Daily Insurance Report     Thursday, 05/28/20

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


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Benepass raises $2.4 million to help employees get the most out of their tax-advantaged benefits
Catherine Shu / TechCrunch

Tax-advantaged benefits, like flexible spending accounts, can save employees in the United States thousands of dollars annually, and reduce the amount of payroll taxes companies pay. But those benefits are often underutilized, simply because they can be confusing to navigate. Benepass wants to make the process easier with a mobile app that centralizes all of an employee’s tax-advantaged accounts, and is linked to physical and virtual payment cards. The startup announced today that it has raised a $2.4 million seed round.

The funding was led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, with participation from Global Founders Capital, Y Combinator, Soma Capital, Amino Capital, AltalR, Elysium Ventures and Polymath. It will be used on hiring, product development and customer acquisition. Benepass recently completed Y Combinator’s winter 2020 program.

Benepass was founded last year by CEO Jaclyn Chen, CTO Kabir Soorya and COO Mark Fischer.

COVID-19 has forced nearly half of patients to postpone care
By Shannon Much

Dive Brief:

Nearly half of people responding to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation said someone in their household has skipped or put off medical care due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Of those, 11% said the condition got worse as a result.

About 32% of those who have postponed care said they would get the service in the next three months (14% within the next month) and 10% said they will do so in four months to a year. Only 1% said they will not reschedule.

The survey also showed strong support for Medicaid. More than half of those polled said the program was important to them and nearly three-quarters of those asked said they opposed cuts to Medicaid funding. In states that have yet to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act, two-thirds of respondents said they want to see expansion in their state.

Federal funding per Covid-19 case in Pennsylvania was $178,984 in mid-April
(The Center Square) / Daily American

Funding allocated to Pennsylvania through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act amounted to $178,984 per Covid-19 case in mid-April, according to a new 24/7 Wall St. study.

CARES Act funding going to the state, which by April 16 had 27,735 Covid-19 cases, amounted to $4.96 billion, the financial news and opinion website reported. The coronavirus infection rate in Pennsylvania stood at 216.6 per 100,000 residents, according to the analysis.

The CARES Act provided $150 billion in relief funds to states, localities, tribal governments and U.S. territories, 24/7 Wall St. reported. But the federal legislation’s total relief to help public agencies, individuals and businesses amounted to $2 trillion.

The way the funds were distributed, however, made for different levels of aid among different states, according to the study. Funds were allocated on a population-based formula, but each state received at least $1.25 billion, according to the website.

Some states more hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic were left with inadequate funding, 24/7 Wall St. reported. Wyoming, with 100,000 residents and only 50 coronavirus cases, received 120 times as much aid per case as hard-hit New York received, according to the analysis.

The Five Deadly Sins Of Private Health Insurance
John C. Goodman, Contributor / Forbes

One of the hallmarks of the American economic system is our commitment to the idea of competition. We believe in it so sincerely that we even have anti-trust laws with criminal penalties for violators who try to monopolize an industry.

So why is health care different? Why would anyone think monopoly would work better in the provision of medical care or health insurance? The likely reason is that in health care we are not getting the benefits from competition that we receive in markets for other goods and services.

The reason for that is unwise government regulation.

In the market for health insurance there is quite a lot of superficial competition. More than one third of seniors choose among competing Medicare Advantage plans in an annual open enrollment. The same thing happens in the (Obamacare) exchanges that were explicitly designed to be competitive markets. Federal employees, along with the employees of most state and local governments and many colleges and universities, have dozens of health insurance choices. So do employees of many large companies.

So what’s going wrong? Here are five problems.

1. Patients enroll in the wrong health plans.
2. Health plans cannot correct enrollment mistakes.
3. Health plans cannot subcontract for 24/7 primary care.
4. Patients cannot manage their own health care budgets.
5. Plans are getting the wrong price for the wrong patient.

401(k) investors flee to safety in 2020

401(k) investors favored bond, money market and stable value funds in the first third of 2020, while shunning riskier equities and target-date funds during the coronavirus pandemic. Data from Alight Solutions 401(k) index show that in April bond funds received 31% of all retirement fund flows for a total value of $80 million, followed by self-directed brokerage flows (19% and $47 million) and money market funds (18% and $47 million).

Target-date funds saw $112 million in outflows during the month, accounting for 44% of the month's total outflows.

April's activity conveyed similar patterns to the first quarter where the most significant inflows were to bond and money markets funds, but also stable value funds, which took about half of all inflows during the period. Target-date funds and large-cap U.S. equity funds accounted for more than two-thirds of all fund flows.

The Alight Solutions 401(k) index tracks the investment activity of more than 2 million 401(k) investors at large employers who have roughly $200 billion in collective assets, according to the firm's website.

Walgreens president leaves to become CEO of Tennessee health and fitness company

Walgreens President Richard Ashworth, PharmD, is leaving the company to become CEO of Tivity Health, a health and fitness company based in Nashville, Tenn.

Dr. Ashworth, who became Walgreens' president three months ago, will become Tivity Health's CEO effective June 1.

Dr. Ashworth was with Walgreens for 28 years, serving as president of operations since 2017 and in a variety of leadership roles before that.

Retailers turn to bonuses, benefits to aid workers during pandemic
Many of the rewards are a way to thank employees—and keep them working—during the COVID-19 outbreak.
By: Kathryn Mayer / Human Resource Executive

The majority of retailers are turning to bonuses, more pay and enhanced benefits to keep employees working during the coronavirus, according to new data.

A new survey of more than 50 major U.S. retailers by consulting firm Korn Ferry finds that 43% of essential retailer respondents to its May 6 survey say they have increased hourly pay, while 17% say they are offering a bonus to be paid into the future, and 22% say they are offering both increased hourly pay and a bonus. Only 17% say they are not offering premium pay, or “hero pay.” The largest percentage (43%) say they are paying store employees an extra $2 an hour on average.

Meanwhile, a third (33%) of essential retailers say they are also offering additional paid time off to store workers, 14% are offering an increased employee discount and 5% are offering increased overtime pay.

One reason employers are turning to these rewards is due to “recognizing that these employees were being asked to work in the public while much of the rest of America was asked to stay at home to limit their risk of catching the virus,” says Craig Rowley, senior client partner and retail expert at Korn Ferry.


Monday - 05/18/20 - - Why Papa, Humana think it's crucial to 'make noise' about the impacts of loneliness amid COVID-19

Tuesday - 05/26/20 - - Single-payer healthcare could lead to major employee benefits industry shakeout

Wednesday - 05/27/20 - -  1st deadlines arrive for laid-off workers to get Obamacare health insurance

Thursday - 05/21-20 - MassMutual Expands $3 Billion Free Life Insurance Program for Frontline Healthcare Workers Battling Pandemic to Five Additional State

Friday - 05-22-20 - - Insurance policy comparison website SelectQuote raises $570 million in IPO

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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