What's New - January 2017



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[1/30/17] NAPA Net: “Benefits Complexity Overwhelming Employers

[1/30/17] Crain’s Cleveland Business: “Health care pricing -- there is a better way

[1/30/17] Wareable: “What doctors actually want to know from your health trackers --More than they’re getting now, that’s for sure

[1/30/17] Thomson Reuters’ EBIA Weekly Newsletter: “IRS Issues Proposed Regulations on Definition of Dependent

[1/30/17] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Exchange Stabilization Bills Represent New GOP Approach To ACA

[1/30/17] PlanAdviser: “DC Plan Sponsors Making Decisions to Lower Plan Fees

[1/30/17] Pension Rights Center: “Cleveland Iron Workers vote to approve pension cuts: Iron Workers Local 17 becomes first plan to cut retiree pensions

[1/30/17] PlanSponsor: “DOL Fiduciary Reform Effort Losing Steam

[1/27/17] InsuranceNewsNet: “6-Month DOL Rule Delay Expected Within Days

[1/27/17] NAPA Net: “Match Moves Minimal in 2016, But What About 2017?

[1/27/17] Physicians for a National Health Program: “Premiums, cost sharing, and provider choice all worse in 2017 ACA Exchange plans

[1/27/17] Kaiser Health News: “At Party Retreat, GOP Still Searching For Health Law Consensus

[1/27/17] Vox.com: “The number of US women taking maternity leave isn’t increasing -- and Trump won’t fix that

[1/26/17] NAPA Net: “Study Says Most Have a Plan for Their Rollover

[1/26/17] The Frugal Fiduciary Blog: “Roth 401k Deferrals -- Answers to Common Questions

[1/26/17] PlanAdviser: “Recommendations Made to Support ERISA Account Consolidations -- A report from the 2016 ERISA Advisory Council makes recommendations for facilitating auto-portability, communicating to participants about plan-to-plan transfers, and discussing the transfer of state-run retirement program accounts into ERISA plans.

[1/26/17] U.S. News & World Report: “Factoring a Serious Illness Into Your Retirement Plans -- Re-evaluate your financial strategy when health issues threaten to throw your retirement off course.

[1/26/17] Assurance (via USA Today): “What obesity costs your business: The importance of healthy incentives

[1/26/17] PlanSponsor: “Legislators Introduce Bill to Repeal ACA Cadillac Tax” [H.R. 173, Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2017]

[1/26/17] Advisor Perspectives, Inc.: “The Tax and Financial Planning Impact of Repealing the ACA

[1/26/17] FMLA Insights: “Disclosing an Employee’s Medical Condition May Result in an Automatic FMLA Violation

[1/25/17] The Conference Board [Blog]: “The Share of Workers Who Telework Continues To Grow

[1/25/17] Health Affairs [Blog]: “ACA Replacement Bill From Cassidy And Colleagues Offers State Options, Roth HSAs” [Patient Freedom Act of 2017]

[1/25/17] AcademyHealth [Blog]: “More families with employer-sponsored insurance are needing public assistance -- As employer-sponsored insurance becomes more expensive for children, public programs are picking up the slack.

[1/25/17] CBS MoneyWatch: “Weighing Obama’s legacy on retirement issues

[1/25/17] PlanAdviser: “2016 PLANADVISER Practice Benchmarking Survey -- The 2016 PLANADVISER Practice Benchmarking Survey gives you a guidepost to see how you compare with your peers.

[1/25/17] 401(k) Specialist: “What Do Big Firms Say About 401ks? Half are likely to adopt auto-enrollment

[1/25/17] Financial Advisor: “School Employees Need More Education On Retirement Plans

[1/25/17] The Motley Fool: “11 Ways to Super-Size Your Savings in 2017

[1/24/17] Human Resource Executive Online: “6 Tips to Increase Employee Engagement

[1/24/17] Cammack Retirement Group: “2017 401(k) ERISA Compliance Calendar

[1/24/17] Institutional Investor: “The Next Step for 401(k) Innovation: Auto-Portability -- Retirement plan owners with small balances need a simple, easy means to bring assets to their next employer’s 401(k), experts say.

[1/24/17] PlanSponsor: “The Basics About Form 5500s -- What the DOL and the IRS want to know about your retirement plan

[1/24/17] Willis Towers Watson Insider: “Why Workers Retire When They Do: A Survey of U.S. Retirees

[1/24/17] Retirement Income Journal: “Anecdotal Evidence: The 10% Solution -- The smartest companies contribute 10% of pay to each employee’s retirement account--not as a bonus but as a carve-out of compensation. This policy is the most effective way to help workers save enough for retirement.” [Note: A subscription may be required to view the full article.]

[1/24/17] USA Today: “Healthcare hacks for employers

[1/24/17] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Building A Culture Of Workplace Health: More Complicated Than Offering Workers Money To Be Healthy

[1/24/17] USA Today: “Aetna-Humana $37B merger blocked over fear it would harm consumers

[1/24/17] MedPage Today: “Under- and Overuse Are Global Healthcare Problems -- Excessive care isn’t just a First World issue

[1/23/17] Vox.com: “Trump’s executive order on Obamacare, explained by two health policy experts

[1/23/17] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Universal Access And Delegation To States: Examining Two Currents In ACA Replacement Plans

[1/23/17] Elements: “How to Help Patients Better Understand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

[1/23/17] PlanSponsor: “Multiemployer Plans’ Zone Status Remains Stable -- The numbers are virtually unchanged compared to data for the previous 12-month period, Segal Consulting finds.

[1/23/17] NAPA Net: “What Are Plan Sponsor Concerns About the Fiduciary Rule?

[1/23/17] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College’s Squared Away Blog: “People Lack Emergency Funds, Tap 401ks

[1/23/17] Bloomberg Gadfly: “The Ups and Downs of Portfolio Rebalancing

[1/23/17] CNBC: “Why this works better than the 4 percent rule for retirees

[1/19/17] Accord Systems, LLC: “Deadline to Furnish Form 1095-C Employee Statements Approaching -- Unlikely to change if ACA is Repealed

[1/19/17] CFO.com: “2017 Promises to be a Wild Year for Health Care -- The fate of Obamacare is far from the only important thing to watch in the health-care arena this year.

[1/19/17] Benefitfocus [Blog]: “Blurred Lines: HDHPs and PPOs Looking More Alike

[1/19/17] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Interstate Insurance Sales: Wishful Thinking, Or A Viable Policy Option?

[1/19/17] PlanAdviser: “Employee Wellness Programs Undergo Revolutionary Shift -- As wellness programs take more innovative approaches that incorporate physical, mental, and financial health, advisers can stand to gain by connecting plan sponsors with the most innovative providers.

[1/19/17] CNBC: “Tech set to transform $3 trillion health care industry

[1/19/17] NAPA Net: “What Do TDF Trends Tell us About Transfer Trading in 2016?

[1/19/17] PlanSponsor: “myRA a Savings Opportunity for Low-Income Employees

[1/18/17] U.S. News & World Report: “Why Diversifying Your 401(k) Is Crucial

[1/18/17] PlanAdviser: “More IRA Owners Contributing the Maximum -- Higher growth in account balances was found in consistent IRA owners.

[1/18/17] Institutional Investor: “IRA Rollover Market Looks Due for a Slowdown -- Several dovetailing changes in the retirement plan landscape may stall the rapid growth of the individual retirement account industry.

[1/18/17] Bankrate, LLC: “4 ways a health savings account and an IRA are a powerhouse combination

[1/18/17] Human Resource Executive Online: “Battle Line Drawn on Wellness Incentives -- A recent court decision on the validity of wellness-incentive programs is just the ‘initial skirmish’ in a long war over employees’ disclosure of personal and family medical information, experts say.” [AARP v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia]

[1/18/17] Health Affairs [Blog]: “CBO Releases Report On Effects Of ACA Repeal

[1/18/17] Bloomberg View: “The Individual Mandate -- Obamacare’s Unpopular, Pivotal Point

[1/18/17] Economic Policy Institute [Blog]: “Paid Sick Leave Provides Economic and Health Security to Over a Million Federal Contract Workers

[1/17/17] Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index: “Milliman Analysis: 2016 ends almost where it started at the end of 2015 -- The 2016 Milliman 100 PFI funded ratio is 81.0%

[1/17/17] PlanSponsor: “401(k) Plans Cautious About Adding Guaranteed Income Products -- The top concern plan sponsors expressed about adding a retirement income guaranteed product to the plan was fiduciary exposure, a survey from the PSCA found.

[1/17/17] PlanAdviser: “Study Finds DC Plan Advisers and Sponsors Have Different Focus

[1/17/17] Bloomberg BNA: “Target Date Funds With Annuities Can Be Prudent Default Investments

[1/17/17] Kaiser Health News: “Large Employer Health Plans Could Also See Some Impacts From Obamacare Overhaul

[1/17/17] CNBC: “Shocking truth: 20% of health-care expenditures wasted in US and other nations

[1/17/17] InsuranceNewsNet: “New Study Examines How Consumers Think About LTC

[1/13/17] USA Today: “House considers first step toward Obamacare repeal

[1/13/17] Wolters Kluwer Law & Business: “Nearly three-quarters of U.S. employees would like a customized benefits package

[1/13/17] Human Resource Executive Online: “Helping Them See What They Get -- A conversation with a group of high-performing undergraduates underscores the need for employers and HR to more effectively personalize the value of their healthcare offerings when speaking to first-time employees.

[1/13/17] CNN Money: “U.S. health care admin costs are double the average

[1/13/17] Reuters: “Pharma company executives debate drug pricing increases

[1/13/17] Nightly Business Report: “An account that can keep your retirement savings healthy

[1/13/17] Retirement Income Journal: “When You’re 64 -- Six months after reaching age 64, Americans are showered with Medicare supplement pitches. While the path of least resistance leads to a Medicare Advantage plan, a Medigap plan might be better. Here’s how to find a good one.” [Note: A subscription may be required to view the full article.]

[1/13/17] The Pew Charitable Trusts: “Investment Options for Public Sector Defined Contribution Plans -- Governments face key choices when setting up plans to help workers boost retirement savings

[1/13/17] PlanSponsor: “TDFs Keep Participant Trading Steady in 2016

[1/13/17] WealthManagement.com: “Financial Wellness Programs Will Thrive in 2017

[1/12/17] InsuranceNewsNet: “Senate Takes First Step Toward ACA Repeal

[1/12/17] Milliman: “The Employer Stop-Loss Insurance Marketplace Since the Affordable Care Act

[1/12/17] Twin Cities Business: “Workplace Wellness Is a Work in Progress

[1/12/17] DataPath: “6 Ways to Increase Employee Wellness Participation

[1/12/17] Bloomberg QuickTake: “Drug Prices: Costs and Outrage Rise in the U.S.” [Updated Jan. 11, 2017]

[1/12/17] The Pew Charitable Trusts: “Small Business Views on Retirement Savings Plans -- Survey explores employer challenges to plan sponsorship and support for new initiatives

[1/12/17] Brookings [Op-Ed]: “Three, two, or only one cheer for 401(k)s?

[1/12/17] USA Today: “Great retirement planning looks at spending, not income

[1/11/17] Aon Hewitt: “Boosting Workers’ Retirement Savings Rates to be Primary Focus for U.S. Employers in 2017 -- Aon survey finds many employers are not satisfied with current employee contribution levels in their 401(k) plans

[1/11/17] PlanSponsor: “Mobile and Web Abilities Valued by DC Participants Has Changed -- In addition, Corporate Insight found recordkeepers are offering more focus on retirement income projections and financial wellness.

[1/11/17] The Hill: “Senate GOP blocks Sanders on preventing entitlement cuts

[1/11/17] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Get Health Insurance Through Your Employer? ACA Repeal Will Affect You, Too

[1/11/17] The New England Journal of Medicine: “Repealing the ACA without a Replacement -- The Risks to American Health Care,” by Barack H. Obama

[1/11/17] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Administration Sticks With Current Accommodation For Employers Objecting To Contraceptive Coverage

[1/10/17] NAPA Net: “Plan Sponsor Fee Focus Fuels Future Searches

[1/10/17] Willis Towers Watson: Accounting for Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits, 2016: Reporting Under U.S. GAAP Among Fortune 1000 Companies [Note: The full report can be downloaded at the website.]

[1/10/17] PlanAdviser: “Younger Investors Fuel Advice Market Growth -- Cerulli Associates measures a 10% jump in the number of people willing to pay for financial advice since 2008.

[1/10/17] StateCollege.com: “Should You Be Making Roth Contributions?

[1/10/17] The Oxford Club’s Investment U: “Three Important Investor Resolutions for 2017

[1/10/17] Trucker Huss: “DOL Finalizes Disability Benefit Plan Claims Regulations

[1/10/17] Kaiser Family Foundation: “Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Health Care Priorities for 2017

[1/10/17] CNBC: “As health-care debate rages, here’s how to trim your costs -- New year, new deductibles: here’s how to deal

[1/9/17] Gallup: “U.S. Uninsured Rate Holds at Low of 10.9% in Fourth Quarter

[1/9/17] Modern Healthcare: “Editorial: GOP Obamacare replacement plan could prove ‘disastrous’

[1/9/17] PlanSponsor: “The Evolution of Employee Wellness Programs -- More employers are devising holistic wellness programs that address physical, mental and financial health; and technology could be the main driver in boosting participation.

[1/9/17] InsuranceNewsNet: “Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Delay Fiduciary Rule

[1/9/17] NAPA Net: “Ways & Means Looking at Retirement ‘Reforms’?

[1/9/17] PlanAdviser: “IRS Proposes New Mortality Tables for DB Plans -- These proposals would also update the requirements a plan sponsor must meet to obtain IRS approval to use mortality tables specific to the plan for minimum funding purposes, instead of the generally applicable mortality tables.

[1/9/17] PlanSponsor: “Six Health Care Trends to Follow in 2017 -- The National Business Group on Health has released six trends for 2017, in response to past trends and growing concern about the Affordable Care Act’s potential repeal.

[1/9/17] Bloomberg BNA: “Iron Worker Retirees Face Stacked Deck in Vote to Cut Pensions

[1/5/17] MetLife: “The Millennial Benefits Perspective” [Employee Benefit Trends Study]

[1/5/17] Willis Towers Watson: “Full Report: 2016 21st Annual Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey

[1/5/17] CBS MoneyWatch: “Prognosis for Rx in 2017: More Painful Drug-Price Hikes

[1/5/17] PlanSponsor: “Court Denies Injunction of EEOC Wellness Program Rules -- A federal judge found AARP did not prove irreparable harm to its members and is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its case.” [AARP v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia]

[1/5/17] Investor’s Business Daily: “Workers Setting Aside More for Retirement, Study Finds

[1/5/17] CNBC: “Prep Your 401(k) Plan for 2017

[1/5/17] USA Today: “Do you know how much you’re paying in 401(k) fees?

[1/5/17] FINRA Investor Education Foundation: “FINRA Foundation Publishes In-depth Analysis of U.S. Investors

[1/4/17] Vanguard Commentary: Employee Benefits Consideration in Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions

[1/4/17] Center for State & Local Government Excellence Issue Brief: “State and Local Pension Reforms Since the Financial Crisis” [Note: The full report may be downloaded at the website.]

[1/4/17] Willis Towers Watson Insider: “2015 Asset Allocations in Fortune 1000 Pension Plans

[1/4/17] MilitaryTimes.com: “New in 2017: Huge changes ahead for military retirement

[1/4/17] NAPA Net: “What Happened to the Average 401(k) Balance in 2016?

[1/4/17] 401(k) Specialist: “Target Date Funds Are Now QDIAs, But There’s A Catch -- DOL rules favorably, subject to certain ‘provisions’

[1/4/17] The New American: “Teamsters’ Pension Plans Seek Massive Cuts to Retirees to Stay Solvent

[1/4/17] PlanAdviser: “Employees Show Interest in Student Loan Repayment Benefit

[1/4/17] Health Affairs [Blog]: “ACA Repeal Process Begins in Congress

[1/4/17] Investor’s Business Daily: “Where You Can Save Money on Health Care

[1/3/17] FEDweek: “Generational Shift Could Bring New Benefits Emphasis

[1/3/17] Wolters Kluwer Law & Business: “Use of PTO plans continues to increase

[1/3/17] Internal Revenue Service: “Employers and Coverage Providers: 11 Facts About Health Care Information Forms” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-82, December 28, 2016]

[1/3/17] National Center for Policy Analysis Health Policy Blog: “The Health Care Costs Quandary: What Can Be Done About It?

[1/3/17] HR Daily Advisor: “How COBRA Intersects with Medicare and Retiree Health Plans

[1/3/17] U.S. Census Bureau: Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions: Third Quarter 2016

[1/3/17] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics The Economics Daily: “74 percent of private industry workers participated in saving and thrift plans in 2015

[1/3/17] 401(k) Specialist: “9 Best Practices for 401k Financial Wellness

[1/3/17] AOL.com: “20 best retirement plans from Google, Apple and other major companies

[1/3/17] PlanSponsor: “Great Recession Effect on Near-Retirees Modest

[1/3/17] Bloomberg BNA: “IRS Proposal Would Boost Pension Funding and Payout Costs

[1/3/17] Internal Revenue Service: Mortality Tables for Determining Present Value Under Defined Benefit Pension Plans; Notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of public hearing [as published in the Federal Register of December 29, 2016 - Comments and outlines of topics to be discussed at the public hearing scheduled for April 13, 2017 must be received by March 29, 2017.]


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)


Jan. 17, 2017 EBRI Issue Brief - "Individual Retirement Account Balances, Contributions, Withdrawals, and Asset Allocation Longitudinal Results 2010-2014: The EBRI IRA Database"

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:

Retirement Security: Improved Guidance Could Help Account Owners Understand the Risks of Investing in Unconventional Assets.
GAO-17-102: Published Dec. 8, 2016; Publicly Released Jan. 9, 2017.

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.  

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Updated 1/30/17