Daily Insurance Report     Friday, 08/07/20

Walt Bernard Podgurski,  Editor,  440-773-1108, 


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The "Daily Insurance Report" is now subscribed to by 25,000 elite insurance industry influencers who receive it Monday - Friday and have a quick overview of what is appearing in the media regarding the insurance industry; with an emphasis on life, health, and employee benefits. The "Daily Insurance Report" publishes the life insurance, health insurance, and employee benefits news that matters.

Exxon Halts Contributions to Employee Retirement Plan

Exxon Mobil Corp is suspending the company's contribution to the U.S. employee retirement savings plan beginning in October, the company confirmed on Wednesday.

"Given the current business environment, the corporation is taking steps to reduce costs," the company said in a message to employees seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

"The company intends to suspend the company match contribution to the U.S. Exxon Mobil Savings Plan for all employees covered by the Savings Plan, effective around Oct. 1, 2020."

Exxon spokeswoman Ashley Alemayehu said the suspension was part of the company's effort to reduce costs in response to the impact of the pandemic.

Humana joins peers in reporting depressed usage, larger income in Q2

Dive Brief:

Humana topped Wall Street expectations for the second quarter as insurers have continued to benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic as members put off care and carriers paid out less in claims. The payer reported its income more than doubled for the second quarter, hitting $2.6 billion, per results released Wednesday.

Humana's revenue increased about 17%, reaching $19 billion for the second quarter while adjusted earnings of $12.56 per share also trampled analyst estimates in large part due to its lower medical cost ratio.

Humana revised its outlook and now expects full-year EPS to be between $17.36 and $17.86 from a previous range of $16.04 and $16.54. The Louisville-based insurer also expects membership in individual Medicare Advantage enrollment to grow between 330,000 and 360,000 members from a previous range of 300,000 to 350,000 members.

The public health crisis gripping the globe has led to large second quarter profits for insurers as members' utilization of healthcare is drastically depressed as care is put off amid the pandemic.

All of the nation's largest insurers, Anthem, Centene, Cigna, Molina, UnitedHealth Group (which operates UnitedHealthcare) and CVS (which owns Aetna), all reported a surge in second quarter profits due to lower medical usage among members.

Oregon PERS: Oregon Supreme Court upholds lawmakers changes to public pension benefits

By Ted Sickinger / The Oregonian/OregonLive

The Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the reductions in public employee pension benefits that the Legislature passed in 2019 to help address the state’s burgeoning pension funding deficit and rein in the escalating pension costs and resulting budget problems for public employers.

Nine public employees filed suit last August seeking to overturn two benefit reductions the Legislature made in Senate Bill 1049: requiring employees to share a small portion of the cost of their pension benefits, and putting a $195,000 limit on the final salary used in some benefit calculations.

Their lawyers argued that the changes constituted an impairment of contract under the state and federal constitutions, a “taking without just compensation” and a breach of public employees’ PERS contract rights.

In a unanimous decision, the court rejected those arguments, sticking with the principle it established in its 2015 decision on the last round of legal wrangling over PERS: the Legislature is entitled to change employee retirement benefits prospectively, for future service, but benefits earned on service already rendered are sacrosanct.

Wellness in the workplace — are you proactive or reactive?
Rebecca Smith / TrueConnect

Do you prioritize wellness in the workplace?

Mental health is one of the biggest deterrents of physical health, and is considered for many a taboo topic in the office.

According to an American Psychological Association study, 72% of Americans said they felt stressed about money, which can quickly turn into feelings of anxiety and depression, or in other words, a mental health disorder. According to NAMI, 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental health condition each year, and 57% of those with a mental illness are not actually receiving any medical care.

Common mental disorders include, but are not limited to:
Bi-polar disorder
Eating disorders
Personality disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder

Wellness in the workplace isn’t just about healthcare or physical wellness programs; it encompasses much more. Financial wellness programs offer a dynamic and holistic approach to the personal financial problems while providing benefits your employees need.

What Will Healthcare in Retirement Cost You? Try $295,000.
Maurie Backman / KENOSHA NEWS

There's a reason so many seniors fear the idea of retirement: Leaving the workforce means moving over to a fixed income while having to deal with a host of financial unknowns. And while some expenses do tend to go down in retirement, others, like healthcare, can be more expensive than what you're used to.

Each year, Fidelity releases its annual Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, and this year, it states that the average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2020 can expect to spend a whopping $295,000 on medical expenses throughout retirement. That represents a 3.5% increase from last year's $285,000 estimate, and an 18% increase since 2010. That figure also breaks down into $155,000 for single female retirees, and $140,000 for single male retirees, the reason being that women tend to outlive their male counterparts.

Now there are a few things you should about Fidelity's estimate. First, it's exactly that -- an estimate. It doesn't mean that you'll spend $295,000 as a couple throughout retirement, but it also means you could end up spending more if you have known health issues that are expensive to treat. Secondly, Fidelity's numbers assume that you're enrolled in original Medicare (Parts A and B, which cover hospital care and outpatient services, respectively), and that you also have a Part D plan, which covers prescription drugs. It also assumes you'll live an average life expectancy based on data from the Society of Actuaries.

But also, that $295,000 doesn't account for all of your costs. While it includes Medicare premiums, copayments, and deductibles, it does not include most dental services and long-term care. As such, your total tab could actually be much higher, and that's something you'll need to prepare for.

How to pay for healthcare in retirement

Preparing for Three Federal Mandates to Improve Healthcare in 2021
Andrew Mellin, MD / Medical Economics

Here are three key government mandates taking effect in 2021 that physicians should be preparing for.

While COVID-19 is rightly consuming the attention of healthcare leaders, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is continuing to drive policies that improve electronic clinical information sharing, mitigate fraud in the opioid crisis, and deliver price transparency for patients. As many practices and health systems start reopening and resuming operating their practices in a new normal, it’s important to prepare for these initiatives that will have a direct impact on your practice and your patients.

Now that we are more than half-way through 2020, there are three key HHS mandates taking effect in 2021 that you should be preparing for:

Information blocking -- - It’s more critical than ever to be able to quickly locate and access clinical records. In the best of times or during a global pandemic, unlocking safer, higher quality and lower cost healthcare is essential. That’s what interoperability is — and information blocking is not — all about. While the industry has made significant strides towards clinical interoperability with frameworks like Carequality, the new rules and regulations will significantly enhance clinical and administrative information sharing for patients and will require every provider and payer organization to evaluate their core technologies and policies and procedures to ensure compliance.

Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) - - As a comprehensive law to address the opioid crisis, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act states that prescriptions for all controlled substances covered under Medicare Part D must be transmitted electronically beginning January 1, 2021 (with minor exceptions for hardships).

Prescription Price Transparency - - CMS has many initiatives designed to improve their beneficiaries’ ability to understand and manage their personal healthcare costs. As part of this cost transparency theme, CMS has published its Medicare Advantage and Part D Drug Pricing Final Rule, requiring Medicare Part D sponsors to implement an electronic real-time benefit tool (RTBT) capable of integrating with at least one prescriber’s EHR. The rule states that payors must implement tools by January 1, 2021.

Obama's Medicaid expansion keeps gaining ground under Trump

President Donald Trump is still trying to overturn “Obamacare,” but his predecessor's health care law keeps gaining ground in places where it was once unwelcome.

Missouri voters this week approved Medicaid expansion by a 53% to 47% margin, making the conservative state the seventh to do so under Trump. The Republican president readily carried Missouri in 2016, but the Medicaid vote comes as more people have been losing workplace health insurance in a treacherous coronavirus economy.

That leaves only a dozen states opposed to using the federal-state health program for low-income people as a vehicle for covering more adults, mainly people in jobs that don't provide health care. Medicaid expansion is a central feature of former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, covering about 12 million people, while nearly 10 million others get subsidized private insurance.

If present trends continue, it's only a matter of time until all states expand Medicaid, acknowledged Brian Blase, a former health care adviser in the Trump White House, who remains opposed to the expansion.

Alegeus and HealthSherpa Partner to Provide Seamless ICHRA and Benefit Enrollment Experience

Alegeus, the market leader in consumer-directed healthcare (CDH) solutions, today announced a partnership with HealthSherpa, a health technology company that has created a simplified health insurance plan shopping and enrollment experience, to provide enhanced capabilities for its clients around the individual coverage health reimbursement arrangement (ICHRA). HealthSherpa helps ICHRA-eligible employees search for and enroll in the best individual plans, which will bolster the health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) experience from Alegeus and give third-party administrators (TPAs) and health plans a strategy for increasing employer and employee participation in health benefit accounts.

ICHRAs are designed to allow employers of all sizes to fund an HRA for employees to buy individual market insurance instead of offering group coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ICHRA can also be used by employees to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. According to the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury, once adjusted to the new rules, roughly 800,000 employers will offer ICHRA to pay for more than 11 million employees and their families – signaling significant interest and upcoming demand.

NFP Acquires Reilly Benefits, Expanding Employee Benefits Capabilities in Mid-Atlantic Region

NFP, a leading insurance broker and consultant that provides property and casualty, corporate benefits, retirement and individual solutions, today announced the acquisition of Reilly Benefits Inc., in a transaction that closed effective July 1, 2020.

Reilly Benefits, an employee benefits broker located in Churchton, MD, focuses on supporting small to mid-sized employers in the southern Maryland and greater Washington, D.C. area. The firm’s expertise in Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance and helping employers accelerate and manage growth aligns with NFP’s focus on broadening employee benefits capabilities. David Wenrich and Amy Felix, principals of the firm, will join NFP as a vice president and an account manager, respectively, and be part of NFP’s Mid-Atlantic region, led by Ethan Foxman, the president of the region.

Editorial Mission Statement: The goal of this publication is to provide readers a broad selection of what is being written about the insurance industry and related issues. Some articles may have a “tilt” towards a particular perspective one way or another. Inclusion in this newsletter is not an endorsement of any views or content; but report the various and differing views appearing in media.
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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor