What's New

What's New - September 2000

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What's new at EBRI this month:

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.

An EBRI Health Benefits Briefing:

WHAT: Release of the 1st Small Employer Health Benefits Survey (SEHBS)

WHERE: The Holeman Lounge, National Press Club
                 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor-Washington, DC 20045

WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2000
               10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

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.

The Consumer Health Education Council (CHEC) announced the launching of its consumer health education Web site. The CHEC site, www.healthCHEC.org, demonstrates CHEC's health insurance coverage education strategy, agenda, and information resources pertinent to coverage education and health research collaborations.

The EBRI monthly publications  for  September 2000 are available online for ordering. The September Issue Brief  is entitled "Counting the Uninsured: A Comparison of National Surveys."  The September Notes articles are "Prescription Drugs: Continued Rapid Growth" and "Pension Coverage: Examining CPS Data."

The Working Uninsured: Campaign 2000 Proposals From the Presidential Candidates excerpts portions of the upcoming August 2000 EBRI Issue Brief dealing with presidential candidate proposals to reduce the number of uninsured Americans. Democratic and Republican proposals are explained and contrasted, and URLs for various health-group and national third-party policy statements on health coverage are also provided.

Facts from EBRI: Leave of Absence Benefits Among Private-Sector Employers: Paid Holiday, Vacation, and Sick Leave is a July 2000 fact sheet from EBRI.

Value of Benefits Survey: "Most workers are generally satisfied with their employment-based benefits and continue to rank health care as the most important of their employee benefits, according to the findings of the 2000 Value of Benefits Survey conducted by WorldatWork in collaboration with the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)."

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What's new in employee benefits:

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

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(9/29/00) The Profit Sharing/ 401(k) Council of America has released the 43rd Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans. An overview of survey results is available online.

(9/29/00) "Chances of Having Health Insurance Increase, Reversing 12-Year Trend, Census Bureau Says" is the headline on the press release announcing new data on the number of people without health insurance. The full report is also available: Health Insurance Coverage: 1999.

(9/29/00) On September 14, 2000, Senator Trent Lott introduced S. 3046, Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2000, which contains a provision permitting individuals to waive bankruptcy protections on their retirement plan assets. The Bill Summary & Status is available.

(9/27/00) "The number of employers offering domestic partner health insurance benefits has increased 25 percent since last year, and now includes more than 100 of the Fortune 500, according to" The State of the Workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Americans released by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

(9/27/00) In a press release dated September 21, 2000, the Joint Economic Committee announced the release of a new report, Social Security in the 21st Century.

(9/27/00) "A recent Gallup poll, conducted September 11-13, 2000, finds that just a slight majority of Americans, 54%, are satisfied with the quality of health care in the United States, but that the overwhelming majority of Americans, 82%, are satisfied with the quality of health care they themselves receive."

(9/27/00) A press release reports that Critical Condition with Hedrick Smith, airing on October 18 from 8-11 p.m. ET on PBS, will "look at the quality, affordability and availability of health care for ordinary Americans, the chronically ill, the uninsured, children and seniors in Medicare HMOs." Click here for the companion Web site.

(9/26/00) "The Census Bureau has released … reports based on the March supplements to the Current Population Survey. The first report, The Changing Shape of the Nations Income Distribution: 1947-98, provides an historical view of income distribution within the United States."

(9/26/00) "HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala announced ... that eleven states have received one-year federal grants totaling $13.6 million to develop plans for providing their uninsured citizens access to affordable health insurance. Background information on the State Planning Grants program is available…."

(9/26/00) The 100 Best Companies For Working Mothers as published in Working Mother magazine, October 2000, were selected in recognition of their commitment to work/life balance.

(9/25/00) FirstGov is a new U.S. Government Web site that will provide free rapid access to all federal government online resources, information, and public services.

(9/25/00) The American Benefits Council (the Council), formerly known as the Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans (APPWP - the Benefits Association), announced the results of a new employer survey on the future of employer-sponsored benefits policy.

(9/25/00) The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a news release on August 29, 2000, entitled " Employee Tenure in 2000," reflecting data from 1983 to 2000.

(9/22/00) The AARP Research Group has released a public opinion poll of the following topics: Priorities in the 2000 Presidential Election, Reactions to Proposed Retirement Savings Approaches, and Retirement Savings Priorities and Preparedness.

(9/22/00) Comparison of AFL-CIO 1999 Key Corporate Governance Votes to Average Votes on Comparable Proposals is posted on the Web site of the Investor Responsibility Research Center.

(9/22/00) The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has posted a new report entitled Achieving a Balance: Meeting Work and Family Obligations describing family-friendly workplace arrangements available to Federal employees.

(9/22/00) The Poster Advisor is designed to help employers comply with the poster requirements of several laws administered by the Department of Labor (DOL). These laws require employers to display official DOL posters where employees can readily observe them. DOL provides the posters on the site at no cost to employers.

(9/21/00) The Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans has posted a chart entitled Summary of Retirement Savings Provisions Included in H.R. 1102, as Passed by the House of Representatives on July 19, 2000 and Reported by the Senate Finance Committee on September 7, 2000, comparing the House and Senate versions of this pension legislation with current law.

(9/21/00) The Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans has posted a chart entitled "Roth/Baucus Targeted Savings Incentive" (as contained in H.R. 1102), which would allow a nonrefundable tax credit to employees in low-to-moderate income tax brackets who make salary reduction contributions to their employment-based retirement plans.

(9/21/00) The House passed on September 19, 2000, H.R. 5203, the Debt Relief and Retirement Security Reconciliation Act of 2000, which includes pension provisions identical to those passed in H.R. 1102 on July 19, 2000. The Bill Summary & Status is available.

(9/21/00) On September 19, 2000, President Clinton signed into law H.R. 4040, Long-Term Care Security Act, "to amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for the establishment of a program under which long-term care insurance is made available to Federal employees, members of the uniformed services, and civilian and military retirees, provide for the correction of retirement coverage errors under chapters 83 and 84 of such title, and for other purposes." The Bill Summary & Status is available.

(9/21/00) A new survey of health care plans by Caredata.com has been posted. A listing of plans evaluated in each region is available.

(9/21/00) The Investment Company Institute has released an ad hoc survey on Simple IRAs.

(9/21/00) " The Best and Worst 401(k)s" is a recent SmartMoney Magazine feature article. It links to " The 401(k) Index Leaders & Losers."

(9/20/00) Read the testimony from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations hearing on "How to Improve Pension Coverage for American Workers" held September 14, 2000.

(9/20/00) A September 11-13, 2000, Gallup Poll of public opinion reports that "Eleven percent of Americans claim they do not currently have health care coverage."

(9/20/00) The Fortune "Most Admired Global Companies" survey will be published in the October 2 issue. See the results online now.

(9/19/00) The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research has released Employee Benefits and Labor Markets in Canada and the United States, edited by William T. Alpert, University of Connecticut and The Donner Foundation, and Stephen A. Woodbury, Michigan State University and W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. The book presents a comprehensive set of explorations into the impact that the provision of various types of employee benefits (or lack thereof) have on labor markets.

(9/18/00) FreeERISA.com now includes Form 990 financial data for tax exempt organizations, top hat plans' filings, and the latest release of publicly available Form 5500 annual reports filed by pension plans.

(9/15/00) BusinessWeek Online has posted a short article titled: "Do-It-Yourself Pensions: A Sampling of New Online 401(k) Plans and What They Cost."

(9/14/00) The September/October 2000 issue of Health Affairs includes a variety of articles dealing with employer-sponsored health insurance in the "Health Tracking" section, a special section on Medicare reform, and one article on the medically uninsured in addition to regular features.

(9/13/00) The American Society of Pension Actuaries has posted a chart titled "The Retirement Security and Savings Act Side-by-Side Comparison." The chart compares current law with H.R. 4843, the Comprehensive Retirement Security and Pension Reform Act of 2000, which passed the House on July 19, 2000, and with the Retirement Security and Savings Act, which passed the Senate Finance Committee on September 7, 2000, on relevant issues.

(9/12/00) Arthur Andersen’s Survey of Health and Welfare Benefit Plans 2000 "includes detailed information on life insurance, medical benefits, short- and long-term disability, …, dental benefits, vacation/holidays, fringe benefits and other paid time off."

(9/12/00) On September 7, 2000, the House of Representatives passed H.R.4844, Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2000, in an effort to augment railroad retirees’ benefits by lessening retirement taxes for railroad workers via more diversified investments of Railroad Retirement Trust Fund monies. Click here for Bill Summary & Status.

(9/12/00) On July 11, 2000, Rep. Robert Andrews introduced H.R. 4820, "To create an independent office in the Department of Labor to advocate on behalf of pension participants, and for other purposes." Click here for Bill Summary & Status.

(9/12/00) On June 26, 2000, Rep. John Boehner introduced H.R. 4749, ERISA Modernization Act of 2000, in an effort to revamp ERISA’s prohibited transactions rules. The Bill Summary & Status is available.

(9/12/00) On June 26, 2000, Rep. John Boehner also introduced H.R. 4748, Comprehensive ERISA Modernization Act of 2000, which combines the provisions of H.R. 4749 and H.R. 4747, Retirement Security Advice Act, which would facilitate employer-provided investment advice for employees. The Bill Summary & Status for H.R. 4748 is available.

(9/12/00) On July 10, 2000, President Clinton signed into law S. 1309, Church Plan Parity and Entanglement Prevention Act of 2000, which exempts church-sponsored health and welfare plans from certain state licensure and solvency rules, including those directed at multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs). However, the new law (PL 106-244) indicates that states can continue to enforce other state insurance laws against these plans, including benefit mandates that apply to insurance policies.

(9/12/00) The Commonwealth Fund recently released a study entitled Medicare+Choice in 2000: Will Enrollees Spend More and Receive Less? by Amanda Cassidy and Marsha Gold.

(9/11/00) "The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) issued the revised gross domestic product (GDP) estimates for 1997 through the first quarter of 2000. One of the key methodological changes announced with this release was the use of a new data source for employer contributions to group health insurance, which accounts for about one-half of the "other labor income" category. These revised estimates are based on AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) that covers both health insurance purchased by employers for their employees and health insurance provided by employers on a self-insured basis." The preceding is from the thirteenth issue of AHRQ's Electronic Newsletter.

(9/11/00) On June 30, 2000, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1304, Quality Health-Care Coalition Act of 2000, a bill that would permit certain physicians to bargain collectively with health plans.  The Bill Summary & Status page is available.

(9/11/00) The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General recently released a report entitled HMO Withdrawals: Impact on Medicare Beneficiaries.

(9/11/00) The National Committee for Quality Assurance issued a press release on September 6, 2000, announcing the release of The State of Managed Care Quality 2000, based on an analysis of 466 health plan products covering approximately 51 million people.

(9/11/00) BenefitsLink has reprinted with permission the September 1, 2000, TaxBase article published by Tax Analysts "Pension Reform: Making a Bad Situation Worse?" by Lee A. Sheppard, Tax Notes Contributing Editor.

(9/8/00) "The Employer Health Benefits Survey is undertaken annually by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. In its fourteen year, the survey was previously conducted by KPMG Peat Marwick from 1991-1998. '

(9/8/00) The Internal Revenue Service issued Final Rules (T.D. 8900) on Optional Forms of Benefit Under Qualified Plans on August 31, 2000.

(9/7/00) The Society of Actuaries released Actuarial Aspects of Cash Balance Plans, a research study on the design and valuation of these plans.

(9/7/00) Watson Wyatt Worldwide has posted on its Web site a press release regarding the availability of Medicare+Choice plans to employers, despite continuing pullouts by some plans.

(9/7/00) The latest compilation of the " 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" done by Working Mother of family-friendly companies, is available on the WorkingWoman.com site

(9/6/00) The Financial Markets Center released an August 22, 2000, report on some of the problems associated with the Federal Reserve's pension plan. The article also addresses the history and structure of that defined benefit plan.

(9/6/00) Reaching the Uninsured: Alternative Approaches to Expanding Health Insurance Access is a September, 2000, white paper from the White House Council of Economic Advisors.

(9/6/00) Among the findings from Development Dimensions International’s two recent surveys, " Retention Survey of HR Professionals" and "Retention Survey of Employees," are ten prevalent myths surrounding employee retention efforts.

(9/5/00) The August 31, 2000, edition of The Record, Northern New Jersey, carries an article titled "Emergency Day Care a Key Fringe Benefit: Practice Gaining in Popularity" It is written by Catherine Holahan, Staff Writer, and BenefitsLink provides the link to the story.

(9/1/00) The U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Small Business Administration, US Chamber of Commerce, and Merrill Lynch have launched a new Web site, Select a Retirement Plan.org, that will provide information for small businesses that want to set up retirement programs.

(9/1/00) The U.S. Department of Labor has posted "The History of Labor Day" in time for the holiday.

(9/1/00) The Compensation Resource Group, Inc. has posted their seventh annual survey titled Executive Benefits: A Survey of Current Trends: 2000 Survey Results for the Fortune 1000 to CRG’s publications Web page. Free registration is required to access the survey.

(9/1/00) HealthLink Plus is a new site from the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (PLCMC), North Carolina, which aims to "facilitate access to consumer health information in an effort to develop and enhance public knowledge of important health and fitness issues."

(9/1/00) The TD Waterhouse Group is offering a free CD-ROM, "TD Waterhouse Interactive Guide to Changing Jobs or Retiring," at their branch offices, or by calling 800-TDWaterhouse.

(9/1/00) The Kaiser Health Information Network, kaisernetwork.org, a free online service for the health policy community, the news media, and the general public, will begin operations Fall 2000. The Network will broadcast major health policy events on the Web (HealthCast) and include three daily online health reports and other services.

(9/1/00) "Celebrate 401(k) Day on September 5, 2000! What is 401(k) Day? Just as retirement follows work, 401(k) Day falls on the day after Labor Day to spotlight the importance of employer-sponsored profit sharing and 401(k) plans. Download the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA) free 401(k) Day kit and use the content and ideas to design your own 401(k) Day program."

(9/1/00) 401(k) Plans: 1984 to 1999 contains data compiled by the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA) August 28, 2000.

(9/1/00) Report #7 from the Urban Institute's Retirement Project, The Limits of Saving (August 2000), is by Pamela Perun.

(9/1/00) The National Health Law Program (NheLP) provides a "list of resources, both online and in print only, that NHeLP staff attorneys have come across in the course of their work" since February 2000.

(9/1/00) Employer Options for Child Care: An Effective Strategy for Recruitment and Retention from Kansas State University, June 1999, is a handbook to help employers plan strategically for child care benefits in the workplace.

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Updated 9/29/00