Daily Insurance Report

Friday,  03/05//21

Walt Podgurski



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Press Releases

Sign-ups for Biden's Obamacare special enrollment period nearly triple
By Tami Luhby / CNN / / Read Article

More than 206,000 people signed up for Affordable Care Act policies on the federal exchange in the first two weeks of the special enrollment period ordered by President Joe Biden, federal data released Wednesday shows.

Uninsured Americans who want to buy 2021 coverage on healthcare.gov could start doing so on February 15, thanks to an executive order Biden signed in January. Special enrollment runs until May 15. Most states that operate their own marketplaces are also extending their enrollment seasons.

"These numbers are an encouraging sign — but we can't slow down until every American has the security and peace of mind that quality, affordable health coverage provides," Biden said.

Typically, signing up for coverage outside of the traditional enrollment period in the fall is restricted to those who lose their job-based policies or have a change in status, such as a divorce. Last year, only 76,000 people picked Obamacare plans during the second half of February, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal exchange.

Biden, Senate Democrats agree to limit eligibility for $1,400 checks
By Sahil Kapur, Frank Thorp V, Garrett Haake and Leigh Ann Caldwell / CNBC / / Read Article

Senate Democrats plan to give $1,400 checks to fewer people under a deal struck with President Joe Biden, according to two sources familiar with it.

Every American who filed individually and makes up to $75,000 would still get the full amount before it begins to reduce at incomes above that. But rather than zero out at $100,000 earnings, as the last Covid-19 relief bill does, the Senate bill would cut off payments at $80,000, the sources said.

For couples filing jointly, incomes up to $150,000 would still get the full amount. But rather than zero out at $200,000, the Senate bill would cut off payments at $160,000 in earnings.

For taxpayers filing as heads of households, the new plan would make the full $1,400 available for those earning under $112,500, with the payment zeroing out at $120,000.

Pru says pandemic has changed how life insurance is sold ‘forever’
UK-based insurer plots digital future in Asia as it presses ahead with demerger
FINANCIAL TIMES / / Read Article

The way life insurance policies are sold has changed “forever” because of the pandemic as agents who have worked face-to-face for decades have switched to video, Prudential’s chief executive has said.

Presenting annual results on Wednesday, Mike Wells said almost 30 per cent of sales were being agreed over Zoom and other digital platforms, even in Asian markets where restrictions on movement have been lifted.

“It’s here to stay — people’s preferences have changed,” he said. The company’s network of 600,000 agents across Asia would “change the way they work forever”.

Fewer than 1 in 5 Employers Offer Childcare Help

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Insurers launch pilot program aimed at getting 2 million American seniors vaccinated
Berkeley Lovelace Jr./ CNBC / / Read Article


Insurers are launching a pilot program aimed at getting 2 million seniors vaccinated as quickly as possible, an advisor on President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response team said.

The pilot program – called Vaccine Community Connecters – is designed to educate seniors on the vaccines, help schedule appointments for shots and arrange transportation, advisor Andy Slavitt told reporters.

How employers are redefining workplace wellness during COVID
By Craig Rubino / ebn / / Read Article

Beyond a paycheck, employees lean on their employers for help with healthcare, financial wellness, and retirement planning. But since the start of the pandemic, E*TRADE research reveals employees are turning to benefits like equity compensation to reach their goals and feel more invested in their work.

Workers are plugging into their company’s stock plan offerings more than ever before. Employees with stock plan benefits are checking in on their plans more often, and more frequently via mobile — reflecting broader global trends in digitalization and technology adoption.

Rather than a bonus or emergency fund, more stock plan participants now say they see their equity compensation as a long-term investment and a core part of their total compensation. This suggests more are drawing a connection between their workplace benefits and long-term financial wellness goals.

More employees also say their equity comp is an increasingly important factor in weighing whether to stay with or leave a job. At the same time, more are holding onto their awards long-term because they believe in their company’s future — showing the value they place on a sense of connection with their companies amid continued disruption and remote work.


Centene's CEO made $59 million in pandemic year
Bob Herman / AXIOS / / Read Article

Michael Neidorff, CEO of health insurance company Centene, made almost $59 million in 2020, according to calculations from the company's preliminary financial documents. That amount was roughly 1.5 times more than what Neidorff made in 2019.

The bottom line: Neidorff's compensation is an early sign of how corporate executives, especially those in health care, reaped large, stock-heavy paydays during the coronavirus pandemic, despite the broader economic turmoil.

Between the lines: Health insurers' bottom lines swelled during the first half of 2020. Many people deferred care to avoid catching the virus, and hospitals and doctors also canceled procedures and appointments out of caution.

New analysis shows Medicare spending patterns upended by COVID-
AMA / / Read Article

The COVID-19 pandemic upended projected patterns of spending for physician services in the United States and a new report from the American Medical Association (AMA) documents these unprecedented changes in the Medicare program during the first six months of 2020.

The new report “Changes in Medicare Physician Spending During the COVID-19 Pandemic” analyzed Medicare claims data exclusive to physician services and found spending dropped as much as 57% below expected pre-pandemic levels in April of 2020. Medicare spending on physician services partially recovered from the April low but was still 12% less than expected by the end of June 2020. During the first half of 2020, the cumulative estimated reduction in Medicare physician spending associated with the pandemic was $9.4 billion (19%).

Lionrock is the only telehealth provider that works directly with employers, as well as their benefit brokers, to offer the robust level of care specifically required to effectively treat SUDs, formerly known as addiction. By pairing their other telehealth benefits with Lionrock’s programs, employers can now address their employees’ substance use disorders, a serious mental health issue impacting every industry across the country.

Lionrock pairs secure video conference-based treatment services with flexible schedules that fit busy people’s lives. This allows clients to meet their work and home responsibilities while getting the help they need from the privacy of home. It also costs a fraction of expensive inpatient treatment, making it a more practical option for many people.


Voya Adds Emergency Savings Solution to Financial Wellness Support Offerings
The platform is said to provide out-of-plan emergency savings support alongside the retirement plan and other workplace savings accounts.

Voya Financial Inc. is partnering with Millennium Trust Co. LLC to offer emergency savings fund solutions for workplace clients’ employees.

“While the need for emergency savings has been growing over the years, the COVID-19 crisis has placed a spotlight on the immediate actions that many individuals are seeking to take today, as more than half (53%) of Americans say they are more likely to save for possible emergencies in 2021 compared to 2020,” says Charlie Nelson, CEO, retirement and employee benefits at Voya Financial, in a release by the company. “As the need for broader savings solutions is becoming more inextricably linked to positive retirement outcomes, providing emergency savings options both in and outside of retirement plans are just a few examples of what we can be doing to support employers to address the broader health and wealth needs of their employees.”

Other features within the emergency savings solution include optional automatic saving through payroll deduction, along with a plan sponsor’s ability to make employer contributions to employee emergency savings funds through an employer match or ad hoc contributions.

DispatchHealth Raises $200 Million in Series D Financing to Build Largest System of In-Home Medical Care
PRNewswire / / Read Article

DispatchHealth, a provider of in-home medical care, today announced it has secured an additional $200 million in Series D financing, less than one year after closing a $135.8 million Series C round. Tiger Global led the Series D investment with previous investors Alta Partners, Echo Health Ventures, Humana, Oak HC/FT and Questa Capital funding the remainder of the round.

This latest investment brings the company's total funding to more than $417 million and raises its valuation to $1.7 billion. DispatchHealth will use the funding to expand its platform for in-home medical care to a total of 100 markets and ensure its Advanced Care line of service is widely available in the United States.

Reliance Global Group Expands Sales Initiatives Targeting Large Enterprises and Employee Organizations
GLOBE NEWSWIRE-- via NewMediaWire  / / Read Article

Reliance Global Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: RELI; RELIW), a company engaged in the acquisition and management of insurance agencies in the United States, announces it is expanding its sales initiatives targeting large enterprises and employee organizations. As a result, Reliance Global Group’s wholly owned subsidiary, Southwestern Montana Insurance Center, LLC (SWMIC), was recently named broker of choice for an additional three unions.

Ezra Beyman, CEO of Reliance Global Group, stated, "In addition to launching 5minuteinsure.com, our direct-to-consumer offering, we are also accelerating our sales and marketing initiatives targeting large enterprises and employee organizations. I am pleased to report, SWMIC was recently named broker of choice for 3 premier regional unions. This follows SWMIC’s selection as Broker of Choice for 18 public school districts. We are pursuing this same strategy in parallel with our other agencies.”

Higginbotham Enters Louisiana with Local Insurance Broker
Union Adds Group Captive Insurance Product to Higginbotham's Lineup
PRNewswire / / Read Article

Higginbotham, an independent insurance and financial services firm based in Texas and ranked as one of the largest in the U.S., has partnered with Mike Knotts, an insurance agency owner and broker in Bossier City, LA, to establish its first brick-and-mortar in the state. Knotts, who opened his first agency in 1996, leads a team of 20 commercial insurance and employee benefits professionals that includes expertise in managing group captive insurance programs focused primarily in the transportation industry.

Photo Of The Day

Monday, 03/01/21 - - At Last, Democrats Get Chance to Engineer Obamacare 2.0

Tuesday, 03/02/21 - - Limiting Private Insurance Reimbursement to Medicare Rates Would Reduce Health Spending by About $350 Billion in 2021

Wednesday, 03-03-21 - - Annual workforce report reveals what insurance professionals want in 2021: flexibility, more time with clients and innovation

Thursday, 03-04-21 - -  16 Employee Perks To Attract And Retain Top Virtual Talent

Friday, 02-26-21 - - EverythingBenefits Releases Annual Top 20 Carriers List
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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.