Best of 2010: Employee Benefits

Health-care reform and the expectation of higher medical costs prompted CFOs to take a hard look at their companies' health plans in 2010.

Best of 2010

Companies and employees continued to worry about their pension plans and 401(k)s in 2010, given funding shortfalls and the uncertain economic outlook. But it was health-care reform that dominated the benefits landscape, and CFO’s coverage, this year.

Signed into law last March and mandating medical care for all, the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to reduce the nation’s overall medical bill in the long run, but raise many companies’ costs in the near term. Not surprisingly, employers intend to shift more of the health-cost burden to their employees, we found. Many workers will pay higher contributions, deductibles, and copayments in 2011, while fewer companies will offer health benefits for retirees.

Not all of CFO’s top benefits stories concerned health care and nest eggs. Our look at flexible work policies, which revealed an unexpected downside for female finance staffers, found a sizable readership. So did our story about a consultant’s contention that a company’s menu of benefits should be more à la carte than prix fixe — or, as he put it, as flexible as a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Health Reform: How Much Will It Hurt?

The sweeping overhaul of health care will cause many companies pain in the short term, but not as much as originally feared.

Health-Reform Costs Become Clearer

A few new rules and a flurry of surveys create a clearer picture of health-care costs in 2011.

Study: Many Health Plans Not Affordable

Many companies could run afoul of the mandate to provide affordable health-care plans, says a new study.

Health Costs: Sharing the Pain

Companies will require employees to pay more for their health care as costs rise in the near term, says a new study.

Pension Funding Is Up, but Shortfalls Remain

Companies upped their pension contributions in 2009, but many plans face trouble ahead.

How Do You Spell (Pension) Relief?

The Obama Administration weighs in on pension relief, but controversial restrictions remain.

Thinking Outside the Stocks

Corporate pension funds look to alternatives for funding boosts.

Making Retirement Savings Last

Insurers and plan sponsors want the government to make it easier to offer annuities in 401(k) plans.

The Happy Meal Syndrome

Letting employees define their own rewards may be the only way to keep them, argues the co-author of a new book.

The Perils of Flextime

Flexible work arrangements are popular, but they may exact a price — particularly from women who hope to become CFOs.

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