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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.
  Friday, 05/10/19 - https://DailyInsuranceReport.com 

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

Blackstone aims to become insurance powerhouse - WSJ
Seeking Alpha

Blackstone Group's (NYSE:BX) push into the insurance business is a key part of its goal to reach a trillion dollars in assets, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The private equity firm, which already manages about $50B of fixed-annuity and other insurance assets, has told investors it seeks to more than double that amount over time and has the potential to become its largest business, Vice Chairman Tony James told investors in September.

Central to its insurance strategy is life-insurance company FGL Holdings, formerly Fidelity & Guaranty Life, which became one of Blackstone's biggest clients when a special-purpose acquisition company in which Blackstone invested bought FGL late in 2017. As a result, Blackstone got the right to manage FGL's ~$25B of assets.

FGL is in exclusive talks to buy the fixed-annuities book of Allstate (NYSE:ALL) in a deal that could be worth ~$2B; it's also bidding for smaller annuities provider Lincoln Benefit Life, according to people familiar with the matter.


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Employees want student loan benefits — but employers aren’t sold yet
Kathryn Mayer / Employee Benefit Adviser

The nation’s $1.5 trillion student loan debt crisis is the one problem most everyone agrees is a problem, but almost no employers are doing anything about it — yet.

Of about 100 HR and benefits professionals attending a session at the WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference this week, the vast majority said that they are extremely concerned about the growing U.S. student loan debt load, which now touches more than 44 million debtholders.

But the majority said they aren’t doing anything in their workplace to address the issue. Eighty percent of those professionals said they do not offer direct assistance programs to employees. About 15% said they offer a platform that helps employees refinance their student loans, while just 3% said they offer direct contributions toward employees’ loan repayment.

The conference poll speaks to the state of student debt benefits in general: While many industry insiders point to the growing appeal of student loan benefits, just 4% of employers currently offer a student debt repayment program, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Many are still debating whether the popular benefit is right for them or too much of a financial burden.

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De Blasio rolls out health care plan for illegal immigrants
Julia Marsh / New York Post

Illegal immigrants living in the Bronx will be able to get a “care card” entitling them to free health coverage from the city starting in August, the mayor announced Tuesday.

“You will hear some critics who say we can’t afford to give everyone healthcare,” de Blasio said at a Lincoln Hospital press conference.

“I have a simple answer. It’s not a problem of money from my point of view. There’s plenty of money in this world, there’s plenty of money in this country, it’s just in the wrong hands,” de Blasio said.

The giveaway is projected to cost taxpayers $100 million.

The mayor introduced the NYC Care card that will give some 300,000 immigrants and low-income New Yorkers access to a primary care doctor, prescriptions and other medical services.

New Jersey Requires Employers To Offer Transportation Fringe Benefits
Cole Schotz / JD SUPRA

On March 1, 2019, New Jersey became the first state to enact legislation, Senate Bill No. 1567 (“An Act concerning pre-tax transportation fringe benefits”), requiring employers with 20 or more employees to offer pre-tax transportation benefits (“NJ Transit Law”). The significance of this New Jersey legislation is that the state is requiring employers to offer a fringe benefit to employees that, starting in 2018, has lost its federal tax benefit for employers under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”).

Healthcare price comparisons may be coming to your smartphone
Kelly Gooch / BECKER'S Hospital CFO Report

Federal officials are proposing sending data to patients' smartphones so they can compare healthcare prices, according to Kaiser Health News.

The proposal aims to empower consumers to compare and base their care decisions on price as well as quality, Donald Rucker, who coordinates health IT policy for HHS, is quoted as saying in the KHN report.

Mr. Rucker said in remarks prepared for a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing May 7 that patients "have few ways, if any, to anticipate or plan for costs, lower or compare costs, and, importantly, measure their quality of care or coverage relative to the price they pay."

But tech-minded consumers should slow their scroll. Sharing healthcare prices on cellphones won't be a quick process, federal officials said.

It could take two years or more to enable healthcare prices on smartphones in a user-friendly format, via an app, according to KHN.

Seven Questions To Ask About Your Long-Term Care Insurance Policy
Chad Fotheringham, Forbes Los Angeles Business Council / Forbes

Does your company’s insurance policy offer long-term care? Research shows that today's average 65-year-old has a nearly 70% chance of one day needing paid long-term care (LTC) — and paying out of pocket can be taxing. One way to mitigate these costs is with an LTC insurance policy. Only an estimated 7.2 million Americans have LTC insurance. You can increase that number by offering LTC insurance to your employees. Here are seven questions to ask that will ensure you choose the best policies.
What does the policy cover?

Long-term care insurance is designed to offset the cost of care, whether that's in the form of a nursing home, assisted living, caregivers or in-home care. But these options aren’t necessarily interchangeable. When deciding on a policy, know which services your employees are likely to use so you can ensure those services are covered.

I find that in many cases, families are surprised when it comes time to make a claim on the policy and they find out that the only services offered are things they don't want, like skilled nursing or nursing home only coverage. It's important that employers provide a few options so that employees can choose the specific plan that meets their needs. Individuals and families should then check their policy every three to five years to make sure it is still in line with how they want to age.

What does the policy cover?
How long is the elimination period?
How much is the maximum daily benefit?
How much is the maximum lifetime benefit?
Is there a waiver of premium?
What are add-on policy benefits?
Forbes Los Angeles Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners in Greater Los Angeles. Do I qualify?

5 Easy Ways Towards Improving Any Company's 401(k) Plan
Brian Menickella, co-founder of The Beacon Group of Companies

The majority of employers believe their retirement plans are beneficial for the work environment. Approximately 89 percent of companies currently offering a 401(k) or a similar DC plan state that a retirement plan attracts and retains talent.

Company 401(k) plans are vital to an employee's engagement, well-being and recognized worth. Below are five actionable ways that seek to improve a retirement plan for employee engagement and subsequent retention.

1. Automatic enrollment
Automatic enrollment puts passive employees into retirement saving by doing the work for them. The plan still allows for opting out but choosing to do nothing results in enrollment in a retirement plan.

2. Financial advisors and professional services
Retirement savings and 401(k) asset allocations can be confusing and overwhelming, therefore taking away some of the confusion should increase saving behaviors.

3. Roth 401(k)
There are no income limitations when it comes to Roth 401(k)s. Older employees generally benefit from a Roth 401(k) because Roth IRAs have income limitations that prevent higher income investors from contributing. No such limitations apply to Roth 401(k) options.

4. Prior employer plan auto-deferral rate
Not every recruit or new hire is fresh out of college, which means employees often have retirement savings from previous employers.

5. Investment and annuity options
As retirement plan legislation continues to evolve, consideration in offering different investment options, including annuity options, may benefit employees and their ultimate retirement health

A man whose net worth is approaching $1 million credits most of that wealth to a habit he started a decade ago
Tanza Loudenback / BUSINESS INSIDER

J. Money is a personal-finance blogger who runs the site Budgets Are Sexy.

In his latest post, he details the steps that he and his wife have taken to reach a net worth of about $924,000 and counting.

He credits much of their wealth to maxing out their retirement accounts for nearly a decade, including contributing the maximum to a 401(k) at a previous job that offered 100% matching.

But any retirement savings account that's invested in the stock market is bound to fluctuate. The most important thing is to keep contributing and ride out the downturns, J. Money says.

Insurance claims from deadly California wildfires top $12B
KATHLEEN RONAYNE / Associated Press / Star Tribune

Insurance claims have topped $12 billion for the November wildfires in California, making them the most expensive in state history.

The figure released Wednesday by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara covers the fire that largely destroyed the town of Paradise and two Southern California blazes. It's up about $600 million from data released in January.

Most of the damages relate to the Paradise fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings.

Mercury Insurance must pay $27.5 million in fines, Calif. appeals court rules
Bob Egelko / San Francisco Chronicle

A state appeals court reinstated $27.5 million in state penalties against Mercury Insurance Co. on Tuesday for charging illegal broker fees in more than 180,000 transactions with auto insurance customers from 1999 to 2004.

The fines, imposed by the state Department of Insurance in 2015, were overturned in 2016 by a judge in Orange County, who said the fees had been legally assessed for insurance brokers’ services to customers, such as comparison-shopping. But the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana said the purported brokers were actually insurance agents, working for Mercury, who provided no customer services and had no authority to charge fees.

Otherwise, insurance agents posing as brokers “could charge unapproved and unfairly discriminatory fees for alleged separate services that would increase consumers’ cost of insurance,” said Justice David Thompson in the 3-0 ruling. “This is contrary to the voters’ intent as expressed in Proposition 103,” the 1988 initiative that required state approval of rates for auto insurance and other property and casualty coverage.


Monday, 05/06/19 - Two Men Charged in Insurance Investment Fraud Scheme that Caused Hundreds of Millions in Victim Losses

Tuesday, 05/07/19 - Health insurance deductibles soar, leaving Americans with unaffordable bills

Wednesday, 05/08/19 - Medicare-for-all’ sponsor says plan would gut 1 million private insurance jobs

Thursday, 05/09/19 - Health Giant Anthem Hires Former Whirlpool Executive to Oversee Marketing Efforts

Friday, 05/3/19 - Trump Administration Files Formal Request to Strike Down All of Obamacare

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