Daily Insurance Report - Walt Bernard Podgurski

Daily Insurance Report  
Walt Bernard Podgurski,  Editor,  440-773-1108, 
Walt@DailyInsuranceReport.com

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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.
  Wednesday, 06/05/19 - https://DailyInsuranceReport.com 

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.


Pennsylvania Moves to Take Over Health Insurance Exchange
Pennsylvania is moving to take over the online health insurance exchange that's been operated by the federal government for individual Affordable Care Act policies since it began in 2014.
Associated Press / U.S. News & World Report

Pennsylvania says it can cut health insurance costs by taking over the online exchange that's been operated by the federal government for individual Affordable Care Act policies since it began in 2014.

New legislation sponsored by the Republican and Democratic floor leaders in Pennsylvania's House of Representatives would create an authority to operate a state-based exchange.

A House committee vote is expected Wednesday.




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Supreme Court to hear 401(k) stock-drop case
The high court could have a significant impact on how such retirement plan suits involving company stock play out
Greg Iacurci

The Supreme Court accepted a 401(k) lawsuit Monday that could reframe how employers think about company stock in their retirement plans.

Plaintiffs in the case, Retirement Plans Committee of IBM v. Larry W. Jander, allege that plan fiduciaries acted imprudently by continuing to offer IBM stock as an investment option to retirement plan participants despite knowledge of "undisclosed troubles" relating to the company's microelectronics business.



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PwC’s student loan benefit price tag: $25 million and counting
Caroline Hroncich

PricewaterhouseCoopers has paid nearly $26 million toward eliminating employees’ student loan debt since launching its repayment benefit in 2016.

The accounting and consulting firm was one of the first employers to tackle workers’ student debt by adding a pay down program for employees. The benefit pays $100 per month, or $1,200 per year, toward workers’ student loans. As of March, about 8,700 employees have signed up and 8,069 are receiving payment, the company told Employee Benefit News.

“Even employees with no student loan debt tell us they are proud of the pioneering benefit,” says Michael Fenlon, PwC’s U.S. chief people officer. “They are proud the firm is taking on such a complex, important issue in our society, especially one they see negatively affecting their own friends, family and colleagues.”

PwC estimates the program reduces employee loan and interest obligation by up to $10,000 and shortens payoff time by roughly three years. The company offers the program though Gradifi, a student loan benefit provider that also works with employers including Honeywell, First Republic Bank and Peloton.



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LIMRA Finds 75% of Small Businesses are Stable or Growing – Positive Sign for Benefits Industry

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 5.8 million small businesses in the United States with 2 to 99 employees, representing 98% of all U.S. employers and about a third of the total U.S. workforce. A new LIMRA report finds three quarters of small businesses report they are stable or expanding. In 2012, just 61% of small businesses felt similarly. This increase in stability and growth is a positive sign for the employee benefits industry since expanding businesses have a greater need to enhance their benefits offerings to attract talent.

The study found almost 6 in 10 small businesses currently offer at least one insurance benefit to their employees. This is 11 percentage points higher than the 2012 results when this survey was last done. Small businesses with 50-99 employees offering at least one insurance benefit also increased 11 percentage points from 2012 (84% in 2012; 95% in 2018). Much of these increases can be attributed to a stronger economy and record-low unemployment rate, which puts pressure on small businesses to offer benefits in order to attract and retain talent.

When it comes to specific insurance benefits, medical coverage is far more prevalent than any other product (chart). Compared with its 2012 study, LIMRA finds small firms are more likely to offer medical, short-term disability, and accident benefits, while penetration rates for life and cancer insurance have declined.

The number of small businesses offering retirement offerings are at the highest level since 2000. In 2018, 43% of all small businesses offered retirement benefits. This is more than 50% higher than in 2012. Recent initiatives at the federal and state level to expand access to workplace retirement savings may be contributing to this growth.

The increase in insurance and retirement benefits can be attributed to a stronger economy and record-low unemployment rates. To compete in this market, small employers may feel pressure to offer a more robust benefits package to attract and retain the right talent.

A new trend LIMRA is seeing in the workplace benefits space is the growth of non-traditional offerings. Overall, 58% of small businesses offer some type of nontraditional benefit. The most common of these benefits is paid time off (PTO), such as paid vacation and sick time. Today, 45% of small businesses offer PTO. Work-life benefits — such as flexible schedules, compressed workweeks, or remote working arrangements — are offered by almost 1 in 5 small employers.
It is not surprising that these benefits are popular, since there is generally little direct cost associated with making these arrangements available. In contrast, less than 5% of small businesses are offering newer benefits such as financial wellness programs, identity theft protection or genetic testing.

The study found small businesses that currently offer benefits show every intention of continuing to do so. Just 2% of firms with benefits intend to drop an insurance or retirement benefit within the next two years. In contrast, 6% of small employers say they want to offer a new insurance benefit and 4% say they plan to offer a new retirement benefit. For those who are interested in adding a benefit, 21% said they want to add a medical plan and 19% want to add a retirement benefit. Ten percent of small businesses said they were interested in adding a dental benefit and 5% said they were interested in adding life and vision coverage.

LIMRA researchers find small employers are viewing benefits as more important than in the past. Compared with three years ago, 42% of firms with benefits believe it is more important to offer insurance benefits today, while only 1% feel it is less important. Likewise, 40% of small employers feel that offering retirement benefits is more important today. This sentiment increases with company size, with almost two thirds of firms with 50 to 99 employees sensing that benefits have grown in value. This is good news for workers who often rely on their employers for these benefits to attain financial security.



New benefits index report from Benefitfocus highlights key coverage gaps among U.S. workers
PR Newswire / YAHOO FINANCE

Benefitfocus, Inc. (BNFT), a leading cloud-based benefits management platform and services provider, today announced the release of its 2019 Consumer Benefits Coverage Index™ Report. The report offers insight into how well U.S. workers' benefits meet their expected needs. It was created using Benefitfocus' proprietary Consumer Benefits Coverage Index ("the Index"), which was launched in April 2019, to measure and evaluate U.S. consumer spending on employee benefits. The report's findings indicate most Americans may have insufficient protection in key areas.

According to the report, the typical U.S. consumer's employee benefits portfolio is out of balance due to a lack of coverage in two major classes of voluntary benefits on the Index: wealth and lifestyle.

Health products supplement core medical coverage; the category includes traditional insurance products like dental and vision, as well as newer offerings like health advocacy.

Wealth products help consumers protect and/or replace their income; the category includes insurance products like life and accident, as well as tax-advantages health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts.

Lifestyle products address a variety of other consumer needs; the category includes products like pet insurance, legal insurance and identity theft protection services.



California Gov. Newsom Proposes Penalty To Fund Health Insurance Subsidies
Samantha Young and Ana B. Ibarra KHN (KAISER HEALTH NEWS)

Under a proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom, an estimated 850,000 Californians could get help paying their premiums, including people like Haas and Snyder, who together make too much to qualify for federal financial aid but still have trouble affording coverage.

To pay for the health insurance tax credits, the Democratic governor is proposing a tax penalty on Californians who don’t have health insurance — similar to the unpopular federal penalty the Republican-controlled Congress eliminated, effective this year.

If Newsom’s $295 million plan is enacted, California would be the first state to offer financial aid to middle-class families who have shouldered the full cost of premiums themselves, often well over $1,000 a month.

“This is a gap in the Affordable Care Act, but there’s been no action at the federal level,” said Matthew Fiedler, a fellow with the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.



The case for cross-generational benefits selling
Bo Armstrong / Employee Benefit Adviser

Because people are working longer than ever, the employment landscape contains five different generations of workers: traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z. Understanding the differences between each of these generations can help advisers be more consultative when recommending benefits to clients.

In general, today’s workforce values comprehensive healthcare coverage most, followed by affordability and choice of providers, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management. In fact, according to a recent study by SHRM, more than half (56%) of U.S. adults participating in employer-sponsored health benefits cited satisfaction with their health coverage as a key factor when deciding to stay at their current job. Brokers can encourage clients to offer their employees the ability to save money on their healthcare expenses through flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts and other tax-advantaged financial tools. Flexible work hours, retirement planning, paid time off, paid parental leave and benefits related to professional development and education, are also important.



What Is a 403(b)?
Rachel Hartman / U.S. News & World Report

IF YOU WORK FOR A public school, charity or tax-exempt organization, you might be eligible for a 403(b) plan, which allows you to set aside tax-deferred savings for retirement. “The 403(b) was designed for use largely in the nonprofit and public school sectors,” say Todd Murphy, a facilitator at Yale School of Management and financial advisor at Prime Financial Services in Wilton, Connecticut.

A 403(b) plan:

Offers tax breaks on retirement savings.
May be offered by employers in the nonprofit sector.
Typically includes different options for investments.
Takes contributions directly from a paycheck.
While it may not be as well known as other retirement accounts like the 401(k) and individual retirement account, the 403(b) has some similarities to these plans. “The 403(b) comes from the IRS tax code that includes 401(k)s, 457s and IRAs,” Murphy says.

Following is a look at how a 403(b) works, when to use one and how it compares to 401(k)s and IRAs.





Archives

Monday, 06/03/19 - JPMorgan Chase to pay $5 million settlement in parental leave case

Tuesday, 06/04/19 - 5 Workplace Benefits Today's Employees Want, but Don't Have

Wednesday, 05/29/19 - Report: Trump to Issue Executive Order Forcing Healthcare Prices Disclosure

Thursday, 05/30/19 - Trump campaign views healthcare as a 2020 campaign weapon

Friday, 05/31/19 - This is the Number 1 benefit new college grads seek at work — and it’s not debt repayment
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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor
440-773-1108
Walt@DailyInsuranceReport.com