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Tune in for thought-provoking conversations with smart, creative thinkers in the fields of benefits, economics, government, demography and more. This show is brought to you by the American Benefits Council, a Washington D.C. trade association that advocates for employers, connecting public policy and private-sector solutions to shape employee benefits for the evolving global workforce.
 
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Diversity, equity and inclusion is a priority for many of the American Benefits Council’s member companies, who have in turn directed us to engage with these issues as they relate to employee benefits. Over the previous 12 months, the Council has established a task force to address social determinants of health and joined with a number of other est…
 
If the American Benefits Council is to be a leader in the employee benefits world, we must have strong internal leadership. The Council’s policy agenda is carefully considered and set by our Policy Board of Directors, made up of knowledgeable and dedicated human resource and benefits professionals at each of our most engaged member companies. Holdi…
 
For many multinational companies, figuring out how to scale employee benefits for a global population is a critical element of their economic competitiveness. But if providing comprehensive employee benefit programs in the United States is like playing advanced chess, doing so on a global basis is like playing advanced chess on a moving speedboat. …
 
Even as policymakers discuss and debate the so-called "retirement savings gap," employers and others are starting to take part in a newly-minted coverage expansion tool: the SECURE Act of 2019 birthed the inception of the Pooled Employer Plan (PEP), which allows separate companies employers to team up and share plan administration for their collect…
 
Paid leave may not be an “employee benefit,” strictly speaking, in the same way that health coverage and retirement coverage are. But providing it has become a significant pressure point for employers, especially as an increasing number of states and localities have erected their own mandates over the last decade. In this episode, host Jason Hammer…
 
The 2020 enactment of legislation to eliminate “surprise” medical billing was not just the most significant health care coverage legislation since the Affordable Care Act. It was also the culmination of a remarkable show of (relatively) swift and bipartisan lawmaking. Since that enactment, however, the story has taken dizzying twists and turns, wit…
 
Even casual observers know that, over the past several decades, the nation's retirement system has evolved from a predominantly defined benefit system to a predominantly defined contribution system. That said, there are still nearly 47,000 defined benefit plans in the United States, (half of which are insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corpora…
 
The current labor market is in flux, with many industries still in pandemic recovery while the "great resignation" creating a talent vacuum. Contingent or "nontraditional" work may not be as trendy a topic as it was five years ago, but it could represent a resource for companies seeking to fill important roles. In this episode, host Jason Hammersla…
 
According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. have at least one chronic disease, while 4 in 10 have two or more. The CDC also estimates that 90% of the nation’s health care expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions. And it’s very likely that the pandemic has ex…
 
Over the past year, the American workforce has undergone a forced evolution, with work environments and habits thrown into chaos. But even before the pandemic, human resources strategy had shown signs of strain under a rigid definition of "productivity." In this episode, host Jason Hammersla speaks to internationally respected HR consultant Richard…
 
With the nation in the throes of a lame-duck congressional session and slow-motion presidential transition, the judiciary is the only branch of the federal government that is working smoothly at the moment, even in the wake of seismic change in the U.S. Supreme Court’s personnel. And, as it happens, employee benefits policy hangs in the balance. On…
 
While we often focus on the Fortune 500 companies that dominate the world economy, another group of employers plays a fundamental role in the daily lives of millions of Americans: the churches, religious institutions and affiliated organizations that employ hundreds of thousands of clergy, lay workers, and their family members. This is a population…
 
The American economy crosses borders, oceans, time zones, cultures, languages and great walls. And therefore, compensation and benefits has gone global, too. For many multinational companies, figuring out how to scale employee benefits for a global population is a critical element of their economic competitiveness. Here at the Council, we’re engage…
 
Retirement benefits are obviously one pillar of employee health and financial security, but despite all that employers do the “retirement savings gap” between what people have and should have, continues to grow. One of the biggest barriers to savings is student loan debt, which now exceeds 1.5 trillion in the U.S., while tuition rises 8% year over …
 
We talk all the time about employee benefits for the evolving global workforce, but the truth is that benefits are important for more than just workers. For example, many covered lives are those of the spouses and children of workers with job-based health insurance. The voice of these families in Washington DC belongs to Frederick Isasi and his col…
 
The independent workforce – a potent mixture of temp workers, contingent workers, “gig” workers and others – represents anywhere between 4 and 40% of the overall labor market and constitutes an interesting economic challenge: in a nation where employment is central to one’s health and retirement benefits, how do we provide financial security to tho…
 
As a result of the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats will assume control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019. And while Republicans still control the White House and the Senate, this one change has the potential to derail the whole legislative process, like when one bulb goes out in a string of Christmas lights. So what does that mean for …
 
On the cusp of the 2018 midterm elections, health care remains a major issue for American voters. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 71 percent say that health care policy is “very important” in their decision about how to cast their vote and a plurality – 30 percent – say that health care is the most important issue in the midterm election…
 
Retirement policy is supposed to be a bastion of stability and security, but the history of that policy is characterized by constant change: changing demographics, workforce patterns, plan designs and political priorities – to say nothing of rising financial markets and falling interest rates. The resulting story has unfolded like a drama with an u…
 
On average in the United States, 115 people die each day from an opioid overdose. As this epidemic has touched workers, employers have sought to address it through innovative plan design and outreach. Meanwhile, Congress is poised to enact legislation designed to stem the tide of opioid abuse and addiction. Earlier this year, the American Benefits …
 
The defined contribution retirement savings plan is now the preeminent savings vehicle for working Americans. DOL data tells us that two-thirds of all full-time civilian workers have access to a defined contribution plan at work, and 72 percent of those individuals participate in the plan, adding up to nearly 100 million participants nationwide. It…
 
It’s not just you: the workforce is getting older. Health care advances and increased life expectancies mean people are working longer and later, while low birth rates mean that there are fewer workers to succeed the ones who retire. As of 2016, the median age of the labor force was 42, up from about 38 in 1996. That puts increased pressure on the …
 
The Employee Benefit Research Institute (or “EBRI”) describes itself as the place “where the world turns for facts on employee benefits.” Founded in 1978, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, EBRI is considered the gold standard for authoritative data and research on these critical, complex issues. Today, EBRI is led by Lori Lucas, who took …
 
Millennials – roughly, those born between 1981 and 1996 – are the most well-educated, most diverse and most populous generation in the workforce today. They told us in our national poll last year that employer-provided retirement benefits would be the most important benefit to them over the next ten years. And yet, a new report suggests that they a…
 
The American Benefits Council and Mercer, a global human resource consultancy firm, recently released a paper, Leading the Way: Employer Innovations in Health Coverage, which shows how large companies are using their stature and their ingenuity to try and tackle the pervasive problems surrounding health care, including high costs and inconsistent s…
 
Even though the Council boasts more than 7,300 members from 440 companies worldwide, the Council staff itself is only 15 individuals strong. The latest addition to the Council family is Ilyse Schuman, the Council’s new senior vice president, health policy. Ilyse succeeds the previous VP, Katy Spangler, and now directs the development and advocacy o…
 
William Shakespeare’s admonition about lawyers notwithstanding, most employer-sponsored benefit plans could not function without the sage counsel of the attorneys who have devoted their careers to employee benefits law. The “hall of fame” for these skilled attorneys is the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, which recognizes the small sh…
 
Payroll-deduction, defined contribution plans have changed the way we save for retirement and may yet change the way we pay for health care and pay down college debt. Now the CEO of a large third-party administrator (TPA) has a plan to use it to create a nation of “everyday philanthropists.” The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is likely to reduce the percent…
 
While health and retirement benefits have long been the twin pillars of the American Benefits Council’s policy agenda. As time has gone on, however, other kinds of employee benefits have arisen – namely, paid leave – posing unique challenges for employers’ benefit programs. Unfortunately, Congress has thus far ceded this issue to the states, spurri…
 
In this session from the Council’s 50th Anniversary Symposium on November 30, we find out how companies are reimagining their employee benefit programs to recruit and retain the talented workers of the future. We hear from an all-star panel of employer representatives spanning human resources, benefits, consulting and government relations. They tal…
 
A full accounting of the future of employee benefits would be incomplete without the perspectives of employees themselves. If employers are to develop innovative, effective and responsive benefit programs, they must be able to anticipate the needs of the future workforce. In this excerpt from the Council’s 50th Anniversary Symposium on November 30,…
 
Few, if any, Americans have held as many senior federal government positions with direct responsibility for health and retirement security as David Walker, former Assistant Secretary of Labor, public trustee of Social Security and Medicare, and Comptroller General of the United States. In this excerpt from the Council’s 50th Anniversary Symposium o…
 
As lawmakers get closer and closer to tax reform – and have to find a way to pay for it – it is becoming increasingly likely that they will seek to alter the tax incentives supporting workplace retirement savings. Bob Reynolds, president and CEO of Great West Financial and Putnam Investments, sees this as a dangerous and counter-productive change t…
 
With the congressional Republicans’ health care “repeal-and-replace” efforts stymied, attention on Capitol Hill now turns to the difficult business of tax reform, where incentives for workplace health and retirement benefit plans continue to hang in the balance. The Council is working with the Save Our Savings coalition and Capitol Counsel to ensur…
 
The fate of the Affordable Care Act – and legislation to repeal and replace it – is at hand. Whether it succeeds or fails, the Council will continue to advocate for the employer-sponsored system of health insurance, which covers more than 177 million people nationwide. This seems like an opportune time, then, to revisit the Council’s health policy …
 
If you want to trace the history of employee benefits, one good way to do so is to look at the tax code. Employer-sponsored health and retirement benefits are governed in part by the tax code, and over the years the incentives for these plans have been dialed up and down, often to meet certain revenue goals. Congress is now toying with the idea of …
 
Public perception and prevailing data suggest the presence of a “retirement savings gap,” the difference between what Americans have saved for retirement versus what they actually need. In this episode, Jason Hammersla talks with John C. Scott, Director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Retirement Savings Project, about the real challenges and potential…
 
On June 6, the Council released a document of some import: ten principles for building a national retirement policy. In an effort to forge such a policy, we have gathered the insights of our member companies that sponsor these retirement plans into this one document that summarizes our recommended approach. In this episode, Jason Hammersla talks wi…
 
Millennials now constitute the largest share of today’s workforce. Colin Seeberger, strategic campaigns advisor for Young Invincibles, sits down with Eunju Namkung to discuss Millennial wants and needs with regard to health benefits, retirement savings and other financial challenges. Young Invincibles is an advocacy organization founded in 2009 to …
 
What are the unique disadvantages that women face saving for and during retirement? Cindy Hounsell, the president of Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), sits down with host Jason Hammersla to discuss these challenges, as well as what can be done to build a more secure retirement reality for women. Cindy Hounsell is the President of W…
 
In the second of a two-part conversation with former U.S. Representative Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), host Jason Hammersla asks about the process and politics behind comprehensive tax reform, contemporary retirement policy challenges, and the rise of state-based benefits legislation.
 
In the first of a two-part conversation with former U.S. Representative Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), host Jason Hammersla discusses the American Health Care Act, the stalled Republican measure to repeal and replace President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. We talk about the substance and the process behind the bill and what’s next for lawmakers as they consid…
 
The American Benefits Council’s Jason Hammersla is joined by guest, Cam Marston, a noted author, columnist, blogger, and lecturer on generational change and its impact on the workplace. On this episode, Hammersla and Marston consider the future of work, human resource challenges and opportunities, and employee benefits. As a business strategist who…
 
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