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Friday 04/23/21 Walt Podgurski 440-773-1108 E-Mail
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Sen. Baldwin supports plan to allow ages 50-64 to ‘buy into’ Medicare
(KVLY) / Associated Press / / Read Article

U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have reintroduced the Medicare at 50 Act to give people between the ages of 50 and 64 years old the option of buying into Medicare.

“Our legislation will give millions of Americans another choice for more affordable, quality health insurance coverage. This reform will provide a high-quality option for people to buy into Medicare and get the health care coverage they need at a price they can afford,” said Senator Baldwin.

According to a news release from Sen. Baldwin’s office, 27% of adults approaching retirement are not confident that they can afford health insurance over the next year, and more than a quarter have issues navigating health insurance options, coverage decisions and out-of-pocket costs. Many did not get the care they needed because of how much it would cost or kept a job or delayed retirement to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance.

Polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that 77% of the public supports giving people between the ages of 50 and 64 the option to buy Medicare.

Retired City Workers Recoil at Coming Cost-Saving Medicare Shift
Impending move to privately managed health plans could save taxpayers as much as $600 million annually — at a high cost to retirees, who may have to pay more for less care and fewer doctor choices, some warn.

Nearly 250,000 retired New York City employees and their spouses could have their health insurance changed to “Medicare Advantage” plans managed by private insurers as soon as July 1, New York Focus has learned.

Retirees, who are pushing to delay the switch, say they are worried that a switch away from their current Medicare plan could lead to dramatically higher out-of-pocket costs and a smaller network of providers.

Under that pact, both sides agreed to reduce health care costs for retirees by $600 million a year relative to 2018 forecasts, starting in 2021. Switching to Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, was one of eight possibilities proposed at the time.

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Is It Time to Tie Employee Health Care Costs to Pay?
Income-based premiums help make health care affordable to lower-paid employees, at no additional cost to employers.
Joanne Sammer / SHRM / / Read Article

Today, at most U.S. workplaces, nearly all employees, from the C-suite to the mailroom, pay the same amount for health coverage. An alternative to this traditional structure is to set cost-sharing levels, or tiers, based on employee compensation. That will reduce the amount lower-paid workers must contribute to maintain and use their health coverage, at no additional cost to companies. Higher-paid employees will see a moderate increase in their contributions as they effectively subsidize health coverage for lower-paid workers.

"Most employers don't think about shifting from the current one-size-fits-all approach to using a fixed percent of pay for health insurance coverage, because they have always done it that way," says benefits consultant Gary Kushner, president of Kushner and Co. in Portage, Mich.

But there are several reasons why an employer may want to move to income-based cost-sharing with employees, a model that is rising in popularity.

House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package

House Democrats are preparing to reintroduce major legislation to lower drug prices ahead of President Biden's unveiling of his American Families Plan, which could include the proposals.

House Democrats will introduce sections of their signature drug pricing measure, known as H.R. 3, which allows the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prices, "as early as tomorrow," according to a senior Democratic aide.

The drug pricing provisions could also be included in the American Families Plan that Biden is expected to unveil next week, a large package also including child care, paid leave and other priorities.

BankersWorksite® Rebrands to Atlantic American Employee Benefits
PR.com / BENZINGA / / Read Article

Backed by Parent, Atlantic American Corporation®, BankersWorksite® Rebrands to Atlantic American Employee Benefits

Atlanta, GA, April 22, 2021 --(PR.com)-- Atlantic American Corporation announced plans to rebrand BankersWorksite, a division of their Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company®. It will operate under the trade name of Atlantic American Employee Benefits to closely align its voluntary business with the parent company; further enhancing its marketplace presence and positioning as a leading-edge partner of choice for brokers and employers in the voluntary benefits space.

A financial giant in the insurance industry, Atlantic American Corporation is comprised of a family of companies devoted to helping people protect what matters most. The rebranding effort of BankersWorksite to Atlantic American Employee Benefits assists in bringing to the forefront the industry-leading strength of Atlantic American Corporation. Along with a new name, rebranding includes a new logo and look as well.Backed by Parent, Atlantic American Corporation®,

On May 3rd, start calling us Atlantic American Employee Benefits. New name. New logo. New look. Same commitment to providing contemporary coverage options.

For more information, click here https://bit.ly/2PcFSON or visit https://www.bankersworksite.com/resources/faqs

Brella Insurance Raises $15M Series A to Fund National Expansion of Supplemental Health Insurance Solution
PRNewswire / / Read Article

Brella Insurance, Inc. announced it has raised a $15M Series A funding round led by Brewer Lane Ventures to bring Brella's modern supplemental health solution to employers nationwide. Since inception, Brella has raised over $22M. Brewer Lane Venture's Founder and Managing Partner, John Kim, will join Brella's board of directors.

"Brella Insurance, Inc. has raised a $15M Series A to fuel nationwide expansion of its modern supplemental health plan."

A recent study shows 60% of Americans would have to borrow to pay an unexpected $1,000 bill. Yet the average working American has a $1,644 health insurance deductible and a $4,000 annual out-of-pocket max (Source: KFF Employer Health Benefits Survey 2020). So the harsh reality is that an unexpected health issue will almost certainly lead to financial distress for people who have health insurance. It's no wonder 33% of Americans delayed healthcare in 2020 over concerns about cost.

Traditional supplemental products are simply too narrow in their scope of coverage to help absorb the financial shock of a health issue that leaves American workers suddenly responsible for significant medical bills. On top of limited coverage, these plans have outdated and complex claims and administration processes that don't make life easy for employers or their employees.

Brella redesigned a tech-enabled supplemental health insurance plan that pays cash if you're diagnosed with any of 13,000+ conditions from concussions to cancer. Brella makes it easy for employers to enhance their health benefits offering with one truly supplemental policy that's simple to implement and administer.

Insurify Partners with Toyota Insurance Management Solutions to Revolutionize Insurance Shopping for Toyota Consumers.

Bill Would Move New Texas State Employees to 401(k)-Like Plan
Chief Investment Officer / / Read Article

Texas’ Senate Finance Committee has advanced a pension reform billthat would enroll new hires eligible for the Texas Employees Retirement System (ERS) in a 401(k)-like cash balance plan instead of defined benefit (DB) pension plan.

Senate Bill 321, introduced by Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston, would apply to state employees hired after Sept. 1, 2022, who would be required to contribute 6% of their pay to the retirement account, instead of the current 9.5%. The bill would also increase the state contribution rate to 9.5% from 7.4% of the total compensation for all members of the retirement system for that year.

The bill would authorize an annual payment into Texas ERS of $350 million through 2053, although Huffman told the Senate she plans to offer an amendment to raise that amount to $510 million in order to retire the entire unfunded liability. Despite the increased payment, Huffman said it would save the state $35 billion in interest payments over the next 32 years.

Emerging employee benefit trend: Digital health and well-being
By J. Kevin Porter / ebn / / Read Article

Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way people access healthcare. Even two years ago, most people didn’t consider using online health care or telemedicine. But now, these types of remote care systems are more common than ever. And they’re often the preferred first point of care for many.

The goal of a successful well-being strategy is to drive positive, sustainable behavior change. Employees already spend more than a third of their waking hours on a device, so why not meet them where they’re at by offering interactive, easy-to-access digital health and well-being options? By taking advantage of behaviors and actions that are already familiar to them, you’ll pique their interest and drive better participation for better results.

New Cybersecurity Guidance Applicable To Employee Benefit Plan Contracting
by Joseph Adams , Anne Becker and Amy M. Gordon / Winston & Strawn LLP / mondaq / / Read Article

Many issues keep employee benefit plan administrators, committees, and sponsors (plan fiduciaries) awake at night, but cybersecurity is especially troubling for many reasons. Employee benefit plans face significant cybersecurity threats and, given the incredibly significant amount of assets involved, the consequences of even one single attack can be devastating. Further, plan fiduciaries can have the best cybersecurity procedures in place for their own internal systems, and yet the plan or a plan participant can still experience a cyber-breach because of the numerous interfaces the plan has with third parties, such as record-keepers, custodians, and payroll providers.

Plan fiduciaries have struggled with the question of whether their employee benefit plans' security measures are adequate. In past years, the United States Department of Labor's (DOL) ERISA Advisory Council has examined cybersecurity for employee benefit plans, but failed to issue guidance on the topic. On April 14, 2021, the DOL published guidance for plan fiduciaries, record-keepers, and plan participants on best practices for maintaining cybersecurity, including tips on how to protect the retirement benefits of America's workers. Although plan fiduciaries can use this guidance for other valuable purposes, this Alert will focus only on the portion of the guidance issued for plan fiduciaries with respect to their service provider contracts.

You Know You Need it. Let’s Talk About Life Insurance
LIMRA  / / Read Article

The pandemic has highlighted something most people don’t want to think about — what would happen to their loved ones should they unexpectedly die. According to new findings from the 2021 Insurance Barometer Study, conducted annually by LIMRA and Life Happens, 42% of American households would face financial hardship within six months should a wage earner die unexpectedly; 25% would suffer financially within a month.

While the pandemic has raised consumer awareness about the need for life insurance and almost a third (31%) of Americans say they are more likely to buy because of COVID-19, many are often deterred because of misconceptions about life insurance. These misconceptions may be why 48% of Americans are uninsured and many more don’t have the amount of coverage they need to adequately protect their families.

The reality is life insurance is more affordable and accessible than most consumer think. More than half of Americans overestimate the cost of life insurance by as much a three times its actual cost.

Another obstacle consumers cite is their lack of understanding about how much and what kind of coverage they need. In fact, 65% of uninsured Americans fail to safeguard the financial security of their loved ones with life insurance, because they are not sure how or what type they need.
Consumers are also intimidated by the process — they think that it’s too complicated and takes too long. But advances in technology have streamlined the underwriting and application processes, making it easier to apply and quicker to be approved for life insurance. Actually, today more companies are approving insurance via automated underwriting than ever before with greater reliance on background checks and less reliance on paramedical exams.

Dispelling these misconceptions and to help ensure people follow through with getting the coverage protection they know they need, LIMRA has joined with seven industry trade associations on the Help Protect Our Families campaign. The campaign aims to support carriers and financial security professionals engage and educate consumers about the importance of life insurance and close the U.S. coverage gap.

Photo Of The Day

Monday, 04/19/21 - - Report to Congress - Annual Report on Self-Insured Group Health Plans

Tuesday, 04/20/21 - -
Reimagining the Future Of Insuretech In 2021

Wednesday, 04-21-21 - - Humana Health Plan Overcharged Medicare by Nearly $200 Million, Federal Audit Finds - KHN / NPR

Thursday, 04-22-21 - - 
Google launches new certification for U.S. health insurance advertisers

Friday, 04-16-21 - -
WEX agrees to acquire Illinois benefits administration company for $275M

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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.