What's New - February 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.


[2/27/15] Kaiser Health News: “High Court Arguments Set for Wednesday -- And the ACA’s Fate Could Hang in the Balance

[2/27/15] The Los Angeles Times: “Obamacare defense is tailored for key Supreme Court justices

[2/27/15] Healthcare Payer News: “Another site vies in the consumer health transparency space

[2/27/15] The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief: “How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect the Use of Health Care Services?

[2/27/15] Congressional Research Service: Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program: An Overview

[2/27/15] Wolters Kluwer Law & Business: “Self-Purchasers Are Confident, But Feel Unprepared for High Medical Costs

[2/27/15] Internal Revenue Service: Employee Plans News [Feb. 27, 2015]

[2/27/15] TIAA-CREF: “TIAA-CREF Survey: Increasing Number of Americans Unfamiliar With the Investment Options in Their Retirement Plan

[2/27/15] BenefitsPro: “Sponsor confusion persists about QDIAs

[2/27/15] The Wall Street Journal: “Public Pensions Not Expected to Take a Big Hit from New Data on Longer Lifespans

[2/27/15] The Hill: “GOP bill aims to block financial adviser regs

[2/27/15] Brookings: “1,000,000 of Our Neighbors at Risk: Improving Retirement Security for Marylanders” [Note: The full report may be downloaded at the website.]

[2/26/15] Towers Watson Insider: “Defined Contribution Plans of Fortune 100 Companies in 2013

[2/26/15] Financial Planning: “Cash-Balance Plans Surge

[2/26/15] NAPA Net: “Supremes Hear Arguments in Tibble 401(k) Revenue-Sharing Case

[2/26/15] NASRA Issue Brief: “State and Local Government Spending on Public Employee Retirement Systems” [Updated February 2015]

[2/26/15] The Fiscal Times: “’Irresponsible’ Millennials Saving More Than Almost Every Other Group

[2/26/15] Charles Schwab: “How to Create a Sustainable Retirement Spending Plan

[2/26/15] CFO.com: “Specialty Drugs Eat More of Health-Care Spending Pie

[2/26/15] Kaiser Family Foundation Issue Brief: “Are Premium Subsidies Available in States with a Federally-run Marketplace? A Guide to the Supreme Court Argument in King v. Burwell

[2/26/15] SCOTUSblog: “U.S.: It has no fix if Court nullifies health care subsidies

[2/26/15] LifeHealthPro: “EBRI: Real LTC spending

[2/25/15] Society for Human Resource Management: “Workers Contented, Mostly, with Wages and Benefits

[2/25/15] Kaiser Health News: “Survey: With Health Law’s Help, Uninsured Rate Drops to Lowest Level in 7 Years"

[2/25/15] WealthManagement.com: “President Moves Fiduciary Rule Forward

[2/25/15] The Los Angeles Times: “Supreme Court poised to protect employees from high fees in 401(k) plans

[2/25/15] Plan Sponsor: “Automation Trends Going Strong in DC Plans

[2/25/15] NAPA Net: “Lockheed’s 401(k) Fee Settlement Tab: $62 Million

[2/25/15] Reuters: “New Jersey court slaps down Christie plan on pension contributions

[2/25/15] National Center for Employee Ownership: “Observations on Employee Ownership -- Why Has the Total Number of ESOPs Gone Down But Participation and Assets Gone Up?

[2/25/15] Families and Work Institute: Paid Time Off, Vacations, Sick Days and Short-Term Caregiving in the United States: 2014 National Study of Employers

[2/25/15] U.S. Department of Labor: Definition of Spouse Under the Family and Medical Leave Act; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on Feb. 25, 2015]

[2/24/15] CBS News: “Survey sheds new light on Americans’ savings habits

[2/24/15] BrightScope, Inc.: “The One Chart That Explains 401(k) Fees

[2/24/15] The White House: The Effects of Conflicted Investment Advice on Retirement Savings

[2/24/15] Plan Sponsor: “Who Has a Realistic View of Retirement Readiness?

[2/24/15] MarketWatch: “Has the trend toward later retirements played out?

[2/24/15] Morningstar: “Don’t Be Dogmatic About Retirement-Portfolio Withdrawals

[2/24/15] Internal Revenue Service: Section 4980I -- Excise Tax on High Cost Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage [Notice 2015-16 - Public comments should be submitted no later than May 15, 2015; see page 24 for further information.]

[2/24/15] The Commonwealth Fund Blog: “After a Slow Start, Federal Small Business Health Insurance Marketplace Offers New and Improved Functions

[2/24/15] Towers Watson: Defined Contribution Health Arrangements: The Finance Perspective

[2/24/15] The Advisory Board Company: “Sears gave its workers more health care choices. Here’s what happened.

[2/24/15] Towers Watson: Emerging Opportunities for Retiree Health Care Programs: Insights From the 2015 Survey on Retiree Health Care Strategies

[2/24/15] Plan Adviser: “Special Planning Needed for Health Costs in Retirement

[2/20/15] Sarasota Herald-Tribune: “Forum: People are not saving enough for retirement

[2/20/15] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 FAQs

[2/20/15] MPBN News: “Collins: Small Businesses Need Help With Retirement Plans

[2/20/15] NAPA Net: “Proposed Illinois Budget Includes Deep Cuts to State Pensions

[2/20/15] The Boston Globe: “R.I. lawmakers push to end tax on retirement income -- Aim to keep more seniors in state

[2/20/15] PIMCO DC Design: “DC Managed Accounts: Shining a Spotlight on Investment Advice

[2/20/15] SCOTUSBlog: “Not much of a dispute in ERISA case about duty to monitor

[2/20/15] BDlive: “US employers’ collective shrug suggests Obamacare no job killer

[2/20/15] Healthcare Payer News: “Why the wellness model must evolve anew

[2/20/15] BenefitsPro: “Employees want health plan options

[2/20/15] Internal Revenue Service: Guidance on the Application of Code § 4980D to Certain Types of Health Coverage Reimbursement Arrangements [Notice 2015-17]

[2/20/15] Ogletree Deakins: “Philadelphia Mayor Signs New ‘Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces’ Ordinance

[2/19/15] BenefitsPro: “U.S. facing $4 trillion retirement shortfall, EBRI says

[2/19/15] TD Ameritrade: Financial Disruptions Survey Impact of Life Events 2015 -- Understanding the Impact of Life Events on Long-Term/Retirement Savings

[2/19/15] NASRA Issue Brief: “Employee Contributions to Public Pension Plans

[2/19/15] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014; Partitions of Eligible Multiemployer Plans and Facilitated Mergers; Request for Information [as published in the Federal Register on February 18, 2015 - Comments must be received on or before April 6, 2015.]

[2/19/15] U.S. Department of the Treasury: General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2016 Revenue Proposals

[2/19/15] The Institute for HealthCare Consumerism [The Private Exchange Blog]: “More Employers Investigating Benefits of Private Exchanges

[2/19/15] Towers Watson: “Towers Watson Reveals Top 10 Employee Questions on Private Exchange Enrollment

[2/19/15] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Engaging Health Care Consumers: The Lowe’s Experience

[2/19/15] Kaiser Health News: “Figuring Out If a Doctor Is in Your Plan Is Harder Than You Think

[2/19/15] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans: Workplace Wellness Trends: 2015 Survey Results

[2/19/15] The Commonwealth Fund Blog: “Why High-Risk Pools (Still) Won’t Work

[2/18/15] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration: FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XXIII) [Supplemental Coverage as Excepted Benefits]

[2/18/15] HealthLeaders InterStudy [Blog]: “Value-based benefit design and select Rx utilization controls waned in 2014, according to PBMI

[2/18/15] America’s Health Insurance Plans: “The Charts That Drugmakers Don’t Want You to See

[2/18/15] The Wall Street Journal [Blog]: “Health Spending Is Rising More Sharply Again

[2/18/15] Philly.com: “Paid sick leave signed into Philadelphia law

[2/18/15] Financial Advisor: “EBRI: Social Security Cuts Could Hurt Gen Xers

[2/18/15] NAPA Net: “TDF Growth Slows

[2/18/15] MarketWatch: “3 easy steps for small businesses to evaluate 401(k) fees

[2/18/15] Plan Sponsor: “Helping Participants Factor Longevity into Retirement Planning

[2/18/15] Internal Revenue Service: Request for Information on Suspensions of Benefits Under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014; Request for information [as published in the Federal Register on February 18, 2015 - Comments must be received by April 6, 2015.]

[2/13/15] Devenir Research: 2014 Year-End HSA Market Statistics & Trends [Executive Summary]

[2/13/15] Area Development: “Employers Still Struggling With the Affordable Care Act

[2/13/15] Internal Revenue Service Fact Sheet: “2014 Tax Changes: Health Care Law Brings Updates to Tax Forms; Other Benefits Renewed” [FS-2015-9]

[2/13/15] Human Resource Executive Online: “Dependent Care’s Disappearing Act?” [“With its recent tax reform plan, the White House is seeking to eliminate flexible spending accounts related to caring for children and aging parents, while also trying to broaden current limitations. Experts discuss the HR aspects of the proposed changes and how they would affect employees--and their loved ones.”]

[2/13/15] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Announcement of Ruling: Implementing United States v. Windsor for Purposes of Entitlement and Enrollment in Medicare Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance; Notice of CMS ruling [as published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2015]

[2/13/15] NAPA Net: “Retirement Income Options Still MIA for Most Plans

[2/13/15] BenefitsPro: “Failing 401(k) sponsors cling to their own stock -- Doing so, a new study says, hurts participants

[2/13/15] NAPA Net: “Oregon Takes Another Step Toward State-Run Retirement Plan

[2/12/15] The Wall Street Journal [Blog]: “Safeguarding Social Security and Other Retirement Policy Fixes

[2/12/15] Investment Company Institute Research Report: “Defined Contribution Plan Participants’ Activities, First Three Quarters of 2014

[2/12/15] NAPA Net: “Fewer Plans Offering Investment Advice

[2/12/15] Employee Fiduciary [Blog]: “Evaluating 401(k) Providers: Separating Commodity from Value-Added Services

[2/12/15] USA Today: “Women mum about money, worry about retirement savings

[2/12/15] Wolters Kluwer Law & Business: “Employee Participation in Wellness Programs and Flexible Work Arrangements on Rise

[2/12/15] Internal Revenue Service: Affordable Care Act: Types of Employer Payments and How They Are Calculated [Employer Shared Responsibility Payments]

[2/12/15] The RAND Blog: “Exchange Tax Credits or Employer Coverage: What’s Better for Low-Income Americans?

[2/11/15] Human Resource Executive Online: “Fair Play… or Not? Employers debate the merits and challenges of changing domestic-benefits policy for employees living in states where same-sex marriage is legal.

[2/11/15] Employee Benefits Legal Blog: “Benefits for ‘Domestic Partners’: What Does Your Plan Actually Say?

[2/11/15] Plan Sponsor: 2014 DC Survey: Plan Benchmarking

[2/11/15] National Institute on Retirement Security: Public Pension Resource Guide: Case Studies of State Pension Plans that Switched to Defined Contribution Plans

[2/11/15] NAPA Net: “Case of the Week: The Automatic IRA Act of 2015

[2/11/15] Bloomberg: “U.S. Retirement Security Isn’t Getting Any Better -- Income inequality is part of the reason the U.S. ranking isn’t improving

[2/11/15] Congressional Research Service: The Affordable Care Act and Small Business: Economic Issues

[2/11/15] Towers Watson’s The OneExchange Blog: “Account-Based Health Plan Adoption on the Rise

[2/10/15] NAPA Net: “The Impact of Assumptions on the Impact of Leakage

[2/10/15] Investment News: “DOL fiduciary rule stalls again as brokerage industry makes last-minute push against it

[2/10/15] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Study: Many retire earlier than originally planned

[2/10/15] The Motley Fool: “The Average American Pays Tax on 42% of Social Security Benefits. How Do You Compare?

[2/10/15] HRO Today: “A Win-Win -- Linking wellness programs with recognition and incentives can boost employee engagement as well as drive benefits costs down

[2/10/15] Plan Sponsor: “Health Reform Boosting Adoption of Wellness Programs, HDHPs

[2/10/15] Morningstar: “UPDATE: Obamacare may be making health savings accounts more popular

[2/10/15] USA Today: “Tax credits cut average ACA premiums to $105

[2/9/15] ThinkAdvisor: “Gen X, Y Driving DC Contributions and Rollovers

[2/9/15] Prudential Compliance Advisory: “Pension plan sponsors must justify the reasonableness of normal retirement ages under age 62

[2/9/15] PNC Retirement Solutions: The Rise of Target Date Funds

[2/9/15] NAPA Net: “President’s Budget Proposal Would Limit Roth Conversions, Stretch IRAs

[2/9/15] Financial Advisor: “Golden Years May Be a Bust for Millions of Retirees, Report Warns

[2/9/15] The Motley Fool: “3 Great Ways to Avoid Going Broke in Retirement

[2/9/15] Harvard Business Review: “The Biggest U.S. Health Care Challenges Are Management Challenges

[2/9/15] The Commonwealth Fund: “Health Insurance Marketplaces by Type

[2/6/15] Wolters Kluwer Law & Business: “Few Mid-Tier Employers Plan to Eliminate Healthcare, According to Survey

[2/6/15] Plan Sponsor: “DC Health Plan Adoption Set to Grow

[2/6/15] BenefitsPro: “How health care economics drive change -- 4 ways to answer the call for consumer-driven health care

[2/6/15] Gallup: “Most Company Wellness Programs Are a Bust

[2/6/15] Center for American Progress: Men, Fathers, and Work-Family Balance [Note: The full report may be downloaded at the website.]

[2/6/15] Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index: “Milliman analysis: January 2015 interest rates reach a record low of 3.38% with abysmal effect on pension funding

[2/6/15] NAPA Net: “Is There a January Effect for 401(k)s?

[2/6/15] MarketWatch: “Is America too generous to its military retirees?

[2/6/15] DrinkerBiddle®: “Navigating Retirement Risks: Longevity and Volatile Markets

[2/6/15] Ameriprise Financial: Retirement Triggers Research Report [Note: The full report may be downloaded at the website.]

[2/6/15] USA Today: “Retirees: Tips to rebalance your portfolio

[2/5/15] Wells Fargo: 2014 Employee Benefits Trends Survey -- Trends in employee benefits: Perspectives from the C-suite and HR/benefit managers [White Paper]

[2/5/15] Wolters Kluwer Law & Business: “Democrats Move on Paid Parental Leave for Federal Workers

[2/5/15] U.S. Senate Committee on Finance: “Burr, Hatch, Upton Unveil Obamacare Replacement Plan” [Press Release]

[2/5/15] Kaiser Health News: “House GOP Leads Charge (Again) To Repeal the Health Law

[2/5/15] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Beyond Wellness ROI Part II: The Case Study of a Major Self-Funded Employer

[2/5/15] Ascensus: “Overview of Retirement Savings Proposals in 2016 Federal Budget

[2/5/15] BenefitsPro: “Obama wants to give PBGC premium power -- Foes say doing so will create a conflict of interest

[2/5/15] The Huffington Post: “Riding Your 401(k) Through the Market’s Rollercoaster Ride

[2/5/15] Louisville Business First: “Kentucky treasurer proposes private retirement savings bill

[2/5/15] PIMCO DC Dialogue: “Global Retirement Expectations Gap” [“In this PIMCO DC Dialogue, we speak with Catherine Collinson of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies in the United States and Lex Solleveld, retirement product design leader of Aegon in the Netherlands. They share insights and suggestions on how to improve retirement plans globally.”]

[2/4/15] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Cost Index - December 2014 [News Release]

[2/4/15] Seyfarth Shaw LLP: “Another Message to the EEOC on Wellness Plans: Targeting Incentives Is Inconsistent with The Affordable Care Act

[2/4/15] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Implementing Health Reform: President Obama’s FY 2016 Budget and the ACA

[2/4/15] National Association for the Self-Employed: “Small Biz Health Care Survey: Affordability Still a Major Concern

[2/4/15] Health Care Cost Institute: “Shopping for Health Care Makes ‘Cents’ for Consumers” [Note: The Data Brief and Chart Pack may be downloaded at the website.]

[2/4/15] Internal Revenue Service: Employee Plans News [Feb. 2, 2015]

[2/4/15] Plan Adviser: “Private DC Assets Approaching $6 Trillion

[2/4/15] Plan Sponsor: “Cap on Savings Raises Industry Hackles

[2/4/15] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration: Annual Funding Notice for Defined Benefit Plans; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on February 2, 2015]

[2/4/15] Buck Consultants’ FYI®: “Public Pension Plan Update

[2/4/15] Center for State & Local Government Excellence Issue Brief: “Importance of Supplemental Retirement Saving Plans for City and County Employees” [Note: The full report may be downloaded at the website.]

[2/4/15] TIAA-CREF: TIAA-CREF Lifetime Income Survey: Executive Summary

[2/4/15] USA Today: “What to do when behind on retirement savings

What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2014 Fall Policy Forum: “Measured Matters” [“gavel-to-gavel” webcast - Prerecorded broadcast available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans]

EBRI 2013 Fall Policy Forum: “Employee Benefits: Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday” [“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


February 2015 EBRI Issue Brief - "Retirement Savings Shortfalls: Evidence from EBRI's Retirement Security Projection Model"

February 2015 EBRI Issue Brief - "Utilization Patterns and Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Different Health Care Services Among American Retirees"

February 2015 EBRI Notes - "Employee Tenure Trends, 1983-2014" and "Views on Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2014 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey"


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:

Private Pensions: Participants Need Better Information When Offered Lump Sums That Replace Their Lifetime Benefits. GAO-15-74, January 27. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: Geographic Variation in Spending for Certain High-Cost Procedures Driven by Inpatient Prices. GAO-15-214, December 29. Highlights.

401(K) Plans: Greater Protections Needed for Forced Transfers and Inactive Accounts. GAO-15-73, November 21. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: Concentration of Enrollees among Individual, Small Group, and Large Group Insurers from 2010 through 2013. GAO-15-101R, December 1.

Individual Retirement Accounts: IRS Could Bolster Enforcement on Multimillion Dollar Accounts, but More Direction from Congress Is Needed. GAO-15-16, October 20. Highlights.

Small Business Health Insurance Exchanges: Low Initial Enrollment Likely due to Multiple, Evolving Factors. GAO-15-58, November 13. Highlights.

Statement for the Record: Individual Retirement Accounts: Preliminary Information on IRA Balances Accumulated as of 2011, by James R. McTigue, director, strategic issues, and Charles A. Jeszeck, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, to the Senate Committee on Finance. GAO-14-878T, September 16. Highlights.
["This statement was amended on October 22, 2014, to revise the estimated individual retirement account and defined contribution plan accumulations for our illustrative contribution scenarios with balances invested in an S&P 500 portfolio. The original estimates used a price index that did not include reinvested dividends. Table 2 and the text on page 8 have been updated to reflect total returns on the investments."]

Older Americans: Inability to Repay Student Loans May Affect Financial Security of a Small Percentage of Retirees, by Charles A. Jeszeck, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Senate Special Committee On Aging. GAO-14-866T, September 10. 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 2/27/15