Daily Insurance Report   
Walt Bernard Podgurski,  Editor,  440-773-1108, 

Monday, 05/18/20 https://DailyInsuranceReport.com  

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The "Daily Insurance Report" is now subscribed to by 25,000 elite insurance industry influencers who receive it Monday - Friday and have a quick overview of what is appearing in the media regarding the insurance industry; with an emphasis on life, health, and employee benefits. The "Daily Insurance Report" publishes the life insurance, health insurance, and employee benefits news that matters.

Why Papa, Humana think it's crucial to 'make noise' about the impacts of loneliness amid COVID-19
by Paige Minemyer / FierceHealthcare

The coronavirus pandemic has forced population health programs targeting loneliness to adapt to a new normal of social distancing.

That means companies like Papa, which offers visits from college students to lonely seniors, have had to take an increasingly digital approach to help socially isolated people connect.

Andrew Parker, CEO and founder of Papa, told FierceHealthcare that the company is now conducting more virtual companion visits per day and per month than it was doing in-person visits before the pandemic.

Papa’s latest initiative amid the pandemic is in partnership with Humana, Uber Health, the Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness and the Translational Research Institute for Space Health to kickstart an awareness campaign on the risks associated with loneliness.

Perks of Telework: Virus Stokes Employee Interest in Benefits
Warren Rojas, Senior Reporter / Bloomberg Law

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans polled nearly 800 benefits professionals about the questions they’re fielding from freaked out workers.

The pandemic is sowing uncertainty about everything.

Who’s in charge? Can it be stopped? Will things ever get back to normal?

It also has staff wondering about making the most of their work-related benefits.

During quarantine HR departments have, understandably, spent more time discussing health-related issues.

Over half of the respondents (54%) said staff have asked about paid leave, inquiring specifically about policy changes included in the string of virus relief bills Congress has cranked out in recent weeks. Fifty-three percent reported heightened interest in health-care coverage in general.

Over a quarter of respondents (27%) said they’ve filled in some blanks about dealing with mental health.

And one in five (22%) said employees have posed questions about prescription drugs.

Lesser ranking concerns included access to medical advice lines (8%), 401(k) contributions (7.3%), and professional development opportunities (6.4%).

Did You Lose Your Health Insurance Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic? You May Have Other Options

Clausen’s story is all too familiar for millions of families across the country. As of May 2, nearly 27 million Americans could potentially lose their employer-based health insurance amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report published May 13. The numbers might be even higher: nearly 3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of people who’ve applied for unemployment over the past two months up to over a staggering 36 million, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

However, the Kaiser study found that around 12.7 million people who become uninsured after losing their job — nearly half the total — are eligible for Medicaid, while an additional 8.4 million people are eligible for subsidized plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. In total, 79% of people who are losing their employer-based insurance are eligible for some form of publicly-subsidized coverage in May.

Benefitfocus offers benefits platform for laid off employees
By Amanda Schiavo / ebn

Benefitfocus is making a variety of affordable health plans available for employees who have been offered COBRA by employers with a new platform.

The benefitplace.com website provides high-quality, cost-effective benefits to employers who are facing a cycle of workforce transition, and their affected employees. Within Benefitplace, workers who have been displaced and need options will be able to access health plans, supplemental benefits and employment resources, like temporary or freelance employment opportunities with Benefitplace partners and customers.

“We wanted to set up a community where HR and benefits people can access information around furloughs and layoff best practices, third party articles, contributions from our own HR and benefits team,” says Jeff Oldham a senior vice president with Benefitfocus.

When an employee is laid off, it is considered a qualified life event, Oldham says, which means that person is now eligible for a state or federal health insurance exchange policy, a benefit most employees are unaware of.

“Our site helps people in evaluating their state exchange options and we have other plans called short term medical, which fills the gaps between jobs,” Oldham says.

Lloyds Predicts $200B+ Loss for Insurance Industry
Alex Hickey, Writer / MORNING BREW

The COVID-19 pandemic could cost the insurance industry $200+ billion, according to insurance marketplace Lloyd's of London. If you’re thinking “good riddance, I haven’t seen a penny,” check out these numbers:

$107 billion in underwriting losses
$96 billion sapped from investment portfolios (money set aside to cover future claims)
Lloyd's itself expects to dole out up to $4.3 billion—payouts it says are comparable to losses sustained after 9/11 and a hurricane trio in 2017.

But while Lloyd's says COVID-19 will be the worst economic disaster for the insurance industry, Axios's Felix Salmon countered with “Insurers are doing just fine.” His reasoning:

COVID-19 losses still haven’t hit “megacat” territory, and 2020 losses are still tracking behind the $144 billion the industry sustained in 2017.
The point of insurance is to pay out during bad times.

Doctor on Demand 1st telehealth vendor to move into Medicare Part B as pandemic expands virtual care

Dive Brief:

Doctor on Demand is expanding its platform to Medicare Part B beneficiaries, making it the first telehealth vendor to dive into the program serving 33 million Americans for medical care and doctor visits.

The San Francisco-based virtual care vendor will now offer healthcare, including COVID-19 testing and diagnosis, to Part B beneficiaries, it said Wednesday.

It's a previously untapped market for telehealth made attainable by the Trump administration's March expansion of coverage in traditional fee-for-service Medicare as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

FAQs: COVID-19 – Employee Benefits Updates

Seth Hanft, Susan Whittaker Hughes, Jennifer Mills, BakerHostetler / JSUPRA

Notice 2020-29 generally provides the following relief related to health plan election changes made during calendar year 2020.

A § 125 cafeteria plan may permit employees who are eligible to make salary reduction contributions under the plan to:

make a new election on a prospective basis if the employee initially declined to elect employer-sponsored health coverage;

revoke an existing election and make a new election to enroll in different health coverage sponsored by the same employer on a prospective basis (e.g., changing from single to family coverage); and

revoke an existing election on a prospective basis, provided that the employee attests in writing that the employee is enrolled or immediately will enroll in other health coverage not sponsored by the employer.

U.S. Secret Service: “Massive Fraud” Against State Unemployment Insurance Programs
Krebs on Security

A well-organized Nigerian crime ring is exploiting the COVID-19 crisis by committing large-scale fraud against multiple state unemployment insurance programs, with potential losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a new alert issued by the U.S. Secret Service.

A memo seen by KrebsOnSecurity that the Secret Service circulated to field offices around the United States on Thursday says the ring has been filing unemployment claims in different states using Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII) belonging to identity theft victims, and that “a substantial amount of the fraudulent benefits submitted have used PII from first responders, government personnel and school employees.”

“It is assumed the fraud ring behind this possesses a substantial PII database to submit the volume of applications observed thus far,” the Secret Service warned. “The primary state targeted so far is Washington, although there is also evidence of attacks in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Florida.”

The Secret Service said the fraud network is believed to consist of hundred of “mules,” a term used to describe willing or unwitting individuals who are recruited to help launder the proceeds of fraudulent financial transactions.

The Service’s memo suggests the crime ring is operating in much the same way as crooks who specialize in filing fraudulent income tax refund requests with the states and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a perennial problem that costs the states and the U.S. Treasury hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year.

In those schemes, the scammers typically recruit people — often victims of online romance scams or those who also are out of work and looking for any source of income — to receive direct deposits from the fraudulent transactions, and then forward the bulk of the illicit funds to the perpetrators.


Monday - 05/11/20 - - Will a Wave of Workplace Lawsuits Follow the Return to Work?

Tuesday - 05/12/20 - - Life Insurers Halt Sales As Hopes for Profit Dim — WSJ

Wednesday - 05/13/20 - -  Benefit Plan Deadlines Extended – COBRA, Special Enrollment, Plan Disclosures And More

Thursday - 05/14-20 - Doctors are turning to GoFundMe to stay afloat during the pandemic

Friday - 05-08-20 - - Democratic senators — including Manchin — submit brief to US Supreme Court backing ‘Obamacare’

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.
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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor