What's New - November 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.


[11/30/15] Littler: “District of Columbia Employers Must Provide Transportation Benefit Programs by the New Year

[11/30/15] BloombergView: “What All Good Retirement Plans Have in Common

[11/30/15] BenefitsPro: “Defined contribution loans staying high

[11/30/15] PlanSponsor: “An Alternative When Financial Wellness Isn’t in the Budget

[11/30/15] American Council for Capital Formation: DOL’s Retirement Advice Rule: Helping or Harming Sound Retirement Planning?

[11/30/15] Healthline: “Colorado Set to Vote on a Single Payer Healthcare System

[11/30/15] Kaiser Health News: “As HMOs Dominate, Alternatives Become More Expensive

[11/30/15] FierceHealthPayer: “Health insurance and mobile engagement: What’s working, what’s new and what’s next [Special Report]

[11/30/15] NAPA Net: “Wellness Programs Not Catching on with Workers

[11/30/15] Journal of the American Medical Association: Infographic: “Primary Care Practitioners’ Perspectives on Delivery System Changes”

[11/25/15] Society for Human Resource Management: “Happy with Your Benefits, Happy with Your Job

[11/25/15] Health Affairs [Blog]: “National Health Spending 1960-2013

[11/25/15] American Journal of Managed Care: “Workers Give Low Ratings to Healthcare System, but Report Few Cost Increases

[11/25/15] Internal Revenue Service: “Understanding the Different Types of 2015 Transition Relief under the Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2015-77, Nov. 24, 2015]

[11/25/15] FierceHealthPayer: “Survey: IT outsourcing on the rise among health insurers - But data security concerns remain in wake of cyberattacks

[11/25/15] ICI Research Report: “Defined Contribution Plan Participants’ Activities, First Half 2015

[11/25/15] Fidelity Investments: Infographic: “Don't Let Loans and Withdrawals Erode Retirement Savings”

[11/25/15] PlanSponsor: “Mobile Offerings for Retirement Plan Participants Increasing

[11/25/15] The Roanoke Times: “Virginia Retirement System benefits to get review by General Assembly

[11/25/15] Naples Daily News: “Florida Republicans again look at closing state’s massive public pension system to new members

[11/24/15] MilitaryTimes: “Retirement changes mean tough choices for troops … eventually

[11/24/15] TIAA-CREF: TIAA-CREF Built to Perform Survey, Executive Summary

[11/24/15] NAPA Net: “Are Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials Different When It Comes to Saving?

[11/24/15] NerdWallet [Blog]: “The Most Important Steps to a Comfortable Retirement

[11/24/15] Vanguard Blog for Institutional Investors: “Annuity--or not?

[11/24/15] LifeHealthPro: “Spending patterns make odd shifts in retirement

[11/24/15] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Proposed Benefits and Payment Rule Includes Standardized Plans, New Network Adequacy Standards

[11/24/15] Gallup: “In U.S., 51% Say Government Should Ensure Healthcare Coverage

[11/24/15] Healthline: “Pension Health Benefits for Retirees Are in Trouble

[11/23/15] PlanSponsor: “2015 Defined Contribution Survey” [Provider Ratings]

[11/23/15] KUNC: “When Fees Attack: Rolling Over a 401(k) Can Trigger Big-Time Charges

[11/23/15] FEDweek: “Importance of Personal Retirement Savings Stressed

[11/23/15] ThinkAdvisor: “In Surprise, Spending in Retirement Rises in Many Households: EBRI

[11/23/15] The Bond Buyer: “Connecticut Scrambles for Pension Fix

[11/23/15] Internal Revenue Service: Employee Plans News [Nov. 23, 2015]

[11/23/15] Towers Watson: “U.S. Employers Struggle to Engage Employees in Health and Well-Being Programs

[11/23/15] The Commonwealth Fund: “How High Is America’s Health Care Cost Burden? Findings from the Commonwealth Fund Health Care Affordability Tracking Survey, July-August 2015

[11/23/15] KHN Morning Briefing: “Health Law Gives Young Adults Freedom to Make Job Decisions: Study

[11/23/15] Gallup: “Ratings of U.S. Healthcare Quality No Better After ACA

[11/20/15] Mercer: “With the Excise Tax in Their Sights, Employers Hold Health Benefits Cost Growth to 3.8% in 2015

[11/20/15] Forbes: “Fewer Employers Consider Dropping Coverage Due To Obamacare

[11/20/15] LIMRA [Blog]: “Confidence and Reality Often at Odds When Planning for Retirement

[11/20/15] NAPA Net the Magazine: “Opportunity X -- Gen Xers are about to get serious about retirement savings, and their go-to will be their employer’s DC plan.

[11/20/15] Charles Schwab: “Schwab Survey: Millennials Face Unique Set of Obstacles When Saving for Retirement

[11/20/15] USA Today: “5 retirement money myths debunked

[11/20/15] MSN: “How spending habits really change after retirement

[11/20/15] PlanSponsor: “Senators Give Church Plan Legislation Another Try

[11/19/15] ICI Research Perspective: “Who Benefits from the U.S. Retirement System” [“This paper is a summary of Peter Brady’s forthcoming book, Who Benefits from the U.S. Retirement System, to be published in January 2016.”]

[11/19/15] U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration: Interpretive Bulletin Relating to State Savings Programs That Sponsor or Facilitate Plans Covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974; Interpretive bulletin [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 18, 2015 -- This interpretive bulletin is effective on Nov. 18, 2015.]

[11/19/15] U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration: Savings Arrangements Established by States for Non-Governmental Employees; Proposed rule [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 18, 2015 -- Written comments should be received by the Department of Labor on or before Jan. 19, 2016.]

[11/19/15] U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration: Fact Sheet: State Savings Programs for Non-Government Employees

[11/19/15] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: PBGC Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2015

[11/19/15] PlanAdviser: “Is PBGC Driving Sponsors to DB Plan Exit?

[11/19/15] NAPA Net: “Benefits Matter, But Many Aren’t Satisfied

[11/19/15] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Prescription Drugs and the Slowdown in Health Care Spending

[11/19/15] Gallup: “Americans Again Cite Cost and Access as Top Health Issues

[11/19/15] Wolters Kluwer Law & Business: “Supreme Court will hear seven challenges to contraceptive mandate

[11/18/15] U.S. Departments of the Treasury (IRS), Labor (EBSA), and Health & Human Services (CMS): Final Rules for Grandfathered Plans, Preexisting Condition Exclusions, Lifetime and Annual Limits, Rescissions, Dependent Coverage, Appeals, and Patient Protections under the Affordable Care Act; Final Rules [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 18, 2015 -- Effective date. These final regulations are effective on Jan. 19, 2016. Applicability date. These final regulations apply to group health plans and health insurance issuers beginning on the first day of the first plan year (or, in the individual market, the first day of the first policy year) beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2017. For information on requirements applicable prior to this date, see section II.I. of this preamble.]

[11/18/15] Politico: “Senate GOP reassesses plan on Obamacare repeal

[11/18/15] PlanSponsor: “EBRI Research Backs Up Pivotal Role of Health Insurance

[11/18/15] U.S. News & World Report: “How Retirement Benefits Will Change in 2016

[11/18/15] CNBC: “What to do after these retirement funds hit goals?

[11/18/15] Reuters: “Chicago in tough battle to overturn ruling on pension reforms

[11/18/15] WPRI.com: “Judge sides with pension consulting firm over Providence in lawsuit

[11/18/15] U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration: Claims Procedure for Plans Providing Disability Benefits; Notice of proposed rulemaking [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 18, 2015 -- Written comments should be received by the Department of Labor on or before Jan. 19, 2016.]

[11/17/15] Internal Revenue Service: Administration of Multiemployer Plan Participant Vote on an Approved Suspension of Benefits Under MPRA; Notice of public hearing on proposed rulemaking [as published in the Federal Register on November 17, 2015 - DATES: The public hearing is being held on Friday, December 18, 2015, at 10 a.m. The IRS must receive outlines of the topics to be discussed at the public hearing by Monday, November 30, 2015. ADDRESSES: The public hearing is being held in the IRS Auditorium, Internal Revenue Service Building, 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20224.]

[11/17/15] NAPA Net: “Transfers Slow, But Participants Still Fled TDFs in October

[11/17/15] PlanSponsor: “Retirement Realities Drive Social Security Decisions for Women

[11/17/15] PlanAdviser: “Gen Xers Skeptical About Social Security Stability

[11/17/15] TIAA-CREF Institute Data Summary: “How Will Near-Retirees Manage Retirement Savings for Retirement Income? A Survey of TIAA-CREF Participants

[11/17/15] BenefitsPro: “Employer-sponsored insurance remains flat

[11/17/15] WalletHub: “2015’s Rates of Uninsured by State Before & After Obamacare

[11/17/15] American Journal of Managed Care: “US Employee Wellness Programs and Access to Obesity Treatment in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

[11/17/15] Human Resource Executive Online: “Food for Thought -- New wellness strategies can work to persuade employees to eat their fruits and veggies.

[11/17/15] Foley & Lardner LLP: “Five Telemedicine Trends Transforming Health Care in 2016

[11/16/15]  Towers Watson:  20th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey

[11/16/15]  Buck Consultants [Blog]:  “It’s all about the data, even in a private exchange.

[11/16/15]  The Motley Fool:  “The Cost to Obtain Health Insurance Through Your Employer Is Soaring -- Here Are the Real Reasons Why

[11/16/15]  KPCC:  “Get health insurance at work? 4 things to know during open enrollment

[11/16/15]  PlanSponsor:  “Helping Employees See the Value of HSAs

[11/16/15]  Internal Revenue Service:  Transitional Amendments to Satisfy the Market Rate of Return Rules for Hybrid Retirement Plans; Final regulations [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 16, 2015 -- Effective Date: These regulations are effective on November 16, 2015. -- Applicability Date: These regulations generally apply to plan amendments made on or after September 18, 2014 (or an earlier date as elected by the taxpayer). These regulations cease to apply for amendments made on or after the first day of the first plan year that begins on or after January 1, 2017 (or, for collectively bargained plans, on or after a later date specified in the regulations).]

[11/16/15]  Brookings:  “10 facts about Social Security and retirement saving

[11/16/15]  PBS NewsHour:  “Column: Why closing Social Security loopholes is good policy

[11/13/15] Internal Revenue Service: “Insurance Providers and Employers: Understanding Electronic Filing Requirements for ACA Information Returns” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2015-74, Nov. 12, 2015]

[11/13/15] Internal Revenue Service: “Plan now to Use Health Flexible Spending Arrangements in 2016; Contribute up to $2,550; $500 Carryover Option Available to Many” [IR-2015-126, Nov. 12, 2015]

[11/13/15] Aon Hewitt: “2015 Records Lowest U.S. Health Care Cost Increases in Nearly 20 Years

[11/13/15] America’s Health Insurance Plans: “New Census Survey Shows Continued Growth in HSA Enrollment

[11/13/15] HR Morning: “Is this health cost-cutter worth the morale hit?

[11/13/15] Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: “2016 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles Announced

[11/13/15] SCOTUSblog: “Argument analysis: Justices dubious of ERISA plan’s right to recover medical-reimbursement costs

[11/13/15] Towers Watson Insider: “Pension Risk Increases Slightly for Fortune 1000 Plan Sponsors in 2015

[11/13/15] Military.com: “Military Retirement Overhaul Set to Roll Out During Next Two Years

[11/13/15] The Segal Group: DC Digest, Fall 2015 [“DC Digest is a quarterly compendium of key trends, developments and professional insights that our defined contribution (DC) experts believe may be of interest to plan sponsors for further review and analysis.”]

[11/13/15] SEI: 5 Questions Every Plan Sponsor Should Ask Themselves about Retirement Income

[11/13/15] NAPA Net: “Bill Looks to Shield IRAs from DOL’s Fiduciary Reach

[11/13/15] PlanAdviser: “Robo Advice A Rising Tide?

[11/12/15] Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index: “Milliman analysis: Corporate pension funded status improves by $25 billion in October

[11/12/15] Vanguard Research: “Best Practices for Portfolio Rebalancing

[11/12/15] InvestmentNews: “Working longer for more savings? Don’t count on it

[11/12/15] NAPA Net: “7 Things You May Not Know About the Saver’s Credit (and 4 You Should)

[11/12/15] Associated Press (via New Haven Register): “Connecticut would be first state to split pension liability

[11/12/15] National Tax-deferred Savings Association: “Borzi Updates Council on State Plan Guidance, Fiduciary Proposal

[11/12/15] Healthcare Economist: “HDHP on the rise

[11/12/15] USA Today: “Companies continue chipping away at health insurance benefits

[11/12/15] HVS Financial HealthView Insights: “Retirement Health Care Costs and Income Replacement Ratios

[11/12/15] Congressional Research Service: Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act [Updated November 4, 2015]

[11/10/15] ThinkAdvisor: “Retirement Account Balances Suffer in Q3 Market Volatility, Fidelity Reports -- Fidelity customers’ asset allocations and contributions stayed on course

[11/10/15] CNBC: “5 questions to ask your financial advisor each year

[11/10/15] PlanSponsor: “Retired Americans Need More Savings -- Just 20% of those who have retired say they’ve saved enough.

[11/10/15] USA Today: “The 60/40 stock-and-bond portfolio mix is dead in 2016

[11/10/15] Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin: “Year-End Compliance Issues for Single-Employer Retirement Plans

[11/10/15] Calpensions: “San Jose, Atlanta pensions: a tale of two rulings

[11/10/15] PlanSponsor: “ACA and Employers Changing the Health Benefits Landscape -- More employers are self-funding their health plans and wellness program components are changing.

[11/10/15] Employee Benefit Adviser: “Health care transparency tools may have greater impact when not limited to price

[11/10/15] Health Affairs: “Enforcing Mental Health Parity

[11/10/15] Human Resource Executive Online: “The Contingent Quandary

[11/9/15] BenefitsPro: “Workers bullish on benefits

[11/9/15] Morningstar: “What Vanguard’s New Report Does Not Say About 401(k) Plans -- The good news speaks quietly.

[11/9/15] PlanSponsor: “Advice Can Make a Difference in Rocky Market -- Did advice help participants avoid panic selling in August?

[11/9/15] Milliman Multiemployer Pension Funding Study [Fall 2015]: “Are we on another wild ride? Will the investment markets settle down, and if so, where will funds be after the dust settles?

[11/9/15] Forbes: “The Trillion-Dollar Question: Should Public Pension Reform Be in the Court’s Hands?

[11/9/15] KHN Morning Briefing: “High Court To Hear Challenge To Health Law’s Contraception Mandate

[11/9/15] Society for Human Resource Management: “’Carving Out’ Spousal Benefits: Cost-Cutting, with Repercussions

[11/9/15] CIO: “Healthcare consumerism is here -- or is it really?

[11/9/15] RAND Corporation Perspective: “Harnessing Private-Sector Innovation to Improve Health Insurance Exchanges

[11/9/15] Magellan Healthcare: Work-Life Balance Is Dead and the Virtual Workforce Killed It

[11/6/15] Mercer: “US workers satisfied with benefits, but fears of future affordability rise dramatically

[11/6/15] BenefitsPro: “Defined benefit plans lose on equity market downturn

[11/6/15] PlanSponsor: “Retirement Investors Need to Understand Role of Risk

[11/6/15] CNN Money: “A secure retirement, no matter how long you live

[11/6/15] NAPA Net: “Boeing’s 401(k) Lawsuit Settlement Second Largest

[11/6/15] Associated Press (via New Hampshire Public Radio): “State Lawmakers Working To Solve State Retirement Budget Shortfall

[11/6/15] National Public Radio: “Wellness Programs Add Financial Advice To Improve Employee Health

[11/6/15] MarketWatch: “Employees face higher health costs as open enrollment season starts

[11/6/15] American Journal of Managed Care: “Physicians Cite Health Insurance Companies as Barrier to Patient Care

[11/6/15] TIME: “These Are the Companies With the Best Parental Leave Policies

[11/5/15] U.S. Department of the Treasury: “U.S. Treasury Launches myRA (my Retirement Account) to Help Bridge America’s Retirement Savings Gap

[11/5/15] USA Today: “Launching nationwide, myRA offers free way to save for retirement

[11/5/15] Society for Human Resource Management: “Higher PBGC Premiums May Mean Fewer Pensions

[11/5/15] NBC News: “Congress’ Budget Deal Seen as ‘Big, Big Win’ for Older Americans

[11/5/15] Internal Revenue Service: Employee Plans News [Nov. 3, 2015]

[11/5/15] BenefitsPro: “Morningstar says even opponents of DOL are lowballing costs

[11/5/15] LifeHealthPro: “Why Americans aren’t meeting with advisors: small nest eggs

[11/5/15] Bloomberg BNA: “BP Wins Dismissal of ERISA Duty-to-Monitor Claims

[11/5/15] Internal Revenue Service: “Understanding Your Form 1095-B, Health Coverage” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2015-70, Nov. 3, 2015]

[11/5/15] PlanSponsor: “Employers Focused on Increasing Engagement in Wellness

[11/4/15] The White House: “Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 1314” [“Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015”]

[11/4/15] U.S. House of Representatives: “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” [Section-by-Section Summary] - [Public Law 114-74; includes provisions impacting pensions, health care, and Social Security]

[11/4/15] CNBC: “Pension ‘fix’ by Congress could backfire

[11/4/15] BenefitsPro: “What sponsors of frozen pension plans are doing

[11/4/15] Vanguard Research: “Women versus men in DC plans

[11/4/15] NAPA Net: “October ‘Treats’ Average 401(k) Balances

[11/4/15] U.S. News & World Report: “How Your 401(k) Fee Disclosure Statement Can Save You Money

[11/4/15] LifeHealthPro: “High-income uninsured prospects are still out there

[11/4/15] PlanSponsor: “Plan Sponsors Admit They’re Unprepared for Post-ACA Reform

[11/4/15] Prudential: Early Retirement and the Affordable Care Act

[11/4/15] Reuters: “Taking the really long view on long-term care insurance

[11/3/15] Calpensins: “Private firms offer to run state retirement plan

[11/3/15] NowItCounts: “Those Who’ve Maintained 401(k)s Since 2007 Have Done Well

[11/3/15] Human Resource Executive Online: “Formalizing Flexible-Work Policies

[11/3/15] Employee Benefit Adviser: “5 wellness program compliance pitfalls and what to do about them

[11/3/15] Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker: “What are the recent and forecasted trends in prescription drug spending?

[11/3/15] USA Today: “Small businesses snub Obamacare’s SHOP exchange

[11/3/15] HealthPocket: “2016 Affordable Care Act Market Brings Higher Average Premiums for Unsubsidized

[11/3/15] Vox: “Will cheaper health insurance really raise wages? The evidence is thin.

[11/3/15] BenefitsPro: “Medicare gap will take more money for health care from savings -- Bad news for retirees about the ‘donut hole’ in drug and other medical coverage

[11/3/15] Proskauer’s Law and the Workplace: “Jersey City, New Jersey Expands Paid Sick Leave

[11/2/15] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Cost Index - September 2015 [News Release]

[11/2/15] Kaiser Family Foundation: “Prescription Drug Costs Remain Atop the Public’s National Health Care Agenda, Well Ahead of Affordable Care Act Revisions and Repeal

[11/2/15] BenefitsPro: “New proposed wellness rule ‘positive’ for business

[11/2/15] Institute for HealthCare Consumerism: “How Wearables Aid and Extend Wellness Programs

[11/2/15] InsuranceNewsNet: “Self-funded insurance can offer big savings for companies

[11/2/15] NAPA Net: “Custom TDF Allocations Draw 401(k) Lawsuit

[11/2/15] Slate: “The Budget Deal Closed a Social Security Loophole -- And that might be bad news for divorced women heading toward retirement.

[11/2/15] PIMCO DC Dialogue: “Global Eye Toward Retirement Outcomes” [“In this PIMCO DC Dialogue, we speak with Gary Park at Schlumberger about their global retirement plans.”]

What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2015 Spring Policy Forum: "Evidence on Defined Contribution Health and Retirement: The Road Ahead" [“gavel-to-gavel” webcast - Prerecorded broadcast available through the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans]

EBRI 2014 Fall Policy Forum: “Measured Matters” [“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


November 2015 EBRI Issue Brief - "Change in Household Spending After Retirement: Results from a Longitudinal Sample"

November 2015 EBRI Notes - "Views on the Value of Voluntary Workplace Benefits: Findings from the 2015 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey" and "Evidence on Defined Contribution Health and Retirement Benefits: The Road Ahead"


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:

Social Security's Future: Answers to Key Questions. GAO-16-75SP, October 27.

Retirement Security: Federal Action Could Help State Efforts to Expand Private Sector Coverage. GAO-15-556, September 10. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: The Range of Premiums and Plan Availability for Individuals in 2014 and 2015. GAO-15-687, August 10. Highlights.

401(K) Plans: Clearer Regulations Could Help Plan Sponsors Choose Investments for Participants. GAO-15-578, August 25. Highlights.

Pension Advance Transactions: Questionable Business Practices and the Federal Response, by Stephen Lord, managing director, forensic audits and investigative service, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. GAO-15-846T, September 30. 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 11/30/15