What's New

What's New - January 2003

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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:

The Small Employer Health Benefits Survey (SEHBS)

Results of the Massachusetts Future Retirement Income Assessment Project

Small Employers and Health Benefits: Findings from the 2002 Small Employer Health Benefits Survey  -- The January 2003 EBRI Issue Brief

 Retirement Annuity and Employment-Based Pension Income -- The January 2003 EBRI Notes

Private Pension Plans, Participation, and Assets: Update -- The  January 2003 Facts from EBRI

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EBRI Research Findings for 2002:

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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 item has been added to the General Accounting Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

Social Security Reform: Analysis of Reform Models Developed by the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security.   GAO-03-310, January 15, 2003.  Click here for highlights of   report.

Federal Employees Health Benefits: Effects of Using Pharmacy Benefit Managers on Health Plans, Enrollees, and Pharmacies.  GAO-03-196, January 10, 2003.  Highlights of report.

        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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[1/30/03] The AP/Nando Times reports that "Contest Offers $10,000 Prize for Person, Group with Best Health Reform Plan." A Seattle-based health care consultant, Kathleen O'Connor, is running the contest offering a $10,000 grand prize for the person or company that develops the best idea to fix America's ailing health care system.

[1/30/03]  The Society of Actuaries reports their study on Retirement Planning Software.

[1/30/03]   The January 2003 Special Edition of Employee Plans News from the U.S Internal Revenue Service contains information on a variety of recent guidance topics: deemed IRAs, rollover waivers, nondiscrimination rules, government plans, and information concerning the 2002 Forms 5500.

[1/30/03]   The Ernst & Young Tax Saver's Guide 2003 is now available for purchase.   Also, check out their 10 top tax savings tips.

[1/30/03]  On January 27 Rep. Marilyn Musgrave introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.378, Senior Citizens’ Tax Relief Act of 2003.   A Bill Summary & Status is available.

[1/30/03]  The American Benefits Council released its 2003 Membership Survey, along with accompanying policy papers laying out its benefits legislation agenda, as follows:

[1/30/03]  Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, recently issued a press release titled “Barely 43% of Baby Boomers Have Financial Investments, Many Will Keep Working.”  It includes key findings from a research report titled The U.S. Baby Boomer Market: From the Beatles to Botox, which can be purchased through MarketResearch.com.

[1/30/03]  United Health Foundation released America’s Health: United Health Foundation’s State Health Rankings, 2002 Edition.

[1/30/03]  Published yesterday by Wharton, China Can Help the U.S. Tackle Its Social Security Crisis, is a possible solution from Jeremy Siegel to the “looming pension crisis.”

[1/30/03]  On January 10 the Internal Revenue Service released Notice 2003-10, “Definition of Early Retirement Benefit and Retirement-Type Subsidy.”

[1/30/03]  Buck Consultants issued a news release January 17 titled “Buck Issues Survey of Economic Pension Funding Assumptions -- 2001 Plan Year.”

[1/27/03]  The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has located nearly 15,000 workers who were owed more than $61 million in pension benefits from terminated defined benefit pension plans, according to the PBGC news release.

[1/27/03]  Deloitte & Touche has released Survey on Pension Plan Crisis: Survey Synopsis.

[1/27/03]  On January 23, U.S. Senator John Breaux’s office issued a press release titled “Sen. Breaux Calls for Universal Health Care for All Americans.”

[1/27/03]  The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) issued a press release January 23 titled “IWF Releases Agenda for Women 2003, Promotes Equal Opportunity While Fighting Against Classification of Women as Victims.”  Click here to view the complete Agenda for Women 2003.

[1/27/03]  New York Life Investment Management LLC has issued a press release titled “GenXers Hunger for Financial Advice,” which includes key findings from the second annual GenX Survey conducted by the MainStay division of New York Life Investment Management.

[1/24/03]  AISHealth.com reprints Largest Consumer-Directed Health Vendors Enroll 12% of Eligibles for 2003 from the 1/17/03 issue of  INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE, a new biweekly newsletter with news and analysis of benefit design, contracts, market strategies and financial results.

[1/24/03]  The Federal Register of January 24, 2003, published final rules issued by the U.S. Department of Labor Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration titled “Civil Penalties Under ERISA Section 502(c)(7) and Conforming Technical Changes on Civil Penalties Under ERISA Sections 502(c)(2), 502(c)(5) and 502(c)(6).”  The final rules pertain to the assessment of civil penalties by the Department of Labor under the applicable section of ERISA for failures or refusals by pension plan administrators to provide notices of a blackout period as required by ERISA.

[1/24/03]  The January 20 issue of Health Care News features an article titled “Most People Continue to Think Well of Their Own Health Insurance,” which includes key findings from a Harris Interactive survey conducted December 2002.

[1/24/03]  The January 2003 issue of the Federal Reserve Bulletin features the article “Recent Changes in U.S. Family Finances: Evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances.”

[1/24/03]  Click here to read the Consumer's Guide to Handling Healthcare Disputes with Your Employer or Private Plan, 2003 Update from The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Consumer Union.

[1/22/03]  Reducing the Costs of Poor-Quality Health Care Through Responsible Purchasing Leadership is a 2002 report from the Midwest Business Group on Health.

[1/22/03]  Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association posted a press release January 15 titled “New Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Survey Points to National Impact of Medical Malpractice Insurance Crisis,” which includes key findings from a new survey of the forty-two BCBS companies.

[1/22/03]  Reuters issued a press release January 19 titled “State Pension Funds Firing Asset Managers.”

[1/22/03]  The Investment Company Institute has posted “No Disclosure: The Feeling Is Mutual” by John J. Brennan and Edward C. Johnson 3d  as published in The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2003, which discusses the Securities and Exchange Commission proposal to require mutual funds to disclose how they vote the proxies of the corporations whose stock they hold.

[1/22/03]  AARP issued a press release January 15 titled “AARP Report on Trends in Long-Term Services Finds More Years of Life Do Not Result in More Disabilities -- Offering Opportunity for Future Long-Term Care Services,” which includes key findings from the AARP Public Policy Institute report titled Before the Boom: Trends in Long-Term Supportive Services for Older Americans with Disabilities.

[1/22/03]  Buck Consultants issued a press release December 18, 2002, titled “Health Care Costs Still Increasing at Double-Digit Rates, According to Results of Buck Consultants Survey,” which includes key findings from its ninth National Health Care Trend Survey.

[1/22/03]  The New York Times featured an article January 14, 2003, titled “States Organizing a Nonprofit Group to Cut Drug Costs,” which announces the establishment of a new nonprofit organization being formed by nine states and the District of Columbia to manage their prescription drug plans.  Peter E. Shumlin is the chairman of this new organization, to be known as the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices.  The nine states include New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii.

[1/22/03]  The Boston College Center for Work and Family has announced the launch of “Visioning the Future: The Standards of Excellence in Work/Life Integration Project.”  As described by the Center, the Standards of Excellence “will be available to organizations that would like to undertake an intensive assessment of their company’s success and progress in creating a supportive work environment where work/life policies and core business strategies are aligned.”   Click here for further information.

[1/22/03]  Wellness Junction has posted a press release titled “Wellness Programs and Departments Vary in Size and Participation Levels,” which includes findings from a survey conducted in collaboration with the Wellness Program Management Advisor.

[1/16/03]  The Atlantic Monthly January/February 2003 issue features “Spendthrift Nation,” an article on household debt, U.S. consumer spending, the current economy,and a possible solution to the need for more personal saving for retirement.

[1/16/03]  As part of its Daily Health Policy Report, Kaisernetwork.org posted a news brief January 15 titled “Health Care Marketplace: Supreme Court Hears Opening Arguments in ‘Any-Willing-Provider’ Case.”

[1/16/03]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide issued a press release titled “Global Pension Fund Assets Back to 1997 Levels,” which includes key findings from a recent survey.

[1/14/03]  The Internal Revenue Service has posted IRS Notice 2003-10, Definition of Early Retirement Benefit and Retirement-Type Subsidy.

[1/14/03]  On January 13 the Employment Policy Foundation issued a press release titled “Study Finds Health Insurance Costs Are Not Shifting to Employees.”  A report on the study can be viewed online.

[1/14/03]  PLANSPONSOR has released its annual listing of the "Top 100 Defined Contribution Plans by participation rate."  [Note: A brief registration may be required to access this listing.]

[1/14/03]  As a part of his January 11 radio address to the nation, President Bush referred to the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration, formerly known as the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration.   See fact sheet titled “Restoring Economic Confidence and Tackling Corporate Fraud” for further information.

[1/14/03]  The U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, has posted the following employee benefits  information: Frequently Asked Questions: Reservists Being Called to Active Duty.

[1/14/03]  The Tallahassee Democrat posted January 13, “New pension plan favored by just a few,” on the staff analysis by the Florida Senate Governmental Oversight and Productivity Committee on enrollment in the Public Employee Optional Retirement Plan, a defined contribution plan.  Florida is the only state known to have both a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan federally qualified under ERISA.

[1/14/03]  The U.S. Department of Labor, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, issued a press release January 9 titled “Labor Department Releases 2002 Form 5500s,” which announces the release of information copies of the Form 5500 return/reports to be used by employee benefit plans for plan year 2002 filings, along with a number of modifications that have been made to Forms 5500 and 5500-EZ.

[1/14/03]  The Commonwealth Fund released Exploring Consumer Perspectives on Good Physician Care: A Summary of Focus Group Results, by Donna Pillittere et al.

[1/14/03]  The U.S. Census Bureau released 2001 Service Annual Survey: Health Care and Social Assistance Services, which includes revenue data of U.S. health care and social assistance firms.

[1/14/03]  Thompson Publishing Group has posted a news brief titled “IRS Issues Long-Term Care Insurance Limits for 2003.”

[1/14/03]  On January 6, 2003, BusinessInsurance.com posted an article by Jerry Geisel titled “Treasury Developing Rate Index for Pension Funding,” which explains a Bush administration proposal under development that may enable employers to apply more beneficial interest rate assumptions in valuing their pension plan liabilities.

[1/14/03]  The Allstate Corporation issued a press release December 19, 2002, titled “Supplemental Insurance Can Help Small Business Owners Increase Employee Satisfaction at Virtually No Cost,” which includes key findings from a recent survey of small business owners conducted by Inc. Magazine and the Allstate Workplace Division.

[1/9/03]  “100 Best Companies to Work For: How Companies Satisfy Workers” from the January 20, 2003, issue of FORTUNE was written by Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz.

[1/9/03]  The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) has posted the Life Insurers Fact Book 2002.

[1/9/03]  The White House has issued the transcript of President Bush’s speech in Chicago on January 7 titled President Bush Taking Action To Strengthen America’s Economy, which includes links to additional details about the President’s tax package, as follows:

[1/9/03]  Health Affairs has posted a Web exclusive titled “An Analytic Forum Discussing the Implications of Rising Health Care Costs, from Some of the Nation’s Leading Health Economists.”

[1/9/03]  The AARP Public Policy Institute has released Back to Which Future: The U.S. Aging Crisis Revisited, by Sophie M. Korczyk.  This new report focuses on research dealing with demographic, health, and economic issues related to population aging and builds on the analysis presented in a 2001 AARP PPI report titled Global Aging: Achieving Its Potential.

[1/9/03]  In a press release dated January 7, 2003, titled “Majority of American Workers Favor More Control Over Social Security Benefits,” Prudential Financial includes key findings from a survey conducted in June 2002 titled Employee Opinions on Retirement Plans: A Benchmark Study on Retirement Perceptions.

[1/9/03]  The January 3, 2003, issue of Inside Consumer-Directed Care features an article titled “CDH Plans Expected to Quadruple Among Large Employers This Year,” which includes findings from a report titled “What Employers Want from Their Health Plans.”

[1/9/03]  The Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Identifying Priority Areas for Quality Improvement has announced the release of its final report titled Priority Areas for National Action: Transforming Health Care Quality.

[1/9/03]  Grannie Mae, founded in 1998, is a company whose mission “is to make elder care affordable, especially to our nation’s middle-income elders and their family caregivers.”   Toward that end, the company provides unsecured elder care loan programs for elders and their family caregivers, among other resources.  Additional information about Grannie Mae’s financing program can be found in an article by Stephen Monroe titled “Financing Help Is Here,” in the November 2002 issue of The SeniorCare Investor.

[1/7/03]  In a December 30, 2002, press release titled “Employees Fall Far Behind in Long-Term Savings, MetLife Survey Finds,” MetLife includes key findings from its 2002 Employee Benefits Trend Study.

[1/7/03]   The Congressional Budget Office has added the following documents to its site:

[1/7/03]   The Internal Revenue Service has announced that if you have a technical or procedural question relating to retirement plans, you can get help by accessing the EP Customer Account Services site for directions. 

[1/7/03]  In the December 2002 issue, PLANSPONSOR featured an article titled “Understanding the Funding Challenge” as part of its PLANSPONSOR/Fidelity Research Series: Pension Funding & Liabilities.  The article presents findings from a study cosponsored by PLANSPONSOR and Fidelity Management Trust Company of the decision-making processes of America’s largest institutional investors.

[1/7/03)]  The Internal Revenue Service has released a fact sheet dated January 2003 titled “2002 Tax Changes: IRAs/Retirement Plans.”

[1/7/03]  The Internal Revenue Service released a fact sheet dated January 2003 titled “2002 Tax Changes for Business Taxpayers,” which includes information on the self-employed health insurance deduction, the credit for pension plan start-up costs, and the credit for employer-provided child care.

[1/7/03]  Esther Duflo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, coauthored two research papers on the effects of peer pressure in participants’ retirement plan decisions.  “The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment” was published in April 2002 as National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper 8885.  Click here to view the abstract.  The other paper, titled “Participation and Investment Decisions in a Retirement Plan: The Influence of Colleagues’ Choices,” was published in the July 2002 issue of the Journal of Public Economics.

[1/7/03]  “ERISA lawyers urge caution on default investments,” by Jill Elswickis featured in the January 2003 edition of Employee Benefit News.

[1/7/03]  IPE-Newsline, published by IPE International Publishers Ltd. in the United Kingdom, features an article dated January 3, 2002, titled “US Fund Sponsors’ Costs Rise 10% - Report,” by Daniel Brooksbank.  This article includes key findings from new research by the Callan Investment Institute. [Note: A brief registration may be required to access this article.]

[1/7/03]   Click here to read: Flying Right: Understanding the Plan Sponsor’s Fiduciary Obligations by Lowell M. Smith, Jr., Managing Director of ERISA Services, Invesmart, Inc.

[1/1/03]  At a press conference scheduled for Tuesday, January 7, 2003, officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid will present the latest available data on health spending in the United States.  This event, the Forum on Health Care Spending and Medicaid, will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and is being sponsored by the health policy journal, Health Affairs.  Other topics to be discussed include trends in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, consumer spending, private health insurance, and various health care sectors.  Additionally, representatives from the Urban Institute, the National Governors’ Association, and the National Association of State Medicaid Directors will report on the current state of the Medicaid program.  To reserve a space, or if you have any questions, please contact Sonja Gerald at Burness Communications at (301) 652-1558, ext. 124, or e-mail her at sgerald@burnesscommunications.com.

[1/1/03]  Click here for Search Systems, which includes “over 10,000 links to free public record databases around the world to help you locate businesses, people, and the information you need to make important decisions.”  Searches may be performed by entering a keyword(s) in the “Public Record Locator” box or by clicking on a geographic area, then clicking on a topic area.

[1/1/03]  The U.S. Department of Labor Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration issued Advisory Opinion 2002-14A on December 18, 2002.  This advisory opinion provides “guidance concerning the selection of annuity providers in connection with distributions from defined contribution plans; specifically, the application of specific requirements of Interpretive Bulletin 95-1.”

[1/1/03]  The S.S. Huebner Foundation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the Geneva Association of Geneva, Switzerland, have launched a Web site.  The site plans to be an international resource and clearinghouse for educators and researchers in the fields of insurance economics and risk management.  The information available on the site is expected to improve the quality of research and education in both the academic community and the insurance and risk management industries.  Many pages are available only to members, but the Links page contains a set of Web site links that are useful to researchers in the insurance and risk management industries.

[1/1/03]  The Consumer Health Education Council (CHEC) has a new URL, www.ourhealthbenefits.org.  As part of its mission, CHEC serves as an information clearinghouse for employers, plan sponsors, policy experts, and others who influence access to health insurance coverage for individuals who require it.

[1/1/03]  The Employee Benefits Library, a joint project of BenefitsLink and Carol V. Calhoun’s Employee Benefits Site, has been modified to reflect the reorganization of the Internal Revenue Service web site, which was completely reorganized as of October 1, 2002.  Click here to see commonly used links affected by the reorganization.

[1/1/03]  The Internal Revenue Service’s Retirement Plans Web page has a new look.  It is now easier to find retirement plan information.  The landing page now deals exclusively with current issues and new developments.  The content previously accessed via the landing page has been categorized and moved to the “Topics” and “More Topics” sections (see the left gray navigational bar).

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Updated 1/31/03