What's New

What's New - August 2000

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What's new at EBRI this month:

An EBRI Health Benefits Briefing

WHAT: Release of the 1st Small Employer Health Benefits Survey (SEHBS)

WHERE: The Holeman Lounge, National Press Club
                 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor-Washington, DC 20045

WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2000
               10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

The Small Employer Health Benefits Survey (SEHBS) examines a number of issues related to the decision by small employers (companies with two to 50 workers) about whether to offer health insurance coverage to workers. The SEHBS is co-sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), and the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Consumer Health Education Council (CHEC). SEHBS was conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc. More information will become available at this Web site after release of the survey.

The Consumer Health Education Council (CHEC) announced the launching of its consumer health education Web site. The CHEC site, www.healthCHEC.org, demonstrates CHEC's health insurance coverage education strategy, agenda, and information resources pertinent to coverage education and health research collaborations.

The EBRI Issue Brief and EBRI Notes for the month of August 2000 are available online for ordering. The August Issue Brief is entitled "The Working Uninsured: Who They Are, How They Have Changed, and the Consequences of Being Uninsured, With Presidential Candidate Proposals Outlined." The August Notes articles are "The Economic Costs of the Uninsured" and  "Recent Evidence on Pension Coverage and Sponsorship, by Employer Size and Industry."

The Working Uninsured: Campaign 2000 Proposals From the Presidential Candidates excerpts portions of the upcoming August 2000 EBRI Issue Brief dealing with presidential candidate proposals to reduce the number of uninsured Americans. Democratic and Republican proposals are explained and contrasted, and URLs for various health-group and national third-party policy statements on health coverage are also provided.

Facts from EBRI: Leave of Absence Benefits Among Private-Sector Employers: Paid Holiday, Vacation, and Sick Leave is a July 2000 fact sheet from EBRI.

Value of Benefits Survey: "Most workers are generally satisfied with their employment-based benefits and continue to rank health care as the most important of their employee benefits, according to the findings of the 2000 Value of Benefits Survey conducted by WorldatWork in collaboration with the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)."

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What's new in employee benefits:

  • HR News Online -- a daily update from the Society for Human Resource Management

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the GAO Index of Reports and Testimony, FY99, and search for the report by entering words or phrases from the title. Reports will also be added to GAO's searchable WAIS database in ASCII and PDF formats within 24 hours of the original posting. Any individual report may be retrieved directly in text and PDF formats with the following URL: http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?RPTNO replacing RPTNO with the report number (e.g., GAO/OCG-98-1).

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(8/30/00) The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and The Commonwealth Fund recently published Disparities in Health Insurance and Access to Care for Residents Across U.S. Cities, which found wide differences in health insurance coverage and access to care among eighty-five U.S. metropolitan areas.

(8/28/00) "Escape Magazine has launched a campaign to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employers to provide European-length vacations. In its "Work to Live" campaign, visitors to www.escapemag.com can fill out a petition to be presented to Congress this fall, which would amend the FLSA to force businesses to give full-time workers three weeks of vacation if they have been at a job for one year, and four weeks after three years. Thus far, more than 30,000 people have filled out the petition, and the magazine plans to lobby members of the House Labor Committee, petitions in hand." The Thursday, August 24, 2000, Employment Policy Foundation Newswatch provided this alert.

(8/28/00) Click here to participate in the AFL-CIO Internet Community Online Labor Day Festival, August 30-September 6, 2000.

(8/28/00) An original article available at Medscape General Medicine, an online peer-reviewed general medicine journal, "Inadequate Health Insurance: Costs and Consequences" by Karen Donelan, Catherine M. DesRoches, and Cathy Schoen, requires free registration to read.

(8/28/00) Americans Support Personal Retirement Accounts is a brief analysis of a recent public opinion poll on Social Security done for the National Center for Policy Analysis.

(8/25/00) Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Health Insurance and Health Care is available from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Web site.

(8/25/00) The Children's Defense Fund has posted All Over the Map: A Progress Report on the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

(8/24/00) The Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health's Health News Index "includes questions about major health stories covered in the news. The Health News Index is designed to help the news media and people in the health field gain a better understanding of which health stories in the news Americans are following and what they understand about those health issues. Every two months, Kaiser/Harvard issues a new index report." The July/August 2000 edition is available.

(8/23/00) The Effects of 401(k) Plans on Household Wealth: Differences Across Earnings Groups by Eric Engen and William G. Gale as revised August 2000 is available from the Brookings Institution.

(8/22/00) "Talk to the Candidates is a nonpartisan, online interactive forum hosted by the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) through washingtonpost.com's Viewpoint program. In sponsoring this forum, ACLI seeks to provide voters—life insurance company employees, retirees, agents, and policyholders, as well as the general public—a focused opportunity to talk with candidates about key industry issues."

(8/22/00) The National Underwriter Company reports on August 17, 2000, Bipartisan Proposal Would Allow LTC Insurance In `Cafeteria' Plans by Craig R. Springfield as posted on the BenefitsLink Web site,  S. 2225 and H.R. 3872, bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives, would change the Federal income tax treatment of long term care policies.

(8/21/00) "Established in 1972, New Ways to Work's primary focus has been to encourage experimentation with work time options -- job sharing, work sharing, time-income tradeoffs, flextime, flexplace and various types of leaves -- as a means of addressing employment related social and economic issues."

(8/21/00) The RFP Guide was developed by SPARK (Society of Professional Administrators and Recordkeepers) to assist plan sponsors in evaluating and/or selecting service providers for their defined contribution plan, especially their 401(k) plan. The 2nd Edition of the RFP Guide is available for ordering.

(8/21/00) Families USA has posted Cost Overdose: Growth in Drug Spending for The Elderly 1992-2010, a July, 2000, report.

(8/21/00) On March 9, 2000, Sen. Charles Grassley introduced S. 2225, Long-Term Care and Retirement Security Act of 2000, allowing individuals the opportunity to deduct qualified long-term-care insurance premiums and permitting employers the use of such insurance under cafeteria plans and flexible spending accounts.

On the same date Rep. Nancy Johnson introduced a similar bill, H.R. 3872, in the House of Representatives.

(8/18/00) "The United States @Work™ 2000 study (formerly called America@Work) continues to track and trend the Workforce Commitment Index™, Aon Consulting’s national measure of employee commitment; investigates how organizations are performing on key workplace practices, from the employee’s perspective; and determines which workplace practices have the greatest influence on workforce commitment." Go to this page for order information and to see an overview of the study results.

(8/18/00) How Should We Insure Longevity Risk in Pensions and Social Security? by Jeffrey R. Brown is the August 2000  Issues in Brief #4 released by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

(8/18/00) Kathy Biehl's column published August 15, 2000, on Bill Tracking Resources provides links to online bill tracking sites for all fifty states, plus D.C. and the U.S. government. "Almost all of these sites provide the full-text of bills, as well as committee and hearing schedules and other tools for keeping an eye on the development of pending legislation."

(8/17/00) The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland published "Are We Saving Enough?" by Jagadeesh Gokhale in its July 2000 issue of Economic Commentary, suggesting that saving rates would have to be much higher for most American households if they are to maintain their living standards through retirement.

(8/17/00) On May 24, 1999, Sen. Rod Grams introduced the Social Security Benefits Guarantee Act, S. 1102, a bill that would guarantee the right of individuals to receive full social security benefits under title II of the Social Security Act in full with an accurate annual cost-of-living adjustment. In effect, this legislation would provide each Social Security recipient with a certificate guaranteeing a certain monthly benefit regardless of trust fund solvency and/or other issues.

On the same date, Sen. Grams introduced a companion bill, Personal Security and Wealth in Retirement Act, S. 1103, to reform Social Security by creating personalized retirement accounts, and for other purposes.

(8/17/00) Online Group Health is Still a Click (or Two) Away by Deborah Whitman is a special to bCentral Health concerning the online purchase of health insurance by small businesses.

(8/17/00) A searchable edition of Employee Benefit Plans: A Glossary of Terms is available from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

(8/16/00) Public Companies With Broad-Based Stock Options: Corporate Performance From 1992-1997 by Joseph Blasi, Douglas Kruse, James Sesil, and Maya Kroumova compares the performance of corporations that offer their employees broad-based stock option plans to those that do not and was released by the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO).

(8/16/00) On April 13, 2000, Rep. Jerry Weller introduced a bill, H.R. 4274, that would allow employers to provide computers to employees for personal use as a nontaxable fringe benefit. The complete text of this bill, Digital Divide Access to Technology Act (or DATA Act), may be viewed at Rep. Weller’s Web site.

(8/15/00) Elections 2000 is a comprehensive election metasite produced by the University of Michigan Documents Center.

(8/15/00) Public Health Coverage for Adults: How States Compare by Brenda C. Spillman is number B-22 in the series, "New Federalism: National Survey of America's Families."

(8/15/00) On June 6, 2000, Sen. John Ashcroft introduced S. 2671, Pension Opportunities for Women’s Equality in Retirement Act, which would amend the tax code to increase contribution and benefit limits of qualified pension plans. The press release from Sen. Ashcroft’s Web site gives more details.

(8/14/00) The Employment Policy Foundation has posted the August 11 issue of Fact & Fallacy titled "Bringing Up Baby: A Comparison of U.S. and European Family Leave Policies."

(8/14/00) The Dr. Koop site reports Survey Says Politicians Misjudge Consumers' Healthcare Concerns. "Findings from the Discovery Health Channel survey entitled, 'Americans and Washington Insiders on Health Issues: Does Health Information and Policy Require First Aid?' suggest that federal policymakers have significantly misjudged the amount of health information that consumers want and require, as well as the depth of that information."

(8/14/00) The Senate’s Patients' Bill of Rights Plus Act, S. 1344, proposes reforms to protect consumers in managed care plans and other health coverage.

The related House bill, H.R. 2990, proposes additional changes for patients and their health plans.

(8/14/00) H.R. 4040, Long-Term Care Security Act, to provide for the establishment of a program under which long-term care insurance is made available to Federal employees, members of the uniformed services, and civilian and military retirees, was cleared by the Senate in July and sent to the White House to be signed into law.

(8/11/00) The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released Research Findings No.11: Health Insurance Status of the Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population: 1998. "This report from the 1998 Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS) provides preliminary estimates of the health insurance status of civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population during the first half of 1998, including the size and characteristics of the population with private health insurance, with public insurance, and without any health care coverage."

(8/10/00) The American Academy of Actuaries recently released a public policy monograph, Genetic Information and Medical Expense Insurance, which raises issues of concern regarding genetic technology.

(8/10/00) The American Academy of Actuaries has released "Questions and Answers About Social Security’s Financial Condition" in an attempt to clarify issues surrounding Social Security’s long-term financial solvency.

(8/7/00) "The Investment Company Institute Education Foundation and the National Urban League have joined forces to launch an extensive national investor education campaign — "Investing For Success" — aimed at promoting greater awareness about the benefits of long-term investing for middle-income Americans."

(8/7/00) The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has released two reports: Implications of Medicare Prescription Drug Proposals for Employers and Retirees and Analyzing Options to Cover Prescription Drugs For Medicare Beneficiaries. The Commonwealth Fund has released Counting On Medicare: Perspectives and Concerns of Americans Ages 50 to 70.

(8/4/00) The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania offers an analysis of data titled " These Days on the Internet, RX-rated Beats X-rated" on consumers using the Internet for health care information and health-care related products.

(8/4/00) The Effects Of Health, Wealth, And Wages On Labor Supply And Retirement Behavior by Eric French of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is a March 15, 2000, working paper.

(8/4/00) BCBSHealthIssues.com "is dedicated to providing balanced, credible information about public policy issues that affect health care coverage."

(8/3/00) The Brookings Institution Policy Brief #63, July 2000, "Numbers Matter," by Barry P. Bosworth and Jack E. Triplett discusses economic statistics and the U.S. statistical system.

(8/3/00) The Creative Approach to Staffing by Charlene Marmer Solomon at Workforce.com relates how companies are becoming creative in their use of employee benefits in their recruiting and retention programs.

(8/2/00) H.R. 1264, the Right-to-Know National Payroll Act, sponsored by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), would require employers to list their share of Social Security and Medicare on employees' W-2 forms, heightening employee awareness of the taxes paid on their behalf. This bill passed the House on July 18, 2000, and is being prepared for the Senate floor.

(8/2/00) Summaries of the papers from the 2nd annual conference held May 17-18, 2000, "The Outlook for Retirement Income," of the Social Security Retirement Research Consortium are now available.

(8/2/00) Health, United States, 2000: With Adolescent Health Chartbook is the National Center for Health Statistics' annual report on the health status of the nation.

(8/2/00) The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has posted the June 2000 Working Paper, Aging, Myopia and the Pay-as-you-go Public Pension Systems of the G7: A Bright Future? By Rowena A. Pecchenino and Patricia S. Pollard.

(8/2/00) August 14 marks the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act. The Social Security Administration has posted a brief history of the program on its Web site.

(8/1/00) The Internal Revenue Service has issued final regulations (TD 8894) published July 31 in the Federal Register relating to the tax treatment of loans made from a qualified plan, and proposed regulations (REG-116495-99) concerning such loans.

(8/1/00) The American Academy of Actuaries has published an online booklet titled "When Your Retirement Plan Changes: Understanding Your Cash Balance Plan."

(8/1/00) The Social Science Research Network, devoted to worldwide dissemination of social science research, is composed of a number of specialized research networks in each of the social sciences.

(8/1/00) The National Health Care Purchasing Institute "is an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to advance health care purchasing by Fortune 500 companies, the Health Care Financing Administration, purchasing alliances, and public employee purchasers."

(8/1/00) The A.M. Best Web site provides a free database of Best's Ratings with the financial strength rating, from A++ to F, for over 6,000 life/health, property /casualty, and international insurance companies.

(8/1/00) The National Center for Policy Analysis Policy Report No. 234, June 2000, is "Medical Savings Accounts in South Africa."

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