Wednesday, 01/12/22
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Walt Podgurski, Editor
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Biden Requires Insurance Companies To Cover Free At-Home Covid Tests Starting This Weekend
Anna Kaplan, Forbes Staff / Forbes / / Read Article

Private insurance companies will be required to reimburse customers for up to eight at-home Covid-19 tests per month starting Saturday, according to a policy announced Monday, as the Biden Administration grapples with high demand for tests amid a soaring number of coronavirus cases from the omicron variant.

Private insurers can pay for at-home tests upfront at preferred pharmacies and retailers, or reimburse people who buy the test kits elsewhere, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release.

Only tests purchased on or after January 15 are required to be reimbursed, though insurance companies can choose to reimburse tests purchased earlier.

Americans on Medicare won’t be eligible for the federal reimbursement plan, though Medicare already covers Covid-19 tests conducted in labs, and Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program plans are already required to fully reimburse the costs of FDA-approved tests.

PCR tests and rapid tests administered by a healthcare provider will continue to be covered by insurance with no limit.

The Associated Press first reported the plan Monday.

Later this month, the Biden Administration plans to launch a website where Americans can sign up to receive free at-home Covid-19 tests through the mail. The exact date for launching the website has not been revealed, but the administration said it will make 500 million tests available.



Employees want financial wellness more than they want PTO
By Paola Peralta / ebn / / Read Article

Employees are serious about wanting more holistic benefits — so much so that they’re willing to give up time off to get them.

Sixty-eight percent of employees say that they would prioritize financial wellness benefits above an extra week of vacation, according to a new report from investment company Betterment’s 401(k) business.

The growing number of young workers breaking into the workforce is one of the largest reasons behind the rising focus on financial stability over more traditional benefits or perks, according to the report. Seventy-four percent of workers said they would be likely to leave their job for an employer that offered better financial benefits — climbing to 79% for millennials and 84% for Gen Z.

“Prior generations didn't really deal with student loans,” Carlisle says. “And as that becomes more prevalent in the United States and as more and more workers enter the workforce with debt, they're looking for help from their employer.”



Understanding long-term care options
NBC News / / Read Article

No one likes to think about the day that their aging parents or elderly loved ones will require acute or long-term care (LTC). And yet, 69% of aging adults will need some form of ongoing care in the later years of their lives. Planning for that time means understanding the types of care available, as well as budgeting for the expense. In 2020, the annual average cost for long-term care in the United States ranged from $19,240 to more than $100,000, depending on the type of service and facility.

Fortunately, there are a variety of options, depending upon where you live, your budget and the kind of care your loved one may need. Even if your parents or elderly family members are in good health today, the best time to research and consider LTC providers is long before your loved one needs these services. Although the choices may vary in your community, here are LTC options and potential ways to pay for them.

In-home care
Adult day care programs
Comprehensive at-home care programs
Assisted living communities
Nursing home
Continuing care retirement communities



The next frontier of employee benefits
By Peter Rice / WB JOURNAL / / Read Article

Yet most don’t give their employees’ financial wellness the same consideration as their physical health. They should. Financial stress costs employers $4.7 billion per week. According to a Bright Plan survey of 1,500 workers, a fifth of workers said their financial health has worsened during the pandemic and 46% have had lower productivity as a result. According to a MetLife Employee Benefit Trends study, people who are less worried about their personal finances are more productive. In fact, 85% of financially healthy workers reported feeling more productive at work.

What if in addition to other benefits, employers offered their workers a way to improve their financial wellness? It takes more than sending them financial literacy information or connecting them with a webinar about how to plan their personal budget. It takes connecting them with a trained financial coach who can meet with them one-on-one. A good coach won’t judge, drop a guilt trip, or sell a product. They will answer questions and provide the tools and support that empower people to make good decisions, no matter what stage of life they may be in. Participating employees will experience less stress associated with money, greater satisfaction with their job, and potentially lower health costs.



Career Karma lands $40M to evolve into an edtech employee benefit
Natasha Mascarenhas / TechCrunch / / Read Article

Career Karma raised its first millions off of a pitch that resonates with anyone who has ever googled coding bootcamps: a navigation tool for aspiring students and working professionals. Instead of creating its own curriculum, Career Karma helps students find the best programs for their price point and career goals.

The startup, founded in 2018 by Ruben Harris, Artur Meyster and Timur Meyster, is now growing its ambition to serve more than the bogged-down bootcamp student: over the past few months, Career Karma has seeded partnerships with employers, making it the latest consumer-focused edtech startup to go the employer benefit route as it scales. Now, Harris describes, his vision is that Career Karma will match employees and contractors to job training programs in the marketplace it has built over the past few years.

To execute on this stage of the business, Career Karma announced today that it has raised a $40 million Series B at an undisclosed valuation. The round was led by Top Tier Capital Partners, alongside GV (Google Ventures), Bronze Venture Fund, Stardust, Trousdale Ventures and Alumni Ventures Group. Existing investors also participated in the round, including SoftBank, Emerson Collective, Kapor Capital, Backstage, 4S Bay Partners and Y Combinator.



Milliman survey reveals 28 out of 34 companies use or plan to use accelerated underwriting in term life insurance
Milliman, Inc. / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Milliman, Inc., a premier global consulting and actuarial firm, just released the results of its biennial broad-based survey on term life insurance. The study surveys 34 term life insurance companies and focuses on current topics relevant to a range of these products.

Key findings of the study include:

Term life insurance sales increased year-over-year during the survey period (calendar years 2018 to 2020).

Currently, 26 of the 34 survey participants use accelerated underwriting programs for term life insurance, with an additional two participants planning to implement such programs.



Patriot Growth Insurance Services Meaningfully Expands in Florida With Key Acquisitions
Patriot Growth Insurance Services / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Patriot Growth Insurance Services, LLC ("Patriot"), one of the country's largest and fastest-growing national insurance agencies, announces the addition of several key partners to its Florida operations, including Kolisch Marine, Depace Insurance, MacLeish Insurance, Focus Insurance Agency, Herndon Carr & Company, and Crosslet Insurance Services. These six partnerships will work within Patriot's Shapiro Insurance Group (SIG) platform, and significantly expand Patriot's expertise and capabilities throughout the Southeast region.



Crest Insurance Group Continues Rapid Expansion, Completing 13 Acquisitions in the Past Year
Crest Insurance Group / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Crest Insurance Group ("Crest" or the "Company"), one of the country's fastest growing insurance brokerage firms, announced today that it completed the acquisition of four insurance brokerages in December 2021. Recent acquisitions have added a number of knowledgeable, service-oriented brokers, extended Crest's capabilities in a number of niche coverage markets, including auto dealer and fine arts product lines, and have added new offices to serve customers in and around Cottonwood, AZ, Denver, CO, Longmont, CO, Laramie, WY and Rawlins, WY. These acquisitions bring the total number completed by Crest in the past year to 13, including nine new office locations in the Company's Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming markets.



SPG Acquires the Assets of Brokers' Service Marketing Group
Specialty Program Group / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Specialty Program Group, LLC (SPG), a leading operator of specialty insurance brokerage firms and underwriting facilities, announced today the acquisition of the assets of Brokers' Service Marketing Group II, LLC (BSMG) as of December 15, 2021.

BSMG is a leading life and annuity brokerage general agency (BGA) serving advisors and financial institutions.



Life & Specialty Ventures and Cambia Health Solutions begin their new strategic collaboration
Life & Specialty Ventures, LLC / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Life & Specialty Ventures and Cambia Health Solutions have finalized the details of a strategic collaboration to advance the medical and dental care and financial well-being of people and families in Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Idaho. Through the partnership, Cambia's LifeMap ancillary insurance business has become part of Life & Specialty Ventures' USAble Life ancillary insurance business. Under the new partnership, USAble Life will begin management of all dental products for Cambia's affiliated health plans. Cambia has gained an ownership position and Board representation in Life & Specialty Ventures.


Inszone Insurance Services Acquires Cabrera Insurance & Financial Services
BUSINESS WIRE / / Read Article

Inszone Insurance Services, a rapidly growing national provider of benefits, personal, and commercial lines insurance, announced today the acquisition of Cabrera Insurance & Financial Services, providing the 7th acquisition in the state of Arizona for Inszone.'

 





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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.