What's New

What's New - September 1999

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What's new at EBRI this month:

Statement of Jack VanDerhei before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Hearing on Hybrid Pensions, September 21, 1999.

1999 Health Confidence Survey (HCS): Press Release Outlines Preliminary EBRI HCS Findings from EBRI 's Survey Which Examines Americans' Confidence in the Health Care System   Click here to go to a page with links to the Survey Questionnaire, a later press release, and Fact Sheets from the results of the survey:

  • Age Differences
  • Confidence in Health Care Today
  • Confidence in the Future of Health Care
  • Gender Differences
  • Health Status Differences
  • Medicare
  • Satisfaction with Managed Care
  • Managed Care Confusion

Savings Game Special: On Friday, September 17, 1999, WJLA-TV Channel 7 will air the second "Savings Game" Choose to Save™ special from 9 p.m. - 10 p.m. in the Washington, DC  metropolitan area.  The special will feature real people in various stages of retirement preparedness, tips, educational resources, and more.  The 1998 Savings Game special won a Capital Area Emmy.

The EBRI Issue Brief and EBRI Notes for the month of September are available online for ordering. The September Issue Brief is entitled "Employment-Based Health Benefits: Who Is Offered Coverage vs. Who Takes It."  The September Notes articles are "Implications of Investing Social Security Funds in the U.S. Stock Market" and "Public Opinion on the U.S. Health Insurance System: Gender and Plan Type Comparisons."

Severing the Link Between Health Insurance and Employment: With Congress likely to take up patients' rights and tax bills this fall, a new book by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) lays out how the nation's employment-based health insurance system may be affected by tax code changes.  The book also contains results from a new survey that indicates strong public support for the existing employment-based health insurance system.

The book is available free to reporters by contacting Danny Devine at (202) 775-6308 or devine@ebri.org.  It is based on proceedings of the Spring 1999 EBRI policy forum, underwritten by a grant from the Princeton, NJ-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which brought together more than a hundred experts from all perspectives to discuss how tax changes might affect the American system of health insurance.

An Overview of Cash Balance Plans: This feature article from the July 1999 EBRI Notes outlines the pros and cons of "cash balance" retirement plans, which have generated strong interest among employers and workers, as well as considerable news coverage.

Employee Tools: Results of the 1999 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) and the 1999 Small Employer Retirement Survey (SERS) show we are making progress in educating Americans about the need to make retirement savings and planning a priority, but we must do more to help. To that end, we have created two new retirement planning tools based on the results of this year’s RCS-the Retirement Readiness Rating and the Retirement Personality Profiler.

  • The Retirement Readiness Rating (R3) measures how well individual workers are doing in terms of preparing for their retirement. Individuals answer a series of 11 questions and receive tips on action items they can take that will help them improve their financial preparations for retirement.
  • The Retirement Personality Profiler asks individuals a short series of questions and then determines whether the individual is a Planner, Saver, Struggler, Impulsive, or Denier. Based on their retirement personality, the Profiler provides tips on how the individual can do a better job of planning and saving for retirement.

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What's new in employee benefits:

  • The American Compensation Association provides listings of human resources-related congressional bills with links to the bills and to background information on the bills.
  • Late-breaking news items from the weekly publication Business Insurance are posted every Friday before the Monday issue date.
  • Click here for the latest available issue of the Washington Status Report from the research staff of Hewitt Associates.
  • Click here for the daily edition of the Society for Human Resource Management's newspaper, HR News Online.
  • Click here for the American Compensation Association's Compensation & Benefits NEWSLINE.
  • The following items have been added to the General Accounting Office's Web site in Portable Document (PDF) format:

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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(9/29/99) "Bradley, GOP Offer Plans for the Uninsured: Democrat Wants Universal Coverage; GOP Would Make Premiums Deductible" is an MSNBC story published online.

(9/29/99) "Bradley Presents Health Plan for Almost All the Uninsured" is a headline in today's New York Times.

(9/28/99) "Feeling the Strain" is the feature story on ERISA in the September 1999, issue of Plan Sponsor. The page also provides a link to the table of contents of the issue.

(9/27/99) Available on the Investment Company Institute Web site:

(9/27/99) Click here for highlights of Vice President Gore's September 22, 1999, remarks on the need for Medicare reform. The remarks noted the release of a new report on Medicare HMOs and prescription drug benefits, Medicare+Choice: Changes for the Year 2000, by the Department of Health and Human Services.

(9/24/99) Most of Tuesday's testimony from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's Hearing on Hybrid Pension Plans is now available.

(9/23/99) The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has archived the September 21, 1999, Hearing on Hybrid Pensions as an Internet broadcast for you to review.

(9/23/99) The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has released an American Worker Project (AWP) report on labor law: "Securing the Future of America's Working Families."

(9/22/99) "Expanding Private Health Coverage to Uninsured Hispanic Americans" by Roberto Garcia de Posada is a recent Backgrounder from the Heritage Foundation.

(9/21/99) Click here for the Defined Contribution Plan Investing, September 1999, article titled: "Conversions to Cash Balance Plans Highlight Importance Of DC/401(k) Approach."

(9/21/99) "The Hewitt 401(k) Distribution Rollover Analysis represents more than 193,000 defined contribution plan distributions nationwide in 1998." Click here for the press release with links to supporting documentation such as bar charts and tips for making 401(k) plan distribution decisions with hypothetical calculations.

(9/20/99) The September 2, 1999, white paper: The Coming Medical Group Failure Epidemic: Access to Medical Care for Millions of Californians is at Risk, has been posted by the The California Medical Association.

(9/20/99) The Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA) released September 8 a study titled Tax Deductibility of Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums: Implications for Market Growth and Public Long-Term Care Expenditures (Summary of Research Findings) by Marc A. Cohen and Maurice Weinrobe.

(9/17/99) The 1999 Report on the American Workforce is the fourth report on the American workforce prepared by the staff of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

(9/16/99) "The notion that tax provisions permitting taxpayers to keep more of their own money are equivalent to federal spending was challenged August 4 in a new study released through a press release by Joint Economic Committee (JEC) Vice Chairman Jim Saxton. Though alien to most taxpayers, this concept of so-called "tax expenditures" is deeply ingrained in the federal budget process and tilts decision-making by undermining incentives for personal saving and investment. The new JEC study, Tax Expenditures: A Review and Analysis, explains the intellectual origins of this idea and its incorporation into the budget process." The report specifically cites the pension exclusion as an example.

(9/15/99) Business Wire has posted this press release: Hewitt Study Shows More Than Half of 401k Plan Participants Opt for Cash When Changing Jobs. "The study indicates that 57 percent of 401(k) plan participants choose to take cash payments when changing jobs, instead of rolling over the balance to their new employers' plans or IRAs."

(9/14/99) The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has posted the Pension Insurance Data Book 1998.

(9/14/99) The Employment Policy Foundation's Economic Bytes for September 10, 1999, reports on "Paid Parental Leave: A $14 Billion to $128 Billion Entitlement."

(9/13/99) Business Week frontier Online interviewed Dallas L. Salisbury for the online daily briefing. See "Caveat Emptor: A Critical Look at Buying Health-Insurance Policies Online: The head of the Employee Benefit Research Institute talks about the obstacles to making an informed choice.

(9/13/99) A report documenting the spread of domestic partner benefits was released September 7 by the Human Rights Campaign: The State of the Workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Workers. A full list of employers with non-discrimination policies and domestic partner benefits is also available on the HRC Web site.

(9/10/99) "Can't Afford to Get Sick: A Reality for Millions of Working Americans" by John Budetti, Janet Shikles, Lisa Duchon, and Cathy Schoen, a report based on The Commonwealth Fund 1999 National Survey of Workers’ Health Insurance, was released September 2, 1999.

(9/9/99) "Estimating Retirement Savings: Are Ballpark Estimate Type Planning Worksheets Accurate Enough to Help Consumers?" by Barbara O'Neill is in the Summer 1999 issue of The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues.

(9/8/99) Who Purchases Individual Insurance? A Comparison of New York State, Regional, and National Patterns, 1994-1997 by Kenneth E. Thorpe is available on the Web site of the United Hospital Fund of New York.

(9/7/99) The Kaiser Family Foundation has posted the report by Barents Group LLC titled: Analysis of Benefits Offered By Medicare HMOs, 1999: Complexities and Implications.

(9/3/99) The feature story of the September-October issue of Contingencies is on cash balance pension plans. Click here to read: Retirement in the Balance: What Are Cash Balance Pension Plans?, A Workable Alternative To Defined Benefit Plans by Larry Sher, Some Serious Questions About Cash Balance Plans by Norman Stein, There's No Need To Retire Tradition Pensions by David Strauss.

(9/3/99) InsureUSA, sponsored by the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA), is part of HIAA's initiative to increase health coverage by building on the foundation of the private employer-based system.

(9/3/99) Just a reminder that Selected Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports are available online.

(9/2/99) High Hopes, Little Trust: A Study of Young Workers and Their Ups and Downs in the New Economy is a new AFL-CIO study of young workers' attitudes toward work and the economy.

(9/2/99) "Cash Balance Plans: Will Congress Take the Media Bait?" is the second in a series of Insider articles from Watson Wyatt on cash balance pension plan issues.

(9/1/99) The Employment Policy Foundation released its 1999 American Workplace Report, "A Century of Progress...A Century of Change," which traces key trends in the workplace, the workforce, incomes, and living standards over the past one hundred years.

(9/1/99) Plan Sponsor Exchange, a new source on the Internet, provides a Web site for interaction and research among the plan sponsor community.

(9/1/99) Celebrate 401(k) Day on September 7, 1999! The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America (PSCA) provides free communication tools which can be modified to fit your company's needs.  The PSCA site also provides an Annual Retirement Check-up worksheet.

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Updated 9/29/99