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Topical Benefits Issues & Analysis

Agenda Now Available – 2017 Phoenix Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference

The election is over and one thing everyone can agree on is that we are entering an unprecedented season of change. Your employees and your executive board are looking to you for insights regarding what lies ahead. The 2017 Phoenix Mid-Sized Retirement & Healthcare Plan Management Conference provides an opportunity for you to connect with industry leaders, benefits experts and peers for up-to-date information so you can make the best decisions for your plans moving forward.

Engaging Consumers in Changing Health Behaviors

This article from Buck Consultants summarizes relevant concepts and findings from the fields of psychology, decision research, and social marketing and identifies best practices in developing consumer engagement to aid employers  in creating health care programs and tools to control costs and improve workforce health and productivity.

Ensuring Good Plan Governance

This short article by attorney firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP lists housekeeping actions to streamline plan administration and minimize exposure to breach of fiduciary duty claims and potential litigation.

Innovative Strategies to Help Maximize Social Security Benefits

This July, 2015 white paper from Prudential outlines why Social Security deserves to be considered as a valuable resource worthy of careful stewardship by individuals—and how today’s retirees can best maximize its benefits while helping minimize the taxes on their retirement income in general.

Fiduciary Compliance and Common Errors

This June, 2015 article (with full webinar link) from Cammack Retirement Group addresses common fiduciary compliance errors that are often the focus of entities such as the DOL.

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.

DCIIA Paper Outlines DC Plan Success Factors

The Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA) has developed a best practices framework to outline actions that defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors and fiduciaries can take to build plans that have the greatest potential to help participants achieve retirement readiness.

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.

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.

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

This February Issue Brief from EBRI discusses how we spend our health dollars are we age.  The study separates the more predictable health care expenses in retirement for older Americans (ages 65 and above) from the less predictable ones. Based on utilization patterns and expenses, doctor visits, dentist visits and usage of prescription drugs are categorized as recurring health care services. Overnight hospital stays, overnight nursing-home stays, outpatient surgery, home health care and usage of special facilities are categorized as non-recurring health care services.

Securing Retirement Income With Annuities

This March 2015 article in USA today discusses QLACs (Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts) and how they may offer retirees some guarantees that they would not otherwise get in their retirement plans.

IRS Monthly Tracking Forms to Comply with ACA

IRS Publication 5196, Monthly Tracking Information to Comply with ACA, provides instructions for two forms that applicable large employers must file in 2016 for 2015: 1095-C, the form employers must provide to employees, and 1094-C, the transmittal form employers must provide to the IRS.

Gallup and Healthways Redefine ‘Wellness’

A February 4, 2015 article in Gallup’s Business Journal highlights a new approach to wellness advocated by Gallup and its partner, Healthways. The two have coined the term “well-being” to supplant wellness and have broadened the definition to encompass five measureable, interdependent elements.

Retirement Plan Rollover Basics

Departing retirement plan participants may wish to roll over their plan assets to another qualified plan or individual retirement account (IRA) to avoid paying taxes and to continue saving for retirement; but there are certain guidelines that must be adhered to.  Included in this January 27, 2015 article in Plansponsor is a link to a Rollover Chart provided by the IRS that details the rules for allowable rollovers.

2015 DC Plan Checklist

Consulting firm Mercer has compiled its annual list of 10 recommendations for sponsors of defined contribution plans to help them face competitive pressures, regulatory scrutiny and legal challenges in 2015.

Money Market Reform and Workplace Savings Plans: A Plan Sponsor Guide to What’s Ahead

A Fidelity white paper, “Money Market Reform and Workplace Savings Plans” identifies whats ahead for plan sponsors regarding the impact of the SEC’s significant regulatory changes for money marketing mutual funds. The paper includes key takeaways, details of the regulatory changes and the practical realities of plan sponsors.

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.

PBGC Finalizes Additional Guarantee for DC Rollovers

Buck Consultants’ December 1, 2014, issue of For Your Information discusses PBGS recently finalized regulations increasing individual participant maximum benefit guarantees when covered DB plans accept rollovers from DC plans in exchange for lifetime income benefits and are subsequently terminated.

The Role of Longevity Annuities in Providing Retirement Security

This November 2014 economic study by The Brookings Institution defines and discusses longevity annuities and how they could increase expected financial security for middle- and -upper -income retirees who have substantial financial assets at the time of retirement.

Analysis Shows Upward Trend in U.S. Healthcare Cost Increases in 2014

In 2014, U.S. companies and their employees saw a slight uptick in the rate of U.S. healthcare cost increases, according to an analysis by Aon Hewitt.  The summary includes costs by plan type from 2010-2014, comments on managing dependent eligibility and subsidies and private health exchanges.

Preparing for a Health & Welfare Plan DOL Audit

This November 2014 article in Benefits Magazine, published by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans, takes an ERISA health and welfare plan step by step through a DOL audit, from the initial notification and request for documents through the investigative process.

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.

2014 Telemedicine Survey Executive Summary

This November, 2014 survey by law firm Foley & Lardner focuses on the rising interest in telemedicine.  The survey, while small in scale (just 57 respondents) was conducted among healthcare executives throughout the US in September and October 2014.  Among the issues the survey covered are the effect the ACA has had on telemedicine advancements as well as the challenges surrounding payment for healthcare providers for the service.

Surge in Employees’ Share of Health Costs

An article from the Society of Human Resource Management dissects a 2014 UBA Health Plan Survey and discusses how employers continue to shift more of the financial burden of health coverage to employees through out-of-pocket cost increases and reductions in family benefits.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About 401(k) Plans

This September 2014 report from the Investment Company Institute answers frequently asked questions about 401(k) plans, including what percentage of U.S. retirement assets they represent, what the average balance is, and how participants have allocated their investments.

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.

Delays in Retirement Among Some Workers

This TowersWatson article, based on the firm’s 2013/2014 Global Benefit Attitudes Survey, examines changing retirement patterns of workers in the U. S. and elsewhere. Noting the tendency to delay retirement and increased participation in the workforce of older workers, the article also highlights those employees who are the most likely to postpone retirement.

American Benefits Council: A 2020 Vision–Flexibility and the Future of Employee Benefits

The American Benefits Council has introduced its strategic plans for health and retirement policy, providing 46 specific regulatory recommendations for Congress to consider in easing the burdens on employees, employers and government agencies.  The strategy suggests the advocacy group will work to achieve public policy reform that more closely unifies healthcare and retirement outcomes.

Private Exchanges and the Rise of Retail Health Coverage

This report from PricewaterhouseCooper’s Health Research Institute is based on data from the organization’s 2014 Health and Well-Being Touchstone Survey. (A link to the full survey is also available on this site under Benefits Research & Surveys.)  The report discusses the four types of private exchanges and names the major players in each. It also illustrates factors that influence a company’s interest in moving to a private exchange and touches on the pros and cons of such a move.

An Examination of Controlling Health Care Costs Through Limited Network Insurance Plans

This September 2014 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at the effect of narrow networks on cost and quality by examining Massachusetts GIC, the insurance plan for state employees, which introduced a major financial incentive to choose limited network plans for one group of enrollees and not another. The report finds that overall spending decreased among those enrolled in narrow networks, although spending for primary care actually rose.

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.

“Crisis” Management: Uncertainty and the Workplace

This August 2014 Issue Brief summarizes EBRI’s 74th policy forum held in Washington, DC, on May 15, 2014. The symposium featured experts who examined the current and projected future of retirement readiness, employment-based healthcare, and the role that approaches like financial wellness can play in alleviating the strains of uncertainty.

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.

“Retirement Vision 2020” Prescribes Successful Savings Strategies to Drive Better Outcomes

A Fidelity white paper, “Retirement Vision 2020″  identifies steps that plan sponsors, advisors, consultants and Washington can take to ensure that as many American workers as possible, across all generations, are prepared for retirement. The paper includes such recommendations as designing a retirement plan for income replacement, accounting for uncovered healthcare costs in retirement and using aggressive defaults for unengaged employees. The paper also advocates personalized help as employees transition into retirement.

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.

Hobby Lobby Decision Breaks New Ground

This alert from Nixon Peabody covers the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.  Read background on the case, the ruling and the far reaching effects for the future.

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?

Commentary on Implications of Court Ruling in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer

This paper from Groom Law Group discusses the Supreme Courts finding that ERISA fiduciaries are not entitled to a presumption of prudence when they invest in company stock.  The case at hand involved an ESOP plans, but the decision has implications for publicly traded firms that offer company stock in their retirement plans.

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.

Private Insurance Exchanges Continue to Evolve

This article by Carol Harnett appeared in the April 9, 2014, edition of HR Executive Online. The Q&A format makes for a good “primer” on the topic of private exchanges and explores issues that employers should consider before making the jump to this new model for group benefits.

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.

Incentives to Shape Health Behaviors

This February 2014 article published in the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health examines the use of incentives to shape health behavior and looks at the differences between “patient-centered” and “person-centered” approaches. The authors conclude that while it isn’t possible to create incentives that will be appealing to everyone, a person-centered approach would  allow individuals to self-match to incentives and engage them in the decision-making process. This could lead to better outcomes.

Due Diligence for Target Date Funds Goes Beyond Examining the Glide Path

This White Paper by Vanguard argues that looking solely at the glide path of target date funds-how its asset allocation changes over time– is an incomplete approach to the due diligence plan sponsors should perform on these widely used defined contribution investments.  The paper identifies other areas that deserve scrutiny as part of any due diligence effort.  These include glide path stability, sub-asset allocation and cost.

Value-Based Benefit Design Seen as a Tool to Change Behavior

A study of a large employer by the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy looking at drug adherence among two populations–those with diabetes and those with high cholesterol–concludes that a value-based benefit design offering zero copay for generic drugs improved adherence.

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.

Explanation of the Affordable Care Act’s December 2013 and January 2014 FAQs

This Aon Hewitt Bulletin discusses the provisions in the December 19, 2013, and January 9, 2014 FAQs released by HHS, DOL and Treasury in connection with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Topics covered include cost sharing, wellness, preventive services and the transitional reinsurance fee.

Is a Permanent Lump Sum Window Distribution a Viable Pension De-Risking Strategy?

This posting by Jeffrey Keminar on Milliman’s Retirement Townhall blog poses the question of whether plan sponsors should consider a permanent window that would allow terminated vested defined benefit participants to take a lump sum distribution. Advantages cited include no longer have to pay PBGC premiums for participants who take the lump sum and alleviating concern at a future date about trying to locate a participant.  The posting also highlights potential downsides as well as plan administration and compliance responsibilities associated with this strategy.

Explaining Health Care Reform: Risk Adjustment, Reinsurance, and Risk Corridors

The Kaiser Family Foundation offers a clear and detailed explanation of the Affordable Care Act’s risk adjustment, reinsurance and risk corridor provisions, which are intended to promote insurer competition on the basis of quality and value and promote insurance market stability, particularly in the early years of reform.  Using text and, side-by-side comparisons and other graphics, the article offers a basic primer on these provisions.

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.

Building Enduring Retirement Income Systems

This initiative from the American Academy of Actuaries recommends principles for retirement plan design that the organization believes will lead to a better functioning U.S. retirement system. It urges policymakers to re-examine current regulations and practices in light of the prevalence of defined contribution plans as the primary retirement savings vehicle available to U.S. workers. Among the issues this initiative raises is redefining the role of the employer.

Implications of DC Plan Participants’ Retirement Distributions

A December 2013 research paper by Vanguard discusses the implications of the behavior of retirement-age DC plan participants who sever employment. The study finds that most have preserved their retirement savings in a tax-deferred account for five years.

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.

Re-Visiting Retirement Plan Fee Fairness at the Participant Level

A follow-up to an earlier article, this November 2013 paper by Milliman’s Douglas Conkel provides an overview of his initial argument about the inequity that exists in current revenue sharing for participants. It then goes on to examine the impact of current arrangements on participants and to suggest strategies for improving fee fairness and transparency.

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.

White Paper on Women & Retirement Plans

This White Paper from Lincoln Financial Group’s Retirement Power Research Series examines women as a discreet segment within defined contribution plan participants.

PPACA’s Out-of-Pocket Maximums and Preventive Services

This analysis from Towers Watson examines the implications of the 20 questions included in the DOL’s Frequently Asked Questions #15.  The analysis focuses on out-of-pocket limits for 2014, preventive services without cost sharing and changes that may be necessary for most plans in order to be compliant.

Impact of ACA’s 90-Day Enrollment Waiting Period Rules

This March 2013 commentary from Aon Hewitt discusses the ACA’s proposed regulations limiting enrollment waiting periods for group health plans to no more than 90 days. The article also highlights the fact that after 2014 there will no longer be a need to issue HIPAA Creditable Coverage Certificates.

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.

Overview of Current Retirement Income Products

This paper by the Institutional Retirement Income Institute examines retirement income products currently available and examines the pros and cons of each, outlining how plan sponsors can assess the suitability of each for their plan participants.

A Review of the Workplace Wellness Market

This study of employer-sponsored wellness programs was prepared for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor in conjunction with provisions under ACA that expand the use of incentives in nondiscriminatory programs. It is based on a review of the current literature on the topic and summarizes typical program components, the prevalence of wellness programs among employers and their impact, and the use and effect of financial incentives in these programs.

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.

Are Private Health Insurance Exchanges the Wave of the Future?

This EBRI Issue Brief examines the growing interest among employers in private health insurance exchanges as an alternative to the traditional model of employer-sponsored healthcare benefits. The article provides a good explanation of how private exchanges might operate.

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.

Bait and Switch: Glide Path Instability

This report from Ibbotson Associates, a Morningstar company, documents the changes in the implied glide paths of major target date providers through time and introduces a new measure for tracking stability.

A Brief History of Target Date Funds

This is the first in a series of articles from Target Date Analytics, LLC that seek to explain the whats and whys of target date funds in easy-to-understand language. In this inaugural article, authors Joe Nagengast and Craig Israelson trace the evolution and growth of target date funds from their beginning in 1994.

Are Target Date Funds a Bad Idea?

This is the second in a series of articles about target date funds from Target Date Analytics, LLC. In this piece, Craig Israelson and Joe Nagengast look at the criticisms leveled at these funds when so many investors near or in retirement lost significant amounts of money they had invested in 2010 target date funds. The authors make the case, albeit within certain bounds, for why they believe target date funds are a good idea.

Target Date Funds Misconceptions

This third in an ongoing series of articles seeks to debunk some of the myths and misunderstandings about target date funds. Authors Joe Nagengast and Craig Israelson of Target Date Analytics, LLC, examine such issues as “longevity risk,” the debate over “to” versus “through” glidepaths and the need for increased disclosure to participants.

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

Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Resource

An online resource, My NQDC.com, offers a wealth of educational information on non-qualified deferred compensation plans. Basic information, such as core concepts, types of plans and a glossary are available free of charge. Paid subscribers have access to the entire site.

Raising the Retirement Ages Would Have Implications for Older Workers and SSA Disability Rolls

This report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office discusses the impact proposed changes to early and full retirement age would have on workers. In particular, the report cites the likely affect that raising the age would have on the number of people applying for and receiving disability insurance because of the health or physical challenges they face.

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.

Saver’s Credit Toolkit

Retirement Made Simpler ™ partner, the AARP, has developed toolkits for HR professionals to help employees make the most of the Saver’s Credit–a federal income tax credit of up to $1,000. Toolkit materials include intranet content, an email message, materials for open enrollment packets, FAQ’s and more.

Automatic 401(k) Directory

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