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Benefits Research & Surveys

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Benchmarks

According to Deloitte’s Annual Defined Contribution Benchmarking Survey for 2013-2014, efforts to make it easier for employees to save for retirement combined with a strengthening economy have stimulated 401(k) contribution rates and account balances.   This report provides an overview of the plan features, policies, objectives, and attitudes of the DC plan sponsors participating in the survey.

Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer Workers and Retirees: Retirement Saving & Spending Study

T. Rowe Price’s June, 2015 Retirement Saving & Spending Study revealed that across groups of 401(k) savers, millennials are following better financial habits than those of baby boomers. The slide presentation uncovers how different generational workers are saving and spending, and identify the statistics that differentiate these populations.

Self-Insured Health Plans: State Variation and Recent Trends by Firm Size, 1996–2013

A new EBRI analysis finds a growing percentage of workers in self-insured health plans nationwide. In 2013, 58.2 percent of workers with health coverage were in self-insured plans, up from 40.9 percent in 1998  .However, the data show that this trend is being driven by large employers (with 1,000 or more workers), and not small employers (those with fewer than 50 workers).

Utilization Patterns and Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Different Health Care Services Among American Retirees

Data reported in EBRI’s February 2015 Issue Brief finds that the recurring, more-predictable health costs in retirement tend to remain stable throughout retirement: Expenses such as doctor visits, dentist visits and usage of prescription drugs.  However, the non-recurring, less-predictable costs increase with age—overnight hospital stays, overnight nursing-home stays, outpatient surgery, home health-care and usage of special facilities.

2015 Bank of America Merrill Lynch 401(k) Wellness Scorecard

Automation, mobility and advice are strengthening employee participation in workplace benefit plans, according to the 2015 Bank of America Merrill Lynch 401(k) Wellness Scorecard, with nearly two-thirds more Millennial’s participating in a 401(k) plan in 2014 than in the previous year.

16th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Workers

Transamerica’s 16th Annual Retirement Survey of Workers, published in May 2015, examines the retirement outlook of workers in their Twenties, Thirties, Forties, Fifties, and Sixties and older to compare and contrast their retirement preparations and shed light on how they can navigate the future and improve their retirement outlook.

EBRI’s 2015 Retirement Confidence Survey: Having a Retirement Savings Plan a Key Factor in Americans’ Retirement Confidence

The 25th Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) finds Americans’ confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement has continued to rebound from the record lows experienced between 2009 and 2013, but this increased level of confidence does not appear to be grounded on objectively improved retirement preparations.

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Benchmarks

This information and benchmarks in BMO Retirement Services’ March, 2015 publication Perspectives 2015 includes a summary of statistics and trends related to common features of retirement plans.  The data was compiled using data from PSCA, Deloitte, and Vanguard surveys.

2015 Retirement Health Care Costs Data Report

A new report from Healthview Services suggests health care costs will consume a rising percentage of Social Security benefits for future retirees.  The 2015 Retirement Health Care Costs Data Report draws upon claims data from year-end 2014, the company’s actuary and physician-reviewed cost projection methodology and a wide range of additional data sources. Year-over-year comparisons are between year-end 2013 and year-end 2014 data sets.

The Middle-Income Boomer Retirement Gap: Savings, Education and Advice

This November 2014 report from the Bankers Life Center for a Secure Retirement finds that only one in 10 middle-income Baby Boomers use the services of a financial professional. The report based, on data collected from 1000 Americans aged 50 to 68 in a July 2014 online survey,  provides greater detail about how prepared Baby Boomers are for retirement.

Decline in Individual Account Retirement Plan Ownership 1992 to 2013

EBRI’s November 2014 Issue Brief examines household ownership of a retirement account between 1992 and 2013. Based on data from the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve, the report documents a decline in ownership from 38.8% in 1992 to 36.2% in 2013. The survey defines an individual account plan as an employer-sponsored DC plan, such as a 401(k), a Keogh plan or an IRA.

Plan Sponsor Views of Participant Support and Advisor Partnerships

This survey of national plan sponsors, conducted by American Centry Investments in the first quarter of 2014,  provides insight into how employers view their plan objectives, the importance of the support of their advisors and service providers, and their beliefs surrounding employee behavior. A total of 310 plan sponsors were surveyed representing plan assets of less than $25 million through $100 million.

EBRI Report on the 2014 Health Benefits Survey

The December 2014 issue of EBRI’s Notes discusses findings from the SHRM/EBRI 2014 Health Benefits Survey and how open enrollment might be affected by PPACA and the 2018 excise tax. The survey was conducted in February and March 2014 to better understand changes to health coverage in 2015.

2014 PLANSPONSOR DC Survey

PLANSPONSOR’s annual Defined Contribution Survey provides industry benchmarks for measuring and evaluating 401(k) and other DC providers based on feedback from their own clients.  It includes industry statistics and other rankings based on their findings.

Modest Health Benefit Cost Growth Continued

Recently released data  from Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, conducted in late summer 2014, finds the average per-employee cost of health benefits rose  3.9 percent in 2014. Among the findings is an increase in the percentage of people enrolled in high deductible, consumer directed health plans from 18% to 23%.  A full report on the survey will be published in April 2015.

Changes in Later-Than-Expected Retirement After the Great Recession

The Employee Benefit Research Institute recently found a nearly 23-percentage-point drop in workers retiring early or close to their expected retirement after the markets crashed, and have noted a large increase in later-than-expected retirements following the recession.

Investor Behavior Survey

Results from an online investor behavior survey conducted by the Nationwide Retirement Institute in June 2014 found that less than half (42%-49%) of all respondents are confident in their preparedness for retirement. The survey included 2033 respondents, age 18 or older with investable assets of at least $50,000. The survey  compared and contrasted results for specific demographic groups, including Millenials, Gen X, near-retirees and high net worth individuals.

The Changing Face of Retirement — Women: Balancing Family, Career & Financial Security

A report  by  the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies examines the retirement preparedness of women in the workforce in the United States and around the world. Based on findings  from  parent firm’s Aegon  2014 Retirement Readiness Survey, the report finds that today’s women are better educated and enjoy career opportunities beyond previous generations of women. However, the results also show that a woman’s path to a financially secure retirement is challenging.

2014 Inside Benefits Communication Survey

The 2014 Inside Benefits Communication Survey, a collaborative research effort from the National Business Coalition on Health and Benz Communications, is a national survey that explores how companies are making investments in benefits communications and the return on those efforts.  The survey’s data was collected from more than 300 high-level business professionals and provides greater insight into how companies are planning and implementing benefits communication.

Results of 401(k) Wellness Scorecard Reports Positive Trends in Participant Behavior and Plan Design

Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s 401(k) Wellness Scorecard results for the first half of 2014 indicate that saving for retirement and health care expenses was a priority for employees of all ages.  It also suggests that increased mobile access, 401(k) auto features, and more personalized advice have made employee benefit plans more valuable and easier to use for the typical participant.

Research Examines Retirement Readiness Challenge and What Employers Can Do to Improve 401(k) Plans

This October 2014  report from Transamerica’s 15th Annual Retirement Survey reveals positive news for retirement savings in America, but says that there’s still room for improvement.  The report is based on two separate phone surveys conducted earlier in 2014 with 751 for-profit employers and 4143 workers at for-profit firms.  The surveys explored employers’ views on the economy, whether they offer retirement benefits to employees, and American workers’ retirement readiness and expectations. The report recommends steps employers can take to improve their 401(k) plans based on survey results.

Milliman’s Multiemployer Pension Funding Study

Milliman’s inaugural Multiemployer Pension Funding study reports on the estimated funded status of all U.S. multiemployer plans as of December 31, 2013, plus the change in funding levels from December 31, 2012.  It also endeavors to find out why many plans continue to struggle from the effects of the 2008 financial crisis despite favorable investment returns.

Examining Private Exchanges in the Employer-Sponsored Insurance Market

This September 2014 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation identifies the different types of private exchanges and projects the potential size of the private exchange market, which the report says has the potential to reshape the employer-sponsored health insurance landscape in the coming years.  The report examines important implications, including the potential for cost stability to employers and more choice among health plans for consumers.

The Fidelity Investments Millennial Money Study: Facts, Figures and Findings

The results of Fidelity’s “Millennial Money Study”, conducted in April 2014, show many Millennials are fully engaged in their financial futures, and some of the results of its study challenge the common stereotypes about how this generation approaches planning for the future.

Towers Watson 2014 Health Care Changes Ahead Survey Report

Towers Watson’s 2014 Health Care Changes Ahead Survey yields insight into how companies are changing their health care strategies to comply with health care reform, combat escalating costs, avoid the business risks associated with the 2018 excise tax and improve employee engagement.

 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust Employer Health Benefits Survey

The 16th edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) Employer Health Benefits Survey, released September 10, 2014, provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and employer opinions.  Among the findings, premium cost increases continued their more moderate trend of recent years (3% for family coverage and 2% for single coverage), while the proportion of companies offering healthcare coverage (55%) and percentage of employees who are covered (62%) remain stable from 2013.  The survey was conducted from January to May 2014 and included completed interviews with more than 2000 private employers.

DB to DC Plan Shift Slowly Stabilizing

A September 2014  analysis by Towers Watson of retirement plan offerings at Fortune 500 companies suggests the shift from defined benefit (DB) plans to defined contribution (DC) plans may be slowly stabilizing, with fewer companies actively moving away from DB plans and establishing new DC plans for salaried employees than at any other point over the last decade.

EBRI Report on HSA Quality of Care

With an ever-growing number of workers covered by health savings account (HSA) plans, this September 2014 Issue Brief from EBRI examines how HSA health plans—compared with traditional managed care plans—do in terms of health care quality.  The results of the study were based on data collected over a 5-year period from a single large employer in the Midwest with an HSA-eligible health plan for all employees.

Eighth Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond

Findings from Prudential Insurance’s 8th Annual Study of Employee Benefits: Today & Beyond show that  employers are taking a multichannel approach to meet the needs and preferences of their employees.   Some of the more traditional methods are still reporting in the top five, but there has also been a jump in employers reporting great success with newer communication vehicles.   The survey was conducted online  in August, 2013, and included three distinct groups:  employers, employees and benefits consultants and brokers.

Survey Shows 401(k)s a “Must-Have” Benefit

An August 2014 survey of 401(k) participants by Charles Schwab shows that  employees overwhelmingly (87%) consider the 401(k) a necessity in their benefits package, but that many are under-utilizing the tools available to help them manage it.

Satisfaction with Health Coverage and Care Among Enrollees in CDHP, HDHP and Traditional Health Plans

This August 2014 issue of EBRI’s Notes looks at satisfaction with various aspects of healthcare based on the type of plan in which respondents were enrolled:  CDHP, HDHP and traditional.  Conclusions are based on findings from the 2013 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey.  (A link to the full report can be found elsewhere in the “Benefits Research & Surveys” section of this Resource Center.)  According to the report, overall satisfaction is highest among those with traditional healthcare coverage and lowest among those with a HDHP. The report also notes that the overall satisfaction rates are trending downwards on traditional plans while the trajectory is up for CDHC and HDHP plans.

Survey Highlights: Assessing the New Retiree Experience

An online survey of recent retirees and “near retirees” conducted in February and March 2014 by T. Rowe Price shows many retirees are living adequately on less, while   a majority of near retirees say they will have to adjust their style of living in retirement.

Infographic: Participant Behaviors

This infographic depicts findings from an online survey that OneAmerica fielded on its website for retirement plan participants. Conducted between August and November 2013, the survey’s objective was to gain a better understanding of participants’ behaviors and what resources might be most effective in helping plan participants prepare for retirement.

2014 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey Report

This report, published in June 2014 from Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., provides an interesting look at data collected from 1,833 organizations across the country when they were surveyed about their current and future employee benefits strategies.

Health and Well Being Touchstone Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers

This PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, conducted during the first quarter of 2014, identifies trends in employer-provided benefit plans. Most notable is that employers continue to shift costs for health care to employees. The survey also provides information on wellness plans, employee assistance plans, retiree medical, retirement plans, the ACA and employers’ future plans. Free registration is required to download the report.

Health Care Organizations Addressing Retirement Plan Engagement

Transamerica released the 11th annual research report, Retirement Plan Trends in Today’s Healthcare Market – 2014.  Produced in partnership with the American Hospital Association, the report finds that defined contribution retirement plan sponsors in the healthcare industry are making adjustments to plan design that can help employees achieve retirement goals, including placing greater emphasis on retirement outcomes, increasing default deferral rates and streamlining investment options.

Managing Financial Risk in Retirement & Benefits Programs

This 5th annual joint report from Prudential and CFO Research points to an increasing outcome orientation among U.S. companies:  a desire for more certainty with respect to managing defined benefit (DB) plan risks, an understanding of the need for more DB-like outcomes from defined contribution (DC) plans, and a desire to enhance the financial wellness of employees while managing benefit costs.

15th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey

Two reports based on Transamerica’s 15th annual Retirement Survey,  examine retirement readiness and expectations across generations. The first compares Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millenials while the second focuses specifically on Millenials, describing these youngest workers as an”emerging generation of super savers.”

Is the Road to Retirement Smooth for Your Employees or Is There Danger Ahead?

Many employees falsely believe they are saving enough for retirement, or underestimate the amounts they will need.  This article in EBRI’s June 2014 Notes explains which employees are likely to fall short of the goals, and hopefully forewarns employers so they can better prepare these employees.

Who’s Most Likely to Come up Short in Retirement, and When?

Will Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have enough money to live on when they retire, and if not, when will they run short? New modeling by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) finds that those in the lowest income brackets are most likely to run short, many in the first year of retirement.  But EBRI also finds that some in all income brackets – including the highest – may run short at some point during their retirement.

Consistency Is Key in Retirement Readiness

The latest joint study by the Investment Company Institute and the Employee Benefit Research Institute examines defined contribution account balances between 2007 and 2012, concluding that consistency is important key in participant behavior.

Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2013

This July 2014 report based on survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Board in September 2013 captures a snapshot of the financial and economic well-being of U.S. households. The survey also examined the issues they face, their recovery from the Great Recession and perceived risks to their financial stability.

HSA Savings: Potential Accumulations

A July 2014 analysis in EBRI’s Notes shows that a person contributing for 40 years to an HSA could save up to $360,000 if the rate of return was 2.5 percent, $600,000 if the rate of return was 5 percent, and nearly $1.1 million if the rate of return was 7.5 percent, and if there were no withdrawals.

How Much Should People Save for Retirement?

A July 2014 report from the Center for Retirement Research reveals that, according to  its National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI),  half of today’s working families are “at risk” of not being able to maintain their standard of living once they retire.  This report   examines how much households need to save  to maintain pre-retirement living standards by probing these questions :  What is the average amount of saving that will come from retirement savings plans?  What is the average required saving rate to produce adequate retirement income?  Given current saving patterns, how much would households have to save?

2013 Trends in Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation; Spotlight on Plan Participants

This June 2014 research report from The Principal® focuses on participants’ experiences with non-qualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plans. Based on online interviews conducted in late summer 2013, the survey examined factors that drive satisfaction with these plans, how deferral decisions are made and the role of NQDC in retirement readiness for key employees.

Help in Defined Contribution Plans: 2006-2012

Aon Hewitt teamed up with Financial Engines on this report that examines how participants’ use of three types of “help”–target date funds, managed accounts and online advice–affect investment performance.

EBRI Research Shows Increased Participation in the Labor Force by Workers Age 55 and Older

The April 2014 issue of EBRI’s Notes discusses  the increase of workers age 55 and older in the workforce and poses the question of whether these older workers are filling the void left by fewer younger workers who did not enter the workforce or whether older workers are preventing younger people from participating in the labor force.

Reaction of DC Retirement Plan Participants to Lifetime Income Illustrations

EBRI’s March 2014 Notes examines how defined contribution participants would react to EBSA’s proposed Lifetime Income Illustrations using data from its 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey. The article concludes that the Illustrations would have limited affect on participant behavior.

2014 ADP Annual Health Benefits Report

ADP released its second annual Health Benefits Report. Subtitled “2014 Benchmark and Trends for Large Employers,” the report is based on ADP’s analysis of its own client base and tracks premium, eligibility and participation rates from 2010 to 2014.  Among its findings: participation has consistently been higher among older workers than among younger. The report also notes that between 2010 and 2014, premiums increased 15% but rose only 1.7% between 2013 and 2014.

EBRI’s 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey

EBRI’s 24th Retirement Confidence Survey, published in March, 2014, shows an uptick in Americans’ confidence in their ability to retire. The increased confidence is found primarily among higher income households. On the downside, the survey finds that 36% of workers have less than $1,000 saved, up from 28% previously.

EBRI Report on Contributions to HRAs and HSAs, 2006-2013

This report published in the February 2014 issue of EBRI Notes looks at the level of employer-employee contributions to HRAs and HSAs between 2006 and 2013. Based on its 2013 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, this report shows that the percentage of employers who contribute to these plans has increased and that employees with family coverage contributed to the accounts at a steady level while contributions by those with single coverage fell.

Can 401(k) Plans Combined with Social Security Provide Adequate Retirement Income?

This January 2014 issue of EBRI Notes offers data to show that with 30 years of participation ina 401(k) plan and assuming Social Security benefits remain at current levels, between 83 and 86 percent of workers will be able to replace at least 60 percent of their age-64 wages and salary on an inflation-adjusted basis.

2013 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey

This Dec. 2013 Issue Brief from EBRI presents findings from its Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS) done in conjunction with Greenwald & Associates. The CEHCS was an online survey of 3,853 privately insured adults ages 21−64 designed to provide nationally representative data regarding trends in account-based health plans and high-deductible health plans
(HDHPs).

EBRI: Workers Satisfied with Their Own Health Plans, Less Enthusiastic About the Healthcare System

A September 2013 EBRI Notes article based on the 2013 Health & Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey that it conducts with Greenwald & Associates shows a divergence in opinion among workers when it comes to satisfaction with their own health plans and the healthcare system in general. According to the survey, nearly 90% of workers are satisfied with their plans, but more than half (55%) give low ratings to the healthcare system.

70 Is the New 65

This article by Alicia Munnell of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College demonstrates age 70 is now the “real” retirement age. The article demonstrates how changes in life expectancy and in Social Security’s Delayed Retirement Credit, the tax treatment of benefits and new, income-adjusted charges for basic Medicare and Part D mean that for many all negatively affect income replacement rates.

Healthcare Cost Variations – A Comparison of 24 U.S. Urban Areas

This August 2013 study by the Benefits Services Group and HCTrends examined the cost-per-episode of providing care in 22 different medical practice areas across 24 urban areas in the United States and also looked at the efficacy of treatment. The differences among the cities highlight how difficult it is to make generalizations about costs and effectiveness of medical treatment.

Vanguard’s How America Saves 2013

This annual study looks at Vanguard’s database of plan sponsors and participants and reports on the latest trends in employer-sponsored retirement plans and participant behavior.

Research Measures DC Plan Participants’ Savings and Investing Behavior

Research from Aon Hewitt, based on the behaviors of 3.5 million eligible employees in 141 defined contribution plans, provides a tool for plan sponsors to gauge how their own plan participants’ behavior stacks up. The report also makes recommendations for improving outcomes through plan structure and communication.

EBRI’s 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey

Findings from the 23rd wave of the Retirement Confidence Survey are available in this Issue Brief from EBRI. The survey was conducted in January 2013 under the co-sponsorship of EBRI and Matthew Greenwald Associates. The 2013 survey finds that confidence among workers in their ability to finance a comfortable retirement has returned to historically low levels seen in the 2011 survey, after ticking up a bit in 2012.  This Issue Brief contains a link to the full report and Fact Sheets.

2013/2014 Towers Watson NGBH Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care

The 18th annual Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care, a survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health, examines how “best performing” companies in the study, those with average trend of 2.2%, have managed to contain costs for themselves and their employees.

Views on Employment-Based Health Benefits After ACA

This December 2012 article by EBRI’s Dr. Paul Fronstin uses data from the 2012 Health Confidence Survey to examine the impact the Affordable Care Act will have on the future of employer-sponsored healthcare benefits.

Retirement Income Adequacy

This 2012 research from Aon/Hewitt looks at retirement income adequacy at large companies and concludes that employees should target 11 times final annual pay to ensure adequate income in retirement.

2012 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report

This first quarter 2012 survey of 1000 employers that offer 401(k) plans and 1000 employees looks at the financial benefits employers provide to employees, including retirement savings plans, health savings accounts and financial advice, noting the intersection of the rising  costs of healthcare with saving for retirement.

2012 EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey

EBRI’s 22nd wave of its Retirement Confidence Survey paints a less than rosy picture of workers’ ability to retire with adequate income. Among the findings, 30% have less than $1000 saved for retirement.

Retirement Planning in a Post-Crisis Economy

This is the first in a three-part series of reports based on Towers-Watson’s July 2011 survey of current workers about retirement and healthcare benefits. In its fifth consecutive year, the survey encompasses responses from 3074 people about their employer-sponsored retirement and healthcare benefits. The initial report focuses on workers’ attitudes towards their household finances and retirement readiness.

Employment-Based Health Benefits and Taxation in an Era of Deficit Reduction

This July 2011 Issue Brief from EBRI looks at how elimination of favorable tax treatment of workers’ employer-provided health benefits would affect the current system and the U.S. budget deficit. Currently, employer-provided health benefits are the largest tax expenditure in the U. S. budget, dwarfing the home mortgage interest deduction.

2011 Milliman Medical Index

The annual Milliman Medical Index (MMI) measures the total cost of healthcare for a typical family of four covered by a preferred provider plan (PPO). The 2011 MMI shows that the cost more than doubled in nine years from $9,235 in 2002 to $19,393 in 2011.

Auto Enrollment-Public Plan Case Study

Retirement Made Simpler ™, a coalition of the AARP, FINRA and the Retirement Security Project, issued this report on automatic enrollment in South Dakota’s defined contribution retirement plan. The report examines the background and passage of legislation that made auto enrollment possible and looks, as well, at the success the program has had in its early stages

Retirement Readiness: What Difference Does a Pension Make?

This Issue Brief by the National Institute on Retirement Security reviews the evidence on the role DB plans play in ensuring that Americans are self-sufficient in retirement. It examines trends in pension coverage and points to possible areas of exploration for policymakers.

The Impact of the Financial Crisis on 401(k) Account Balances

This EBRI Issue Brief examines the sharp decline in major U.S. equity indexes in 2008 and how individual 401(k) participants were affected. The analysis also calculates how long it might take for 401(k) balances to recover.

Automatic 401(k) Directory

Retirement Made Simpler ™ has created a directory of employers who have implemented automated 401(k) features.

Aon Consulting – Ready 2012 Pension Pulse Survey

This January 2009 survey of companies with frozen defined benefit pension plans looks at how many have eliminated benefit accruals to all or some of their workers as well as the policies, programs or plan changes they have put into place to mitigate risk.