What's New

What's New - May 2002

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What's new at EBRI this month:

May 2002 EBRI Issue Brief:  "An Analysis of the Retirement and Pension Plan Coverage Topical Module of SIPP"

May 2002 EBRI Notes:  "Defined Contribution Plans With Rate-of-Return Guarantees"

Tax Expenditures and Employee Benefits: An Update From the FY 2003 Budget: The May 2002 Facts from EBRI, monthly fact sheets providing timely statistics and background on a variety of employee benefit issues.

The national "Save for Your Future" campaign: The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the American Savings Education Council (ASEC), announced plans to enhance national education efforts on the importance of saving.  SSA and ASEC will combine their efforts through the national "Save for Your Future" campaign, which will begin in spring 2003 and will include a partnership with State Farm Insurance Companies.

RetireMint™ Conference May 17-18: To help educate Americans about the importance of saving, investing, and planning financially for all life stages, the American Savings Education Council (ASEC) will hold the second RetireMint™ conference in New York City on May 17-18, 2002.  The two-day financial education event -- the largest and most comprehensive of its kind -- is geared to both individual investors of all ages and backgrounds and benefits professionals.

Small Employer Retirement Survey: Results of the 2002 Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS) were released Tuesday, May 7, 2002, during a panel discussion entitled, "Closing the Small Business Retirement Security Gap for Employers and Employees," at the Small Business Week conference in Washington DC.

Retirement Implications of Demographic and Family Change Symposium, June 25 - 26, 2002, at the San Francisco Marriott, San Francisco, California will deliver invaluable information to employee benefit consultants, benefit and human resource managers, actuaries and others in the public policy arena.  In cooperation with EBRI and the Society of Actuaries, this event provides in-depth coverage of critical issues facing the retirement income system, retirement income alternatives, the challenges of an aging society, the use of modeling to develop policy solutions and many other topics.  For complete symposium information, the papers to be presented, and a registration form, visit the Society of Actuaries symposium information page.

The 2002 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS): EBRI released the results of the latest survey in Washington, DC on Wednesday, February 27, 2002.  The RCS examines how well Americans think they are saving and planning for their retirement, what issues concern them, and whether age or personality types influence the way a person saves.

Company Stock Testimonies: Jack VanDerhei, Temple University and research director of the EBRI Fellows Program presented testimony at  congressional hearings during February:

Salisbury Testimony: The written testimony of EBRI President and CEO Dallas Salisbury, an expert witness at the February 7, 2002, hearing by the Senate Committe on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on “Protecting the Pensions of Working Americans: Lessons From the Enron Debacle” includes a copy of the recent EBRI survey on company stock in 401(k) plans.

EBRI Survey on Company Stock in 401(k) Plans: The EBRI survey polled members of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) with respect to company stock investment options, whether employer contributions are required to be invested in company stock, average percentage of company stock in the employees' accounts, restrictions on selling the company stock, and blackout periods.  Additional questions examined perceptions of the Enron situation, appropriate limits for investment in company stock and the role of the government, and perceptions on public policy issues related to company stock in 401(k) plans.

EBRI Fact Sheet on Company Stock:  The December 2001 EBRI Fact Sheet provides background on company stock in retirement plans, drawn from the EBRI book, Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs, and the EBRI/ICI 401(k) database.

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

Retiree Health Benefits: Examples of Employer-Reported Obligations in Selected Industries.  GAO-02-639R, April 29, 2002.

Retired Coal Miners' Health Benefits Fund: Financial Challenges Continue.  GAO-02-243, April 18, 2002.

Group Purchasing Organizations: Pilot Study Suggests Large Buying Groups Do Not Always Offer Hospitals Lower Prices, statement for the record by William J. Scanlon, managing director, health care issues, before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition, and Business and Consumer Rights, Senate Committee on the Judiciary.  GAO-02-690T, April 30, 2002.

Private Health Insurance: Number and Market Shares of Carriers in the Small Group Health Insurance Market.   GAO-02-536R, March 25, 2002.

        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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(5/28/02) Participants at a conference in April on “Risk Transfers and Retirement Income Security,” sponsored by Wharton’s Pension Research Council and the Financial Institutions Center, addressed the use of company shares and the stock market as financial vehicles for retirement security.

(5/28/02) On March 12 The National Association of Health Underwriters issued a press release titled “Addressing Availability of Coverage for the Chronically Ill Uninsured,” which includes a link to a short analysis,titled Cost and Availability of Health Insurance for People with Chronic Health Conditions, of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s June 2001 report titled How Accessible Is Individual Health Insurance for Consumers in Less-Than-Perfect Health?

(5/28/02) The Institute for Women’s Policy Research issued a press release May 22 titled “Women Over 65 Half as Likely to Receive Pensions; Those Who Do, Get Only Half as Much as Men.”   The press release includes key findings from the Institute’s newly released study, funded by the Department of Labor, titled The Gender Gap in Pension Coverage: What Does the Future Hold?

(5/28/02) Aon Consulting has issued a press release announcing key findings from its publication titled 2001 United States @Work.  This year’s study includes a special section on employee benefits.

(5/23/02) On May 20, 2002, John Hancock Financial Services issued a press release which included highlights from its eighth annual John Hancock Financial Services Retirement Survey.

(5/23/02) The Century Foundation released the third title in its Setting the Record Straight series: "Social Security Works for Latinos."

(5/23/02) New Evidence on Pension Plan Design and Administrative Expenses by Hazel Bateman and Olivia S. Mitchell is a working paper published by the Pension Research Council.

(5/23/02) The National Tax Sheltered Accounts Association (NTSAA) “is the nation's only independent, nonprofit association dedicated to all professionals working with 403(b) and 457(b) tax-deferred retirement programs.”

(5/23/02) Trends and Indicators in the Changing Health Care Marketplace 2002 is an update of a chartbook originally released by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 1998.

(5/22/02) The May 2002 issue of Deloitte & Touche’s monthly newsletter, Human Capital I.Q., features an article titled “401(k) Bills Get to First Base in Congress.”   [Note: Scroll down to page 4 to view the article.]

(5/22/02) The May/June 2002 issue of Health Affairs includes “Inequities In Health Care: A Five-Country Survey” which concludes that “access-to-care experiences across the five countries tend to vary along with the countries' insurance coverage policies.”

(5/22/02) Beyond 50: Summary Tables and Charts is a statistical supplement to the first of AARP's planned series of annual reports on the status of Americans age 50 and older from AARP's Public Policy Institute.

(5/22/02)The May 2002 issue of Plan Sponsor addresses investment advice for plan participants and provides the Online Advice Buyer's Guide.

(5/20/02) The University of Michigan Retirement Research Center April 2002 MRRC Newsletter features an Issue in Brief by Alan Gustman and Thomas Steinmeier, "Imperfect Knowledge, Retirement and Saving."

(5/20/02) The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation has posted the witness list with links to written statements from a hearing held May 16, 2002, titled “Examining Enron: The Consumer Impact of Enron’s Influence on State Pension Funds.”

(5/20/02) The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations has posted the witness list with links to written testimonies from a hearing held May 16 titled “Assessing Retiree Health Legacy Costs: Is America Prepared for a Healthy Retirement?

(5/20/02) OppenheimerFunds has released the results of a recent survey on “Women and Investing,” conducted in collaboration with Money Magazine.

(5/17/02) On May 14 The National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) announced the release of its report titled “The Evolution of Public Sector Pension Plans.”  To view the table of contents, list of tables, and preface, click here.

(5/17/02) Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr., on March 20 introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.4069, “Social Security Benefit Enhancements for Women Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(5/17/02) Rep. Robert Matsui introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 7 H.R.4671, “Social Security Widow's Benefit Guarantee Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(5/17/02) Watson Wyatt Worldwide issued a May 15 press release titled “U.S. Companies to Give Workers More Responsibility for Health Care Benefits,” which includes key findings from New Rules for Managing Health Costs - Seventh Annual WBGHealth/WWW Survey Report - 2002, conducted jointly by Watson Wyatt and the Washington Business Group on Health.

(5/17/02) Quantitative Measures for Evaluating Social Security Reform Proposals is an April 2002 Issue Brief from the American Academy of Actuaries.

(5/17/02) The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) released the 2001 NCQA annual report titled Quality Dividends.

(5/17/02) “Social Marketing: A Vehicle for Employer-Driven Health Promotion and Disease Prevention” is an April 2002 Executive Brief from the National Health Care Purchasing Institute.

(5/16/02) The American Council of Life Insurers has posted “Promoting Annuitization: Ensuring the Financial Security of Today’s Workers for a Lifetime.”

(5/16/02) On May 14 CIGNA issued a press release titled “New Study: Facing Increased Uncertainty and Volatility on World Stage, Employees on International Assignment Often Feel Left ‘On Their Own’,” which includes findings from a recent survey sponsored by CIGNA International Expatriate Benefits, the National Foreign Trade Council, and WorldatWork.

(5/16/02) On April 18, 2002, Rep. Richard Gephardt introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.4482, “Universal and Portable Pension Act of 2002.” A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(5/16/02) The Institute for SocioEconomic Studies is a private foundation that examines issues relating to economic development, poverty, health care reform, and the quality of life.

(5/16/02) In the April 12, 2002, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control released “Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Economic Costs -- United States, 1995--1999.”

(5/16/02) “Employer-Sponsored Healthcare Insurance Benefits Costs Rise to Double-Digit Levels in 2001” according to an Employment Policy Foundation analysis of National Compensation Survey data released April 25  by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(5/16/02) Women’s Health in the United States: Health Coverage and Access to Care presents the findings from a nationally representative survey of nearly 4,000 women ages 18 to 64 by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Women’s Policy, Inc. 

(5/16/02) The Center for the Study of Women in the Economy at the National Center for Policy Analysis released March 4, 2002, Women as Retirees, by Vickie J. Bajtelsmit.

(5/15/02) Don’t be fooled by the name or description of Scirus, a powerful search engine developed for locating “scientific information only.”  I got 15,942 total results for a search on “pension plans.”

(5/15/02) Hewitt Associates issued a press release May 13 titled “Hewitt Study Shows Work/Life Benefits Hold Steady Despite Recession.”

(5/15/02) On May 10, 2002, The Commonwealth Fund issued a press release titled “U.S. Health Care Quality Falls Short on Crucial Measures,” which includes highlights from its newly-released Quality of Health Care in the United States: A Chartbook, by Sheila Leatherman and Douglas McCarthy.

(5/15/02) PensionSorter, a UK pensions Web site, is described as "A beginner-friendly and genuinely independent personal finance site.   This was put together by a group of ordinary punters who set out to demystify pensions in words that even a prize muppet can understand.  Highly recommended" by Steve Wright in the Afternoon, Website of the Day, BBC Radio 2, 18/3/02.

(5/14/02) Two recent reports from The Commonwealth Fund compare the individual health insurance market to the group insurance markets: 

(5/14/02) The 2001 Retiree Health and Prescription Drug Coverage Survey, a joint project of the Kaiser Family Foundation, The Commonwealth Fund, and the Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET), was designed as a supplement to the annual Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey.

(5/14/02) HeadlineSpot.com provides a gateway to the best news sources on the Web.

(5/14/02) The Leapfrog Group is a coalition of more than 100 public and private organizations that provide health care benefits.  It “was created to help save lives and reduce preventable medical mistakes by mobilizing employer purchasing power to initiate breakthrough improvements in the safety of health care and by giving consumers information to make more informed hospital choices.”

(5/13/02) The Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General has released a report titled PWBA Needs to Improve Oversight of Cash Balance Plan Lump Sum Distributions,  Report No. 09-02-001-12-121, dated March 29, 2002.

(5/13/02) Group Five, Inc. has posted “2002 Benchmarking Study of Corporate Client Satisfaction with Employee Stock Plan Services, Summary Report.”

(5/13/02) On May 8, 2002, OfficeTeam, a specialized temporary staffing organization for administrative professionals, issued a press release titled “The Power of Balance: Survey Finds Juggling Personal and Job Demands is Top Concern for Workers.”

(5/13/02) Principal Financial Group has posted Honoring...The Principal® 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security!

(5/13/02) “Assessments of Medical Care by Enrollees in For-Profit and Nonprofit Health Maintenance Organizations” is a study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) researchers published in the April 25 New England Journal of Medicine.

(5/7/02) On May 3, 2002, Watson Wyatt Worldwide issued a press release titled “Trend Toward Hybrid Pensions Among Largest U.S. Companies Slows Considerably.”

(5/7/02) The Economic Policy Institute issued a press release May 2 titled “Middle Americans’ Retirement Wealth Fell, as Stock Market Soared, New Study Reveals,” which includes highlights from a new study titled Retirement Insecurity: The Income Shortfalls Awaiting the Soon-to-Retire, by Edward N. Wolff.

(5/7/02) On April 25, 2002, Rep. Kay Granger introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.4604, “Securing Access, Value, and Equality (SAVE) in Health Care Act.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(5/7/02) Rep. James Greenwood introduced April 25 in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R.4600, “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Health Care (HEALTH) Act of 2002.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(5/7/02) CIGNA's Pension Analyst, Special Edition, contains the “Compliance Checklist 2002 for: Defined Benefit Plans, Defined Contribution Plans and Nonqualified Executive Benefit Plans."  It is a guide to federal government reporting and disclosure requirements for qualified and nonqualified plans.

(5/3/02) The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing April 17 titled “Integrating Prescription Drugs into Medicare.”  A witness list with links to testimony has been posted.

(5/3/02) The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing April 17 titled “Creating a Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: Assessing Efforts to Help America’s Low-Income Seniors.”  A witness list with links to testimony has been posted.

(5/3/02) “Segal's 2001 Survey of the Funded Position of Multi-employer Plans includes 459 plans with combined assets of more than $142 billion covering more than 3.8 million participants.”

(5/03/02) Hewitt's survey findings in Hot Topics in 401(k) Plans addresses employer stock in 401(k) plans and other design features.

(5/2/02) The Accrual Method for Funding Military Retirement: Assessment and Recommended Changes was published by RAND in 2001.

(5/2/02) A commentary on the Bush administration's plan to change the way the government accounts for Civil Service Retirement System benefits and Federal Employees Health Benefits Program benefits is available in the April 4, 2002, Pay and Benefits Watch on GovExec.com: “Accounting Games” by Brian Friel.

(5/2/02) Click here for a Health Affairs Web Exclusive: “Individual Insurance: How Much Financial Protection Does It Provide?” by Jon Gabel, Kelley Dhont, Heidi Whitmore, and Jeremy Pickreign.

(5/2/02) President Bush said Monday this week that the United States must provide full mental health parity.  Available on the Whitehouse site are his speech, the executive order, and a fact sheet titled: Improving Access to Quality Mental Health Care.

(5/1/02) “GovBenefits is a partnership of many Federal agencies and organizations with a shared vision -- to provide improved, personalized access to government assistance programs.”

(5/1/02) The American Association of Health Plans (AAHP) has posted a report dated April 2002 titled “The Factors Fueling Rising Healthcare Costs,” prepared for AAHP by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

(5/1/02) On February 13, 2002, Sen. Carl Levin introduced in the U.S. Senate S.1940 titled “Ending the Double Standard for Stock Options Act.”  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(5/1/02) Sen. John Kerry introduced April 17 in the U.S. Senate S.2190 titled “Worker Investment and Retirement Education Act of 2002” (WIRE Act).  A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(5/1/02) "The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the U. S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) jointly announced the official launch of a new government Web site, TalkingQuality.gov, designed to help benefit managers, consumer advocates, and state officials communicate with their audiences about health care quality."  The site was developed through the Quality Interagency Coordination (QuIC) Task Force, established to ensure that all  Federal agencies with health care responsibilities are working in a coordinated way to improve quality of care.

(5/1/02) The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General released a report in March titled: PWBA Needs to Improve Oversight of Cash Balance Plan Lump Sum Distributions.

(5/1/02) How Private Health Insurance Works: A Primer was prepared by Gary Claxton of the Institute for Health Care Research and Policy at Georgetown University for the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

(5/1/02) The Commonwealth Fund posted Room for Improvement: Patients Report on the Quality of Their Health Care.

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Updated 5/31/02