What's New - February 2010

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What's new at EBRI this month:

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

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility


February 2010 EBRI Issue Brief - "Employers, Workers, and the Future of Employment-Based Health Benefits"

February 2010 EBRI Notes - "Choice of Health Plan: Findings from the 2009 EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey" and "Labor Force Participation Rates: The Population Age 55 and Older, 2008"


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:

Electronic Personal Health Information Exchange:  Health Care Entities' Reported Disclosure Practices and Effects on Quality of Care.  GAO-10-361, February 17. Highlights.

Patient Safety Act:  HHS Is in the Process of Implementing the Act, So Its Effectiveness Cannot Yet Be Evaluated.  GAO-10-281, January 29. 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.

[2/26/10]  The Los Angeles Times:

[2/26/10]  MassMutual Financial Group:  “MassMutual Survey Reveals Surprising Trends in 401(k) Participant Attitudes about Retirement Planning and Investing; Gender Plays a Role” [Press Release]

[2/26/10]  Prudential’s Four Pillars of Retirement SeriesThe New Economic Reality and the Workplace Retirement Plan: Prudential’s Sixth Annual Workplace Report on Retirement Planning

[2/26/10]  U.S. News & World Report:  “8 Factors that Determine Your Final 401(k) Balance

[2/26/10]  Consumer Federation of America, Financial Services Roundtable, and Employee Benefit Research Institute:

[2/25/10]  Deloitte Consulting and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists:  2010 Top Five Total Rewards Priorities Survey

[2/25/10]  AmericaSavesWeek.org:  “Groups Release Survey Suggesting Recession Has Eroded Savings Practices and Discuss Their Efforts to Stop This Erosion” [Click on the link for the 2/22/10 press release]

[2/25/10]  Kaiser Health News:  “House Votes to Strip Insurers’ Antitrust Exemption

[2/25/10]  ERISA Industry Committee:  Findings from ERIC Survey on Health Care Reform Legislation

[2/25/10]  The Washington Post:  “Democrats Looking Beyond Health-Care Summit to Final Talks Within Party

[2/25/10]  Urban Institute:  Who Would Be Hurt the Most by a Failure to Enact Comprehensive Reforms?

[2/24/10]  Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [Winter 2010]

[2/24/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:

[2/24/10]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “White House Health Reform Proposal

[2/24/10]  Health Affairs Blog:  “The President’s Health Reform Proposal: Insurance and Revenue Provisions

[2/24/10]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Democrats on Track to Revive Healthcare Overhaul

[2/23/10]  Towers Watson:

[2/23/10]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[2/23/10]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Health Insurance Premiums: Commonwealth Fund Resources

[2/23/10]  The National Academy for State Health Policy:  Electronic Release of Clinical Laboratory Results: A Review of State and Federal Policy [prepared for the California HealthCare Foundation]

[2/22/10]  The White House:  The President’s Proposal -- “Putting Americans in Control of Their Health Care”

[2/22/10]  The New York Times:  “Obama to Urge Oversight of Insurers’ Rate Increases

[2/22/10]  HR Policy Association:  “HR Leaders Urge the President and Congress to Consider the Views of the Employer Community in Designing Comprehensive Health Care Reform” [Statement by Jeffrey C. McGuiness, President and CEO of the HR Policy Association, Representing the Views of Association Members on Reform of the U.S. Health Care System]

[2/22/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Annual Reporting and ERISA Coverage for 403(b) Plans [EBSA Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2010-01]

[2/22/10]  U.S. News & World Report:  “10 Ways Baby Boomers Will Reinvent Retirement

[2/22/10]  Social Security Administration:  Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 2009

[2/19/10]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Program Perspectives:  “Survey Finds That Employer-Provided Benefits Vary with Earnings

[2/19/10]  USA Today:  “More People Can Convert to Roth IRAs; Is It a Good Idea?

[2/19/10]  Business Insurance:  “CMS Delays Medicare Reporting Requirement

[2/19/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Application for Expedited Review of Denial of COBRA Premium Reduction

[2/19/10]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Obama To Get Specific on Healthcare Legislation

[2/19/10]  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:  Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System

[2/18/10]  The New York Times:

[2/18/10]  Pew Center on the States:  The Trillion Dollar Gap: Underfunded State Retirement Systems and the Roads to Reform

[2/18/10]  Target Date Analytics LLC:  “Recovery in Target Date Funds?

[2/18/10]  The Washington Post:

[2/18/10]  UC/Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education Issue Brief:  “Who Benefits from the Proposed Amendment to the Senate Excise Tax on Employer Health Premiums?

[2/17/10]  Fidelity Investments:

[2/17/10]  Bankrate.com (via CNBC.com):  “New Tool Offers Good News About Retirement

[2/17/10]  Business Insurance:  “Saving Plans Tap Social Media -- Sponsors, Managers Go Online to Educate Workers about Retirement

[2/17/10]  The Los Angeles Times:  “A Roadmap for Killing Social Security

[2/17/10]  Towers Watson:  National Health Expenditure Accounts: Insights for Plan Sponsors

[2/16/10]  U.S. News & World Report:  “6 Ways Employers Will Change 401(k)s in 2010

[2/16/10]  American Institute of Certified Public Accountants:  “Tax Consequences of Rollovers from Employer Plans to Roth IRAs

[2/16/10]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  Access to Health Care: State Legislation for 2010

[2/16/10]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: An Actuarial Rorschach Test” from Drew Altman, Larry Levitt, and Gary Claxton

[2/15/10]  Hewitt Associates:  Hewitt Report: Impact of FY2011 Proposed Budget on HR and Employee Benefits

[2/15/10]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Workers’ Response to the Market Crash: Save More, Work More?

[2/15/10]  TIAA-CREF Institute:

[2/15/10]  The Washington Post:  “Social Security Could Be Next to Need a Bailout

[2/15/10]  Congressional Budget Office:  The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2010 to 2020

[2/15/10]  Business Insurance:  “COBRA Extension Hits Speed Bump -- Lawmakers Expected to Find New Route to Continue Subsidy

[2/15/10]  The New York Times:  “Mixed GOP Response to WH Health Summit Invite

[2/15/10]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Individual Mandate: A Sticking Point in the Health Care Debate

[2/12/10]  Hewitt Associates:  Survey Findings: Hot Topics in Retirement 2010

[2/12/10]  TD Bank Financial Group:  TD North American Report on Retirement

[2/12/10]  ING Institute for Retirement Research:  InSights: Retirement Expectations, Confidence and Realities

[2/12/10]  Milliman, Inc.:

[2/12/10]  Profit Sharing/401k Council of America:  Blog - “Participant Direction – An Evolution”

[2/12/10]  ERISA Industry Committee:  “Pension Funding Relief Included in Senate Democratic Jobs Bill” [includes a link to the bill]

[2/12/10]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  Coburn-Ryan Health Bill Would Jeopardize Coverage for Many, While Failing to Reduce the Number of Uninsured Significantly

[2/12/10]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Update: A Survey of Health Care Claims Receipt and Processing Times, 2009

[2/12/10]  Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance & Policy:  Analysis in Brief: Employers and Massachusetts Health Reform

[2/12/10]  Towers Watson:  Employee Wellbeing: Taking Engagement and Performance to the Next Level

[2/4/10]  U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan, Committee on the Budget:

[2/4/10]  Urban Institute:  The Impact of Automatic Enrollment on 401(k) Match Rates: A Methodological Note

[2/4/10]  Investment Company Institute:  The U.S. Retirement Market, Third Quarter 2009

[2/4/10]  Business Insurance:  “Health Care Lull May Open Way for Pension Funding Relief

[2/4/10]  Mercer:  “Estimated 2010 Required Contributions and Credit Balances -- Internal Plan Survey Data and Analysis by Mercer’s US Pension Actuaries

[2/4/10]  Towers Watson:  “Defined Benefit Plans Outperformed 401(k) Plans During 2007 and 2008, Towers Watson Analysis Finds

[2/4/10]  ING:  “ING Survey: Higher Education Employees More Worried About Retirement Today, Yet Few Are Changing Strategy” [Press Release]

[2/4/10]  Wellness Council of America:  “ROI for Workplace Wellness

[2/4/10]  Georgetown University O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law:  The Constitutionality of Mandates to Purchase Health Insurance

[2/4/10]  Department of the Treasury (IRS) and Department of Labor (EBSA):  Request for Information Regarding Lifetime Income Options for Participants and Beneficiaries in Retirement Plans; Request for information [as published in the Federal Register on February 2, 2010]

[2/4/10]  Hewitt Associates and Financial Engines:  Professional Help in Defined Contribution Plans: Is It Working and for Whom?

[2/4/10]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  Why Did Some Employers Suspend Their 401(k) Match?

[2/4/10]  Principal Financial Group:  The Best Practices Guide: Latest Best Practices Guide--2009

[2/4/10]  National Business Group on Health:  “Health Care Reform Will Increase Costs, Reduce Benefits, Towers Watson Surveys Find” [Press Release]

[2/4/10]  Towers Watson:  From Recession to Recovery: How Far, How Fast, How Well Prepared

[2/4/10]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: The Message from Massachusetts” from Drew Altman

[2/4/10]  Department of the Treasury (IRS), Department of Labor (EBSA), and Department of Health and Human Services (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services):  Interim Final Rules under the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008; Interim Final Rules with Request for Comments [as published in the Federal Register on February 2, 2010]

[2/3/10]  AmericaSavesWeek.org:  America Saves Week, February 21-28, 2010 [including resources for organizations and individuals]

[2/3/10]  The White House:

[2/3/10]  American Benefits Council:  Fact Sheet: Supporting Middle Class Families

[2/3/10]  Prudential’s Four Pillars of Retirement Series:  The New Economic Reality and the Workplace Retirement Plan

[2/3/10]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Form 5500 Data Sets Website

[2/3/10]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  Changes to Excise Tax on High-Cost Health Plans Address Criticisms, Retain Long-Term Benefits

[2/3/10]  The Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s Issues and Answers:  “Answering Your Questions about Health Savings Accounts

[2/3/10]  The Segal Company NewsLetter:  “Genetic Testing: An Ever-Evolving Health Field Raises Complex Coverage Issues

[2/3/10]  Congressional Research Service:  Federal Employees: Pay and Pension Increases Since 1969

[2/3/10]  U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  List of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions 2009-2020

[1/22/10]  Hewitt Associates:  Significant Compensation and Benefit Due Dates for 2010

[1/22/10]  Investment Company Institute:

Updated 2/26/10