What's New

What's New - August 2003

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EBRI Celebrates 25th Anniversary in 2003:  The Employee Benefit Research Institute will celebrate its 25th anniversary on September 19, 2003, at a gala event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.

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As a research site, EBRI Online 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 “.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.

What's new at EBRI this month:

EBRI Priorities Survey:  Complete EBRI's online Priorities Survey and give us your input on future EBRI research topics.

EBRI Issue Brief (August 2003): Tiered Networks for Hospital and Physician Health Care Services

EBRI Notes (August 2003):  Evidence-Based Medicine: Implications for Consumer-Driver Health Benefits

Facts From EBRI  (August 2003):  Health Insurance and the Elderly

EBRI Special Report:   “How Many Medicare Beneficiaries Will Lose Employment-Based Retiree Health Benefits if Medicare Covers Outpatient Prescription Drugs?”  This analysis estimates it is possible that between two percent and nine percent of current Medicare beneficiaries with employment-based retiree health benefits for prescription drug coverage would lose those benefits if Medicare provides outpatient prescription drug benefits, solely as a result of that change in the program.

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EBRI Research Findings for 2002-2003:

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What's new in employee benefits:

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

Health and Welfare

Human Resources

Retirement

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The following items have been added to the General Accounting Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

Correspondence and Briefing

Health Care: Approaches to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities.  GAO-03-862R, July 8, 2003.

Reports
Opportunities for Oversight and Improved Use of Taxpayer Funds. GAO-03-1006, August 1, 2003.

Public Accounting Firms: Mandated Study on Consolidation and Competition.  GAO-03-864, July 30, 2003.

Private Pensions: Participants Need Information on Risks They Face in Managing Pension Assets at and during Retirement.   GAO-03-810, July 29, 2003.  Highlights.

Social Security Reform: Analysis of a Trust Fund Exhaustion Scenario.  GAO-03-907, July 29, 2003.  Highlights.

Medical Malpractice Insurance: Multiple Factors Have Contributed to Increased Premium Rates.  GAO-03-702, June 27, 2003.  Highlights

High-Risk Series: An Update. GAO-03-119, January 2003.

Testimony
Social Security Reform: Analysis of a Trust Fund Exhaustion Scenario Illustrates the Difficult Choices and the Need for Early Action, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.  GAO-03-1038T, July 29, 2003.  Highlights.

        If a title link above no longer works, click here for the Find GAO Reports page and search for the report by report number,  title, abstract, agency/organization names, or subject terms.   Searches for reports can also be conducted in the General Accounting 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.

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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

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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 Frequently Asked Questions about Retirement Plans.  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.


[8/28/03]  "Retiree Health Benefits - The Divergent Paths" is chapter 8 in the New York University Review of Employee Benefits of Executive Compensation--2003 and is written by Aon Consulting.

[8/28/03]  An August 13, 2003, analysis by the Pension Committee of the American Academy of Actuaries on the  Administration’s Retirement Savings Proposals is available online.


[8/28/03]  AARP has posted Retirement Plan Coverage of Baby Boomers and Retired Workers: Analysis of 1998 SIPP Data, a July 2003 report by Satyendra K. Verma and Jules H. Lichtenstein.

[8/28/03]  A new report released by the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration, 2003 State Small Business Profiles, “reveals that over 99 percent of all American businesses are small, they create 75 percent of the net new jobs, and they employ over half of the nation’s non-farm private employees.”  Click here for the August 18 press release.   Click here for the United States summary table.

[8/28/03]  The Public Fund Survey has been released by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators and the National Council on Teacher Retirement:

[8/28/03]  “Over the Cliff: Social Security is about to plunge, but retirement benefits don't have to,” by Pete du Pont, is an August 22 column in the WSJ.com Opinion Journal.


[8/21/03] The Health Pulse of America survey conducted by Stony Brook University addresses concerns about work-related health benefits.

[8/21/03] The Boston Herald carries "U.S. health administration costly" by Jennifer Heldt Powell, dated August 21, 2003, based on a study released yesterday, "Costs of Health Care Administration in the United States and Canada, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Click here for an abstract of the journal article written by Steffie Woolhandler, Terry Campbell, and David U. Himmelstein.

[8/21/03] Prudential Relocation announces an improved Relocation Reference Library.

[8/21/03] The House Education & the Workforce Committee announced it will hold a hearing September 4, 2003, to examine the financial health of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

[8/21/03] The Internal Revenue Service’s August 11 Internal Revenue Bulletin includes Revenue Ruling 2003-85 which "describes the treatment of a transfer from a terminating defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan of an amount that is in excess of 25 percent of the potential amount otherwise available for reversion."

[8/21/03]  The Society of Actuaries, working on a project to develop a new pension plan turnover table, has completed Phase1: Pension Plan Turnover Database Construction.  The Pension Plan Turnover Study Phase 1 Report is available and the Phase 2 report will be posted as soon as available.

[8/21/03]  A HealthLeaders EXTRA!  "Is Single Payor The Gold Standard For Administrative Overhead?" by John Harkey, and Mike Cadger for Healthleaders News, August 15, 2003.

[8/21/03]  The National Taxpayers Union Foundation released to the media, The Next Big Bailout? How Underfunded Pensions Put Taxpayers at Risk, concerning PBGC’s finances.

[8/21/03]  Merrill Lynch issued a press release August 12 titled “Merrill Lynch Announces Results of Retirement Preparedness Survey:  Investors Fall Short in Planning and Saving for Retirement; Confidence Plummets.”

[8/21/03]  “A Push in the Right Direction: Advisory Body To Suggest More Aggressive Default Option” for 401(k) accounts, is a feature of the August 18 issue of Defined Contribution News.

[8/21/03]   Buck Consultants released the results of its tenth National Health Care Trend Survey.  Click here for highlights which summarize the National Health Care Trend Survey-Second Half 2003.

[8/14/03]  The American Benefits Council publishes a Summary And Comparison Of Proposals To Replace The Obsolete 30-Year Treasury Bond Rate For Pension Calculation Purposes.

[8/14/03]  A Side-by-Side Comparison of the Prescription Drug Coverage Provisions of S.1 and H.R. 1, at the Kaiser Family Foundation site and prepared by Health Policy Alternatives, Inc., provides a look at the Senate and House Medicare proposals, as passed on June 27, 2003.

[8/14/03]  CORE, INC., a provider of employee absence management, issued a news release August 5 titled Balancing Health Care and Employee Absence Costs Continues to Challenge Employers According to Recent CORE, INC. Survey.

[8/14/03]  The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health issued a press release July 21 titled “Some Mental Health Cost Controls May Increase Employers’ Long-Term Expenses,” which includes key findings from a recent study.  The study appears in the September 2003 issue of Mental Health Services Research and is titled “Return to Work and Claim Duration for Workers with Long-Term Mental Disabilities: Impact of Mental Health Coverage, Fringe Benefits and Disability Management.”

[8/14/03]   The online version of the 2003 edition of Fast Facts And Figures is on Social Security Online.

[8/14/03]  The Employee Ownership Foundation’s Economic Performance Survey reports on the performance of the surveyed Employee Stock Ownership Plans.

[8/14/03]  "British, Dutch [workers] Get Less Vacation" than employees in other European Union nations according to a survey conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting as reported in the LA Times from Bloomberg News on August 12, 2003.

[8/12/03]   The following titles have been added to the Congressional Budget Office Web site:

[8/12/03]  Understanding the Impact of Employer Matching on 401(k) Savings is a featured article in the Summer 2003 TIAA-CREF Quarterly.

[8/12/03]  Internal Revenue Service Notice 2003-58 is the Weighted Average Interest Rate Update related to the full funding limits of Sec. 412 (c)(7) of the IRCode for plan years beginning in August 2003.

[8/12/03]  The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) National Small Business Poll: Compensating Employees survey is one of a series of survey reports based on data collected from national samples of small-business employers.

[8/12/03]   Is Lack of Coverage a Short- or Long-Term Condition? is a recent paper on health insurance from the Kasier Family Foundation.

[8/12/03]  Putting The Pieces Together, an article from Global Investor Magazine posted at InstitutionalInvestor.com, looks at parties to the current pensions problem -- markets, liabilities, and mandates.

[8/12/03]  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS, has posted Statistical Brief #20: State Differences in the Cost of Job-Related Health Insurance – 2000.

[8/7/03]  The National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (NASD) sponsors the Smart 401(k) Investing online learning center.  Click here for the NASD Home Page.

[8/7/03]  The Insurance Information Institute posts an online version of its International Insurance Fact Book, 2003, a new publication that provides world rankings, country profiles, and directories of key insurance sources and associations.  Click here for the table of contents.

[8/7/03]  Sen. Judd Gregg introduced in the U.S. Senate July 31 S.1550, Pension Stability Act, “a bill to change the 30-year treasury bond rate to a composite corporate rate, and to establish a commission on defined benefit plans.”   A Bill Summary & Status is available.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:s.01550:

[8/7/03]  Statistical Brief 21: Trends in Outpatient Prescription Drug Utilization and Expenditures: 1997-2000 is available from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

[8/7/03]  Hewitt Associates issued a press release July 31 titled “Most Employers Favor Health Promotion Programs to Contain Health Care Costs,” which features highlights from the survey, Health Promotion/Managed Health Provided by Major U.S. Employers in 2002-2003.

[8/7/03]  The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) released its MDRT Financial Realities Survey data along with text titled “It’s Time to Face Reality.”

[8/4/03]   The following report has been added to the Congressional Budget Office Web site: Comparing the Pay of Federal and Nonprofit Executives: An Update.

[8/4/03]  The Internal Revenue Service posted FS-2003-15, August 2003, on the federal Health Coverage Tax Credit which was created by the Trade Act of 2002 to help certain displaced workers and certain retirees pay for health insurance.

[8/1/03]   The National Federation of Independent Business presents its latest National Small Business Poll: Compensating Employees.

[8/1/03]  The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services released a report titled Rebuilding Investor Confidence, Protecting U.S. Capital Markets to mark the one-year anniversary of the enactment of The Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  The report is a review of the implementation and impact of the corporate accountability law.

[8/1/03]  Marsh Inc. issued a news release July 9 titled “Mid-size, Small Employers Feeling Pressure of Burgeoning Healthcare Costs: Cost Increases Drive Some Small Employers to Drop Coverage Entirely,” which includes key findings from Marsh’s survey report Mid-size Employer Health Plans 2002.

[8/1/03]  "Underfunded Pensions: Causes, Cures and Questions" is the current What’s Hot at knowledge@Wharton.

[8/1/03]  AMVESCAP Retirement surveyed 615 plan participants on a number of issues to gauge their investing sentiment, investment strategy for their 401(k) account, and views on how much they plan to rely on Social Security income in their retirement.  The survey was conducted during a four-week period at the beginning of the second quarter.

[8/1/03]  The Risk and Insurance Management Society issued a news release July 30 titled “Pension Fund Liability Insurance Undergoing Massive Increases in Costs; D&O and Other Areas Also Continue to Rise; Some Data Indicate Potential Market Shifts,” which includes key findings from the RIMS Benchmark Survey, an industry survey of commercial insurance market conditions.

[8/1/03]  The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing July 29 titled “Social Security: Whose Trust Will Be Broken?”  A witness list with links to testimonies is available.

[8/1/03]  The National Taxpayers Union released a July 22 Issue Brief by Paul J. Gessing titled “Tax Deductible Health Insurance for Individuals: Just What the Doctor Ordered.”

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Updated 8/29/03