What's New - November 2011

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What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2011 Spring Policy Forum: “Is There a Future for Retirement?” ["gavel to gavel" webcast - Prerecorded broadcast available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans]

Visit EBRI's Blog!

EBRI's Recent Media Coverage

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

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility


November 2011 EBRI Issue Brief - "Tax Reform Options: Promoting Retirement Security"

November 2011 EBRI Notes - "Public Opinion on the Future of Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings From the 2011 Health Confidence Survey" and "How Do Financial Literacy and Financial Behavior Vary by State?"


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:

Private Health Insurance: Implementation of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. GAO-11-875R, September 30.

The Federal Government's Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: Fall 2011 Update. GAO-12-28SP, October 24. Podcast available.

Health Care Price Transparency: Meaningful Price Information is Difficult for Consumers to Obtain Prior to Receiving Care. GAO-11-791, September 23. Highlights.

Income Security: Older Adults and the 2007-2009 Recession. GAO-12-76, October 18.

Medicare Part D: Instances of Questionable Access to Prescription Drugs. GAO-11-699, September 6. Highlights.

Delphi Corporation: Key Events Leading to Termination of the Delphi Defined Benefit Plans, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, before the House Oversight And Government Reform Committee. GAO-12-234T, November 14. Highlights.

Income Security: The Effect of the 2007-2009 Recession on Older Adults, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, managing director, education, workforce, and income security issues before the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. GAO-12-172T, October 18.

Medicare Part D: Instances of Questionable Access to Prescription Drugs by Gregory D. Kutz, FAIS, before Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services And International Security Subcommittee. GAO-12-104T, October 4.


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.



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.

[11/30/11]  The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers:  “The Council’s Employee Benefits Survey Shows Group Health Rates Rose; Size of Increases Moderated” [News Release]
[11/30/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- November 2011

[11/30/11]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Electronic Health Records: An International Perspective on “Meaningful Use”

[11/30/11]  Nationwide:  “Study: Small business owners say number of workers financially unprepared for retirement at crisis level” [News Release]

[11/30/11]  Towers Watson:  Assessing Stable-Value Strategies: What Plan Sponsors Should Consider

[11/30/11]  U.S. News & World Report:  “Working Into Your 70s: A Smart Retirement Move

[11/29/11]  Plan Sponsor Council of America:  401(k) and Profit Sharing Plan Response to Current Conditions

[11/29/11]  Workforce Management:  “Employers, Experts Wary of Feds’ 401(k) Tax Proposals

[11/29/11]  The Vanguard Group:  “Who is retirement ready? Depends on how you look at data

[11/29/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Higher Ed Employees Not Preparing Well for Retirement

[11/28/11]  Sibson Consulting Bulletin:  “For 2012, Increases in Many IRS Dollar Limits, Social Security Benefits and PBGC Guarantee Limit

[11/28/11]  Reuters:  “As open enrollment winds down, grab what’s yours

[11/28/11]  Center for Studying Health System Change Tracking Report:  “Surprising Decline in Consumers Seeking Health Information

[11/28/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[11/28/11]  U.S. Census Bureau and National Institute on Aging:  90+ in the United States, 2006-2008

[11/23/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement News for Employers [Fall 2011]

[11/23/11]  The Segal Company’s Capital Checkup:  “Health Plans Get Reprieve from Immediate Need to Develop and Provide Uniform Summary of Benefits and Coverage

[11/23/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Wellness Efforts Often not Meeting Employee Needs

[11/23/11]  Forbes:  “The Most Tax-Savvy Use of a Health Savings Account

[11/23/11]  Business Insurance:  “Early Retiree Reinsurance Program funds 80% used up: CMS

[11/23/11]  Kansas City Star:  “Survey tests money smarts, behavior

[11/22/11]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “DOL Issues Final Regulations on Participant Investment Advice

[11/22/11]  The Wall Street Journal:  “How Much Is Too Much?

[11/22/11]  Ameriprise Financial:  New Retirement Mindscape® 2011 City Pulse index

[11/22/11]  National Association of State Retirement Administrators:  NASRA Issue Brief: State Hybrid Retirement Plans

[11/22/11]  Economic Policy Institute Issue Brief:  “The Myth of Early Retirement

[11/22/11]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Multinational Comparisons of Health Systems Data, 2011

[11/21/11]  Investment Company Institute:

[11/21/11]  Charles Schwab:  Retirement Income Study by Charles Schwab

[11/21/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Policy at the State Level May Help Retirement Security

[11/21/11]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  “Unprecedented tool developed for small businesses to find and compare health insurance plans” [News Release]

[11/21/11]  DesMoinesRegister.com:  “Like Wells Fargo, GE, John Deere, and Textron shift toward high-deductible health plans

[11/21/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Restructuring Medicare’s Benefit Design: Implications for Beneficiaries and Spending

[11/18/11]  Associated Press (via The Washington Post):  “RI pension debate may be heading from the Statehouse to the courthouse

[11/18/11]  Deloitte and Investment Company Institute:  Inside the Structure of Defined Contribution/401(k) Plan Fees: A Study Assessing the Mechanics of the ‘All-In’ Fee

[11/18/11]  Plan Sponsor:

[11/18/11]  Nashville Business Journal:  “Report: TN in the bottom 5 for financial literacy

[11/18/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  FAQs About Affordable Care Act Implementation Part VII and Mental Health Parity Implementation

[11/18/11]  National Business Group on Health and Towers Watson:  Key Strategic Results: National Business on Health Webinar

[11/17/11]  The Commonwealth Fund:  State Trends in Premiums and Deductibles, 2003-2010: The Need for Action to Address Rising Costs

[11/17/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Employers Accelerate Efforts to Control Health Care Costs

[11/17/11]  iWatch News:  “Analysis: Supreme Court likely to uphold Obamacare as constitutional

[11/17/11]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  2011 Annual Report

[11/17/11]  Wells Fargo:  “80 Is the New 65 for Many Middle Class Americans When It Comes to Retirement, Wells Fargo Retirement Survey Finds” [News Release]

[11/17/11]  International Foundation for Retirement Education, Society of Actuaries, and LIMRA:  The Financial Recovery for Retirees Continues: The Impact of the 2008-2011 Financial Crisis

[11/17/11]  The Fiscal Times [Blog]:  “Bartlett’s Notations: Focus on Social Security and Retirement

[11/16/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Public Confidence in Future of Employer-Sponsored Health Care Falls

[11/16/11]  Healthwatch [The Hill’s Healthcare Blog]:  “News bites: Hands off the healthcare law

[11/16/11]  U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight:  Hearing on “Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit Created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” [Hearing held Nov. 15, 2011, includes links to written testimonies]

[11/16/11]  The Washington Post:  “Pension guaranty agency sees deficit swell

[11/16/11]  Northern Trust:  The Path Forward: Engaging the Younger Employee in DC Plan Participation

[11/16/11]  Thomas B. Fordham Institute:  Halting a Runaway Train: Reforming Teacher Pensions for the 21st Century

[11/16/11]  Families and Work Institute and Society for Human Resource Management:  Workplace Flexibility in the United States: A Status Report

[11/15/11]  Kaiser Health News:

[11/15/11]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  All of the following were published in the Federal Register on Nov. 2, 2011:

[11/15/11]  Investorplace.com:  “How to Retire -- Easy Tools to Finance Retirement Savings

[11/15/11]  Reuters:  “Your employer’s stock: How much is too much?

[11/14/11]  Business Insurance:  “Many 401(k) participants would be hit hard by proposed tax changes: EBRI study

[11/14/11]  Principal Financial Group:  2011 Principal Financial Group Retirement Readiness Survey

[11/14/11]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  FY 2010 Annual Exposure Report

[11/14/11]  Plan Sponsor:

[11/14/11]  National Institute for Health Care Reform Policy Analysis:  “Promoting Healthy Competition in Health Insurance Exchanges: Options and Trade-offs

[11/14/11]  U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:  Hearing on “Improving Quality, Lowering Costs: The Role of Health Care Delivery System Reform” [Hearing held Nov. 10, 2011, includes links to written testimonies]

[11/10/11]  Prudential:  Sixth Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today and Beyond -- Insight into the Next Generation of Employee Benefits

[11/10/11]  Kaiser Health News:  “Appeals Court Rules Health Law’s Individual Mandate Constitutional

[11/10/11]  Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:  “Intriguing savings on health costs” [Editorial]

[11/10/11]  California Legislative Analyst’s Office:  Public Pension and Retiree Health Benefits: An Initial Response to the Governor’s Proposal

[11/10/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “EBRI Finds Tax Reform Proposals Likely to Reduce 401(k) Balances

[11/10/11]  National Center for Policy Analysis:  How Reforms Would Affect Social Security’s Funding Shortfalls, Total Spending, and Distribution of Benefits and Taxes

[11/7/11]  Milliman Inc.:  Monthly Benefit News and Developments [November 2011]

[11/7/11]  Kaiser Health News:  “FAQ on HSAs: The Basics of Health Savings Accounts

[11/7/11]  The New York Times:  “Risks Seen in Perry Plan for Switch to Pensions

[11/7/11]  City Journal:  “Is There a Retirement Crisis?

[11/4/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Growth in Hardship Withdrawals Slows

[11/4/11]  MarketWatch:  “5 Ways to Improve the U.S. retirement system -- U.S. has 10th best pension system of 14 countries studied

[11/4/11]  The Commonwealth Fund:  The New Wave of Innovation: How the Health Care System Is Reforming [Sponsored Supplement to the November/December 2011 Issue of the Columbia Journalism Review]

[11/4/11]  America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Health Literacy and America’s Health Insurance Plans: Laying the Foundation and Beyond [Summaries of the Health Literacy Activities in 27 AHIP Member Companies]

[11/4/11]  Oliver Wyman:  Estimated Premium Impacts of Annual Fees Assessed on Health Insurance Plans

[11/4/11]  Roll Call:  “Courtney & Cole: Taxing Health Benefits Would Make Budget Problem Worse, Not Better” by Reps. Joe Courtney and Tom Cole [Opinion]

[11/3/11]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Compensation costs for state and local government workers, September 2011

[11/3/11]  Employee Benefit News:  “Employers transition back to matching 401(k) funds

[11/3/11]  NASDAQ.com:  “Think Income While Saving for Retirement

[11/3/11]  Urban Institute:  The Role of Prevention in Bending the Cost Curve

[11/2/11]  ICI Research Perspective:  “Who Gets Retirement Plans and Why, 2010

[11/2/11]  National Institute on Retirement Security Issue Brief:  “The Three Rs of Teacher Pension Plans: Recruitment, Retention, and Retirement

[11/2/11]  Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  How Much to Save for a Secure Retirement

[11/2/11]  Managed Care Magazine:  “5 Threats to Value-Based Insurance Design

[11/2/11]  Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company:  Pump Up Productivity from the Next Generation: Build Voluntary Benefits into Workplace Strategies to Attract, Engage and Retain Generation Y

[11/2/11]  Social Security Bulletin:

[11/1/11]  Guardian Life Insurance Company of America:  Enrollment and the Web: The New Norm

[11/1/11]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Cash Balance Plans; Benefit Determinations and Plan Valuations for Statutory Hybrid Plans; Pension Protection Act of 2006; Proposed rule [as published in the Federal Register on Oct. 31, 2011]

[11/1/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  “US Labor Department, Securities and Exchange Commission coordinate on 401(k) plan fee disclosure rules” [News release]

[11/1/11]  Investment Company Institute:  Defined Contribution Plan Participants’ Activities, First Half 2011

[11/1/11]  HSBC:  The Future of Retirement: Why family matters

[11/1/11]  Employee Benefit Adviser:  “Excise tax remains No. 1 employer concern with PPACA

[11/1/11]  The New England Journal of Medicine:  “Health Care’s Role in Deficit Reduction -- Guiding Principles” [Perspective]

[11/1/11]  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:  Medicare Premiums and Deductibles for 2012

[10/31/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Prohibited Transaction Exemption Procedures; Employee Benefit Plans; Final rule [as published in the Federal Register on Oct. 27, 2011]

[10/31/11]  Sibson Consulting Bulletin:  “For 2012, Increases in Many IRS Dollar Limits, Social Security Benefits and PBGC Guarantee Limit

[10/27/11]  Towers Watson Insider:  “Asset Allocations of Corporate Pension Plans as of Year-End 2010

Updated 11/30/11