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Friday, 05/21/21 Walt Podgurski 440-773-1108 E-Mail
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Amazon Introduces New Mental Health Benefit for All U.S. Employees and Their Family Members
Yahoo Finance / / Read Article

Amazon today launched a new mental health benefit, Resources for Living, that provides every U.S. employee, their family, and their household with a single place to start for personalized, convenient, and confidential support for mental health and daily life assistance. These services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and include access to free counseling sessions in-person or through the phone, video, or text.

"Easy and affordable access to mental health care has become increasingly important as we all continue to navigate different everyday challenges," said Beth Galetti, Amazon senior vice president of People eXperience and Technology. "Providing access to—and awareness around—mental health care is a critical responsibility for employers. This new offering will help us remove barriers and unnecessary stigma around getting help, to ensure our employees and their families feel safe and supported."

According to the nonprofit Mental Health America, more than 26 million adults went untreated for mental health concerns in the U.S. in 2020. And a recent survey by the American Psychological Association showed that 48% of parents have more stress in their personal lives now than before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Through the new Resources for Living program, Amazon employees, their families, and anyone living in their homes have access to several resources:

Free one-on-one counseling sessions—three sessions per person, per topic. Amazon will fund up to 24 million counseling sessions per year for its U.S. employees.

Flexible options including in-person, phone, video, or text conversations for counseling sessions.

Interactive self-care programs, including self-assessments, and a stress resource center.

Crisis and suicide-prevention support and access to a licensed mental health clinician any time of day.

Access to a self-paced app that offers computerized Cognitive Behavior Therapy, mindfulness resources, and personalized support for a broad range of mental health and wellness issues.








Medicare for 60-year-olds not guaranteed to be a better deal
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR / AP / / Read Article

President Joe Biden and progressive Democrats have proposed to lower Medicare’s eligibility age to 60, to help older adults get affordable coverage. But a new study finds that Medicare can be more expensive than other options, particularly for many people of modest means.

There are two reasons: Traditional Medicare has gaps in coverage that most people fill by purchasing supplemental plans, which means they pay added premiums. And premiums for the Obama-era Affordable Care Act have come way down recently due to Biden’s COVID relief bill. That’s made the ACA more attractive for older adults who haven’t reached Medicare’s eligibility age of 65.

“Simply expanding Medicare eligibility does not guarantee premium affordability,” concluded the study by Avalere Health for The Associated Press.

It found that many older adults with low to modest incomes can already find cheaper premiums in Obamacare’s markets, while those in the solid middle class would be more likely to benefit if they could get into Medicare.

The Avalere analysis did find that traditional Medicare has an important advantage over Obamacare because hospitals and doctors nationwide accept it, whereas coverage through private insurers generally relies on restrictive networks. Another potential plus: the combination of traditional Medicare and a supplemental “Medigap” policy provides more generous coverage than the ACA’s midlevel plans.



Reliance Standard Recognized by Eastbridge Consulting as a Voluntary Benefits Sales Growth Leader
Eastbridge Consulting Group / PRNewswire / / Read Article

Voluntary sales for 2020 posted a decline for only the second time in the 24-year span that Eastbridge has tracked sales data, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Total voluntary sales declined 15.5% over 2019 results with sales totaling close to $7.5 billion in 2020, according to Eastbridge Consulting Group's annual U.S. Voluntary/Worksite Sales Report.

"Annually, we recognize those companies that led the industry in voluntary sales growth," says Nick Rockwell, president of Eastbridge. "We are thrilled to recognize Reliance Standard as the leader in voluntary sales growth in the mid-size category ($50 million to $149.9 million in new business sales) garnering an impressive 72% increase in 2020 over 2019 sales, a 34% increase in 2019 from 2018 sales, and a 22% increase in 2018 from 2017 sales. Several mid-size companies weathered the storm of the 2020 pandemic well, with Securian Financial, the Standard, Aetna, Trustmark, Dearborn, and Reliance Standard achieving positive sales growth. However, Reliance Standard was the only company that also beat the average industry growth rate in 2019 and 2018," adds Rockwell.




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Industry reacts to CIC Services Supreme Court win over IRS
Captive Insurance Times / / Read Article

The US Supreme Court ruling in the CIC Services case against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been described by Ryan Work, vice president, government relations at Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA), as “an important victory” for the captive insurance industry.

On 17 May, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of the CIC Services in their case against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over Notice 2016-66, in an unanimous decision.

The court ruled that the Anti-Injunction Act does not prevent Federal Courts from enjoining the IRS's enforcement of illegal regulations when the regulation imposes affirmative reporting obligations that inflict costs on taxpayers separate and apart from any tax or tax penalty.



5 Common Retirement Planning Mistakes — And How To Avoid Them
Kelli Click, Contributor / Forbes / / Read Article

More than half of Americans need to take action quickly if they’re going to reach their retirement savings goals, according to the most recent Retirement Preparedness Measure (RPM) calculated by Fidelity.

The average RPM is 74, but 41% of Americans have an RPM of 65 or lower, placing them in the “poor” category when it comes to retirement preparedness. Another 14% of Americans have an RPM between 65 and 80, which places them in the “fair” category with action still needed to ensure a financially comfortable retirement. Only 33% of Americans are in the comfortable, or “very good,” category with an RPM of 95 or higher.

Here are five common retirement planning mistakes many people make that can lead to a low RPM, along with steps you can take to improve your retirement readiness.

1. Not having a plan
2. Spending instead of rolling over retirement accounts.
3. Not taking advantage of tax-deferred retirement savings plans.
4. Failing to diversify their retirement portfolio.
5. Not taking charge of their retirement investments.



Your 401(k) Isn't Free. Here's How to Figure out How Much You're Paying in Fees
BY ANA LUCIA MURILLO / Money / / Read Article

Do you know how much your 401(k) costs? If your answer to that question is, “what cost?” then you’re not alone.

More than four in 10 people say they don’t know how much their workplace retirement plan costs, according to a recent study from financial research firm Hearts & Wallets. Another 16% of people think their plan is free.

While it can be difficult to suss out what those fees are, you have a legal right to know. And since they’re your retirement dollars, you should be aware of what fees you’re paying and how they can affect your ability to save. That’s because fees eat into your investment returns, and the higher they are, the bigger their bite. “Half a percent, a quarter of a percent, over time really does start to add up,” says Scott G. Moulton, partner at Capital Management Group in Milford, Connecticut.

“If you’re working in the company [for] 10, 15, 20 years, and throughout that timeframe, the expenses are just higher than they really needed to be, that could have an adverse impact on your retirement nest egg,” Moulton says.

It’s your employer’s responsibility to keep plan fees in check. Employers are regularly hit with class-action lawsuits for charging excessive retirement plan fees. Here’s what to know.

What are 401(k) fees for, anyway?
How can I find out how much I’m paying in retirement plan fees?
What should you do if your fees are really high?



Chipotle Launches New Virtual Mental Wellness Platform For Employees
RestaurantNews.com / / Read Article

hipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) today announced it has teamed up with Aduro to introduce a new wellness platform called Strive that will cultivate a holistic, proactive, and inclusive approach to improving mental health among its employees.

A New Age of Mental Wellness

Strive provides 1:1 coaching and support to help Chipotle employees set well-being goals that are tailored to their unique needs. The platform gamifies each employee’s wellness experience with the opportunity to win gift cards, save money on health insurance, and more. With technology at the core of the experience, Strive will continue to evolve over time and help meet individuals where they are in their unique journey. The new virtual space will be available for Restaurant Managers, Field Leaders, and Restaurant Support Center employees starting in June 2021.



More Than 1 in 4 Medicare Beneficiaries Had a Telehealth Visit Between the Summer and Fall of 2020
Over Half Who Had a Telehealth Visit Used Only a Telephone
KFF / / Read Article

As the coronavirus pandemic kept people home last year, just over 1 in 4 Medicare beneficiaries had a telehealth visit with a doctor or other health professional between the summer and fall of 2020, a new KFF analysis finds.

Once limited to beneficiaries living in rural areas, coverage of telehealth services by traditional Medicare has undergone rapid expansion during the pandemic, with new options including allowing some services to be provided via audio-only telephone. Medicare Advantage plans have been able to offer additional telehealth benefits not covered by traditional Medicare outside of the public health emergency, and virtually all do. However, coverage of telehealth services under traditional Medicare would revert to the more limited availability when the public health emergency ends without a change in current rules.



Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG) to Buy Assets From Willis Towers
Zacks Equity Research / Nasdaq / / Read Article

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. AJG agreed to buy certain reinsurance, specialty and retail brokerage operations of Willis Towers Watson plc WLTW for $3.57 billion. Pending regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close during the second half of 2021.

The transaction includes certain of Willis Re's treaty and facultative reinsurance brokerage operations, as well as certain U.K. specialty, European and North American brokerage operations. The operations together generated $1.3 billion of estimated pro forma revenues and $357 million of estimated pro forma EBITDAC in 2020. Willis Towers had agreed and entered into an agreement to merge with Aon AON in an all-stock deal in March last year.



Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Acquires Garner & Glover Company
PRNewswire / / Read Article

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. today announced the acquisition of Rome, Georgia-based Garner & Glover Company. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1874 and operating under its current name since 1926, Garner & Glover is an independent agency offering a full array of business and personal property/casualty, life and benefits products, as well as athletics, wellness and risk management services, to clients throughout the United States. Matt Sirmans, Chuck Shaw and their associates will continue to operate from their current location under the direction of Peter Doyle, head of Gallagher's Southeast region retail property/casualty brokerage operations, and John Tournet, head of Gallagher's Southeast region employee benefits consulting and brokerage operations.



H.I.G. Capital Invests in eHealth
JOHN MELENDEZ / MERGERS & AQUISITIONS / / Read Article

H.I.G. Capital, a global alternative investment firm with $44 billion of equity capital under management, has, through an affiliate, completed a $225 million strategic minority investment into eHealth Inc. in the form of convertible preferred stock.

Headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, eHealth operates an online marketplace offering consumers insurance products that including Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Part D plans, individual and family health insurance, small business insurance and ancillary health insurance products.


Medical billing startup Cedar to acquire Ooda Health for $425M, moving into insurance market
Rebecca Pifer / Healthcare Dive / / Read Article

Dive Brief:

Medical billing startup Cedar is acquiring health tech company Ooda Health for $425 million in a mix of cash and equity, foraying into the insurance market for the first time.

San Francisco-based Cedar works in the complex billing process between patients and providers, and now will be able to integrate insurance bills into its platform, too.

The move is aimed at helping the fintech player broaden its products to focus on new features integrated with both payers and providers, Cedar said, and automating more of the billing workflow. T



B2B Insurtech Platform Boost Raises $20M Series B to Make Insurance Market Accessible for All Companies
Infrastructure-as-a-Service Leader Unlocks a $700 Billion P&C Insurance Market Opportunity for Companies Across Industries
RNewswire / / Read Article

Boost Insurance ("Boost"), the leading B2B digital insurance platform, today announced that it has completed a $20 million Series B financing round to fuel growth of its platform, new product development and partner marketing. The round was led by RRE Ventures and included new investors Fin VC, Gaingels, Hack VC and a global publicly traded reinsurance company along with existing investors Greycroft, Coatue, and Conversion Capital. Boost's funding since inception totals $37 million.

Founded in 2017, Boost's integrated insurance-as-a-service platform unlocks the $700 billion property and casualty insurance market, allowing innovative companies from any industry to build, embed, and manage insurance programs for their customers. Its simple API integration packages the necessary operational, compliance, and capital components to allow companies to deliver highly configurable insurance products directly to consumers through a fully embedded experience within their own front-end environments.


 
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Archives
 
Monday, 05/17/21 - - Pandemic accelerating employers' interest in voluntary benefits: WTW survey

Tuesday, 05/18/21 - -
CVS Health and Aetna tackle skyrocketing mental health issues among women

Wednesday, 05-19-21 - -
Amazon to roll out health, wellness program to all US employees by 2022

Thursday, 05-20-21 - -  Brokers have seen mixed impacts to their voluntary business as a result of COVID-19, according to Eastbridge Consulting Group

Friday, 05-14-21 - -
8 low-cost apps to help employees manage their mental health

 
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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.