What's New

What's New - October 2000

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What's new at EBRI this month:

The EBRI monthly publications for October 2000, are available online for ordering.  The October Issue Brief is entitled "Small Employers and Health Benefits: Findings From the 2000 Small Employer Health Benefits Survey."  The October Notes articles are "The Impact of Workers' Earnings Profiles on Individual Account Accumulation" and "Asset Allocation: IRAs and 401(k)-Type Plans."

EBRI Testimony: Testimony of Paul Fronstin, EBRI Senior Research Associate, before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Hearing on Health Coverage and Uninsured Americans,   held October 4, 2000.

EBRI Databook updates: EBRI staff have been updating tables, charts, and text for various chapters from the EBRI Databook on Employee Benefits as new data become available. The updated chapters are available in the Members-only section of EBRI’s Web site, with a clear indication of the tables and charts updated since the fourth edition of the Databook was published in 1997.

Retirement Implications of Changing Demographics: The Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Society of Actuaries, in cooperation with other actuarial, employee benefits, government and research organizations, are sponsoring a call for papers to encourage and expose new ideas and fresh insights on the retirement implications of demographic and family change. The call for papers has been posted.

Health Insurance Coverage and the Job Market in California: This EBRI Special Report examines why the uninsured rate is so much higher in California than it is in the rest of the United States, focusing on labor market and demographic characteristics that may explain the differential in health insurance coverage.

The Small Employer Health Benefits Survey (SEHBS) examines a number of issues related to the decision by small employers (companies with two to 50 workers) about whether to offer health insurance coverage to workers. The SEHBS is co-sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), and the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Consumer Health Education Council (CHEC). SEHBS was conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc.

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What's new in employee benefits:

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

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the GAO Index of Reports and Testimony, FY99, and search for the report by entering words or phrases from the title. Reports will also be added to GAO's searchable WAIS database in ASCII and PDF formats within 24 hours of the original posting. Any individual report may be retrieved directly in text and PDF formats with the following URL: http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?RPTNO replacing RPTNO with the report number (e.g., GAO/OCG-98-1).

 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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(10/30/00) “Released October 16, a new study by Work in America Institute (WAI) reveals how companies and employees in a wide variety of industries are pursuing a "dual agenda" strategy--boosting business performance while also improving employees' work/life balance.”   Click here to read Holding a Job, Having a Life: Strategies for Change by Jill Casner-Lotto.

(10/30/00) “William M. Mercer's Worldwide Benefit & Employment Guidelines 2000/2001 (WBEG), with its extended analyses and information for 53 countries, is the definitive industry reference work on (a) multinational corporations' mandatory and private benefit practices and (b) statutory provisions regarding conditions of employment.”

(10/30/00) In a press release dated October 26, Deloitte & Touche released the findings of its 2000 401(k) Plan Benchmarking Survey, including issues of employee attraction and retention, plan investment and management, and the impact of technology on plan communications and administration.

(10/27/00) On October 26, 2000, the Joint Committee on Taxation released “Estimated Revenue Effects of the ‘Taxpayer Relief Act of 2000’,” JCX-109-00, estimating costs of various provisions contained in the Act including health insurance, long-term care, pensions, and IRAs, for the years 2001 through 2010.

(10/27/00) URAC (also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare/Commission), a health care accreditation organization, recently released The State of PPO Performance Measurement: Case Study Report by Liza Greenberg, URAC Vice President of Research.

(10/27/00) In remarks delivered at the annual meeting of the Conference Board on October 18, Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers endorsed ‘”lockboxes” for Social Security and Medicare.  On October 16 the Institute for America’s Future released “A New Analysis of Governor Bush's Individual Account Proposal: Implications for Retirement Benefits” by Henry J. Aaron et al., an update of an earlier analysis entitled “Governor Bush’s Individual Account Proposal: Implications for Retirement Benefits.”

(10/27/00) In a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert on October 25, President Clinton indicated his support for pension reform legislation so long as "employer-provided pensions for workers are not harmed," while also insisting on protections for employees affected by cash balance conversions and savings incentives for low- and moderate-income workers.

(10/27/00) The Urban Institute and The Brookings Institution published a September 1999, final report, Modeling Income in the Near Term -- Projections of Retirement Income Through 2020 for the 1931 -- 60 Cohorts, which reports on the projection of retirement income components.

(10/26/00) Employment Policy Foundation posted October 24, 2000, an employment trends report titled: Share of Full-time Wage and Salary Jobs Unchanged from the 1950s.

(10/26/00) Workforce.com has posted a chart for employers labelled: "Time Off To Vote In Elections Under State Laws."  The source is CCH Incorporated’s Labor Law Reports, 2000.

(10/26/00) Families USA has posted information at healthcampaign2000.org comparing and contrasting two presidential candidates’ positions on health care issues.  One  report is titled Health Care and The 2000 Election.

(10/26/00) Contraception Controversy: Can Employers Refuse to Pay for “The Pill?” by Gillian Flynn is a Legal Insight provided by Workforce.com.

10/26/00) The Investment Company Institute published "IRA Ownership in 2000" in the October 2000 issue of Fundamentals.

(10/26/00) The Segal Company has published in its October 2000 Bulletin, "2001 IRS Dollar Limits for Retirement Plans and 2001 Social Security Factors."

(10/25/00) In a press release dated October 19, 2000, CCH Incorporated released the results of its 2000 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey.

(10/25/00) Hewitt Associates issued a press release on October 23, 2000, projecting average health care cost increases for employers from 10 to 13 percent in 2001.

(10/25/00) The Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA) of the U.S. Department of Labor issued a press release on October 19, 2000, announcing the publication of a final rule designed to safeguard small pension plan assets.

(10/25/00) The Commonwealth Fund has posted on its web site Perspectives on PPO Performance Measurement from Consumers, PPO Leaders, and Employers by Liza Greenberg of the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission/URAC.

(10/24/00) The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has published online Working Paper 2000-02 titled: The Effects Of Health, Wealth, And Wages On Labor Supply And Retirement Behavior by Eric French.

(10/24/00) The William M. Mercer study, Shares Reserved for Long-Term Incentives and Shares Granted at 350 Major Industrial and Service Companies, is based on public corporate documents filed in 2000.

(10/24/00) The Segal Company recently released an abstract of its 2001 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey, projecting increases in medical, prescription drug, and dental plan costs for 2001.

(10/19/00) The Social Security Administration announced on October 18 that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase 3.5 percent in 2001. A fact sheet reflecting cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for 2001 is available.

(10/16/00) In a press release issued October 12, 2000, the Social Security Administration announced the completion of its first year of mailing annual Social Security statements, while also announcing two new financial planning tools, an online Benefits Planner and a special insert on retirement planning to accompany the annual statement beginning this month.   SSA has expanded the Retirement Planner to include a link to the American Savings Education Council's (ASEC's) Ballpark Estimate worksheet.

(10/16/00) The Center for National Policy issued a press release on a study released October 4, 2000, entitled The Impact of Labor Market Trends on Health Care Coverage.

(10/16/00) The Health Insurance Association of America has released a survey entitled "Buyers and Non-Buyers of Long-Term Care Insurance: A Decade of Experience" indicating that approximately one out of three Americans over the age of fifty-five favor tax relief for individuals purchasing private long-term care insurance.  A press release and a media kit are available at this time.

(10/16/00) How Would Financial Risk Affect Retirement Income Under Individual Accounts? by Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution, published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College addresses the effects of financial risk on retirement income under a system of individual accounts in Social Security.

(10/16/00) The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has published a Policy Brief, "Focus Groups Suggest New Strategies Are Needed to Reach Uninsured Children in Low-Income Families” which reports on a focus group study.   Click here for the brief.

(10/13/00) The National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation is hosting "Making the Future Bright for Chronically Ill Kids."  The forum will be held from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 25, 2000, at the International Trade Center, Rotunda Ballroom, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.  Go the the NIHCM Web site for more registration information.

(10/13/00) Dr. Alan M. Zasvalvsky, et al, published a study entitled: "Impact of Sociodemographic Case Mix on the HEDIS Measures of Health Plan Quality" in the October issue of Medical Care, vol. 38, no. 10, pp. 981-992.  The press release is available on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Web site.

(10/13/00) The Internal Revenue Service published proposed regulations on October 6 entitled “Nondiscrimination Requirements for Certain Defined Contribution Retirement Plans” in the Federal Register.

(10/13/00) The Institute for Health Freedom released September 26, 2000, a survey conducted by The Gallup Organization entitled Public Attitudes Toward Medical Privacy.

(10/13/00) An October 9, 2000, article from The National Underwriter Company entitled “401(k) Advice Moves Into the Fast Lane” by Linda Koco is posted on the BenefitsLink Web site.

(10/13/00) The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor has released the following: Pilot Survey on the Incidence of Stock Options in Private Industry in 1999.

(10/12/00) "A Start-Up's Hiring Attracts Unwanted Attention" by Abby Ellin on The New York Times on the Web, October 11, 2000, concerns the classification of workers and compliance with state and federal regulations.

(10/12/00) The Long-Term Budget Outlook, released October 6, 2000, is a report on the federal budget based on the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO's) 10-year baseline projections of July 2000.

(10/12/00) Who's Watching the Kids? The State of Child Care in America reports on a recent conference at Wharton entitled, "Caring for the Young Children of Working Parents: A Call for Private and Public Sector Leadership" which drew participants from government, the corporate world, the child care field and academia.

(10/11/00) The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers released September 29, 2000, a new national study on retirement, Social Security, and the presidential election titled: Second Wind: Workers, Retirement, and Social Security.

(10/11/00) The maximum annual addition (under IRC section 415) limits for defined contribution plans will increase in the year 2001 to $35,000 from $30,000, the first increase since 1983, according to projections from the consultant firm William M. Mercer.

(10/11/00) The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a side-by-side comparison titled: “Health Issues in the 2000 Presidential Election: A Comparison of Proposals” which presents basic, nonpartisan information to help voters compare the leading presidential candidates' proposals on health care issues, including health coverage for the uninsured, managed care and patients' rights, Medicare reform, prescription drug coverage for seniors, and long-term care. 

(10/11/00) Prescription Drug Trends is a 2-page fact sheet released September 2000, by the Kaiser Family Foundation that provides an overview of the trends in prescription drug coverage, expenditures, and the factors driving drug spending: prices, utilization, and the impact of newer, higher-priced prescriptions.

(10/10/00) On July 26, 2000, Rep. Robert Andrews introduced H.R. 4962, Employee Benefits Eligibility Fairness Act of 2000, “to ensure that employees are not improperly disqualified from benefits under pension plans and welfare plans based on a miscategorization of their employee status.” A Bill Summary & Status is available.

(10/10/00) On July 26, 2000, Rep. Amo Houghton introduced H.R. 4972, Universal Employee Stock Option Act of 2000, which would permit employees to purchase company stock through pre-tax payroll deductions and would allow employers a deduction on the value of the stock at the time the option is exercised.  A Bill Summary & Status is available.  

(10/10/00) The Fraser Institute, a Vancouver, B.C.-based think tank, recently released a study entitled “Prescription Drug Prices in Canada and the United States—Part 1: A Comparative Survey” and “Prescription Drug Prices in Canada and the United States—Part 2: Why the Difference?

(10/6/00) The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued the Employee Benefits chapter of the new EEOC Compliance Manual.  The chapter “provides guidance and instructions for investigating and analyzing issues that arise with regard to life and health insurance benefits, long-term and short-term disability benefits, severance benefits, pension or other retirement benefits, and early retirement incentives.”

(10/6/00) “Freedom of Choice” on defined contribution health insurance benefits is an October 2000, Best’s Review article.

(10/5/00) Legal Ramifications of Communication, written by Timothy J. Parsons for Gorsuch Kirgis LLP, discusses the legal aspects of communications by plan fiduciaries, administrators, and service providers for employee benefit plans.

(10/4/00) The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation issued a press release on October 2, 2000, announcing the release of the 1999 data contained in its annual Pension Insurance Data Book.

(10/4/00) 2030 Action, a public policy organization for young adults, released “Young Social Security Beneficiaries in the Fifty States” during a panel discussion held on October 2, 2000, at the National Press Club.

During the same panel discussion, the Economic Policy Institute released a briefing paper by Christian E. Weller entitled “Raising the Retirement Age: The Wrong Direction for Social Security.” Both reports examine the effects of George W. Bush’s Social Security reform proposal on young people.

(10/4/00) The Gallup Organization released September 29, 2000, a public attitude poll on “Election 2000: Where the Public Stands on Social Security.”

(10/3/00) Liberty Mutual Insurance has developed the Lost Productivity Calculator to help employers calculate the cost of unplanned absences of employees.

(10/3/00) "Who Really Wants Price Competition in Managed Care?" is from the September/October 2000 edition of Health Affairs.

(10/3/00) "Issues in Drug Benefit Management - Reimbursement and Distribution: A New Role for PBMs?" is from the August 2000 edition of Drug Benefit Trends.

(10/3/00) Compensation and Working Conditions Online, Summer 2000, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics contains "Cash Balance Pension Plans: The New Wave" by Kenneth R. Elliott and James H. Moore, Jr.

(10/3/00) The Social Security Administration has posted on its Web site "Questions and Answers on Extended Medicare Coverage for Working People with Disabilities." This extended coverage resulted from the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, signed into law by President Clinton in December 1999.

(10/2/00) The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor's August 2000 Issues in Labor Statistics "When One Job is Not Enough" provides statistics on multiple jobholders.

(10/2/00) The Supreme Court of the United States has made its case docket available online.

(10/2/00) The Association of Workers’ Compensation Professionals has established a Web site.

(10/2/00) The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured has released a new report, In Their Own Words: The Uninsured Talk About Living Without Health Insurance. The report, basic fact sheets, a chartbook, and in-depth background papers on the uninsured issue are all available from this page on the Kaiser Family Foundation website.

(10/2/00) The Department of Labor's PWBA has issued a Federal Register Notice: Disclosure Obligations Under ERISA; Request for Information. The notice "requests information from the public concerning disclosure obligations of fiduciaries of employee benefit plans governed by ERISA."

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