What's New - September 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


September 2011 EBRI Issue Brief - "Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis of the March 2011 Current Population Survey"

September 2011 EBRI Notes - "2011 Health Confidence Survey: Most Americans Unfamiliar With Key Aspect of Health Reform" and "Is There a Future for Retirement?"


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: Early Experiences Implementing New Medical Loss Ratio Requirements. GAO-11-711, July 29. Highlights.

Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans: Program Features, Early Enrollment and Spending Trends, and Federal Oversight Activities. GAO-11-662, July 27. Highlights.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Carrier Interest in the Federal Program, Changes to Its Actuarial Assumptions, and OPM Oversight. GAO-11-630, July 11. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: State Oversight of Premium Rates. GAO-11-701, July 29. Highlights.

Value in Health Care: Key Information for Policymakers to Assess Efforts to Improve Quality While Reducing Costs. GAO-11-445, July 26. Highlights.

Defined Benefit Pension Plans: Plans Face Challenges When Investing in Hedge Funds and Private Equity, by Barbara Bovbjerg, Managing Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security, before the U.S. Department of Labor's Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans. GAO-11-901SP, August 31. Highlights.

Private Health Insurance: State Oversight of Premium Rates and Changes in Response to Federal Rate Review Grants, by John E. Dicken, director, health care, before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. GAO-11-878T, August 2.

Social Security Statements: Observations on SSA's Plans for the Social Security Statement, by Barbara D. Bovbjerg, managing director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Subcommittee on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means. GAO-11-787T, July 8. 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.

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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.

[9/30/11]  Kaiser Health News:  “Administration Seeks Quick Supreme Court Health Law Ruling

[9/30/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Nearly Half of Employees Enroll in Wellness Programs

[9/30/11]  Sibson Consulting Bulletin:  “FASB Issues Accounting Standard on Disclosures for Employers that Contribute to Multiemployer Plans

[9/30/11]  The Washington Post:  “State, local pension funds continue to recover

[9/30/11]  National Institute on Retirement Security and Milliman:  Decisions, Decisions: Retirement Plan Choices for Public Employees and Employers

[9/30/11]  USA Today:  “Federal retirement plans almost as costly as Social Security

[9/29/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Confidence in U.S. Health System Remains Low

[9/29/11]  Bryan Cave LLP:  Check It Out and Check It Off: 2012 Group Health Plan Checklist

[9/29/11]  Retirement Made Simpler:  “Fiduciary Rules Related to Automatic 401(k)s

[9/29/11]  NPR:  “Saving for Retirement: How Much Do You Need?

[9/29/11]  MetLife Mature Market Institute:  The MetLife Study of Women, Retirement, and the Extra-Long Life: Implications for Planning

[9/28/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[9/28/11]  The Plain Dealer:  “Workers paying more for health insurance as costs rise

[9/28/11]  CNN Money:  “Exclusive: Paul Ryan’s new manifesto on health care

[9/28/11]  National Conference of State Legislatures:  Pensions and Retirement Plan Enactments in 2011 State Legislatures (as of September 30, 2011)

[9/28/11]  Center for State & Local Government Excellence:  Strengthening State and Local Government Finances: Lessons for Negotiating Public Pension Plan Reforms

[9/28/11]  Social Security Administration Policy Brief:  “The Evolution of Social Security’s Taxable Maximum

[9/27/11]  National Underwriter:  “EBRI: Group Health Erosion Likely to Continue

[9/27/11]  Plan Sponsor:

[9/27/11]  Lockton Companies, LLC:  Employer Health Reform Survey Results

[9/27/11]  Cobalt Community Research:  Health and OPEB Funding Strategies: 2011 National Survey of Local Governments

[9/27/11]  The Washington Examiner:  “Ryan to put ‘replace’ back in ‘repeal and replace’

[9/27/11]  MetLife:  Small Business Benefits: Address Growing Flight Risk With Benefits-Based Strategies: Decline in Worker Loyalty Threatens Small Business Stability

[9/26/11]  Business Insurance:  “Health care reform law penalties for employers not yet set

[9/26/11]  Financial Engines and Aon Hewitt:  Help in Defined Contribution Plans: 2006 through 2010

[9/26/11]  Vanguard Commentary:  “Determining reasonableness of retirement plan fees

[9/26/11]  Employee Benefit News Legal Alert:  “The ins & outs of ERISA titles

[9/23/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- September 2011

[9/23/11]  Daily Finance:  “The Next Big Threat to Your 401(k): A Tax Break Shake Up

[9/23/11]  USA Today:  “How state lawmakers pump up pensions in ways you can’t

[9/23/11]  Prudential:  2006 to 2011: Changing Attitudes About Retirement Income -- Tracking the Challenges of Investors in The Retirement Red Zone®

[9/23/11]  The Principal Financial Well-Being Index:  “This Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey was conducted online in the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Principal Financial Group® between July 28 and August 8, 2011 among 1,150 employees and 549 retirees.  This is one in a series of quarterly studies to identify and track changes in the workplace of small and mid-sized (growing) businesses.  The first Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey was conducted in the United States in 2000.”

[9/23/11]  PIMCO DC Dialogue™:  “It’s Your Living Standard.” [“In this PIMCO DC Dialogue, we talk with Larry Kotlikoff about the changes in retirement, focusing first on generational transfer payments and the reality that we’re all on our own to save for the future.”]

[9/22/11]  National Center for Health Statistics:  Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January-March 2011

[9/22/11]  Business Insurance:  “Employers Expect 5.4% Rise in 2012 Health Plan Costs: Mercer

[9/22/11]  Minneapolis Star Tribune:  “Wieffering: In Health Insurance, Choice Doesn’t Come Free

[9/22/11]  Buck Consultants FYI:

[9/22/11]  Kaiser Health News:  “Employers Increasingly Trimming or Cutting Disability Benefits

[9/21/11]  Business Insurance:  “Deficit Reduction Package Includes Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Premium Hikes

[9/21/11]  The Vanguard Group:  Participant Reaction to the August 2011 Market Sell-Off

[9/21/11]  Investment Company Institute:  The IRA Investor Profile: Traditional IRA Investors’ Asset Allocation, 2007 and 2008

[9/21/11]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Delay on Pension Oversight

[9/20/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  “US Labor Department’s EBSA to Re-Propose Rule on Definition of a Fiduciary” [News Release]

[9/20/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “IMHO: Working ‘Outs’?” [re discussion of various data presented by witnesses at the Senate Finance Committee hearing on “promoting retirement security”]

[9/20/11]  National Council on Aging and UnitedHealthcare:  Survey of Boomers and Seniors: Report of Findings [re understanding of the Medicare program]

[9/20/11]  Sun Life Financial®:  Shut Your Eyes and Hope for the Best: American Attitudes toward Long-Term Care Planning: A Sun Life Financial Pulse Poll

[9/19/11]  Associated Press (via The Washington Post):  “First Drop in Household Wealth in a Year; Stocks, Home Values Dip; Businesses Hold More Cash

[9/19/11]  Financial Finesse Reports:  State of U.S. Employee Retirement Preparedness

[9/19/11]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Don’t Join the Ostrich Generation

[9/19/11]  Office of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman:

[9/19/11]  U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health:  Hearing titled “Cutting the Red Tape: Saving Jobs from PPACA’s Harmful Regulations”
[Hearing held Sept. 15, 2011, includes links to written testimonies]

[9/19/11]  Center for State & Local Government Excellence Issue Brief:  “Comparing Compensation: State-Local Versus Private-Sector Workers

[9/16/11]  National Academy of Social Insurance:  The Super Committee and Social Security: Should the Bowles-Simpson Proposals be on the Table? [Sept. 16, 2011, 10:00 am - 11:30 am: Live streaming video of the event will be available.]

[9/16/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Industry Groups Urge No Changes to Retirement Savings Tax Advantages

[9/16/11]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:

[9/16/11]  Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index:  Milliman Analysis: Funded Status Drops for the Second Consecutive Month

[9/16/11]  Aflac:  Aflac WorkForces Report

[9/16/11]  Sibson Consulting:  2012 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey

[9/15/11]  U.S. Census Bureau:  Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010

[9/15/11]  Internal Revenue Service:  “Treasury, IRS Seek Public Input on Certain Employer Provisions of the Affordable Care Act

[9/15/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Survey Shows Medical Insurance Costs on the Rise for the Not-For-Profit Industry

[9/15/11]  CCH:  “401(k) Participants Who Use Target Date Funds Tend to Stick with Them, EBRI Finds

[9/15/11]  Business Insurance:  “Borzi Says Investment Advice Regulations Coming Soon

[9/15/11]  The Vanguard Group:  Diversity and Defined Contribution Plans: The Role of Automatic Plan Features

[9/15/11]  Russell Investments:  “What’s the Right Savings Rate?

[9/15/11]  Prudential:  “Prudential Retirement Hosts National Web-based Survey -- Prudential invites public to share perceptions of workplace retirement plans” [“The results will form the basis of the Prudential Report on the Status of U.S. Workplace Retirement Plans. The survey results will be shared with the public, plan sponsors, advisors, and consultants during National Save for Retirement Week.”]

[9/14/11]  Bloomberg (via The Washington Post):  “Obama Plan to Tax Health Benefits Stirs Democratic Opposition

[9/14/11]  Kaiser Health News:  “Rate of Uninsured Stays Flat in 2010, Census Reports

[9/14/11]  RAND:  How Does Growth in Health Care Costs Affect the American Family?

[9/14/11]  Insurance News Net:  “How to Protect Aging Clients’ Finances

[9/14/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Interim Policy on Electronic Disclosure Under 29 CFR 2550.404a-5 [Technical Release 2011-03]

[9/14/11]  NPR:  “Perry’s Social Security Take: Boon for Rivals, Bane for Party

[9/13/11]  Small Business Administration:  Health Insurance in the Small Business Market: Availability, Coverage, and the Effect of Tax Incentives [prepared for the SBA by Quantria Strategies, LLC]

[9/13/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Grandfathering Explained

[9/13/11]  Reuters:  “401(k) Break at Risk as Policymakers Mull Retirement Shift

[9/13/11]  Profit Sharing/401k Council of America:  Welcome to 401(k) Day 2011: “Make Today Your 401(k) Day!” [Website provides links to communications campaign resources for plan sponsors and plan participants]

[9/13/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Not-for-Profit Retirement Plan Assets Increase 11%

[9/13/11]  Financial Security Project at Boston College:  “The Power of Compound Interest

[9/12/11]  Investor’s Business Daily:  “Young 401(k) Members Home In On Target-Date Funds

[9/12/11]  Plan Adviser:  “Existing Relationships Drive Choice of IRA Provider

[9/12/11]  The Commonwealth Fund:  “Affordable Care Act Reforms Could Reduce the Number of Underinsured U.S. Adults by 70 Percent

[9/12/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[9/12/11]  U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Health:  Hearing on “Health Care Industry Consolidation” [Hearing held Sept. 9, 2011, includes links to written testimonies]

[9/12/11]  The White House:  Fact Sheet: The American Jobs Act

[9/9/11]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation -- June 2011

[9/9/11]  Kaiser Health News:  “Scoreboard: Tracking Health Law Court Challenges” [Updated Sept. 13, 2011]

[9/9/11]  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:  “Important Information for Small Businesses Owners

[9/9/11]  MarketWatch:  “UMB Healthcare Services’ CEO Provides Perspective on Common HSA Myths

[9/9/11]  Charles Schwab:  “Employers Adding 401(k) Plan Features to Drive Participation and Savings, Says New Schwab Data” [Press Release]

[9/9/11]  Towers Watson:

[9/9/11]  Employee Benefit News Legal Alert:  “Can Earthquakes, Hurricanes and Floods Get Employees Hardship Distributions?

[9/9/11]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2010

[9/8/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “EBSA to Hold Webcast on Participant Fee Disclosure” [Sept. 13 at 1 p.m. EDT]

[9/8/11]  MarketWatch:  “Will You Need 135% of Your Salary in Retirement?

[9/8/11]  Morningstar:  “Does Automatic 401(k) Enrollment Suppress Savings?” [Commentary]

[9/8/11]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Healthcare Costs Rose While Insurance Coverage Fell, Studies Show

[9/8/11]  Aon Hewitt:  2011 Health Care Trend Survey

[9/8/11]  The Segal Company’s Capital Checkup:  “Comments Requested on Draft Template for the Uniform Summary of Health Benefits

[9/7/11]  Employee Benefit News Legal Alert:  “Deadlines Revised: Prepare Now for New Rules for Retirement Plan Fiduciaries

[9/7/11]  Towers Watson:  P&I/TW Top 300 Pension Funds: Analysis as at 2010 Year End

[9/7/11]  National Institute on Retirement Security:  Lessons from Well-Funded Public Pensions: An Analysis of Six Plans that Weathered the Financial Storm

[9/7/11]  The Wall Street Journal:  “Family Feuds: The Battles Over Retirement Accounts

[9/6/11]  Workforce Management:  “House Panels to Consider Repeal of ‘Grandfather’ Rules for Health Care Plans

[9/6/11]  Bureau of Labor Statistics Program PerspectivesOutpatient Prescription Drug Coverage: “Drug Coverage Options Show Broader Availability”

[9/6/11]  The Washington Post:  “Rhode Island Considers Radical Moves as Pensions Put State on Brink

[9/6/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Survey Finds Increased Efforts to Save for Retirement

[9/2/11]  CBS MoneyWatch.com:  “Target Date Funds Help You Stay the Course and Invest Successfully

[9/2/11]  Plan Adviser:  “New Mobile Technology Helps Participants with Retirement Planning

[9/2/11]  The Los Angeles Times:  “U.S. Requires Health Insurers to Publicly Justify Big Rate Hikes

[9/2/11]  The Washington Post:  “Did the COBRA Health Insurance Subsidies Work?

[9/2/11]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Preventive Services Covered by Private Health Plans under the Affordable Care Act

[9/2/11]  Society for Human Resource Management:  SHRM Poll: Managing Employee Absences [The full survey can be downloaded at the website.]

[9/1/11]  Plan Sponsor:  “Most Organizations Going PTO Route for Time Off

[9/1/11]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance Under ARRA [updated webpage]

[9/1/11]  Workforce Management:  “401(k) Savings Zoom When Employers Set Autopilot

[9/1/11]  PIMCO Viewpoints:  “Considering a Passively Managed DC Plan? There’s No Such Thing.

[9/1/11]  U.S. News & World Report:  “Retirees Increasingly Depending on Social Security

[9/1/11]  The Republic:  “Longevity Insurance Emerging as an Option to Provide Guaranteed Income at a Very Advanced Age

[9/1/11]  Urban Institute:  The Debt Ceiling Deal, the “Super Committee,” and Retirement Programs [includes a video featuring Eugene Steuerle]

[9/1/11]  U.S. Chamber of Commerce:  A Survey of Social Media Issues Before the NLRB

Updated 9/30/11