What's New

What's New - November 2004

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What's new at EBRI this month:


November 2004 EBRI Issue Brief - "Public Attitudes on the U.S. Health Care System: Findings From the Health Confidence Survey"

November 2004 EBRI Notes - "The Ticking Retirement Time Bomb: What State Governments Can Do"

Frequently Asked Questions About Benefits - This section of EBRI's Web site is designed to answer basic questions about major benefit issues and trends. It provides short, graphical answers, with links to the detailed data underlying the figure. In addition, references are provided to the relevant EBRI publication.

EBRI Spring Policy Forum - EBRI's spring Policy Forum entitled "ERISA AT 30: The Decline of Private-Sector Defined Benefit Promises and Annuity Payments? What Will It Mean?" was held in Washington, DC on May 6, 2004. Policy Forum Materials

EBRI Research Findings for 2003-2004:


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:

Prescription Drugs: Trends in Usual and Customary Prices for Drugs Commonly Used by Medicare and Non-Medicare Enrollees. GAO-05-104R, October 6.

Health Coverage Tax Credit: Simplified and More Timely Enrollment Processes Could Increase Participation. GAO-04-1029, September 30.  Highlights

Private Pensions: Airline Plans' Underfunding Illustrates Broader Problems with Defined Benefit Pension System, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. GAO-05-108T, October 7.  Highlights

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the Find GAO Reports page and search for the report by report number,  title, abstract, agency/organization names, or subject terms.   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.

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 Frequently Asked Questions about Retirement Plans.  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.

[11/30/04]  The Segal Company:  Employee Benefits Plans and the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004

[11/30/04]  Towers Perrin:  Managing Employee Benefits Globally: Today’s Increasingly Disciplined Approach

[11/30/04]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:   Does Work Pay at Older Ages? [working paper]

[11/30/04]  The Washington Post:  "Temps Lose Bargaining Rights Won in 2000: NLRB Reverses Stand Along Party Lines" [registration may be required]

[11/29/04]  The Segal Company:  New Definition of “Dependent” under the Internal Revenue Code

[11/29/04]  The Segal Company BulletinBenefit Implications of the New IRC Definition of “Dependent”

[11/24/04]  Mellon For Your Information:  "IRS Releases 2005 HSA, Transportation Benefit and Other Limits"

[11/24/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Prescription Drug Spending Under the MMA: Modeling the Impact On Out-of-Pocket Costs

[11/24/04]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  IRS Takes a Position on Phased Retirement

[11/24/04]  Congressional Budget Office:  Disability and Retirement: The Early Exit of Baby Boomers from the Labor Force

[11/24/04]  Hewitt Associates:  The Season of Giving Does Not Include Holiday Bonuses, According to Hewitt Associates

[11/23/04]  Mellon For Your Information:  "Year-End Review for Plan Sponsors and Administrators"

[11/23/04]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting:  2004 Mercer US National Employer-Sponsored Health Plans Survey [Overview]

[11/23/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Traditional Pension Plans Outperformed 401(k) Plans During Last Bear Market, Watson Wyatt Analysis Finds

[11/23/04]  The Washington Post:  "Republicans Finding Ways To Account For Overhaul: Social Security Change Expensive in Short Term"

[11/22/04]  Merrill Lynch Investment Managers:  The Key To Reducing Investing Mistakes? Understand Your Investing Personality

[11/22/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Providers Share Strategies for Encouraging 401(k) Participation"

[11/22/04]  The Boston Globe:  "The End of Social Security? Don’t Reform It, Replace It" [Opinion]

[11/22/04]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  AHIP Survey Finds Workers Underestimate Likelihood of a Disability, and Overestimate Resources Available When Disability Occurs

[11/19/04]  Spencer Benefits Reports:  "What To Look For In Employee Benefits In The Next Four Years"

[11/19/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  2005 Standard Mileage Rates Set

[11/19/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Extra Special Edition on 403(b) Proposed Regulations]

[11/19/04]  Ernst & Young:  The Role That Financial Education Programs Play in Influencing Participant Behavior in 401(k) Plans

[11/18/04]  The Washington Post:  "Planning Is Key to Retirement Saving"

[11/18/04]  Hewitt Associates:  Hewitt Study Shows Employees Willing to Take on Greater Health Care Responsibility

[11/18/04]  Towers Perrin:  2005 Health Care Cost SurveyPress Release

[11/18/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  National Survey on Consumers’ Experiences With Patient Safety and Quality Information

[11/18/04]  United Health Foundation:  America’s Health: State Health Rankings [2004 Edition]

[11/16/04]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  PBGC Releases Fiscal Year 2004 Financial Results

[11/16/04]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  Revised Regulations Concerning Section 403(b) Tax-Sheltered Annuity Contracts; Notice of Proposed RulemakingPress Release

[11/16/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Making CDH Work: Health Plans, Employers Need to Expand Consumer-Driven Health Education Toolboxes"

[11/16/04]  AARP Public Policy Institute:  The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: Potential Impact on Beneficiaries

[11/16/04]  Galen Institute:  What the Election Will Bring in Health Care

[11/16/04]  The New York Times:  "Teamsters Find Pensions at Risk" [registration may be required]

[11/16/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Rumors of 401(k) Match Demise Exaggerated"

[11/12/04]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  AHIP Poll: Voters Have a New Vision of Health Care Reform

[11/12/04]  Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:   "Public Perceptions of Cost Containment Strategies: Mixed Signals for Managed Care"

[11/12/04]  Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  The Long-Term Care Dilemma: What States Are Doing Right -- And Wrong

[11/12/04]  Putnam Investments:  The Truth About Retirement: Advice from the Recently RetiredPress Release

[11/12/04]  Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service:   Distributions from a Pension Plan under a Phased Retirement Program; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

[11/10/04]  The New York Times:  "California Backs Merger of 2 Giant Blue Cross Plans" [registration may be required]

[11/10/04]  The Sacramento Bee:  "Health Care Fight Not Over: Congress May Be the Next Battleground in Efforts to Cover the Millions Uninsured"

[11/10/04]  Human Resource Executive:  "Critics: Pension Conversion Problems Could Cause Upheaval"

[11/10/04]  The Herald-Sun:  "AARP Pushes Social Security Changes Other Than Private Accounts Idea"

[11/10/04]  The New Yorker:  "The Risk Society" [Opinion]

[11/9/04]  Galen Institute:  Health Care Unity: The Top Ten List [of likely legislative initiatives impacting health care]

[11/9/04]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2004 [Revised November 2004]

[11/9/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Surveys Show Fewer Vacation Days Taken, Offered"

[11/9/04]  The Motley Fool:  "Take Social Security at 62?"

[11/8/04]  The Washington Post:  "For Nation, A Mixed Review on Health: Steady Rise in Well-Being of Americans Is Slowing, Study of 50 States Finds"

[11/8/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Pension System Future May Turn on Cash Balance Decisions"

[11/8/04]  The Los Angeles Times [via Yahoo! News]:   "Privatized Accounts Moved to ‘Fast Track’"

[11/5/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Next Congress Could Pass Pension Bill, Experts Say"

[11/5/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Plans Must Soon Comply With Automatic Default Rollover Rule

[11/5/04]  Internal Revenue Service:  Composite Corporate Bond Rate Table [updated through November 2004]

[11/5/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation Health Poll Report:   Public’s Expectations of Health Insurance and Attitudes Towards Potential New Insurance Options

[11/5/04]  Risk & InsuranceEmployee Benefits Survey: "Who Will Manage Employee Health?"

[11/5/04]  Employee Benefit News:  "Prescription Drug Import Battle Intensifies"

[11/4/04]  CCH Pension & Benefits News:  "Pension Savings, DB Reform Proposals Likely To Be on 2005 Congressional Agenda"

[11/4/04]  Aon Consulting:  Not So Fast: Aon Forecasts Another Year of Double-Digit Health Care Increases; Report Indicates a Medical Trend Rate of 13.5 Percent for 2005

[11/4/04]  Business Insurance:  "Californians Vote To Repeal Health Insurance Mandate"

[11/4/04]  BenefitNews Connect:  "Benchmarking Tool To Guide Health Benefit Purchasers"

[11/4/04]  Workforce Management:  "The Cash-Balance Battle Grinds On: 'Massive plan termination' is possible unless Congress acts"

[11/4/04]  Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:  "Primary Care and Health System Performance: Adults’ Experiences in Five Countries"

[11/4/04]  The Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  Participant Report Card for June 2004: Returns Remain Positive and Account Balances Rise

[11/3/04]  Business Week Online:  "Your New Health Plan" [Special Report]

[11/3/04]  Center for Studying Health System Change:  Trends in Health Insurance Coverage and Access Among Black, Latino and White Americans, 2001-2003

[11/3/04]  The Segal Company:  Protecting the “CIA” of Electronic Health Data: Employers’ Role in HIPAA Security Compliance

[11/3/04]  Health Affairs [Web Exclusive]:  "The Role of PBMs in Implementing the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit"

[11/3/04]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Stretching State Health Care Dollars During Difficult Economic Times: Overview

[11/3/04]  Hay Group:  Hay Benefits Reference Guide: Historical Limits and Other Numbers Affecting Retirement Plans

[11/3/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Accounting for Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits (FAS) 2004 [executive summary]

[11/3/04]  The Vanguard Group:  How America Saves: A Report on Vanguard Defined Contribution Plans 2004

[11/2/04]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employment Cost Index--September 2004

[11/2/04]  Aon Consulting:  Hot Topic Survey of HR and Benefits Managers: Health Care, the Presidential Election and Its Impact on Employees

[11/2/04]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Prescription Drug Trends [fact sheet]

[11/2/04]  The Hartford Financial Services Group:  Retirement Investors Are Engaged, Tech-Savvy and Saving More

[11/2/04]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Defined Benefit vs. 401(k): The Returns for 2000-2001

[11/2/04]  The Christian Science Monitor:  "As Pensions Fade, Some Firms Try Hybrid Plans"

[11/2/04]  The Segal Company:  New California Law Mandates Equal Insurance Coverage for Domestic Partners


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Updated 11/30/04