponsors’ Decisions -- Worries over litigation increase the number of passive investment options in 401(k) plans and squelch innovation, a new survey concludes.

[12/19/16] PlanSponsor: “403(b) Plan Sponsors Taking Action to Prepare for Fiduciary Rule

[12/19/16] PlanAdviser: “Tibble vs Edison Still Being Fought in Federal Courts -- After multiple trips through the district and appellate court systems and consideration by the Supreme Court on multiple occasions, Tibble vs Edison took another step forward today.

[12/19/16] The Motley Fool: “Heads Up: 3 IRA Changes in 2017 You’ll Need to Know

[12/19/16] The Actuary: “Medical costs set to rise globally despite falling inflation rates -- Global medical costs are expected to increase in 2017 despite average inflation rates appearing to fall, according to Aon Hewitt.

[12/19/16] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration: Claims Procedure for Plans Providing Disability Benefits; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on Dec. 19, 2016 - SUMMARY: This document contains a final regulation revising the claims procedure regulations under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) for employee benefit plans providing disability benefits. The final rule revises and strengthens the current rules primarily by adopting certain procedural protections and safeguards for disability benefit claims that are currently applicable to claims for group health benefits pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. This rule affects plan administrators and participants and beneficiaries of plans providing disability benefits, and others who assist in the provision of these benefits, such as third-party benefits administrators and other service providers. Effective Date: This rule is effective January 18, 2017. Applicability Date: This regulation applies to all claims for disability benefits filed on or after January 1, 2018.]

[12/19/16] Internal Revenue Service: Premium Tax Credit Regulation VI; Final regulations [as published in the Federal Register on Dec. 19, 2016 - [SUMMARY: This document contains final regulations relating to the health insurance premium tax credit (premium tax credit). These final regulations affect individuals who enroll in qualified health plans through Health Insurance Exchanges (Exchanges, also called Marketplaces) and claim the premium tax credit, and Exchanges that make qualified health plans available to individuals and employers. These final regulations also affect individuals who are eligible for employer-sponsored health coverage. Effective Date: These regulations are effective December 19, 2016. Applicability Date: For dates of applicability, see Sec. Sec. 1.36B-1(o), 1.36B-2(e), 1.36B-3(n), 1.36B-5(h), and 1.6011-8(b).]

[12/16/16] Kaiser Health News: “Republicans To Focus On Access Instead Of Universal Coverage In Repeal Plans

[12/16/16] HealthLeaders Media: “Insurance Plans Accept Mandate on its Way Out

[12/16/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Telehealth Alone Will Not Increase Health Care Access For The Underserved

[12/16/16] Kaiser Health News: “COBRA, Retiree Plans, VA Benefits Don’t Alleviate Need To Sign Up For Medicare

[12/16/16] InsuranceNewsNet: “DC Circuit Court Rejects DOL Rule Injunction

[12/16/16] Van Iwaarden Associates: “2017 Pension Lump Sums Are Looking More Affordable

[12/16/16] 401(k) Specialist: “Fiduciary Rule’s Impact On The Average 401k Participant -- Start every discussion with financial health

[12/16/16] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College’s Squared Away Blog: “Retirement Isn’t Always Fair

[12/16/16] KSL.com: “Are retirement plans the next big tobacco?

[12/16/16] USA Today: “5 things to do 5 years before retiring

[12/16/16] PlanAdviser: “Lawmaker Introduces Act to Shore Up Social Security -- The bill would ensure benefits keep up with changes in the economy by using a more accurate measure of inflation for the annual cost-of-living adjustment, among other things.

[12/15/16] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics The Economics Daily: “Health insurance costs 7.6% of total compensation for private employers in September 2016

[12/15/16] Altarum Institute: “Rising Deductibles Are Not Yet a Financial Burden, but Early Evidence Shows an Impact on Access to Care

[12/15/16] InsuranceNewsNet: “Taxpayers Will Shell Out Nearly $10B More For ACA Rate Hikes

[12/15/16] Stinson Leonard Street [Benefits Notes Post]: “New Law Permits Stand-Alone Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) For Small Employers” [21st Century Cures Act]

[12/15/16] Kaiser Health News: “GOP’s Timetable For Getting Repeal To Trump May Be Ambitious

[12/15/16] Illinois News Bureau: “’Cadillac Tax’ May Precipitate Wholesale Changes to Employer-Provided Health Care Insurance

[12/15/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “The Costs And Benefits Of Health Spending In 2015

[12/15/16] FMLA Insights: “Should Employers Make Paid Parental Leave a Basic Employee Benefit? Considerations for Drafting a Parental Leave Policy

[12/15/16] NAPA Net: “Plaintiffs Charge Stock Price Pumped Up in New 401(k) Suit” [Fentress v. Exxon Mobil Corp.]

[12/15/16] NerdWallet: “NerdWallet 2016 Financial Health Report: Americans Worried About Retirement, Unlikely to Save More Next Year

[12/15/16] The Vanguard Group: “How to Boost Your Social Security Benefit

[12/15/16] Segal Consulting: 2017 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Multiemployer Plans

[12/14/16] Sibson Consulting: 2017 Reporting & Disclosure Calendar for Benefit Plans

[12/14/16] LIMRA: “Nearly Three-Quarters of U.S. Employees Would Like a Customized Benefits Package -- 9 in 10 workers rank health care and retirement as the most important workplace benefits

[12/14/16] PlanAdviser: “DC Industry Snapshot Reveals Uneven Plan Distribution -- Some types of employers simply aren’t interested in DC retirement plans, while others have fully embraced them.

[12/14/16] NAPA Net: “6 Stocking Stuffers for Retirement Participants

[12/14/16] ASPPA Net: “Cashouts: Plug the Leak

[12/14/16] PlanSponsor: “401(k) Participants Unsure of Savings Decisions -- In addition, two-thirds (66%) are not confident in selecting investment options.

[12/14/16] Corporate Synergies®: “Simplifying Health & Wellness for Small and Mid-Size Businesses

[12/14/16] Gallup: “Four in 10 in U.S. Dissatisfied With Their Healthcare Costs

[12/14/16] Kaiser Family Foundation: “Repeal of Obamacare Could Cause the ‘Death Spiral’ Critics Warned About

[12/14/16] Reuters: “McConnell Will Not Give Timeline for Obamacare Replacement

[12/13/16] Willis Towers Watson: “Growing Number of Millennials in U.S. Workforce and New Technologies Lead Employers to Modernize Employee Benefits -- Changes will be significant, according to Willis Towers Watson’s top five trends affecting employer-sponsored health care in 2017

[12/13/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “Measuring Wellbeing Analytics’ Impact

[12/13/16] Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants: “Top 10 401k Trends For 2017

[12/13/16] PlanSponsor: “Trump Election a Positive So Far for DB Funded Status -- Consultants estimate an improvement in funded ratios for defined benefit plans in November, and all attribute it to market activity following the election.

[12/13/16] CNBC: “The retirement issue that no one is talking about

[12/9/16] DataPath, Inc.: “2017 Contribution Limits for FSAs and HSAs

[12/9/16] Transamerica Center for Health Studies® Survey: Employer Attitudes Toward the Employer Mandate and the ACA

[12/9/16] Xerox Corporation: “Open Enrollment: Offering Opportunities for Health Insurers to Forge Deeper Connections with Members

[12/9/16] Nationwide: “Nationwide Survey: Health Care Costs Are a Top Retirement Worry, But Few Have a Plan on How to Pay Them” [Note: The survey results can be downloaded at the website.]

[12/9/16] Kaiser Health News: “Retired Coal Miners At Risk Of Losing Promised Health Coverage And Pensions

[12/9/16] Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index: “Milliman Analysis: Corporate pension funded status improved by $71 billion in November

[12/9/16] National Institute on Retirement Security Issue Brief: “The United Kingdom’s New Retirement Savings Program

[12/8/16] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Beyond the Numbers: Pay & Benefits: “Defined contribution retirement plans: who has them and what do they cost?

[12/8/16] CFO.com: “How to Optimize a 401(k) Plan for Employer, Employees -- It’s not just about making a DC plan look more like a DB plan; take a look at market-return cash balance plans.

[12/8/16] Gallup: “Cost Edges Access as Most Urgent U.S. Health Problem

[12/8/16] Business Insider: “The US can’t cut healthcare spending

[12/8/16] Bloomberg View: “Chicago’s Model Health-Care Fix

[12/8/16] Marsh Consulting Group: “Reference-Based Pricing: The New Frontier of Cost Control?

[12/8/16] DataPath, Inc.: “Portability and 9 Other Important Things to Know About an HSA

[12/8/16] PlanAdviser: “Aggressive Saving Needed to Meet Retirement Health Care Costs -- The average expected future retirement health care premiums for Medicare and supplemental insurance for a healthy woman retiring this year and living to 89 are projected to be $235,526.

[12/8/16] Kaiser Health News: “Senate Approves Landmark Mental Health Bill As Part Of 21st Century Cures Act

[12/7/16] PlanSponsor: 2016 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution Survey [Provider Ratings]

[12/7/16] Prudential Financial: Impact Investing: What Role for Defined Contribution Plans?

[12/7/16] TIAA Institute and Center for State & Local Government Excellence: 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey of the State and Local Government Workforce

[12/7/16] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: “Present Value of PBGC Maximum Guarantee

[12/7/16] Russell Investments [Fiduciary Matters Blog]: “The DOL Rule: Tension at the heart of the fiduciary standard

[12/7/16] Bloomberg BNA: “White House Opposes Bill Creating Newfangled Pension Plan

[12/7/16] PlanSponsor: “HSA Usage Continues Growth -- HSAs with investments had higher account balances than those that do not offer investments.

[12/7/16] Urban Institute: Implications of Partial Repeal of the ACA through Reconciliation [Note: The full report can be downloaded at the website.]

[12/7/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Taking Stock Of Health Reform: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going

[12/7/16] Willis Towers Watson: “EEOC Provides Important Clarifications on Incentive Limits in Wellness Programs

[12/7/16] Morning Consult: “Court Agrees to Temporary Delay of GOP Obamacare Lawsuit

[12/5/16] Health Affairs: “National Health Spending: Faster Growth In 2015 As Coverage Expands And Utilization Increases

[12/5/16] Kaiser Health News: “HSA Balances Climb But Benefits Reward Wealthier Consumers Most

[12/5/16] HealthPayerIntelligence: “How Health Payers Could Help Reduce High Out-of-Pocket Costs

[12/5/16] Thomson Reuters’ EBIA Weekly Newsletter: “How Do Health FSA Carryovers Affect HSA Eligibility?

[12/5/16] FiveThirtyEight: “What Trump May Have In Store For Americans’ Health Care

[12/5/16] Xerox Corporation FYI®: “Mental Health Parity Update

[12/5/16] NAPA Net: “Legislation Would Amend Section 401 Nondiscrimination Rules

[12/5/16] National Institute on Retirement Security Issue Brief: “10 Years After the Pension Protection Act: Effects on DB and DC Plans

[12/5/16] PlanSponsor: “Plan Sponsors Would Benefit From Better Rollover Practices -- The current structure of the rollover process does little to minimize or mitigate several key concerns.

[12/5/16] 401(k) Specialist: “Poor Marks For 401k Participants’ Retirement Readiness

[12/5/16] Groom Law Group Benefits Brief: “U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Church Plan Appeals

[12/5/16] PlanSponsor: “Barry’s Pickings Online: Auto IRA -- Not Dead Yet -- Michael Barry discusses why he thinks automatic IRA legislation still has a chance to be passed.

[12/5/16] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College’s Squared Away Blog: “Retirees’ Tax Puzzle: Pay Now or Later?

[12/2/16] PlanAdviser: “DC Advisers Cite Fewer Go To Providers -- Advisers recommend an average of just 2.2 plan providers to prospective clients, a new report suggests.

[12/2/16] American Century Investments® [Blog]: “Issues in Target-Date Fund Evaluation and Selection

[12/2/16] PlanSponsor: “Nearly Half of Corporate Pensions Considering Lump-Sum Payouts

[12/2/16] NAPA Net: “What’s Up With Consistent 401(k) Balances in November?

[12/2/16] CNN Money: “How do I turn my 401(k) into reliable retirement income?

[12/2/16] Social Security Office of Retirement and Disability Policy: “A Comparison of Free Online Tools for Individuals Deciding When To Claim Social Security Benefits

[12/2/16] 401(k) Specialist: “HSAs Gain (Serious) Traction In Retirement Planning -- Current projections show $50 billion in assets by 2018

[12/2/16] PlanSponsor: “Employees Express Concern About Adequacy of Health Benefits -- In addition, many do not know what they are paying for health insurance, a survey finds.

[12/2/16] Aegis Risk, LLC (via International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists): Aegis Risk Medical Stop-Loss Premium Survey

[12/2/16] Xerox Corporation FYI®: “Wellness Programs: Regulatory and Litigation Update

[12/2/16] Employers Council on Flexible Compensation: “House Passes 21st Century Cures Act with HRA Provisions

[12/2/16] Vox.com: “The biggest health reform bill since Obamacare, explained in 600 words

[12/2/16] Kaiser Health News: “GOP Embraces Repeal-Now, Replace-In-Three-Years Strategy On Health Law

[12/2/16] Vox.com: “The true story of America’s sky-high prescription drug prices

[12/2/16] Federal News Radio: “Make your health plan a money maker

[12/1/16] Money Magazine: “Why You Really Shouldn’t Ignore a Flexible Spending Account

[12/1/16] Willis Towers Watson: “10 Investment Actions for DB Plans in 2017

[12/1/16] Prudential Financial: 2016 Retirement Preparedness Survey Findings

[12/1/16] CNBC: “How to gum up your 401(k) without even knowing it -- Half of target-date fund investors have their dollars in other funds

[12/1/16] NAPA Net: “Plan Eligibility, Vesting Focus of GAO Report

[12/1/16] InsuranceNewsNet: “Kansas Judge Rejects DOL Rule Injunction” [Market Synergy v. DOL]

[12/1/16] NAPA Net: “5 Things the DOL Wants You to Know About TDFs -- That You May Have Overlooked

[12/1/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “Fiduciary Rule in Limbo? Experts weigh in on the likelihood of a repeal or delay of the new fiduciary rule under a Trump administration -- and what it means for employers.

[12/1/16] Social Security Bulletin: “Employment at Older Ages and Social Security Benefit Claiming

[12/1/16] The Motley Fool (via USA Today): “8 facts you didn’t know about retirement


What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2016 Fall Policy Forum: "Retirement and Health Policy Directions in 2017 and Beyond" ["gavel-to-gavel" webcast - Prerecorded broadcast available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans]

EBRI's Recent Media Coverage

Change in Average Account Balances (by Age and Tenure)


Dec. 14, 2016 EBRI Issue Brief - "Narrow Provider Networks for Employer Plans"

Nov. 29, 2016 EBRI Issue Brief - "Health Savings Account Balances, Contributions, Distributions, and Other Vital Statistics, 2015: Estimates from the EBRI HSA Database"

Oct. 19, 2016 EBRI Notes - "Workers Like Their Benefits, Are Confident of Future Availability, But Dissatisfied With the Health Care System and Pessimistic About Future Access and Affordability"


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:

401(K) Plans: Effects of Eligibility and Vesting Policies on Workers' Retirement Savings.
GAO-17-69: Published Oct. 21, 2016; Publicly Released Nov. 21, 2016. Highlights.

Social Security: Improvements to Claims Process Could Help People Make Better Informed Decisions about Retirement Benefits.
GAO-16-786, Sept. 14, 2016. Highlights.

401(k) Plans: DOL Could Take Steps to Improve Retirement Income Options for Plan Participants.
GAO-16-433: Published August 9, 2016; Publicly Released September 8, 2016. 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.  

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 12/23/16