What's New

What's New - July 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 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.

EBRI Issue Brief  (July 2003):  Individual Account Retirement Plans: An Analysis of the 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances

EBRI Notes  (July 2003):   Findings From the 2003 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) and Minority RCS

Facts From EBRI  (July 2003):  Compensation Costs in Private Industry: March 1987 to December 2002

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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:

Reports
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.

Military Retiree Health Benefits: Enrollment Low in Federal Employee Health Plans Under DOD Demonstration.  GAO-03-547, June 6, 2003.  Highlights.

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.


[7/29/03]  The Internal Revenue Service has provided Form 5500 Filing Tips.

[7/29/03]  Click here for the 2003 Institutional Investor annual ranking of America's top 300 money managers.

[7/29/03]  Milliman USA Survey Foresees Average HMO Rate Increase of 14% for 2004 reads the headline of the press release giving preliminary results from the 12th annual HMO Intercompany Rate Survey.  Final survey results will be available later this year.

[7/29/03]  The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America offers a set of communications materials to U.S. companies that wish to take part in 401(k) Day on September 2nd. 

[7/29/03]  HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said most American seniors without prescription drug coverage would see their drug spending cut in half, according to a new department analysis of Medicare modernization legislation passed by the House and Senate.  Click here for the press release.

[7/29/03]   “White papers that focus on specific solutions to managed care industry technology and product needs are now featured as a special educational service of … ManagedCareMarketplace.com….”

[7/29/03]  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, posts Statistical Brief  #18: Employer-Sponsored Single and Family Health Insurance Coverage: Selection and Cost, 2000.

[7/28/03]  Kaisernetwork.org featured a daily health policy report July 23 titled Election 2004: National Journal Examines Health Proposals from Presidential Candidates.   A series of articles appears in the July 19 issue of National Journal in which health care proposals from Democratic presidential candidates and President Bush are ranked by a committee of ten health policy experts, including EBRI’s Paul Fronstin, and the average scores given by committee members are summarized in the following five areas: the uninsured, out-of-pocket costs, government costs, quality of care, and health care providers.

[7/28/03]  The Pension Research Council released a July 2003 working paper titled Retirement Wealth and Lifetime Earnings Variability, by Olivia S. Mitchell et al.

 

[7/28/03]  The Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service posted A Non-Technical Resource Guide to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.  An excerpt from the introduction reads in part: "The Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service provides this guide to enhance the public's access to information about the application of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) in various circumstances.  Aspects of the law may change over time."

[7/28/03]  According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey released July 16, about 80% of U.S. residents who use the Internet have searched the Web to seek out health information, and most say doing so helps improve their quality of care.

[7/25/03]   The Internal Revenue Service posted a July 2003 Special Edition of Employee Plans News which contains information regarding the issuance of proposed and final regulations with respect to Sections 401(k) and 401(m); Section 419A(f)(6) [welfare benefit plans]; Section 417(a)(7) [retroactive annuity starting dates]; Section 457; and Section 411(d)(6) [optional forms of benefit].

[7/25/03]   The Kaiser Family Foundation released Kaiser/HRET Survey:  2002 State Employee Health Plans.

[7/25/03]  Health Affairs released a Web-exclusive article July 23 titled “Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance and Prescription Drug Coverage for New Retirees: Dramatic Declines in Five Years,” by Bruce Stuart et al.

[7/25/03]   The following report has been added to the Congressional Budget Office Web site:   Cost Estimate for H.R. 1 and S.1, Medicare Prescription Drug Acts.

[7/25/03]  "Health Insurance Subsidies, Coverage, and Costs" is one of the articles in the Spring 2003 issue of the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health.

[7/25/03]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting issued a press release July 16 titled “US HR Transformation Study Reveals ‘Strategy Matters,’” which includes highlights from its study titled Transforming HR for Business Results.

[7/25/03]  Mercer Human Resource Consulting issued a press release July 16 titled “New Generation of Workers Has Different Views, Expectations,” which includes key findings from its 2002 People at Work Survey.

[7/22/03]  The Department of Labor has designed the Health Benefits Advisor to help workers and their families better understand employer and employee organization (such as a union) provided group health benefits and the laws that govern them. 

[7/22/03]   Reassessing the Fiscal Gap: Why Tax-Deferred Saving Will Not Solve the Problem, an economic study by Alan Auerbach, William Gale, and Peter Orszag; has been posted by the Brookings Institution.

[7/22/03]  The Internal Revenue Service published in the July 17 Federal RegisterRetirement Plans; Cash or Deferred Arrangements Under Section 401(k) and Matching Contributions or Employee Contributions Under Section 401(m); Proposed Rule.”

[7/22/03]  The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Actuary released the DoD Statistical Report on the Military Retirement System, Fiscal 2002.

[7/22/03]   Rep. Dave Camp introduced July 14 in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.2719, Air Line Pension Act of 2003.  Bill Summary & Status information is available.

[7/22/03]   The U.S. Public Interest Research Group issued a news release July 15 titled “Uninsured Consumers Pay Too High a Price for Prescription Drugs in Washington, DC Area and Across the U.S.,” which includes findings from a new report titled Paying the Price: A 19-State Survey of the High Cost of Prescription Drugs.

[7/22/03]  The following reports have been added to the Congressional Budget Office Web site:

H.R. 660, Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003

H.R. 660, An Amendment by Representative McCarthy in the motion to recommit H.R 660, the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003 

[7/22/03]  From RAND Health comes: MarketWatch: Health Literacy: A Policy Challenge For Advancing High-Quality Health CareClick here for an abstract of the article.  The full text of a related article, Can Patient Self-Management Help Explain the SES Health Gradient?,   is available online until it is published on July 24.

[7/16/03]  The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures held a joint hearing July 15 with the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations on “Examining Pension Security and Defined Benefit Plans: The Bush Administration’s Proposal to Replace the 30-Year Treasury Rate.”  A witness list with links to testimonies is available.

[7/16/03]  The Social Security Administration posted Income of the Aged Chartbook, 2001, which was released in May 2003.  This publication includes data on how today’s retirees are financing their retirement.

[7/15/03]  Towers Perrin’s July 14 press release, “Declines in Pension Plan Funding Levels Accompanied by Large Increases in Deferred Costs, Towers Perrin Study Shows,” highlights key findings from the report titled Perspectives on…Pension Plan Sponsors Facing Large Buildup in Deferred Costs.

[7/15/03]   The Kaiser Family Foundation released an updated version of  Prescription Drug Coverage for Medicare Beneficiaries: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Selected Proposals  which describes key provisions of H.R. 1, The Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003, and S. 1, The Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act of 2003.

[7/14/03]  The Internal Revenue Service published final regulations titled “Compensation Deferred Under Eligible Deferred Compensation Plans” in the July 11 issue of the Federal Register.  These regulations “provide guidance on deferred compensation plans of state and local governments and tax-exempt entities.”

[7/14/03]   “SUMMARY: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission or EEOC) proposes to amend its regulations governing age discrimination in employment to exempt from the prohibitions of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 the practice of altering, reducing or eliminating employer-sponsored retiree health benefits when retirees become eligible for Medicare or a State-sponsored retiree health benefits program. This exemption will ensure that the application of the ADEA does not discourage employers from providing health benefits to their retirees.”

[7/10/03]  Automatic Data Processing, Inc (ADP) provides information on payroll, taxes, and human resources functions at their Web site.  See STATcentral for quick access to basic statutory payroll information and alerts, and see the Employer Resource Center: a source of   tools, reference materials, news and information.

[7/10/03]  The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Public Affairs released a fact sheet July 8 titled The Administration Proposal to Improve the Accuracy and Transparency of Pension Information.

[7/10/03]  The Internal Revenue Service issued final regulations titled “Catch-Up Contributions for Individuals Age 50 or Older,” published in the July 8 Federal Register.

[7/10/03]  The Kaiser Family Foundation’s May/June 2003 Health Poll Report is titled “Public Opinion on Health Care Costs.”

[7/10/03]  The Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, Pension Issues: Lump-Sum Distributions and Retirement Income Security was updated June 30, 2003, by Patrick J. Purcell.

[7/10/03]  Click here for "How Will Recent Patterns of Earnings Inequality Affect Future Retirement Incomes?," an AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Paper, by Karen Smith of the Urban Institute.

[7/10/03]  OECD Health Data 2003 provides a comparative analysis of 30 countries with the latest available data showing that OECD countries spent record amounts on health care in 2001.

[7/10/03]  Changing Discount Rates for Determining Lump Sums: An Analysis by the Pension Committee of the American Academy of Actuaries was performed by Donald J. Segal and Ron Gebhardtsbauer.

[7/10/03]  Women's Access to Care: A State-Level Reveiw of Key Health Policies was prepared by the National Women's Law Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

[7/2/03]  The GE Center for Financial Learning announces, in time for Independence Day, the Start Out Savings Day campaign to teach financial independence.

[7/2/03]  Michael Boskin provides estimates on the tax yield of pension assets, including Individual Retirement Accounts and 401(k) plans, to the U.S. government between now and 2040 in his January 2003 NBER Working Paper, Deferred Taxes in the Public Finances.

[7/2/03]  The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College released an Issue in Brief titled "Suspending the Employer 401(k) Match" by Alicia H. Munnell and Annika Sundén.

[7/2/03]  The following document has been added to the Congressional Budget Office site: The Future Growth of Social Security: It's Not Just Society's Aging.

[7/2/03]   The Early Retirement Burden: Assessing the Costs of the Continued Prevalence of Early Retirement in OECD Countries by Tryggvi Thor Herbertsson and Michael J. Orszag is published by Watson Wyatt and posted at BenefitsLink.

[7/2/03]   The Internal Revenue Service issued a press release June 30 titled “IRS Reminds Some Businesses of Retirement Plan Deadline” which applies to those using off-the-shelf [Master & Prototype (M&P) and Volume Submitter] plans.

[7/2/03]  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release July 1, “HHS Launches New Efforts to Promote Paperless Health Care System,” concerning building a national electronic health care system that will allow patients and their doctors to access complete medical records.

[7/1/03]  The first national report card on quality of care, produced by a RAND health team led by Beth Mcglynn, is summarized in a New England Journal of Medicine June 26 article, “The Quality of Health Care Delivered to Adults in the United States.”  RAND has posted a fact sheet with a link to the full text of the article.

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

[7/1/03]  The Segal July 2003 Bulletin features “IRS Issues Final Regulations on ERISA Section 204(h) Notices of Reductions in Future Pension Benefits.”

[7/1/03]  The chartpack, Medicare's Future: Current Picture, Trends, and Prescription Drug Policy Debate, is available from The Commonwealth Fund.

[7/1/03]  Charles Schwab & Co. posted its first quarter 2003 Schwab Self-Directed Brokerage Account Indicators providing industry benchmarks on participant investment activity within self-directed brokerage accounts for retirement plans.

[7/1/03]  PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP issued a press release June 24 titled “Companies Dealt with Last Year’s Economic Uncertainty by Restructuring and Shifting Operations and Staff, Saratoga Institute Survey Finds,” which includes key findings from the 2002 Workforce Diagnostic Survey.

[7/1/03]  A summary of health savings account legislation from the House Ways & Means Committee is published online by the ERISA Industry Committee.

[7/1/03]   The Kaiser Family Foundation released an updated edition of the report, Key Facts: Race, Ethnicity & Medical Care, which was last published in 1999.  The chartbook serves as a quick reference on racial and ethnic disparities in health, health insurance coverage and health care access and quality.

[7/1/03]  Understanding the Impact of Employer Matching on 401(k) Saving from the TIAA-CREF Institute includes research with the Health and Retirement Study.

[7/1/03]  Nationwide Financial issued a June 12 press release, “Small Business Owners Blind to Retirement Plan Requirements and Risk, Nationwide Financial Survey Discovers.”  The press release  includes findings from its survey, Financial Advice Today: A Small Business Perspective.

                                     


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Updated 7/31/03