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Friday, 05/28/21 Walt Podgurski 440-773-1108 E-Mail
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Pay down your student loans or wait for forgiveness? A financial planner weighs in on the best next step
Elizabeth Gravier / / Read Article

President Joe Biden’s upcoming annual White House budget proposal won’t include any student debt forgiveness, according to recent news reports.

For nearly 43 million federal borrowers, Friday’s news may be disappointing — especially given earlier moves by the Biden administration that suggested a major student loan cancellation policy could be forthcoming. In early April, Biden asked the U.S. Department of Education to review whether his executive authority gives him the ability to enact massive student loan forgiveness without congressional approval. This move gave millions of Americans a glimmer of hope, but we still await to see the results of this report.

As borrowers continue to be left in the dark, many are wondering when and if their debt will ever get canceled. Now that student loan forgiveness isn’t included in Biden’s annual budget, should borrowers move on and pay off their student loans — taking advantage of the last few months of the interest rate pause? Or should they still wait it out a bit longer in hopes they’ll see their debt canceled?

Borrowers who have the funds to pay off their student loans completely but haven’t yet because they don’t want to miss out on any forgiveness, give yourself a few more months. If, by the time we approach end of September 2021, no forgiveness has happened, finally pay off your loans for good before they start collecting interest again.

Here’s the average student debt balance of borrowers 25 to 34 years old
Elizabeth Gravier / / Read Article

Twenty-five to 34-year-olds make up the biggest cohort of student loan borrowers, adding up to 14.8 million borrowers in total. The average individual in this age bracket has a student loan balance of $33,817.56, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education’s Q4 2020 data.

While this number is just shy of how much the average student loan borrower of all ages carries ($39,351), it’s more than double what the 24-and-younger cohort is dealing with (their average balance is $14,807.69).

The jump in outstanding debt can be attributed in part to the additional years of interest that 25- to 34-year-olds are paying compared to those under 25, as well as additional loans that they may have taken out to fund additional schooling.

If you’re in the 25-to-34 age group and struggling with five-figure debt (or more), you can find some comfort in knowing it’s not too late to get a handle on it. Ahead, Select offers some advice on managing your student loans.

Walgreens to cover 35% of employees’ tuition with new benefit
By Amanda Schiavo / ebn / / Read Article

Health and wellness retail giant Walgreens has debuted a new education benefit for its more than 300,000 employees.

Because the cost of pursuing a college degree can be prohibitive, Walgreens has teamed up with the online school University of Arizona Global Campus to cover 35% of worker’s tuition for bachelor's and master's programs. The benefit will also grant five full-tuition scholarships for qualifying Walgreens’ employees. The program is being managed by Zovio Employer Services, an organization that works with over 1,300 organizations across the country to provide higher education benefits.

LIMRA: First Quarter U.S. Life Insurance Policy Sales Highest Since 1983
LIMRA / / Read Article

Total individual life insurance policy sales increased 11% in the first quarter, compared with first quarter 2020. This is the highest growth in the number of policies sold in a quarter since 1983. New annualized premium also experienced significant growth, up 15% from prior year, according to LIMRA’s First Quarter U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey.

“In 1983, the double-digit policy count growth was driven by universal life replacement. We believe the policy sales in the first quarter represent organic growth, driven by increased consumer awareness about the need for life insurance and the steps companies took during the pandemic to make it easier and faster for people to buy the life insurance they need,” said David Levenson, president and CEO, LIMRA, LOMA and LL Global. “What is particularly important is that so many more people are now becoming properly insured. But, of course, there’s a lot more work to do.”

Overall, 7 in 10 life insurance carriers — including nine of the top 10 — reported increases in new annualized premium in the first three months of 2021. For policy sales, 6 in 10 issued more policies in the first quarter and eight of the top 10 carriers experienced double-digit growth in policy sales.

Whole life (WL) new premium jumped 20% and policy count rose 13%, compared to prior year. First quarter WL premium growth represents the highest growth since second quarter 2010; and WL policy sales growth was the sharpest growth in at least 30 years. Whole life held 36% market share in the first quarter, based on premium.

With the exception of bank and worksite, all distribution channels recorded positive growth in new WL premium sales. Agency-building distribution experienced the largest new premium increase and direct-to-consumer recorded the biggest growth in policy sales.

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Best of all, Talent Insurance can be implemented year-round! The social proof, low cost, and impactful results are generating a high level of both organizational and employee interest.

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20+ in years employee benefits

Pandemic Spurred Interest in Hybrid Life-LTC Policies
Consumers saying it was very likely they'd consider a combo policy rose 50%
By LIZ FESTA / Investopedia / / Read Article

Americans' interest in combination life insurance and long-term care (LTC) policies soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a newly released survey.1


The pandemic increased Americans' interest in hybrid or combination life insurance and long-term care policies, according to a new survey.

People in high-stress family caregiver situations during the pandemic were especially interested in these products.

Millennials are the generation most interested in life-LTC combo products.

Missouri Will Not Expand Medicaid Despite Voters' Wishes, Governor Says
Becky Sullivan / npr / / Read Article

The battle over Medicaid expansion in Missouri reached a new boiling point Thursday as Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, announced that the state will not implement expansion, in defiance of a ballot measure passed by voters last year.

The decision stems from Republican state lawmakers' refusal to appropriate funds for the expansion to the state's Medicaid program, called MO HealthNet, in the state budget bill passed last week.

"Although I was never in support of MO HealthNet expansion, I always said that I would uphold the ballot amendment if it passed," Parson said. "However, without a revenue source or funding authority from the General Assembly, we are unable to proceed with the expansion at this time and must withdraw our state plan amendments to ensure Missouri's existing MO HealthNet program remains solvent."

Transform Your Benefits Administration Experience!

Biden announces $7.4 billion to hire more public health workers amid pandemic
William Wan / The Washington Post / / Read Article

The White House announced Thursday that it is investing $7.4 billion to hire more public health workers to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and future health crises. The money will come from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which Congress passed in March.

The funds could give a much-needed boost to America’s crumbling public health infrastructure. After decades of chronic underfunding, U.S. public health departments last year showed how ill-equipped they are to carry out basic functions, let alone serve as the last line of defense against the most acute threat to the nation’s health in generations.

With over 110 million Americans over age 50, it's no wonder this Princeton alum's startup has raised over $51 million in funding to help people plan for a comfortable retirement.
SmartAsset  / / Read Article

Small But Mighty, A New Player Raises $51 Million in Funding

SmartAsset was founded with the goal of disrupting the outdated retirement planning industry based on a simple, singular insight: When it comes to saving for retirement, most Americans don’t know how to start, where to look, or if they’re getting the right advice for their retirement goals.

We created a no-cost, web-based tool that asks aspiring retirees a few simple questions to learn about their goals, then sorts through a carefully vetted pool of licensed, vetted and verified financial advisors to find up to three local fiduciary matches.

Research from Northwestern Mutual suggests working with a financial advisor nets investors an average of 1.5% to 4% in additional annual returns. Planning for retirement without the benefit of a financial advisor’s keen insights can result in an individual heading into retirement with a significantly smaller nest-egg.1

Vertafore Showcases Latest InsurTech Innovations, Celebrates Potential of Independent Agencies During Kickoff of Annual User Conference
PRNewswire / / Read Article

Vertafore outlined its long-term strategy and investments for technology infrastructure to support the solutions its 20,000 agencies customers need to modernize their business, including:

An update on the company's two-year-old strategic partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) — the leading cloud services provider for more than a decade — to enhance product performance and innovation.

Robust investment in UX and seamless integrations across Vertafore's suite of solutions to provide users with the industry's most modern and intuitive technology experience.

The latest on Vertafore's Titan technology — the company's flexible, modern product development platform — that is enabling Vertafore to deploy secure, innovative solutions faster than ever before.

Recent advances in Vertafore's open, API-driven architecture strategy that ensures customers can get the most out of their Vertafore products and access a wide range of additional business solutions through the Vertafore Orange Partners Program.

Cedar Announces Agreement to Acquire OODA Health to Revolutionize the Consumer Financial Experience in Healthcare
Legal Newswire POWERED BY LAW.COM / / Read Article

Cedar, an innovative healthcare financial technology platform, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire OODA Health, a healthcare technology company focused on improving the healthcare administrative experience with payers and providers, for $425 million. By bringing together providers and payers onto one healthcare financial technology platform, Cedar will be the only complete solution to address the full set of challenges consumers face when paying for healthcare.

This acquisition comes at a time when consumer-friendly, digital-first experiences have become a hallmark of the healthcare experience, especially given healthcare consumers are getting more exposure to the billing process, and their financial burden has skyrocketed in recent years.

5 trends fueling one of the hottest housing markets in US history
Ben Winck / BUSINESS INSIDER / / Read Article

The housing market is on fire, with a supply shortage driving prices to record highs.

But alternative signals show the market isn't just tight, it's changing in much more fundamental ways.

Here are the five structural shifts that are fueling the red-hot US housing market.

The housing market is on fire.

What began as a pickup in demand early in the pandemic has evolved into an all-out buying spree. Sales of new and previously owned homes, while off their peaks, remain elevated. Construction has picked up somewhat, but contractors are struggling to shore up supply. With inventory sitting near record lows, price growth has accelerated to rival the 2000s housing bubble.

Reports published Tuesday confirmed the boom is alive and well. Prices soared through March at the fastest rate since 2005, according to S&P CoreLogic. Separately, Census Bureau data showed new single-family home sales slowing 5.9% through April. Still, the sales pace sits well above the pre-pandemic norm.

1 - Buyers face a persistent shortage of available homes
2 - People are fleeing cities for cheaper locales
3 - It's getting more and more expensive to build homes
4 - Pricey construction, unrelenting demand is driving stronger home inflation
5 - Americans increasingly prioritize value and space

Photo Of The Day

Monday, 05/24/21 - - Dozens of longtime employees are suing Farmers Insurance for age discrimination

Tuesday, 05/25/21 - -
How nonprofit hospitals get away with the biggest rip off in America

Wednesday, 05-26-21 - -
Health Insurance Broker: Dude, what you're doing is changing lives by Andy Neary

Thursday, 05-27-21 - -  Three Ways To Prioritize Well-Being Through Employee Benefits

Friday, 05-21-21 - -
Amazon Introduces New Mental Health Benefit for All U.S. Employees and Their Family Members

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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.