Thursday, 01/20/22
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Walt Podgurski, Editor
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Obamacare enrollment hits record high after Biden makes post-Trump tweaks to health insurance program
Dan Mangan / CNBC / / Read Article

What a difference a new president makes.

Enrollment in Obamacare health insurance plans has hit a record high this season, a clear, if rare, policy victory for President Joe Biden in his first full year in office.

The big surge came amid boosted financial assistance for enrollments, a wider window for sign-ups, the continuing health effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 850,000 Americans, and the touting of the health-care reform law by the president.



What Should We Make Of High Obamacare Enrollment Figures?
Sally Pipes, Contributor / Forbes / / Read Article

In most states, this weekend marked the end of Obamacare's open enrollment period. Preliminary figures indicate that 13.8 million Americans signed up for coverage through the exchanges this year. That's a 21% increase over last year's total and a record high.

The Biden administration is touting these numbers as signs that the exchanges are performing better than ever. But enrollment is up largely because the federal government is paying people unprecedented sums to sign up. That strategy only masks the long-term rise of insurance premiums and does nothing to address the waning quality of exchange plans.

Since 2014, Obamacare has subsidized premiums for those who make less than 400% of the poverty level—about $106,000 for a family of four. The federal government picks up the entire premium for those at the bottom of the income scale. As income rises, enrollees have to pick up a greater share of the premium. In 2020, the most that someone who qualified for subsidies had to pay was 9.8% of income.

Last year's American Rescue Plan Act changed all that. It made the subsidies for people with incomes between 100% and 400% of poverty more generous. And it capped what anyone pays—even those who make more than 400% of poverty – at 8.5% of income.



Medicare Advantage enrollment soars almost 9%
Bob Herman / Axios / / Read Article

More than 28.5 million seniors and people with disabilities were enrolled in a private Medicare Advantage plan as of Jan. 1, an 8.8% increase from the same time in 2021, according to new federal data analyzed by Axios.

Why it matters: Enrollment in the controversial MA program continues to grow, and based on prior full-year trends, enrollment in 2022 likely will surpass the federal government's prediction of 29.5 million people.



Senior citizens are fuming that Medicare won't pay for Covid-19 tests at retailers
By Tami Luhby / CNN / / Read Article

Peggy Matthews-Forney cannot believe that, unlike private insurers, Medicare is not reimbursing senior citizens for the home Covid-19 tests they buy at retailers.

"As a Medicare enrollee, I am enraged," said the retired industry strategist from Denver, noting that more than three-quarters of Covid-19 deaths in the US are among the elderly. "If anyone needs to have these tests paid for, it's seniors. The ones at the highest risk are seniors."

As part of its effort to contend with Covid-19, the Biden administration is requiring health insurers to cover the cost of home tests for most Americans with private insurance.

Consumers can buy home tests online or in stores and have them paid for at the time of purchase or get reimbursed by submitting a claim to their insurer. They do not need to visit their doctor or get a prescription to obtain the free tests.



Omicron Triggers Return to Workplace Concerns for More than Half of U.S. Workforce
Eagle Hill Consulting / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Fifty-two percent of working Americans say they have increased anxiety about working in person due to the rise of the COVID-19 omicron variant, and 55 percent agree employers should reconsider back to workplace plans. New research from Eagle Hill Consulting also indicates more than half of U.S. workers (56 percent) support employer requirements for vaccine boosters, while 78 percent say employers should encourage or require employees to be vaccinated for in-person work.

This workforce sentiment comes as the U.S. Surgeon General warns that the omicron surge has not peaked nationally, and the coming weeks will be difficult as hospitalizations and deaths rise. The U.S. has reported nearly 800,000 cases per day on average during the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University data, which is three times the level of last winter's record.



Behavior Frontiers Partners with DailyPay to Support its Employees' Financial Health
DailyPay / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Behavior Frontiers, a non-public agency specializing in applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment programs, has partnered with DailyPay—the leading provider of on-demand pay—to provide its healthcare employees with the power of choice and control of their earned pay to support their financial and mental wellness.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, Behavior Frontiers operates 46 locations across the U.S. The partnership enables Behavior Frontiers' employees to have instant access to their earned wages. In a survey commissioned by DailyPay conducted by The Harris Poll, 77% of DailyPay users say having access to their earned income has helped reduce their financial stress, making them more productive at work.



Fletch Expands its Digital Insurance Channel with Blink(SM) by Chubb®
Fletch Technologies / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Fletch is expanding its digital insurance distribution channel by collaborating with BlinkSM by Chubb® to add cyber insurance protection to its ecosystem of available personal insurance products. Fletch's open insurance API platform provides consumer apps, insurers and agents with the power to embed insurance products in their digitally native environment to protect what's most important to their customers.

Blink is Chubb's suite of digital consumer insurance products defined by its easy, effortless and affordable approach to insurance protection. Chubb is the world's largest publicly traded property and casualty insurer. Blink Cyber protection provides coverage for expenses related to cyber events such as identify theft, fraudulent wire transfer, cyber bullying and extortion from ransomware.



Leading Crypto IRA Software Platform iTrustCapital Secures $125 Million in Series A Round Led by NYC-Based Left Lane Capital
iTrustCapital / PRNewswire / / Read Article

iTrustCapital, the #1 software platform in America for buying and selling cryptocurrencies through individual retirement accounts (IRAs)*, announced today it has secured $125 million in a Series A growth equity investment with a post-money valuation exceeding $1.3 billion. The round was led by NYC-based growth equity firm Left Lane Capital. iTrustCapital plans to use the proceeds to expand products and services, scale client service and development teams, explore strategic acquisitions, and launch additional marketing channels. iTrustCapital has been bootstrapped to date and is profitable.



Aflac launches initiative to help close the gap for millions of Americans facing medical debt
"Close the Gap" initiative to include educational programs, celebrity ambassadors and an inspiring short film available on Roku
Aflac Inc. / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Aflac, a leading provider of supplemental insurance in the U.S., today launched a national initiative, Close the Gap, to address medical debt and disparities in health and wealth in America – an issue that affects close to 50% of Americans and disproportionately impacts people of color and those in low-income communities. The initiative shines a light on people who fall in the gap where health insurance ends and medical bills begin to pile up.

"The health and wealth gaps that exist in America are causing many families to decide between their health care and daily living expenses," said Aflac U.S. President Teresa White. "Through education, support and advocacy, our new initiative can help close gaps that exist in communities across the country and drive positive and lasting change."



Sun Life introduces employer community to ThrivePass to help manage workplace vaccine verification and testing for COVID-19
Sun Life U.S. / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Sun Life U.S. has reached an agreement with ThrivePass to help employers with vaccine and testing verification, including a dashboard for employers to holistically view the vaccination and exemption status of their employee population. The ThrivePass Vaccine Verification Solution is a turnkey solution that offers real-time reporting, automated tracking and ongoing employee communications in a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)-secured platform.



Sircon for Individuals reaches one million agent users
Vertafore /PRNewswire / / Read Article

Vertafore®, the leader in modern insurance technology, today announced that in 2021 its Sircon® for Individuals solution surpassed one million agent accounts, and more than 21,500 agencies are using Sircon® for Agencies. This growth and adoption across the independent insurance distribution channel reflects the trust that insurance professionals place in Sircon solutions to manage agent licensing, appointment and continuing education requirements.

 



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Archives
Monday, 01/17/22 - 10 Highly Beneficial Services For Employee Wellness

Tuesday, 01/18/22 - Fidelity Investments® Adds $146 Billion in Assets to Workplace Benefits Platform In 2021

Wednesday, 01/19/22 -  Act Now To Avoid Higher Life Insurance Rates - - Forbes

Thursday, 01/13/22 - Washington State’s Celebrated Long Term Care Program Is Headed Towards Trouble

Friday, 01/14/22 - Healthcare sharing ministry 'sham' faces suit for allegedly defrauding consumers in California

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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.