Daily Insurance Report
Wednesday 04/28/21 Walt Podgurski 440-773-1108 E-Mail
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House Democrats push Biden to lower Medicare eligibility age
BY REBECCA KAPLAN / CBS NEWS / / Read Article

A group of progressive and moderate House Democrats is asking President Biden and Vice President Harris to lower the Medicare eligibility age and expand its benefits in the administration's upcoming spending and tax bill, named the American Families Plan.

"Lowering the eligibility age and improving its benefits package would provide immediate and substantial relief for millions of individuals throughout the United States, as well as much-needed long-term security," says the letter, which has already garnered nearly 60 signatures from House Democrats. "Now is a historic opportunity to also make an important expansion of Medicare that will guarantee health care for millions of older adults and people with disabilities struggling with the health and economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic."

The letter proposes two potential options to lower the eligibility age for the popular benefit: reducing it to 60 years old from the current 65 years of age could expand coverage to more than 23 million people, while reducing the age by 10 years to 55 years old would expand coverage to more than 40 millio



New bill aims to pay pharmacists under Medicare for providing health services
by Robert King / Fierce Healthcare / / Read Article

A new House bill aims to reimburse pharmacists under Medicare for providing services in medically underserved communities.

The bill, introduced Thursday, enables pharmacists to deliver Medicare Part B services already authorized by state laws.

“In rural and underserved areas like those that I represent, access to a primary care doctor can be challenging and pharmacists often step in and serve as accessible access points for care,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina, one of the co-sponsors, in a statement. “Pharmacists can provide wellness testing, help manage chronic disease and administer immunizations.”



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Texas Set To Refuse Medicaid Expansion Again, Despite Highest Uninsured Rate In The Country
By JILL AMENT / Texas Standard: / HPPR  / / Read Article

The Texas Legislature is set to, again, refuse billions in federal money for Medicaid expansion. House Republicans voted last week against baking that money into the state’s biennial budget.

Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau Chief Bob Garrett told Texas Standard that most in the Texas GOP still view Medicaid expansion as “radioactive” because of its ties with the Affordable Care Act and former President Barack Obama.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which became law in 2010, made billions more dollars available to states to expand their Medicaid programs. Medicaid is health insurance for people with low incomes. In Texas, it’s limited almost exclusively to individuals with low incomes who are also living with disabilities, as well as children; most working poor aren’t eligible. As a result, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country.

Garrett says that will likely continue without Medicaid expansion.



Accelerating Current HSA Trends Will Benefit Owners
William G. (Bill) Stuart, Director of Strategy and Compliance / Benefit Strategies, LLC in NH / / Read Article

April 1, 2021

The semi-annual Devenir report on Health Savings Accounts is as anticipated by industry followers as is opening day of the major league baseball season (which, coincidentally, is today). Each year, this broad industry survey provides better information both as a result of a longer time frame and fresh looks at the data. Below I’ve highlighted some of the important information contained in the 2020 Year-End Devenir HSA Report Executive Summary.

Accelerants: Here are some potential catalysts for greater future growth:

Congress can create a Health Savings Account option in the Medicare Advantage program. The current Medical Savings Account program is a poor substitute for a robust opportunity to stretch retirement dollars when retirees spend an average of more than $5,500 annually on medical coverage and care.

Congress can decouple Health Savings Accounts from HSA-qualified plans to help all Americans, regardless of coverage to manage their rising out-of-pocket costs more effectively

Congress can allow HSA-qualified plans to cover certain care for chronic conditions below the deductible.

Employers can position HSA-qualified plans more favorably than they do now through a combination of reduced payroll deductions for premiums and larger employer contributions.

Employers can commit to year-round education on the financial benefits of Health Savings Accounts, beginning four months or more before the medical plan open enrollment.




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The First Congressman to Take Parental Leave Is Ready to Fight for It
Democrat Colin Allred of Texas wants to make paid parental leave possible for everyone. The White House appears poised to join him.
EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE / The Atlantic / / Read Article

While campaigning for president, Biden advocated for a policy that would guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, plus seven days of sick leave and tax credits to help families pay for child care.

The proposal also included paid leave for survivors of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. “Biden will pay for this national paid leave program,” a statement on his website explained, “by making sure the super wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.”

Advocates committed to the issue have avoided criticizing Biden for waiting until now to make good on those promises, wary, as many liberals have been, of taking shots at the new president. They seem to have gotten their way: the $1 trillion proposal Biden is expected to lay out tomorrow night will reportedly include a $225 billion plan for leave, but the White House is approaching the rollout carefully.
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Cigna, Physician Practice Lock Horns Over COVID Care
by Jennifer Henderson, Enterprise & Investigative Writer / MedPage  / / Read Article

Cigna is hitting back at a Connecticut physician practice that's suing the insurance giant over what it says is a lack of reimbursement for COVID-19 tests and related treatment for thousands of members.

A group of Greenwich-area practices headed by Steven Murphy, MD, claim Cigna owes them more than $6 million for services rendered.

But those charges were price gouging, Cigna argued in a document for its motion to dismiss the medical group's suit.

It called Murphy's practice "an elaborate business enterprise to exploit a national health emergency for profit," in the memorandum filed last week in federal court.

The medical group's own public communications have detailed a practice of overcharging for testing, demanding insurers pay $1,500 for an in-house COVID-19 test while acknowledging that a test only costs $200 to $600 at an outside lab also used by plaintiffs, Cigna claimed in the memorandum. The court documents further claim that the medical group has charged insurers for tests, consultations, and other services that were unnecessary or never provided.



How to navigate doctor-finder services for healthcare
By Phil Denniston / ebn / / Read Article

There is a lack of concrete accurate information on how well doctors do, when doing what we hire them to do. There are over a dozen doctor finder services, including Definitive Healthcare, Doctor.Com, Doximity, Healthcare Bluebook, Healthgrades, Md.Com, Quantros, Ratemds, Sharecare, Vitals, Webmd, and Zocdoc.

They typically assign ratings of one to five stars to each doctor, based on characteristics like friendliness of the doctor and staff, comfort of waiting room, ease of getting an appointment, insurance coverage and bedside manner, etc.

These doctor finder services are all supported by advertising, and a doctor may even be able to improve his positioning by paying for advertising on the site.



Financial literacy is not just a nice-to-have …
LIMRA / / Read Article

New research from the 2021 Insurance Barometer Study shows only about a third of consumers reported a high level of knowledge about life insurance. Women and Baby Boomers reported the lowest levels of knowledge. The power of knowledge is illustrated by the fact that 41% of those who said they are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ knowledgeable own life insurance, while to just 19% of non-owners say the same.

Today, life insurance is at an all-time low. Just 52% of Americans own life insurance and many more don’t have enough coverage. There are 102 million uninsured and underinsured Americans who believe they need more life insurance.

LIMRA research also shows a connection between financial literacy and saving for retirement. Even controlling for age and household income, those who rate their knowledge of financial products and investments higher are nearly 30% more likely to be saving for retirement. When you consider that less than half of American workers (49%) are confident they will be able to live the retirement lifestyle they want, it is clear the lack of financial knowledge is undermining their future retirement security.

COVID-19 didn’t help. Recent LIMRA research finds 44% of workers said the pandemic has had a negative impact on their household’s ability to save for retirement. According to new data from PwC, 1 in 4 Americans have no retirement savings at all and those who are saving aren’t saving enough.

Results from LIMRA’s financial literacy study also uncovered another fact. Lack of financial knowledge is associated with increased stress levels.

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Archives
 
Monday, 04/26/21 - - Accolade To Buy PlushCare For Up To $450 Mln In Cash And Stock

Tuesday, 04/27/21 - -
As U.S. capital gains tax hike looms, wealthy look for ways to soften the blow

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, 04-23-21 - - Sen. Baldwin supports plan to allow ages 50-64 to ‘buy into’ Medicare
 
 
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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.