What's New - October 2016



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[10/31/16] U.S. Departments of the Treasury (IRS), Labor (EBSA), and Health & Human Services (CMS): Excepted Benefits; Lifetime and Annual Limits; and Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance; Final rules [as published in the Federal Register on Oct. 31, 2016 - Effective date. These final regulations are effective on December 30, 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 January 1, 2017.]

[10/31/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “New Rule on Excepted Benefits, Short-Term Coverage; Mental Health and Substance Use FAQs

[10/31/16] U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “Here are 3 Things on Employers’ Health Care Reform Wish List

[10/31/16] Guardian Life Insurance Company of America: Closing the Gap: Addressing the Employee Benefits IQ of Working Americans as a Path to Improving Financial Well-Being -- The Guardian Workplace Benefits Study: 4th Annual

[10/31/16] PlanAdviser: “DC Participants Mostly Stayed True to Contributing, Investing in 2016 -- Account balance reallocation activity was little changed and contribution reallocation activity was slightly lower compared with the same time frame a year earlier, ICI found.

[10/31/16] PlanSponsor: “Investors Fear Election Result Will Hurt Retirement Savings -- Nearly six in 10 Americans expect the markets to become more volatile following the results of the presidential election, a survey found.

[10/31/16] InsuranceNewsNet: “Treasury Dept. Rules Give Annuities a Boost

[10/31/16] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: “PBGC Guarantee Limit for Single-Employer Plans Increases for 2017

[10/28/16] Internal Revenue Service: “IRS Announces 2017 Pension Plan Limitations; 401(k) Contribution Limit Remains Unchanged at $18,000 for 2017

[10/28/16] ICI Research Report: “Defined Contribution Plan Participants’ Activities, First Half 2016

[10/28/16] U.S. Department of Labor Blog: “Your Conflicts of Interest Questions Answered

[10/28/16] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration: “Conflict of Interest Exemptions FAQs

[10/28/16] Russell Investments [Fiduciary Matters Blog]: “Retirement income disclosure: no reason for further delay

[10/28/16] Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker: “Examining high prescription drug spending for people with employer sponsored health insurance

[10/28/16] Kaiser Health News: “Drug Prices, Not the Health Law, Top Voters’ Health Priorities for 2017

[10/27/16] Mercer: “Mercer Survey: Health Benefit Cost Growth Slows to 2.4% in 2016 As Enrollment in High-Deductible Plans Climbs

[10/27/16] Health Affairs [Blog]: “Employer-Sponsored Insurance Enrollment Stable in 2014

[10/27/16] Internal Revenue Service: “Health Care Information Reporting: Seven Things Employers Can Think About Now” [IRS Health Care Tax Tip 2016-75, Oct. 26, 2016]

[10/27/16] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Brief: “Will Pensions and OPEBs Break State and Local Budgets?” [Note: The full brief can be downloaded at the website.]

[10/27/16] PlanAdviser: “2016 PLANADVISER Retirement Plan Adviser Survey -- Advisers assess investment managers and recordkeepers

[10/27/16] NAPA Net: “More Americans Seeking Financial Advice

[10/27/16] FINRA: “During Open Enrollment, Be Open to Retirement Saving Opportunities

[10/27/16] InvestmentNews: “DOL expects to issue final rule on city retirement programs by year end -- Following on a rule issued over the summer concerning state plans, the DOL is forging ahead with one governing city-based programs

[10/26/16] The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief: “The Slowdown in Employer Insurance Cost Growth: Why Many Workers Still Feel the Pinch

[10/26/16] Chief Executive: “Small to Midsized Employers are Now Contracting Directly with Healthcare Providers -- Cutting out the ‘middle man’ results in substantial savings and puts employers in control

[10/26/16] Vox.com: “’The mandate penalties are not working’: an expert explains what is broken with Obamacare

[10/26/16] Kaiser Health News: “What Would a Public Insurance Option Look Like?

[10/26/16] U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration: Private Pension Plan Bulletin: Abstract of 2014 Form 5500 Annual Reports [Data Extracted on 6/30/2016]

[10/26/16] Internal Revenue Service: Rev. Proc. 2016-55 [“This revenue procedure sets forth inflation-adjusted items for 2017.”]

[10/26/16] PlanSponsor: “Addressing the Most Serious DC Plan Leakage Problem -- Providers, industry groups and regulators agree efforts are needed to reduce defined contribution retirement plan cashouts.

[10/26/16] 401(k) Specialist: “The Key to Better 401k Participant Outcomes: Olivia Mitchell -- Longevity income annuities are key

[10/26/16] PlanAdviser: “Trustworthiness Trumps Other DC Adviser Satisfaction Factors

[10/26/16] NAPA Net: “Borzi: FAQs on Fiduciary Rule Coming Soon

[10/25/16] PwC: 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey

[10/25/16] Cammack Retirement Group: “Implications of Negative Interest Rates on Retirement Plans

[10/25/16] NAPA Net: “The Taxman Cometh, Graff Warns

[10/25/16] HRBenefitsAlert.com: “10 eye-opening stats about employees and their benefits

[10/25/16] CNBC: “The upside of high-deductible plans for boomers

[10/25/16] Reuters: “AARP sues U.S. agency over employee wellness programs” [AARP v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia]

[10/25/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “Is the Gig Economy Shifting Gears? New research suggests that many independent workers would prefer full-time jobs. That could mean slower growth in the so-called gig economy.

[10/24/16] American Health Policy Institute: Benefits of the Tax-Preferred Status of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

[10/24/16] PlanSponsor: “CDHPs Offer Less Savings Than a Year Ago -- Enrollment in consumer-driven health plans still continues to rise, however, according to United Benefit Advisors.

[10/24/16] LDI Research Brief: “Marketplace Plans With Narrow Physician Networks Feature Lower Monthly Premiums Than Plans With Larger Networks

[10/24/16] InvestmentNews: “DOL fiduciary rule won’t help some 403(b) retirement plans -- The plans in public school districts--often a ‘laissez-faire’ type of arrangement exposing teachers to high-fee products--won’t be helped by the new regulation

[10/24/16] Xerox Corporation’s FYI® Alert: “SOA 2016 Mortality Scale Update Points to Lower Liabilities

[10/24/16] Trucker Huss: “Reasonableness Prevails: New IRS Procedure Allows Self-Certification for Late Rollovers

[10/24/16] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College’s Squared Away Blog: “Your Social Security: 35 Years of Work

[10/24/16] Mercer: “The Impact of Ageing Populations on Global Pensions

[10/21/16] USA Today: “Generic drugs saved $230 billion in 2015, but some prices rise too

[10/21/16] Charles Schwab: “It’s Open Enrollment Time. Should You Open an HSA This Year?

[10/21/16] National Center for Policy Analysis Health Policy Blog: “What Holds Back Consumer-Driven Health Plans?

[10/21/16] Corporate Synergies®: “Wellness Rules for Employers Offering Multiple Health Plans

[10/21/16] NewsOK: “Obamacare headed for change, no matter who wins in November

[10/21/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “Sparking a Revolution -- Hearing the cries of their employees, employers are increasingly considering real-life challenges as they construct their benefit strategies.

[10/21/16] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans: “How Will the Election Impact Benefits?

[10/21/16] PlanAdviser: “Student Loan Debt Affecting Retirement Readiness -- An Aon Hewitt survey finds that not only is student loan debt affecting workers’ retirement savings but it’s also becoming an emotional burden.

[10/21/16] 401(k) Specialist: “401k Financial Stress Test Fail -- Poor financial literacy affects productivity

[10/21/16] NAPA Net: “Dealing with Differential Comp Under the Fiduciary Rule

[10/20/16] Willis Towers Watson Insider: “IRS Releases Final 2016 ACA Information Reporting Forms and Instructions

[10/20/16] ABC News: “Employers Spice Up Benefits, Offer Help With Pets, Debt

[10/20/16] NAPA Net: “Health Care Costs Taking a Bite Out of Retirement Savings

[10/20/16] United Benefit Advisors: “Annual Survey Finds Enrollment in Consumer-Directed Health Plans Jumps 22 Percent Despite Increase in Plan Costs

[10/20/16] Partnership for Workplace Mental Health™: “American Express: Embracing a Culture of Mental Health

[10/20/16] Investor’s Business Daily: “ObamaCare Enrollees Face a Rude Awakening in Two Weeks

[10/20/16] Bloomberg BNA: “Sallie Mae Delivers New Parental Leave Benefits

[10/20/16] Orrick: “California Employers with Qualified Plans Not Subject to New Secure Choice Program

[10/20/16] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Premium Rates [updated with 2017 data]

[10/20/16] Xerox Corporation’s FYI® Alert: “Social Security Benefits and Taxable Wage Base to Increase for 2017

[10/19/16] Reuters: “How Trump, Clinton would fix the ‘crazy’ U.S. health system

[10/19/16] NAPA Net: “Money Market Reform Kicks In

[10/19/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “The Retirement Revolution -- New federal rules open the door to state-sponsored retirement plans. How will they affect traditional employer-sponsored plans?

[10/19/16] InvestmentNews: “How proposed caps could impact IRA and 401(k) accounts -- Both the 2016 and 2017 proposed fiscal budgets included a $3.4 million limit on retirement savings for an individual

[10/19/16] Financial Advisor: “Retirement Unreadiness Continues to Plague Women

[10/19/16] Yahoo! Finance: “7 Things You Can Do With a My Social Security Account

[10/18/16] Findley Davies: “DB to DC Plan Transitions: Thinking Long Term

[10/18/16] Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants: “Roth 401k, Pre-Tax 401k, Or Both?

[10/18/16] NAPA Net: “6 Things People Who Need to Save for Retirement Need to Know About Saving for Retirement

[10/18/16] Manhattan Institute: Feeling the Squeeze: Pension Costs Are Crowding Out Education Spending

[10/18/16] Governmental Accounting Standards Board: “GASB Exposure Draft: Implementation Guide No. 201X-X, Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefit Plans Other Than Pension Plans” [Oct. 5, 2016 -- Comments Due Dec. 19, 2016]

[10/18/16] Becker’s Hospital Review: “6 things to watch during open enrollment season

[10/18/16] Xerox Corporation [Blog]: “Health Savings Accounts: Your HSA Trustee

[10/18/16] Bloomberg BNA: “2017 Obamacare Marketplace Slowdown Expected: S&P Global

[10/17/16] Marsh Consulting Group: “Effective Benefits Communications Can Pay Off

[10/17/16] Kaiser Health News: “Concerns About Health Plans’ Choices And Costs Grow As Enrollment Season Nears

[10/17/16] J.P. Morgan Asset Management: Enhancing DC Plan Design: Steps Plan Sponsors Can Take to Help Improve Plan Outcomes

[10/17/16] PlanSponsor: “Financial Wellness Programs Need More Than Just Education -- If a financial wellness program isn’t producing results, try getting personal.

[10/17/16] PlanAdviser: “Plan Sponsors Worry About Explaining Income Solutions to Participants -- The complexity of explaining retirement income solutions to participants was one of several reasons defined contribution plan sponsors cited for not offering these options in their plans."

[10/17/16] Economic Policy Institute: “Hispanic workers are less likely to have the opportunity to participate in retirement plans

[10/14/16] Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index: “Milliman Analysis: Corporate pension funded status improved by $19 billion in September -- Pension funded status has declined by $130 billion this year

[10/14/16] American Academy of Actuaries Issue Brief: “Pension Risk Transfer

[10/14/16] Bloomberg BNA: “Prestigious Colleges Defend Retirement Plan Management

[10/14/16] PlanSponsor: “Case About Forcing Participants Out of Company Stock Moves Forward -- A court found eliminating ESOP participants’ right to invest in company stock is not a violation of ERISA’s anti-cutback provisions, but forcing participants with balances greater than $5,000 out of the plan may be.

[10/14/16] NAPA Net: “Trump, Clinton Agree on State-Run Auto-IRAs

[10/14/16] Retirement Income Journal: “The Annuity That Pays for Itself” [Note: A subscription may be required to view the full article.]

[10/14/16] The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief: “The ACA’s Cost-Sharing Reduction Plans: A Key to Affordable Health Coverage for Millions of U.S. Workers

[10/14/16] Morningstar Advisor: “Handling HSAs After Death or Divorce -- Many health savings accounts have grown quite large and merit careful consideration in divorce or inheritance planning.

[10/13/16] NAPA Net: “How Much Difference Can a 401(k) Make?

[10/13/16] WealthManagement.com: “Succeeding with 401(k) Re-enrollments

[10/13/16] Manning & Napier: “Target Date Fund Glide Path Evaluation: What Really Matters?

[10/13/16] The Principal Blog: “Breaking down the DOL regulatory package: Taking on a fiduciary position for the first time?

[10/13/16] NAPA Net: “Fiduciary Rule Set to Trigger Surge in Fund Reviews

[10/13/16] HR.BLR.com: “Retirement Replaces Healthcare Benefits as a Way to Attract, Retain Employees

[10/13/16] HealthITAnalytics.com: “97% Say Big Data Analytics Crucial for Healthcare Benefit Choices

[10/13/16] Investment U: “Why the New ‘Medical 401(k)’ Is a No-Brainer

[10/12/16] Kaiser Health News: “As Enrollment Season Heats Up, Workers Facing Higher Health Spending

[10/12/16] Credit Union National Association: “Understand the Gaps in Employee Benefits Strategies -- Only 7% of employees fully comprehend premiums, deductibles, co-insurance, and out-of-pocket maximums.

[10/12/16] Willis Towers Watson Wire: “Time to Reconsider Well-Being Programs

[10/12/16] Segal Consulting Update [Compliance News for Multiemployer Plans]: “Affordable Care Act’s 2016 Transitional Reinsurance Fee Submissions Must Be Filed Soon

[10/12/16] PlanAdviser: “401(k) Participant Transfers Still Favoring Fixed Income -- However, Aon Hewitt data shows new contributions continue to favor stocks, with 65.7% of employee contributions investing in equities--a slight increase from 65.6% in August.

[10/12/16] PlanSponsor: “Participants Investing Too Conservatively to Prepare for Retirement

[10/12/16] NASRA Issue Brief: “Cost-of-Living Adjustments” [October 2016]

[10/12/16] The Motley Fool: “3 Reasons Not to Retire Before 66

[10/11/16]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  “Employer-provided quality-of-life benefits, March 2016

[10/11/16]  Investor’s Business Daily:  “ObamaCare After The Election: Clinton and Trump Prepare For Surgery

[10/11/16]  STAT News:  “To drive real health care reform, look to what employers are doing

[10/11/16]  Sibson Consulting:  Trends: Snapshot of Health Plan News and Strategies [Fourth Quarter 2016]

[10/11/16]  HERO and Mercer:  The HERO Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard In Collaboration With Mercer© -- 2016 Progress Report

[10/11/16]  National Public Radio:  “Rising Premiums Rankle People Paying Full Price For Health Insurance

[10/11/16]  Reuters (via CNBC):  “US state public pension unfunded liabilities to hit $1.75 trillion: Moody’s

[10/11/16]  InsuranceNewsNet:  “Survey: In-Plan Retirement Income Options Lacking

[10/11/16]  InvestmentNews:  “Alternative investments have made little headway in getting on retirement plan menus

[10/11/16]  NAPA Net:  “Big Apple Unveils MEP, Retirement Program for Private Sector Workers

[10/11/16]  PlanSponsor:  “Those Closest to Retirement Not Prepared -- One in four Baby Boomers have less than $5,000 saved for retirement, a study finds.

[10/7/16] Milliman: 2016 Public Pension Funding Study

[10/7/16] Cadwalader.com: “Your 401(k) Plan ‘Brokerage Window’ May Require An S-8 Registration

[10/7/16] Ascensus® Washington Pulse: “IRS Updates Retirement Plan Correction Program

[10/7/16] PlanSponsor: “Fiduciary Rule to Lead to Changes in DC Plan Investment Lineups

[10/7/16] PlanAdviser: “Investors Want Financial Planning to Include Health Care Costs -- They also believe their financial future is largely dependent on their physical well-being.

[10/7/16] SheppardMullin Healthcare Law Blog: “The Road to Higher Out-of-Pocket Medical Costs is Paved with Good Intentions: The Unintended Consequences of High Deductible Health Plans

[10/7/16] Gallup: “U.S. Uninsured Rate at New Low of 10.9% in Third Quarter

[10/7/16] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute: A Look at Early ACA Implementation: State and National Medicaid Patterns for Adults in 2014

[10/6/16] PlanSponsor: “Health Benefit Sponsors Focused on Compliance and Controlling Costs -- Employers have introduced a number of tactics to control costs, and many are turning to consultants to help with compliance.

[10/6/16] InvestmentNews: “Self-funding employee health care pays off for some small businesses – Estimates of saving $1,000 per employee per year for practices with at least 25 workers is enticing some firms to take on additional risk

[10/6/16] Bloomberg BNA: “Have We Forgotten What A Grandfathered ACA Plan Is?

[10/6/16] Dechert LLP: “HIPAA Compliance -- Not Just an Issue for Health Care Providers

[10/6/16] Kaiser Health News: “Tracking Who Makes Money On A Brand-Name Drug

[10/6/16] Financial Finesse: 2016 Gender Gap in Financial Wellness

[10/6/16] Vanguard Blog for Institutional Investors: “A sigh of relief from plan sponsors over the new fiduciary standard

[10/6/16] NAPA Net: “What Attracts Rollovers?

[10/6/16] Xerox Corporation FYI®: “PBGC Proposes to Change, Expand Its Missing Participant Program for Terminated Plans

[10/5/16] Willis Towers Watson: “Employers Move to Pay Providers Based on Greater Value -- Willis Towers Watson survey finds an increase in new value-based plan design features intended to encourage use of higher-quality, lower-cost services

[10/5/16] HRBenefitsAlert.com: “ACA reporting: New forms, announcements from IRS remind HR pros what’s ahead

[10/5/16] American Journal of Managed Care: “Adventures in Health Care: The Dawn of the High-Value Health Plan

[10/5/16] NASRA Issue Brief: “Employee Contributions to Public Pension Plans” [October 2016]

[10/5/16] ForUsAll, Inc.: “401(k) Recordkeeper: What they do and what to look for

[10/5/16] State Street Global Advisors: Retirement Confidence Monitor 2016 -- Our fourth annual survey reveals defined contribution (DC) plan participants’ confidence in meeting their retirement savings goals in: Ireland, United Kingdom, United States

[10/5/16] NAPA Net: “The Difference Between Multi- and Multiple Employer Plans

[10/5/16] The Motley Fool: “Here’s the Average American’s Savings Rate -- We’re doing a better job of saving money, but it’s not good enough yet.

[10/4/16] NAPA Net: “What Will Q3 Participant Statements Show?

[10/4/16] Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association: Building a Common Language to Promote Adoption of Auto Features in DC Plans

[10/4/16] PlanSponsor: “Contingent Workers Desire Better Retirement Benefits -- The increased visibility and flexibility of gig work in everyday life has brought contingent workers into the spotlight, along with their desire for better access to retirement savings and health benefits.

[10/4/16] InsuranceNewsNet: “Report: DOL Rule Could Freeze IRA Rollovers

[10/4/16] FSAstore.com: “What to Know Ahead of Open Enrollment?

[10/4/16] TIME: “How to Pick the Best Health Care Plan During Open Enrollment

[10/4/16] Business Insider: “This graph shows everything that’s wrong with health insurance premiums

[10/4/16] Human Resource Executive Online: “What New Grads Want -- Young workers want flexibility in how and when they work -- and the chance for continuous development. Employers are responding.

[10/3/16] U.S. Census Bureau: Quarterly Survey of Public Pensions: Second Quarter 2016

[10/3/16] NEPC, LLC: Defined Contribution Fee Survey Infographic

[10/3/16] 401(k) Specialist: “The Root of Low 401k Participation Rates -- Workforce financial stress persistent, increasing

[10/3/16] PlanSponsor: “Generations Display Different Financial Goals and Anxieties

[10/3/16] The Motley Fool: “How Safe Is a Reverse Mortgage? Reverse mortgages can be a rather safe and effective way to boost your retirement income, but they’re not without some drawbacks and downsides.

[10/3/16] Chelko Consulting Group [Commentary]: “Follow the Money: Connecting Employee Income and Health Plan Costs

[10/3/16] ABC News: “California governor vetoes bill to expand parental leave

[10/3/16] The Wagner Law Group’s Health and Welfare Law Alert: “State Law May Prohibit Discretionary Clauses in ERISA-covered Plans

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)


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:

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, August 9; publicly released September 8, 2016. Highlights.

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

Retirement Security: Shorter Life Expectancy Reduces Projected Lifetime Benefits for Lower Earners.
GAO-16-354, March 25. Highlights.

Retirement Security: Better Information on Income Replacement Rates Needed to Help Workers Plan for Retirement.
GAO-16-242, March 1. 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 10/31/16