What's New - November 2016


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[11/29/16] Health Care Cost Institute: 2015 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report [Note: The full report can be downloaded at the website.]

[11/29/16] Xerox Corporation: Beyond Words: Engaging Consumers in Changing Health Behaviors

[11/29/16] American Journal of Managed Care: “Employees Still Bear the Brunt of Health Insurance Costs

[11/29/16] The Alliance: “Rising Drug Costs Lead to PBM Scrutiny

[11/29/16] Mercer/Signal: “Employers Create More Flexible, Less Traditional Workplaces

[11/29/16] Government Executive: “Most Feds Could Save $2K or More By Switching Health Insurance

[11/29/16] Milliman’s Multiemployer Review [Update on Issues Affecting Taft-Hartley Plans]: “Taking the Taft-Hartley Defined Contribution Plan to the Next Level

[11/29/16] Milliman 100 Public Pension Funding Index: “Public pension funded ratio rises to 71.0% in Q3 -- A 3.5% return on assets improves funded status by $48 billion

[11/29/16] PlanSponsor: “Investing Confusion Lowering Retirement Confidence

[11/28/16] Internal Revenue Service: Update to Minimum Present Value Requirements for Defined Benefit Plan Distributions; Notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of public hearing [as published in the Federal Register on Nov. 25, 2016 - SUMMARY: This document contains proposed regulations providing guidance relating to the minimum present value requirements applicable to certain defined benefit pension plans. These proposed regulations would provide guidance on changes made by the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and would provide other modifications to these rules as well. These regulations would affect participants, beneficiaries, sponsors, and administrators of defined benefit pension plans. This document also provides a notice of a public hearing on these proposed regulations. DATES: Written or electronic comments must be received by February 23, 2017. Outlines of topics to be discussed at the public hearing scheduled for March 7, 2017, must be received by February 23, 2017.]

[11/28/16] The Motley Fool: “Here’s How Americans’ Retirement Savings Changed in 2016 -- While retiree saving hasn’t changed much, workers’ nest eggs have changed pretty dramatically. But in which direction?

[11/28/16] Investor’s Business Daily: “401(k) Experts Warn When NOT To Use A Target Date Fund

[11/28/16] NAPA Net: “D.C. District Court: No Pause on Fiduciary Ruling Pending Appeal

[11/28/16] The Motley Fool (via USA Today): “Over 70? Here’s 1 tax move you don’t want to forget in 2016

[11/28/16] USA Today: “Working in retirement can cost you money if you’re not careful

[11/23/16] Willis Towers Watson Insider: “Transitioning retirement benefits in a complex world

[11/23/16] PlanSponsor: “Pension Risk Transfers on the Rise -- Global consulting firm Mercer discovered some new trends in the world of pension de-risking.

[11/23/16] PlanAdviser: “PBGC Issues New Table for Determining Expected Retirement Ages -- The table is for use by pension plans undergoing distress or involuntary termination with valuation dates falling in 2017.

[11/23/16] Kiplinger: “The Unsung Role of Budget Planning in Retirement

[11/23/16] InsuranceNewsNet: “AHIP Chief Discusses Reasons Behind Premium Hikes

[11/23/16] True Viral News: “5 questions to ask before choosing a health plan

[11/23/16] Kaiser Health News: “Anthem: Unique Circumstances Of Insurance Industry Belie Antitrust Argument

[11/23/16] Internal Revenue Service: “Employers that hire Holiday Help: Understand the Health Care Law’s Rules Around Seasonal Workers” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-77, November 22, 2016]

[11/22/16] Natixis Global Asset Management: Running on Empty: Attitudes and Actions of Defined Contribution Plan Participants -- 2016 Survey of Defined Contribution Plan Participants [Note: The full survey report can be downloaded at the website.]

[11/22/16] Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Insights™: “Plan Wellness Scorecard” [As of June 30, 2016]

[11/22/16] PlanSponsor: “Saving Early and Consistently Helps Retirement Confidence -- A survey found two-thirds of those who save consistently think they are saving enough to provide themselves a comfortable retirement.

[11/22/16] NAPA Net: “DOL to Explore Lifetime Income Expansion for QDIAs

[11/22/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “Hidden Benefits of Wellness Programs

[11/22/16] PlanSponsor: “ACA Employer Mandate: Top Concern for Companies Following Trump Victory

[11/21/16] ABD Insurance & Financial Services: “Compliance Alert - 2016 ACA Reporting Deadline Extended by 30 Days

[11/21/16] United Benefit Advisors: 2016 Trends: How Employers Use Wellness Programs

[11/21/16] CNBC: “Wellness programs can be useful, but there are tradeoffs

[11/21/16] RAND Corporation: “Knowledge About Health Insurance and Finance Linked to Higher Rates of Health Coverage

[11/21/16] Michigan Retirement Research Center: Health Reform and Health Insurance Coverage of Early Retirees [Working Paper] - [Note: The full paper can be downloaded at the website.]

[11/21/16] Health Affairs Health Policy Briefs: “Paid Family and Medical Leave. The United States has no federal law that guarantees paid family or medical leave.

[11/21/16] Kaiser Health News: “Anthem-Cigna Merger Goes To Trial In Final Chapter Of Obama’s Antitrust Efforts

[11/21/16] Children’s Health Fund: Unfinished Business: More than 20 Million Children in U.S. Still Lack Sufficient Access to Essential Health Care

[11/21/16] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [Blog]: “Student Loan Repayment Benefits--Crunching the Numbers

[11/21/16] Pew Research Center: Gig Work, Online Selling and Home Sharing -- 24% of Americans report earning money from the digital ‘platform economy’ in the past year. The extra income they make is a luxury for some, but a necessity for others.

[11/21/16] Bloomberg BNA: “Multiemployer Pension Program’s Deficit Soars to Record High

[11/21/16] CNBC: “The bad things good people do with their 401(k) plans

[11/21/16] PlanSponsor: “Court Holds Hearing on Chamber Fiduciary Rule Lawsuit -- Plaintiffs discuss First Amendment and lack of studies into annuities and conflicted advice.

[11/21/16] The Motley Fool: “8 Facts You Didn’t Know About Retirement -- Brace yourself for some surprising numbers. Some are rather alarming and may help spur you to save more for tomorrow.

[11/18/16] Vanguard: Survey of Defined Benefit Plan Sponsors [October 2016]

[11/18/16] PlanSponsor: “Bill Would Fix Closed DB Plan Nondiscrimination Issues -- The legislation would amend the nondiscrimination rules to protect older workers in plans that have been closed or frozen.

[11/18/16] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service: Automatic Enrollment 401(k) Plans for Small Businesses

[11/18/16] Retirement Income Journal: “Will pensions become subject to state income tax in Illinois?” [Note: A subscription may be required to view the full article.]

[11/18/16] ConsumerReports.org: “How to Survive a High-Deductible Health Plan -- Knowing you’re on the hook for thousands in medical bills might make you less likely to seek care you need. Here’s how to save money and stay safe.

[11/18/16] USA Today: “A massage? Health savings accounts may cover more than you think

[11/17/16] CFO.com: “Trump’s Obamacare: What Employers Can Expect

[11/17/16] ABC57: “Employers Take Control of Medical Costs With Self-Funded Health Plans

[11/17/16] The Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point: “Fewer Americans Say Cost Is a Barrier to Getting Care, But U.S. Still Has a Long Way to Go

[11/17/16] PL+US: Forging Ahead or Falling Behind? Paid Family Leave at America’s Top Companies [Note: The full report can be downloaded at the website.]

[11/17/16] National Alliance on Mental Illness: Out-of-Network, Out-of-Pocket, Out-of-Options: The Unfulfilled Promise of Parity [Note: The full report can be downloaded at the website.]

[11/17/16] U.S. News & World Report: “10 Things You Should Know About Medicare

[11/17/16] PGIM: Longevity and Liabilities: Bridging the Gap

[11/17/16] Market Strategies International: “Uncovering the Key Drivers of Satisfaction with DC Providers

[11/17/16] Yahoo! Finance: “How to Deal with the Stress of Open 401(k) Enrollment

[11/17/16] The Motley Fool (via USA Today): “What’s the maximum Social Security benefit in 2017? The biggest Social Security benefit that will be paid in 2017 is $2,687 per month.

[11/16/16] U.S. Departments of Labor (EBSA), Health & Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury: FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation Part 34 and Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Implementation [“Please send comments to marketreform@cms.hhs.gov by January 3, 2017. All comments will be shared among the Departments.”]

[11/16/16] Jackson Lewis’ Benefits Law Advisor: “Employee Benefit Issues to Keep You Awake at Night

[11/16/16] RAND Corporation: “Retail Medical Clinics Do Not Reduce Visits to Hospital Emergency Departments for Minor Health Ailments

[11/16/16] Snell & Wilmer’s SW Benefits Update: “2016 End of Year Plan Sponsor ‘To Do’ List: Qualified Retirement Plans

[11/16/16] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Annual Report 2016 -- Keeping Our Commitment to America’s Workers

[11/16/16] NASRA Issue Brief: “State Hybrid Retirement Plans” [November 2016]

[11/16/16] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Brief: “New Developments in Social Investing by Public Pensions” [Note: The full brief can be downloaded at the website.]

[11/16/16] WealthManagement.com: “401(k) Plans, the Fiduciary Rule and You: A Plan Sponsor’s Guide to ETFs

[11/16/16] Charles Schwab: “Schwab Survey Finds Major Differences in How Male and Female Millennials View Retirement

[11/15/16] Willis Towers Watson: “President-elect Trump and GOP Congress Could Significantly Change Workplace Benefits and Policies

[11/15/16] Bloomberg QuickTake: “Family Leave

[11/15/16] Houston Business Coalition on Health: “Employers Believe Telehealth Impacts Health and Cost, and Few Small Employers Offer Wellness Programs Per Houston Business Coalition on Health Survey -- Employees may see increased costs and reduced benefits in 2017

[11/15/16] Raw Story: “Is healthcare in the US failing?

[11/15/16] Kaiser Health News: “Despite Anger At Health Law’s Mandate, GOP Plans Could Also Have Penalties

[11/15/16] Bloomberg BNA: “Multiple Employer Plan Bill Has Shot in Lame-Duck Session

[11/15/16] Cammack Retirement Group: “Fee Allocation: Which Methodology is Best for Your Plan?

[11/15/16] NAPA Net: “4 ‘Sure’ Things About Saving for Retirement That Aren’t

[11/15/16] Internal Revenue Service: Favorable Determination Letter [Publication 794]

[11/15/16] Ascensus’ Retirement Spotlight: “Trump Victory Means More Uncertainty for DOL Fiduciary Guidance

[11/14/16] Milliman Multiemployer Pension Funding Study - Fall 2016: “Analysis shows multiemployer pension funded status has been steady so far in 2016

[11/14/16] NAPA Net: “Tricks AND Treats for Average 401(k) Balances in October

[11/14/16] 401(k) Specialist: “Will Donald Trump Kill the 401k Fiduciary Rule?

[11/14/16] Snell & Wilmer’s SW Benefits Update: “2016 End of Year Plan Sponsor ‘To Do’ List: Health & Welfare

[11/14/16] National Center for Health Statistics: Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January-June 2016

[11/14/16] CUInsight.com: “More employers offering HSA-compatible health plans means more HSAs

[11/14/16] CFO.com: “Uncertainty Flares Again for Health Benefits

[11/14/16] Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: “2017 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles Announced

[11/10/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “After Election Day: What’s Ahead for HR -- With the shocking results of the presidential election now recorded in the history books, experts ponder how a Trump presidency will affect organizations’ HR policies and regulations.

[11/10/16] Associated Press (via KWWL.com): “Why health care is taking more of your paycheck

[11/2/16] The Alliance: “How to Design a Better Consumer-Driven Health Plan

[11/10/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Day One And Beyond: What Trump’s Election Means For The ACA

[11/10/16] Kaiser Health News: “Repealing The Affordable Care Act Could Be More Complicated Than It Looks

[11/10/16] Bloomberg QuickTake: “Drug Prices: Costs and Outrage Rise in the U.S.

[11/10/16] Bloomberg BNA: “Employers Seek Flexibility as Leave Policies Gain Momentum

[11/10/16] 401(k) Specialist: “Generation Z Steps To The 401k Plate -- While optimistic, ‘Gen Zers’ nonetheless have concerns.

[11/10/16] Retirement Income Journal: “Anecdotal Evidence: Trump and the DOL Rule” [Note: A subscription may be required to view the full article.]

[11/10/16] The ERISA Industry Committee: “2016 Election: What Happens Now for Retirement Policy

[11/9/16] Kaiser Health News: “Trump, GOP In Congress Could Use ‘Must-Pass’ Bills To Bring Health Changes

[11/9/16] Benefits Bryan Cave: “Will the ACA Get Trumped?

[11/9/16] Reuters: “Colorado voters reject measure to create universal healthcare

[11/9/16] Wolters Kluwer Law & Business: “CDHP enrollees experience lower overall health care costs

[11/9/16] HR Daily Advisor: “EBRI Examines HSAs’ Effect On Healthcare Choices

[11/9/16] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College’s Squared Away Blog: “On-the-Job Healthcare Costs More

[11/9/16] Before It’s News: “10 Ways To Beat Rising Workplace Healthcare Plan Costs

[11/9/16] U.S. News & World Report: “The Cloud Can Shape Patient-Centric Health Care System

[11/9/16] Xerox Corporation FYI®: “IRS Announces New PCORI Fee

[11/9/16] U.S. News & World Report: “How Retirement Benefits Will Change in 2017 -- Expect your retirement benefits to be tweaked in several important ways next year.

[11/8/16] Congressional Research Service:

[11/8/16] Internal Revenue Service: Applicability of § 411(b)(5)(B)(i) to Implicit Interest Pension Equity Plans [Notice 2016-67]

[11/8/16] Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index: “Milliman Analysis: Corporate pension funded status improved by $28 billion in October -- Second straight month of funded status gains

[11/8/16] NAPA Net: “What Are 401(k) Participants Doing?

[11/8/16] PlanSponsor: “Average Deferrals Are Higher Among Managed Account Users -- Morningstar argues the increased savings benefits measured among managed account users are likely to outweigh the costs of such products over TDF pricing.

[11/8/16] PlanAdviser: “Investing Matters Differ Across Genders

[11/8/16] InsuranceNewsNet: “NAFA To Appeal DOL Rule Decision

[11/8/16] ASPPA Net: “Health Care Costs Taking a Bite Out of Retirement Savings

[11/8/16] Frenkel Benefits: “Cost-Control Over Risk: More Employers Embrace Self-Insurance

[11/8/16] Human Resource Executive Online [Blog]: “Answering the Cancer Call

[11/8/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “How Could A New Administration Tackle Affordable Care Act Challenges? Look To Medicare

[11/7/16] PlanAdviser: “Participants Are Getting Better At Using TDFs--More participants are putting all their assets in a single target-date fund--using TDFs as their designers generally intend.

[11/7/16] TIAA: Income Insights: Gender Retirement Gap

[11/7/16] Strategic Benefit Services: “8 Questions Plan Sponsors Should Ask About Adding a Roth Feature

[11/7/16] NAPA Net: “DOL Wins First Round of Fiduciary Regulation Litigation” [The National Association for Fixed Annuities v. Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of the United States Department of Labor, et al.]

[11/7/16] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College’s Squared Away Blog: “Housing Bust Still Plagues Pre-Retirees

[11/7/16] Vanguard’s Financial Planning Perspectives: “Roths Beyond Retirement: Maximizing Wealth Transfers” [Note: The full paper can be downloaded at the website.]

[11/7/16] AcademyHealth [Blog]: “The U.S. paid sick leave landscape

[11/7/16] Kaiser Health News: “California’s Drug Price Initiative: Will Voters ‘Send A Signal to Washington’?

[11/4/16] Xerox Corporation: Working Well: A Global Survey of Workforce Wellbeing Strategies [Executive Summary]

[11/4/16] Willis Towers Watson: “U.S. employers step up efforts to manage the high cost of prescription drugs -- Strategies encompass cost management for all drugs but focus particularly on specialty medications

[11/4/16] Kiplinger (via Fidelity Investments): “7 Ways to Save on Prescriptions

[11/4/16] CNBC: “How your health plan can help you save for retirement

[11/4/16] Thomson Reuters’ EBIA Weekly Newsletter: “DOL Releases Form 5500 for 2016 Plan Year

[11/4/16] MSN: “The trick to a bigger 401(k)

[11/4/16] Retirement Income Journal: “The View from the (DOL) Trenches” [Note: A subscription may be required to view the full article.]

[11/3/16] Fidelity Investments: “Fidelity Q3 Analysis: Retirement Balances Rise, A Sharp Increase in Adoption of Health Savings Accounts

[11/3/16] PlanSponsor: “TDFs Have Helped Many Ride Out Tough Markets -- Fidelity recommends that individuals regularly monitor their mix of stocks, bonds and cash in their 401(k), but not make changes driven by short-term market volatility or other economic events.

[11/3/16] Manning & Napier: “Managed Accounts in Defined Contribution Plans

[11/3/16] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics The Economics Daily: “Lower paid workers contribute more for medical care benefits than higher paid workers

[11/3/16] Insurance.com: “High deductible health plans survey: HDHPs are popular option, but many delaying health care

[11/3/16] Xerox Corporation FYI®: “Essential Health Benefits -- Why Should Employers Care?

[11/2/16] Vanguard Research: Retirement Distribution Decisions Among DC Participants [October 2016]

[11/2/16] ValueWalk: “The Case for Phased Retirement

[11/2/16] Nerd’s Eye View at Kitces.com: “Using Age Banding To Estimate How Spending Will Decline In Retirement

[11/2/16] Willis Towers Watson: “World’s Largest Fund Managers See First Decline in Assets Since 2011

[11/2/16] NAPA Net: “Case of the Week: Nonspouse Beneficiaries and IRA Rollovers

[11/2/16] Congressional Research Service:

[11/2/16] The Alliance: “How To Empower Your Employees to be Better Health Care Consumers

[11/2/16] Northeast Business Group on Health: High Value Cancer Care: Guidance for Employers

[11/2/16] Bloomberg BNA: “Short-Term Health Plans Cut to Under Three Months in New Rule

[11/2/16] CardinalsFarm: “How Much Obamacare Premiums Will Rise in Each State

[11/2/16] Kaiser Family Foundation: The Uninsured: A Primer - Key Facts About Health Insurance and the Uninsured in the Era of Health Reform

[11/1/16] Kaiser Health News: “7 Tips to Help Avoid Costly Health Plan Enrollment Headaches

[11/1/16] The New York Times (via MSN): “Is High-Deductible Health Insurance Worth the Risk?

[11/1/16] Avalere Health: Demonstrating the Value of Health Insurance

[11/1/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “Explicit Bias in Paid Parental Benefits -- A new survey finds an imbalance in how the genders are treated when it comes to employers’ paid parental benefits. Experts suggest ways organizations can work toward a gender-neutral policy.

[11/1/16] Market Strategies International: One Size Does Not Fit All DC Sponsors: Addressing Needs Around Auto-Features, Investment Menus and Retirement Advice Offerings

[11/1/16] 24/7 Wall St.: “How the Personal Savings Rate Stacks Up Against GDP Gain

[11/1/16] USA Today: “Nearly half of young adults lack retirement savings, pension

What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI 2016 Spring Policy Forum: "Employee Engagement in Health and Retirement Challenges and Reforms" [“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)


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"

Sept. 8, 2016 EBRI Issue Brief - "What Does Consistent Participation in 401(k) Plans Generate? Changes in 401(k) Plan Account Balances, 2010-2014"


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:

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.

Retirement Security: Low Defined Contribution Savings May Pose Challenges.
GAO-16-408, May 5. 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 11/29/16