What's New - June 2006

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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 ".gov" 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.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

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What's new at EBRI this month:

Publications:

June 2006 EBRI Issue Brief - "The Tax Treatment of Health Insurance and Employment-Based Health Benefits"

June 2006 EBRI Notes - "Estimating the Value of Changes in OASI Benefits Under Social Security Reforms"

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October 6, 2005 - Updated Ballpark E$timate Available, Americans trying to estimate how much they need to save for a comfortable retirement now have an updated and easy-to-use tool -- the Ballpark E$timate.

EBRI Fact Sheet on PBGC - A four-page fact sheet with background information, key data and charts, and information links about the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the federal agency that insures the traditional pensions of about 44 million Americans.

Frequently Asked Questions About Benefits - This section of EBRI's Web site is designed to answer basic questions about major benefit issues and trends. It provides short, graphical answers, with links to the detailed data underlying the figure. In addition, references are provided to the relevant EBRI publication.


EBRI Research Findings for 2003-2004:

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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:

Reports
Airline Deregulation: Reregulating the Airline Industry Would Likely Reverse Consumer Benefits and Not Save Airline Pensions. GAO-06-630, June 9.  Highlights.

Consumer-Driven Health Plans: Small but Growing Enrollment Fueled by Rising Cost of Health Care Coverage. GAO-06-514, April 28.  Highlights.

Testimony
Budget Process: Better Transparency, Controls, Triggers, and Default Mechanisms Would Help to Address Our Large and Growing Long-Term Fiscal Challenge, by David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, before the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, and International Security, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-06-761T, May 25.  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 Government Accountability 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


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.


[6/30/06] U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Long-Term Growth and Debt Reduction:  Hearing on “Small Business Pension Plans: How Can We Increase Worker Coverage?” [includes links to testimonies]

[6/30/06] Business Insurance:  "Defined Benefit Plan Terminations Increase"

[6/29/06] U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means:  Hearing on Health Savings Accounts [includes links to testimonies]

[6/29/06] U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation:  Present Law and Analysis Relating to the Tax Treatment of Health Savings Accounts and Other Health Expenses

[6/29/06] Aon Consulting/ISCEBS Survey:  Consumer-Driven Health Plans Gaining Stronger Presence

[6/29/06] Business Insurance:  "Employers Reducing Retiree Health Benefits: Study"

[6/27/06] Employee Benefit News:  "IBM Holistic Approach Encouraging Healthy Lifestyles"

[6/27/06] Milliman’s Defined Contribution Connection:  "Encouraging and Optimizing 401(k) Retirement Savings"

[6/27/06] Newsweek:  "A Requiem for Pensions" by Jane Bryant Quinn

[6/27/06] American Benefits Council:  Major Retirement Savings Provisions of EGTRRA

[6/26/06] Business Insurance:  "Maryland Health Mandate Case in Oral Arguments"

[6/26/06] RAND Research Brief:  "Redefining and Reforming Health Care for the Last Years of Life"

[6/26/06] AARP:  Portfolio on the British Pension System

[6/23/06] Hewitt Associates:  "HMO Rate Increases Continue to Decline for Fourth Consecutive Year, According to Hewitt AssociatesSupporting Charts.

[6/23/06] MarketWatch:  "Rising Rates Ease Pressure on Pension Plans"

[6/23/06] Ariel Mutual Funds/Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. Black Investor Survey:  Saving and Investing Among Higher Income African-American and White Americans

[6/23/06] CRS Report for Congress:  Saving Incentives: What May Work, What May Not

[6/23/06] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  100 Years of U.S. Consumer Spending: Data for the Nation, New York City, and Boston

[6/22/06] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation -- March 2006

[6/22/06] Business Insurance:  "CalPERS Hikes HMO Premiums by 11.6% for 2007"

[6/22/06] The Council for Affordable Health Insurance:  Trends in State Mandated Benefits, 2006

[6/22/06] National Bureau of Economic Research:  Health Care Expenditures in the OECD

[6/21/06] U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging:  Hearing on “Managing Retirement Assets: Ensuring Seniors Don't Outlive Their Savings” [includes links to testimonies]

[6/21/06] U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means:  Markup of H.R.4157, the “Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2006”

[6/21/06] USAA Fact Sheet:  "USAA ‘Money Snapshot’ Survey Key Findings"

[6/20/06] MSNBC.com Special Report:  Cracked Nest Egg

[6/20/06] Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Mercer Investment Consulting:  How Does Your Retirement Program Stack Up? [2006 highlights]

[6/20/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Perils, Pitfalls of ERISA Summary Plan Descriptions" [1st of 2 articles]

[6/20/06] HR Policy Association Policy Brief:  "Pre-Funded Retiree Medical Savings Account Would Help Employees Meet Escalating Retiree Health Care Costs"

[6/19/06] U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs:  Hearing on FASB’s Proposed Standard on Employers’ Accounting for Defined Benefit Pension and Other Postretirement Plans [including links to testimonies]

[6/19/06] Congressional Budget Office:  CBO’s Online Guide to Tax Incentives for Retirement Saving

[6/19/06] National Committee for Quality Assurance:  Protecting Consumers in an Evolving Health Insurance Market

[6/19/06] Office of U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson:  "Sam Johnson Introduces Common-Sense Health Savings Account Bill"

[6/15/06] AARP Public Policy Institute:  AARP May 15th Pension Conference: Selected AARP and EBRI Research

[6/15/06] CCA Strategies, LLC:  "401(k) Plans and Fees"

[6/15/06] Congressional Budget Office:  Updated Long-Term Projections for Social Security [June 2006]

[6/15/06] AARP Data Digest:  "In Their Dreams: What Will Boomers Inherit?"

[6/14/06] Families USA:  Making History: Maryland’s Fair Share Health Care Law

[6/14/06] Business Insurance:  "Aetna to Offer Consumers Information Online"

[6/14/06] AARP:  Best Practices: Automatic 401(k) Overview for Employers

[6/14/06] Buck Consultants InsightOut:  "Strange Bedfellows Undermining Private Pensions" [Opinion]

[6/13/06] America’s Health Insurance Plans:  Federal Bills Proposing Improvements to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

[6/13/06] Segal Advisors’ Multiemployer Universe:  "Results of Segal Advisors’ 2005 Survey of Multiemployer Pension Funds’ Investment Performance"

[6/13/06] Reuters (via Business Insurance):  "U.K. Pension Benefit Cuts Should Be Allowed: NAPF"

[6/13/06] H.R.5552, “To establish a commission to develop legislation designed to reform tax policy and entitlement benefit programs and ensure a sound fiscal future for the United States, and for other purposes.” Bill Summary & Status Information.

[6/12/06] MarketWatch:  "House GOP Leader Vows Quick Work on Pension Bill"

[6/12/06] The Segal Company Bulletin:  "IRS Proposes Rules Clarifying Dependent Care Expense Reimbursement"

[6/12/06] TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  "Capitalizing on Inertia: Automation Boosts Retirement Savings"

[6/12/06] American Benefits Council:  ABC Plan -- 401(k) Plan Fee Disclosure Form for Services Provided by XYZ Company

[6/8/06] California HealthCare Foundation:  Consumers in Health Care: Creating Decision-Support Tools That Work

[6/8/06] Medical News Today:  "Rising Health Care Premiums Lead to Lower Wages and More Part-Time Employment"

[6/8/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "IRS to Make Dependent Care Less Taxing"

[6/8/06] Pension Research Council:  Transitioning to Retirement: How Will Boomers Fare? [Working Paper]

[6/7/06] Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: “Healthcare 411”: Audio Newscast Series (featuring current news and information from AHRQ)

[6/7/06] Citizens’ Health Care Working Group:  Health Care That Works for All Americans: Interim Recommendations

[6/7/06] The Hudson Employment Index:  Transforming Pay Plans: 2006 Compensation and Benefits Report

[6/7/06] Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:  National Retirement Risk Index

[6/6/06] The TIAA-CREF Institute is accepting submissions for the 2006 Paul A. Samuelson Award, which recognizes outstanding scholarly writing on issues related to lifelong financial security.  Submissions may be theoretical or empirical in nature but must cover a subject directly relevant to lifelong financial security.  To be considered, an article or a book must be scholarly in nature, written in English, and published between January 1, 2005, and June 30, 2006.  The deadline for submissions is September 8, 2006.  More information about the competition, along with an application form, is available on the Institute’s Web site at http://www.tiaa-crefinstitute.org/awards/samuelson/index.html.

[6/6/06] Employee Benefit News:  "Experts Analyze Employees’ Exodus from Company Stock"

[6/6/06] Merrill Lynch:  "New Merrill Lynch Retirement Study Reveals Americans and Their Employers Don’t See Eye to Eye" Full Study.

[6/6/06] AARP:  Retirement Planning Survey Among U.S. Adults Age 40 and Older

[6/5/06] Reuters (via Business Insurance):  "Ex-PBGC Head Says Pension Underfunding Might Ease"

[6/5/06] Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Electronic Premium Filing; Final Rule [published in the Federal Register on June 1, 2006]

[6/5/06] U.S. News & World Report:  "Five Tips for Surviving High-Deductible Healthcare"

[6/5/06] Buck Consultants InsightOut:  "HSA Prognosis -- Employers Have Choices"

[6/1/06] Deloitte Consulting:  Reducing Corporate Health Care Costs: 2006 Survey

[6/1/06] Business Insurance:  "Health, Productivity Plans More Common in U.S."

[6/1/06] Kaiser Family Foundation:  Retired Steelworkers and Their Health Benefits: Results from a 2004 Survey

[6/1/06] U.S. Internal Revenue Service:  Expenses for Household and Dependent Care Services Necessary for Gainful Employment; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [published in the Federal Register on May 24, 2006]

[6/1/06] BenefitNews Connect:  "Americans Take Less Vacation than Foreign Counterparts"

[6/1/06] On Wall Street:  "Redefining Personal Savings"

Updated 6/30/06