What's New - September 2009

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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:

“EBRI Now on Twitter” [EBRI Press Release, 2/6/09]

401(k) Balances and Changes Due to Market Volatility

Publications:

September 2009 EBRI Issue Brief - "Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Analysis from the March 2009 Current Population Survey"

September 2009 EBRI Notes - "Trends in Satisfaction and Confidence in Health Care, by Insurance and Health Status: Findings from the 2009 EBRI/MGA Health Confidence Survey" and "Social Security Reform: How Different Options Might Affect Future Funding"

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Sixth Edition of EBRI's Fundamentals of Employee Benefit Programs Is Now Available

New Survey Released March 19, 2008: Preparing for Their Future: A Look at the Financial State of Gen X and Gen Y - Press Release

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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:

Correspondence
Private Health Insurance: Research on Competition in the Insurance Industry. GAO-09-864R, July 31.

Health Insurance: Enrollment, Benefits, Funding, and Other Characteristics of State High-Risk Health Insurance Pools. GAO-09-730R, July 22.

Reports
Medicare Physician Services: Utilization Trends Indicate Sustained Beneficiary Access with High and Growing Levels of Service in Some Areas of the Nation. GAO-09-559, August 28. Highlights.

401(k) Plans: Policy Changes Could Reduce the Long-term Effects of Leakage on Workers' Retirement Savings. GAO-09-715, August 26. Highlights.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: More Strategic Approach Needed for Processing Complex Plans Prone to Delays and Overpayments. GAO-09-716, August 17. Highlights.

Medicare Physician Payments: Fees Could Better Reflect Efficiencies Achieved When Services Are Provided Together. GAO-09-647, July 31. Highlights.

Private Pensions: Alternative Approaches Could Address Retirement Risks Faced by Workers but Pose Trade-offs. GAO-09-642, July 24. [Reissued to correct table 12 on page 53.] Highlights.

 

If a title link above no longer works, click here for the GAO home page and search for the report by keyword or report number. Click here to browse by date,  topic, or agency.   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 Retirement Plans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  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.


[9/30/09]  U.S. News & World Report:  “Survey: Strong Bipartisan Support for Automatic IRA

[9/30/09]  The New York Times:

[9/30/09]  National Small Business Association:  2009 Small Business Health Care Reform Survey

[9/30/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Kaiser Health Tracking Poll--September 2009

[9/30/09]  The Washington Post:  “In Delivering Care, More Isn’t Always Better, Experts Say

[9/29/09]  Internal Revenue Service:  Employee Plans News [Special Edition, September 25, 2009]

[9/29/09]  InvestmentNews:  “401(k) Balance Tipping to the Young

[9/29/09]  Business Insurance:  “Employers Weighing Suspending 401(k) Matching Contributions

[9/29/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:

[9/28/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  EBSA EFAST2 All-Electronic Filing System [FAQs]

[9/28/09]  USA Today:  “Sen. Rockefeller Seeks to Extend Health Bill’s Protections

[9/28/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  “Vast Majority of Employers Expect Health Care Reform to Increase Costs, Watson Wyatt Poll Finds” [Press Release]

[9/28/09]  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development:  Pensions at a Glance: Current Trends and Policy Topics in Retirement-Income Provision in OECD Countries

[9/25/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Baucus Offers Higher Subsidies, Other Changes to His Healthcare Bill -- Proposals Would Make Buying Insurance More Affordable, Reduce Penalties and Limit Those Hit by a New Tax.  The Ideas Please Some Democrats and Key Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe

[9/25/09]  Internal Revenue Service:


[9/25/09]  Buck Consultants FYI:  “IRS Issues Final Regulations on Section 401(a)(9) Required Minimum Distributions for Governmental 401(a), 403(b) and 457(b) Plans

[9/25/09]  National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis:  “Is the Mattress a Good Place for Money?

[9/25/09]  Congressional Research Service:  Older Workers: Employment and Retirement Trends

[9/24/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Retirement Benefits Access and Participation Rates, March 2009

[9/24/09]  Vanguard Center for Retirement Research:  Reenrollment and Target-Date Funds: A Case Study in Portfolio Reconstruction

[9/24/09]  Governing.com:  “As Faith in the Almighty Dollar Erodes, There’s Hope in TIPS -- Inflation-Indexed Bonds Are Good for Retirement Plans as Well as the U.S. Dollar

[9/24/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Health Reform Subsidy Calculator - Premium Assistance for Coverage in Exchanges/Gateways

[9/24/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Mandate Minus Price Controls May Increase Healthcare Costs

[9/24/09]  Families and Work Institute:  The State of Health in the American Workforce: Does Having an Effective Workplace Matter?

[9/23/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2009

[9/23/09]  TIAA-CREF Institute Trends and Issues:  “Retirement Savers Respond to the Market Meltdown: Avoiding the ‘Hail Mary’ Pass in Higher Education

[9/23/09]  U.S. Department of the Treasury:  The Risk of Losing Health Insurance Over a Decade: New Findings from Longitudinal Data

[9/23/09]  USA Today:  “Health Expense Accounts Could Face Cuts

[9/23/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:

[9/23/09]  PricewaterhouseCoopers:  Managing Tomorrow’s People: How the Downturn Will Change the Future of Work

[9/22/09]  Newsweek:  “Given Up Hope on Retirement? Despite the economy, you can play catch-up with your investments. Here’s how.

[9/22/09]  Towers Perrin:  “Employers Put Costs at the Top of Health Care Reform Priority List -- Employers Say They Will Not Absorb Any Additional Costs Resulting from Reform” [Press Release]

[9/22/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Side-by-Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals [interactive comparison tool, updated 9/18/09]

[9/22/09]  The Los Angeles Times:

[9/21/09]  Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies:  Managing the Road to Retirement: Retirement Savings Sentiment and Behavior Among Select Age Groups

[9/21/09]  Prudential:  Managing Retirement Benefits Amid Capital Market Disruption [a Report prepared by CFO Research Services in collaboration with Prudential]

[9/21/09]  National Conference on Public Employment Retirement Systems:  Pension and Retirement Plan Enactments in 2009 State Legislatures

[9/21/09]  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:  Tax Offsets in Baucus Health Plan Are Sound But Can Be Improved

[9/21/09]  American Academy of Actuaries:  Critical Issues in Health Reform:

[9/17/09]  Milliman’s Client Action Bulletin:  “IRS Issues New Guidance to Facilitate Retirement Savings

[9/17/09]  Financial-Planning.com:  “Automatic Contributions Mask Poor 401(k) Performance

[9/17/09]  Principal Financial Group:  The Principal Financial Well-Being Index, Index Summary – 3rd Quarter 2009

[9/17/09]  Business Insurance:  “Employers Balance Disease Management, Wellness Efforts

[9/17/09]  The New York Times:  “Health Reform’s Missing Ingredient” by Sen. Ron Wyden [Op-Ed Contributor]

[9/17/09]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  “Baucus Introduces Landmark Plan to Lower Health Care Costs, Provide Quality, Affordable Coverage” [the news release includes a summary of the provisions in the Act]

[9/16/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Sen. Max Baucus Unveils His Healthcare Overhaul Plan -- Baucus’ Proposal Would Require All Americans to Get Insurance, but It Does Not Include a Public Option. Key Republicans Reject the Plan

[9/16/09]  U.S. Senate Committee on Finance:  Chairman’s Mark: America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 [Scheduled for Markup by the Senate Committee on Finance on September 22, 2009]

[9/16/09]  The Washington Post:

[9/16/09]  Business Roundtable:  Health Care Reform: The Perils of Inaction and the Promise of Effective Action [A Report to Business Roundtable by Hewitt Associates LLC]

[9/16/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  “Pulling It Together: Simple Arithmetic” from Drew Altman

[9/16/09]  JPMorgan Chase:  “Current Pension Legislative and Regulatory Outlook -- September 2009 -- DC Plan Initiatives

[9/15/09]  The New York Times:  “Insurance Premiums Still Rising Faster Than Inflation and Wages

[9/15/09]  Kaiser Family Foundation:  Employer Health Benefits 2009 Annual Survey

[9/15/09]  The Washington Post:  “Reform Bill Will Address GOP Fears -- But Affordability Questions Remain

[9/15/09]  Congressional Budget Office Background Paper:  “Will the Demand for Assets Fall When the Baby Boomers Retire?

[9/14/09]  Congressional Research Service:  Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends

[9/14/09]  Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Wages and Benefits by Occupational Group, June 2009

[9/14/09]  Congressional Budget Office:  Letter dated September 10, 2009, from Douglas Elmendorf, CBO director, to the Honorable Michael B. Enzi addressing issues related to the Affordable Health Choices Act:

  • Effects of Expanding the Medicaid Program
  • Effects on Employers and Employees
  • Effects of a “Public Plan”
  • Effects on Overall Expenditures for Health Care

[9/14/09]  The Commonwealth Fund:  Out of Options: Why So Many Workers in Small Businesses Lack Affordable Health Insurance, and How Health Care Reform Can Help

[9/11/09]  Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Employer Costs for Employee Compensation--June 2009

[9/11/09]  Principal Financial Group:  The Total View 2009: Retirement Plan Trends Report

[9/11/09]  Center for State and Local Government Excellence Issue Brief:  “Prefunding Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) in State and Local Governments: Options and Early Evidence

[9/11/09]  U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  Delivery of a Summary Prospectus in an ERISA §404(c) Plan [Field Assistance Bulletin 2009-03 -- See related SEC final rule below]

[9/11/09]  Securities and Exchange Commission:  Enhanced Disclosure and New Prospectus Delivery Option for Registered Open-End Management Investment Companies; Final Rule [as published in the Federal Register on January 26, 2009]

[9/11/09]  The Vanguard Group:  Improving the Effectiveness of Investment Committees

[9/10/09]  Internal Revenue Service:

[Note: Both IRS publications include information and links regarding the IRS & Treasury Department Retirement & Savings Initiatives / Rollovers from Employer Plans to Roth IRAs / IRS Retirement Plans Navigator / Life Events that Can Affect Retirement Savings]

[9/10/09]  The Associated Press [via The Los Angeles Times]:  “Major Points of President Obama’s Speech

[9/10/09]  Gallup Poll:  “Americans Still Sharply Divided on Healthcare Reform

[9/10/09]  The New York Times:  “Big Food vs. Big Insurance” [Op-Ed]

[9/9/09]  Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America:  Welcome to 401(k) Day 2009

[9/9/09]  Internal Revenue Service:

[9/9/09]  Kaiser Health News:  “Baucus Proposal for Senate Finance Health Care Deal

[9/9/09]  Urban Institute:  Current Health Reform Proposals: No Government Takeover of American Health Care

[9/9/09]  HealthReform.gov:  Strengthening the Health Insurance System: How Health Insurance Reform Will Help America’s Older and Senior Women

[9/8/09]  The White House Briefing Room:  “Weekly Address: President Obama Announces New Initiatives for Retirement Savings” [Note: The related Treasury Department/IRS retirement initiatives appear below.]

[9/8/09]  U.S. Department of the Treasury/Internal Revenue Service:  Retirement & Savings Initiatives -- Helping Americans Save for the Future

On this web page, the IRS provides guidance to make saving and choosing a retirement plan easier by:

  • Expanding opportunities for automatic enrollment in retirement plans;
  • Making it easier to save tax refunds;
  • Showing how employees can save payments they would receive for unused vacation or other similar leave in their retirement plan; and
  • Helping employees and employers understand their tax-favored rollover and other savings options, and retirement plan design options.

The IRS also provides links to all of the following published guidance on this web page:

The IRS’ web page titled “Life Events That Can Affect Retirement Savings” provides more information on major life events that can affect your retirement planning like starting a job, terminating employment, and catching up on contributions for missed years of opportunity.

[9/3/09]  The New York Times:

[9/3/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “States Most Likely to Win under Healthcare Overhaul Are Home to Its Biggest Foes

[9/3/09]  American Academy of Actuaries:  Critical Issues in Health Reform: Actuarial Perspectives from the Academy’s Health Practice Council

[9/3/09]  Congressional Research Service:  Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 111th Congress

[9/2/09]  U. S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration:  147th Meeting of the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans; Notice of Meeting [as published in the Federal Register on August 28, 2009]
The three-day open meeting will be held September 15-17, 2009, and the Council will study the following issues:

  • Promoting Retirement Literacy and Security by Streamlining Disclosures to Participants and Beneficiaries;
  • Stable Value Funds and Retirement Security in the Current Economic Conditions;
  • Approaches for Retirement Security in the United States

[9/2/09]  Watson Wyatt Worldwide:  Effect of the Economic Crisis on Employee Attitudes Toward Retirement Part III: Retirement Plan Design Preferences [Executive Summary]

[9/2/09]  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Frozen Defined Benefit Pension Plans in March 2008

[9/2/09]  Health Affairs:  “Using Clinical Information to Project Federal Health Care Spending -- How Congress Could Use a Diabetes Spending Projection Model to Help Inform Budget Decisions

[9/2/09]  Towers Perrin:  Health Care Reform and Account-Based Health Plans: What Does the Future Hold?

[9/2/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Healthcare Reform’s Biggest Fans: Young Adults

[9/1/09]  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:  Pension Insurance Data Book 2008

[9/1/09]  Compensation and Working Conditions:  “Alternatives to Frozen Defined Benefit Pension Plans

[9/1/09]  American Benefits Council:  Summary of Leading Single Employer Funding Relief Proposals

[9/1/09]  Social Security Advisory Board:  The Social Security Statement: How It Can Be Improved

[9/1/09]  The Los Angeles Times:  “Dissecting Democrats’ Healthcare Bills” [Q&A]

Updated 9/30/09