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

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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.
  Tuesday, 04/09/19 - https://DailyInsuranceReport.com 

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The "Daily Insurance Report" publishes the life insurance, health insurance, and employee benefits news that matters.

'Medicare X': Bill to expand public health care introduced in Congress
"We would direct Medicare to develop a policy for working people"
Brie Jackson / WAVY.com

Senator Tim Kaine introduced a bill to expand health care called "Medicare X." Sen. Kaine said the idea is to create a new public option for health insurance. But gaining support for the plan remains a challenge.

"We would direct Medicare to develop a policy for working people," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D) Virginia.

Senator Kaine said he's not trying to reinvent the "health care" wheel. His Medicare-X plan would only expand existing Medicare coverage beyond senior citizens.

"So that any working age person in the country can look at that policy, and if they decided they liked its coverage or cost, they could buy it," Kaine said.

Supporters said the goal is to provide quality, low cost care to more Americans, including people living in rural areas with limited insurance options. Senator Kaine said his plan could increase competition and drive down health care cost.

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Microsoft is shutting down its HealthVault patient record service
The tech giant told users in an email that HealthVault will be gone by November 20th.
Mariella Moon / engadget

Microsoft has big plans for the healthcare space and even teamed up with Walgreens earlier this year to "transform healthcare delivery." It's been axing the older products it created for the industry, however, with HealthVault being the latest casualty. Microsoft launched HealthVault in 2009 after two years of beta, giving health professionals free access to a personal health record storage platform. According to ZDNet, the tech giant has started notifying customers via email that it's shutting down on November 20th and will be deleting all its data.

Microsoft is giving customers until that day to transfer their information. The company suggests transferring data to other health record providers, particularly Get Real Health for US and international users or FollowMyHealth for US customers. The email reads:

Two years ago, Microsoft discontinued its Band fitness wearable even though it originally had future plans for it. And earlier this year, it announced that it's shutting down Health Dashboard and pulling down all Band apps on May 31st. Still, HealthVault did outlast the Google Health initiative that opened in 2008, and then closed in 2012 to make way for Google Fit.

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Healthcare consumerism today: Accelerating the consumer experience
Jenny Cordina, Monica Qian, and Lara Sanfilippo / McKinsey & Company

McKinsey’s latest research shows that consumer engagement in healthcare continues to grow, but many payers and providers are struggling to meet changing needs and demands.

The results of McKinsey’s 2018 Consumer Health Insights (CHI) Survey deliver a consistent message with important implications for payers, providers, and other industry stakeholders: consumer engagement is becoming increasingly important, but most stakeholders are still struggling to meet consumers’ needs.
Four issues stood out:
Personalization. The consumer experience should be tailored more closely to the needs of individuals.
Access. The continuum of care should be improved so consumers have access when and where they need it.
Incentives. Well-designed incentives hold promise of motivating consumers to make better choices.
Innovation. New product concepts must be carefully designed to meet consumers’ needs and wants.

Why AI is the Future of Benefits Personalization
Sushman Biswas, Associate Editor / HR Technologist

Employers are seeking to make more data-driven employee benefits decisions. That’s according to Castlight Health’s latest report, Employer Perspectives of Personalization in Digital Health, which found that employers strongly believe that personalization has the ability to significantly impact employers and employees.

What’s Keeping Employers from Personalizing Their Benefits Offerings?

While artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics have transformed several business functions rapidly, organizations are at a data disadvantage when it comes to their benefits offerings. Maeve O’Meara, Executive Vice President of Product and Customer Experience at Castlight believes that employers typically work with limited data-sources which keeps them from unleashing the true power of benefits personalization.

“Our survey of employers with the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) found that most organizations are eager to take advantage of the technological advances that enable benefits personalization. But, an employer’s ability to personalize benefits and recommend them to employees is only as good as the data they use to inform those recommendations,” says Maeve.

“Our report found that employers today are leveraging some data, such as medical claims and biometrics screenings, to drive personalization -- but powerful data sources remain largely untapped. Delivering on the promise of benefits personalization requires employers to collect additional data from disparate sources such as third-party apps, user preferences, and user behavior, as well as the ability to synthesize that data into timely, granular recommendations.”

NerdWallet: Can your employer cure your money woes?
LIZ WESTON, NerdWallet / Southeast Missourian
Millions of Americans get their health insurance and retirement accounts through their employers. Now some are getting help with their debt.

Companies including insurer Aetna and accounting firm PwC help employees pay down student loans. Others partner with startups to offer debt solutions as an employee benefit. Among the approaches:

* MedPut negotiates discounts on medical debt and offers interest-free loans that are repaid through payroll deductions.

* Brightside connects workers to debt consolidation loans and student loan refinancing.

* HoneyBee, PayActiv and TrueConnect, among others, provide payday advances or emergency loans so struggling workers can avoid the payday loan trap.

Financila stress takes a toll
Employers increasingly are aware money worries can reduce productivity and increase absenteeism. More than half of the 1,600 full-time employees polled by PwC in 2017 reported feeling stressed about their finances, and human resources company Mercer has estimated financial stress costs U.S. businesses up to $250 billion a year.

Colorado governor's office unveils roadmap for saving Coloradans money on health care
Meghan Lopez, Blair Miller / THE DENVER CHANNEL

“Too many Coloradans have to worry about caring for themselves or a loved one, as well as whether or not they can pay the bills,” Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said. “Our roadmap puts us on a path toward lower health care costs for all Coloradans.”

Primavera is leading the Office of Saving People Money on Health Care. She and Gov. Jared Polis laid out a series of bills and other initiatives – both short- and long-term – they say will help keep costs down for Coloradans.

Aside from the short-term goals, the governor’s office said some of its long-term goals including launching a state-backed health insurance option and expanding the rural health care workforce and behavioral health system across the state. Polis said the Behavioral Health Task Force would be established this month and would have a strategic plan statewide by June 2020.

LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute Forecasts Individual Annuity Sales Through 2023

New LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute (LIMRA SRI) announces its annuity sales forecast for the next five years. LIMRA SRI predicts fixed annuities will remain in the spotlight. Specifically, LIMRA SRI analysis of sales and market trends suggests indexed annuities are positioned for significant growth, while the market share for variable annuities will continue to erode.

LIMRA SRI’s midpoint forecast for overall annuity sales is about 5% in 2019. The increase will be primarily driven by indexed and fixed-rate annuity sales, offsetting declines in the variable annuity (VA) market. Looking ahead to 2023, LIMRA SRI predicts overall annuity sales could exceed $280 billion. However, significant uncertainty around the regulatory and political environments could undercut the sales prediction.
Fixed Annuity Sales Will Continue to Grow as Interest Rates Rise

Overall fixed annuity sales midpoint growth forecast is 11% in 2019, with indexed and fix-rate deferred annuities driving that growth. Indexed annuity sales had a great 2018, ending at $69.6 billion and LIMRA SRI predicts sales will continue to grow in 2019. The equity market and interest rate environments are expected to remain volatile for the first part of the year, with interest rates expected to slowly rise. LIMRA SRI expects indexed annuity sales to have double-digit growth, reaching $78-83 billion in 2019. As interest rates remain attractive, LIMRA SRI predicts fixed-rate deferred sales will also rise to a midpoint of around 8%. LIMRA SRI expects fixed-rate deferred annuity sales to be $47-$52 billion in 2019.

Borrowers Get More Time to Repay 401(k) Loans
If you leave your job while you have an outstanding 401(k) loan, Uncle Sam now gives you extra time to repay it -- thanks to the new tax law.
KIMBERLY LANKFORD, Contributing Editor / Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

The new—and extended—deadline to repay the loan and avoid taxes and penalties is the due date of your tax return for the year you leave your job. Before, you had to repay the loan within 60 days of leaving your job to avoid taxes on the money, plus a 10% penalty if you left before age 55. If you file an extension for your tax return, you’ll have until October 15 of the year after you leave your job to repay the loan without penalties or taxes.

Start-ups Leif, PeopleJoy say they help college grads tackle student loans
Erin Arvedlund / The Inquirer

“A traditional student loan forces students to accept all of the downside risk of not being able to afford their monthly payments, under very uncertain outcomes,” Groeber said.

With an ISA, students agree to pay a percentage of income for a period of time, up to a clearly defined dollar amount, but only if they earn above a certain salary. Pennsylvania colleges and universities that have set up income share agreements include Lackawanna College and Messiah College. However, the contracts are complex, and come with caveats (see below).

Top 5 Talent Trends For 2019
Rebecca Skilbeck, Contributor / Forbes

We’re well and truly into 2019, which gives us time to reflect on the talent trends that are emerging this year. Among the top trends, we’re seeing a shift that puts the employee experience at the centre of the talent management journey. Increasingly, employees are expecting ongoing feedback, personalised benefits and self-directed learning opportunities, while job seekers expect to be treated and marketed to like consumers. To attract and retain talent, we’re seeing organisations creating a consumer-grade experience at work which reflects their attractive, authentic employer brand.
1. Employee-led learning
2. The rise of everyday performance
3. Personalised benefits
4. A consumer-grade experience for jobseekers
5. Authentic employer branding


Monday, 04/08/19 - Trump Is Being Vague About What He Wants to Replace Obamacare. But There Are Clues.

Tuesday, 04/02/19 - Employers don't understand the 'black box' behind rising drug prices, and are fed up

Wednesday, 04/03/19 - Association health plan ruling could result in thousands losing coverage

Thursday, 04/04/19 -
Americans Borrowed $88 Billion to Pay for Health Care Last Year, Survey Finds

Friday, 04/05/19 - OneDigital Health and Benefits Acquires Northwestern Benefit in Biggest Acquisition in Company History

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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor