I frequently come across interesting information that, while not lending itself to a full blog post, is still worth sharing. This post is the first of a periodic series in which I summarize this information and provide links for those who want to learn more.

• Here are some new benchmarks for 401(k) plan sponsors, according to the 12th Edition of the 401k Averages Book.

  • The average total plan cost for a retirement plan is 1.3% of assets, while larger plans with at least 1,000 participants have expenses that average 1.08% of assets.
  • The average investment expense is 1.24% of assets for a small plan and 1.05% for a large plan.
  • Investment expenses account for 95% of a small plan's total expenses and 98% for a large plan.

Finally, there is plenty of evidence that plan sponsors should shop around given the very wide range of plan costs. A 100-participant plan with a $50,000 average account balance pays anywhere from .36% to 1.71% of assets in plan costs. Download sample data from the book here.

• Here is more fodder for proponents of health risk assessments and targeted wellness programs. Just 10% of the U.S. population incurred nearly two-thirds of all health care costs in 2008, according to data compiled by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The average annual per-person cost for this group was nearly $24,000, which includes costs covered by insurance and paid out of pocket.

Many of these individuals appear to be chronically ill. Approximately 45% of the group with the highest annual health care expenses in 2008 remained in that category in 2009. You can read more about the study and data here.

• A new paper issued by the Society of Actuaries found that individuals' plans for retirement are getting back on track as their assets recover from the financial market meltdown in 2008. This is key finding of a new paper issued by the Society of Actuaries. The paper found that investors within five years of retirement were able to get closer to their original retirement dates if they made modest increases in savings and slightly delayed retirement. However, individuals who moved their retirement assets into cash investments are likely to have to delay retirement as much as four years above and beyond the steps needed to recover from the 2008 downturn had they kept their investments static. The full paper is available for free download here.

• The first impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is being felt as the percentage of individuals between the ages of 19 and 25 with health care coverage as a dependent increases, according to data compiled by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). EBRI analyzed data from three surveys and found that:

  • The U.S. Census's Current Population Survey shows that the percentage of individuals between the ages 19 and 25 with employer-provided coverage as a dependent increased from 24.7 percent in 2009 to 27.7 percent in 2010.
  • Another U.S. Census survey, the Survey of Income and Program Participation, shows that the percentage of individuals between the ages of 19 and 25 covered by employer-provided health insurance as a dependent averaged 26.9 percent from January to September 2010 then increased to an average of 27.1 percent during October and November 2010.
  • The percentage of people age 19-25 with private insurance increased from 51% to 55.8%, while the percentage uninsured in this group fell from 33.9% in 2010 to 28.8% during the first half of 2011. (National Health Interview Survey)
See more here.