Daily Insurance Report - Walt Bernard Podgurski

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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.
  Wednesday, 06/12/19 - https://DailyInsuranceReport.com 

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

Colonial Life leads voluntary benefits industry in sales growth – again
Colonial Life

For the second straight year, Colonial Life has been named the fastest-growing voluntary benefits company among large carriers by Eastbridge Consulting Group.

Colonial Life’s voluntary sales grew 8 percent in 2018, totaling $561 million. That’s the biggest growth of any company with more than $150 million in annual sales that has exceeded the industry average each of the past three years, according to Eastbridge. The performance earned Colonial Life the 2018 Voluntary Sales Growth Leader recognition.

“Growing faster than the industry average for three years in a row is not easy for any company, but it’s especially difficult in the large carrier category,” said Gil Lowerre, president of Eastbridge. “We commend Colonial Life for this achievement.”

Voluntary sales totaled $8.5 billion in 2018, according to Eastbridge’s annual U.S. Voluntary/Worksite Sales Report. Voluntary benefits include any financial protection that employees can choose at the workplace, including life insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance, accident insurance, critical illness insurance and cancer insurance.

“Escalating healthcare costs are burdening U.S. employees like never before. Our 1,400 home office employees and the 14,000 members of our sales organization are helping millions of consumers realize they can affordably protect their finances, their families and their futures with voluntary benefits,” according to Colonial Life President and CEO Tim Arnold.

Healthcare Consumerism Lags Behind New Industry Players

Despite pressure from new medical industry entrants, hospitals and health systems aren’t responding to trends in healthcare consumerism and patient experience, according to the 2019 State of Consumerism report from Kaufman Hall.

A survey of hospital and health system leaders across the country revealed that most industry experts are aware of a growing need for consumer-centricity. Eighty-eight percent of respondents agreed that their businesses may be vulnerable to new healthcare market players that have a proven track record of driving consumer experiences.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they believed the UnitedHealth and Optum healthcare giant holds a strong or extreme threat to traditional healthcare providers. Sixty-six percent said the same of CVS Health and Aetna, 56 percent about Amazon, 39 percent about Google and Alphabet, and 38 percent about Apple.

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Surprise Billing: Another Healthcare Market Failure
By Joshua Cohen

Of all the euphemisms in U.S. healthcare billing practices, so-called "balance billing" may take the cake. Balance billing, better known as surprise billing, happens when a patient receives care from a doctor or hospital outside of her insurer's network. Subsequently, the doctor or hospital bills the patient for the amount insurance didn't cover. Needless to say, these bills can be hefty. They add insult to injury, tormenting the American consumer of healthcare.

Surprise bills are symptomatic of the extraordinarily complex ways in which healthcare prices are set in the U.S. Supposedly, balance bills reflect the difference between in- and out-of-network costs to the insurer. The often unchallenged assumption is that health plans contract with doctors, hospitals, and pharmacy networks to reduce the costs of care and keep premiums low for consumers. While undoubtedly in-network contracts save money for insurers, it's unclear whether and how much of the savings are passed on to the consumer. Since when did your premiums go down, or your out-of-pocket costs for that matter, even if you had all your care done in-network?

California Poised to Give Illegal Immigrants Free Healthcare
By Leah Barkoukis / Townhall

California will soon make history as the state is set to become the first in the nation to give free healthcare to some illegal immigrants.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democrats in the state legislature reached an agreement to allow low-income individuals between the ages of 19 and 25 who are in the country illegally to be eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.

“While it’s not all we sought, it will provide a real tangible difference for people, especially for those around and below poverty and for middle income families who don’t get any help under the federal law,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of advocacy group Health Access, Fox News reports.

Helen Smith: Workplace mental health – how to be caring, not just compliant
By Helen Smith / employee benefits (UK)

The average person today is said to spend roughly a third of their life at work, so it is no surprise that the environment we work in can have a huge impact on our wellbeing. In fact, the World Health Organisation stated in May 2019 that negative work environments can lead to both physical and mental health problems, and aggravate any existing issues an employee has.

In November 2017, Benenden Health interviewed more than 1,000 employees across a range of sectors and regions to understand the key issues surrounding mental health in the workplace, and the implications for both employees and employers.

Modern day pressures, combined with ‘always connected’ lifestyles, make stress, anxiety and other mental health issues more prevalent today. The survey revealed that the majority of employees (70%) have suffered with a condition related to mental health at some point in their lives.

Despite this, less than half of employees say that their current employer offers a mental health or wellbeing policy.

Louisiana Poised to Enact Sweeping Obamacare Alternative

Louisiana remains poised to pass a sweeping Obamacare alternative bill that could offer citizens more affordable health care while protecting pre-existing conditions.

The Louisiana state House legislature overwhelmingly passed a new bill, pushed by Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, through the House with 90 lawmakers in favor of the bill and only nine state congressmen against the legislation. The legislation passed through the state Senate unanimously.

“We are one step closer to Louisiana becoming the country’s leaders in protecting patients with pre-existing conditions,” Landry said after the bill was passed in May.

Landry proposed the legislation, known as the Health Care Coverage for Louisiana Families Protection Act, which would allow the state insurance commission to open the health insurance market to anyone not covered by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Companies could then compete on the state exchange to offer health insurance.

Landry’s health insurance legislation would also protect Americans with pre-existing conditions without the more onerous regulations that arose from Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA).

OneDigital Health and Benefits Acquires Trinity Benefit Advisors
Acquisition Enhances OneDigital Presence Within Growing Philadelphia Market

OneDigital Health and Benefits, the nation’s largest company focused exclusively on employee benefits and HR, has acquired Trinity Benefit Advisors located in Philadelphia, PA. This acquisition enhances the OneDigital footprint within the Philadelphia market and adds to the overall company growth.

“Healthcare has become increasingly more complicated and we needed a partnership to continue delivering the most innovative and cost-effective solutions to our clients. We found that partner in OneDigital”

“We’re very excited to bring in a strong leadership team with an outstanding reputation in the greater Philadelphia market. Over the last several years, OneDigital has been positioned to power the modern, digital workplace with cutting-edge benefits and HR innovation. However, we haven’t lost sight of the importance of face-to-face connection in our customer-centric model and place as much emphasis on the culture of the incoming firm as we do on the location,” says OneDigital’s Executive Vice President of Operations Pete Gruenberg. “We’re confident that Matt and his team will help us successfully integrate our existing OneDigital Philly office and be a catalyst for future growth in this market.”

Trinity Benefit Advisors has been serving clients in Pennsylvania and Florida, with services spanning benefits, compliance and wellness. Upon joining OneDigital, Trinity Benefit Advisor clients will have access to expert teams from across a deeper bench to bring the best possible benefits, HR and technology solutions to employers.

The average employer 401(k) match is at an all-time high—see how yours compares
By Alicia Adamczyk / CNBC

The average employer 401(k) match reached 4.7% this year, according to Fidelity, which manages more than 30 million retirement accounts. That’s a record high, the company tells CNBC Make It.

Prior to 2011, the average employer match was usually in the 3% to low 4% range, but has been slowly increasing each quarter in the years since.

The Stanford Center on Longevity found in a 2018 report that if you want to retire by age 65, you should aim to set aside 10-17% of your total income, starting at age 25. An employer match makes that easier to manage. In fact, per Fidelity, the 4.7% average match “boosted the average total savings rate to an all-time high of 13.5%” this year.

That said, almost 25% of U.S. adults have no retirement savings at all. The average account balance of those with 401(k) savings, according to Fidelity, was $103,700, though that varies greatly by age.

Nicklaus: New 401(k) law could open door to both good and bad annuities
By David Nicklaus / St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Congress may be about to rewrite the rules of retirement saving, but consumer groups worry that one change could be costly for unwary investors.

The Secure Act, which passed the House last month 417-3, aims to make it easier for employers to offer 401(k) plans and for employees to accumulate money in them. In one important change, it would no longer allow employers to exclude part-time workers from the plans.

The bill also would let small businesses band together to offer multi-employer plans, with tax credits to defray startup costs. It would let retirees wait until age 72 to begin withdrawing money and paying taxes, up from 70½ now.

Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America, is fine with all of that. What she doesn’t like is a provision in the bill that opens the door to sellers of annuities within 401(k) plans.

The change is called a safe harbor, meaning that employers who follow certain legal steps couldn’t be sued over the choice of an annuity provider. The insurance industry pushed for the change, arguing that workers need a way to purchase a steady stream of retirement income.

Target expands employee benefits, including paid family leave, adoption benefits

Target announced it is expanding the suite of benefits it offers its fulll and part-time workers, including an increase in its paid family leave time.

According to a release sent out by the company, as of June 30 it will be increasing its family paid leave from two to four weeks following a birth, adoption, surrogacy or foster placement.

This adds to the paid leave it already offers workers who give birth.

Additionally, Target will install a "backup care" benefit this fall that it initially launched at its Twin Cities headquarters to its entire networks of stories and distribution centers.

The benefit will allow workers up to four weeks paid leave to care for a sick child, partner or parent, as well as use it in the event that school or daycare is canceled -- which will be useful particularly during Minnesota winters.

Great-West Life joins the PaymentEvolution Benefits Quoting Service

PaymentEvolution today announced that The Great-West Life Assurance Company has joined its real-time quoting service for employee benefits. Working with Great-West Life and other leading insurers, PaymentEvolution's quoting tool makes obtaining health and dental plans simple for employers.

"Empowering small business employers to offer the most attractive benefits to their staff helps them compete for the best talent. We're excited to welcome Great-West Life and its array of products to our open benefits quoting service," said Sam Vassa , CEO and Co-founder of PaymentEvolution.

"We're committed to supporting the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians," says Roger Maguet , Senior Vice-President of Plan Sponsor Services, Great-West Life. "We're pleased to work with PaymentEvolution to increase access for small business employers to affordable group benefits. Financial stress is known to impact employee mental health and productivity, so by offering group benefits, employers are not just better able to attract and retain talent, but may also improve morale and increase productivity by enhancing the financial security of their plan members."

The real-time quoting service is available to small businesses using PaymentEvolution's payroll and payment service. The integration ensures accurate quoting without unnecessary data entry. Most firms receive an instant digital estimate without needing to enter additional data. For the first time, live quoting and configuration for employee benefits is available from multiple insurers in Canada.+


Monday, 06/10/19 - Regulators must scrutinize advice by insurance agents


Wednesday, 06/05/19 - Pennsylvania Moves to Take Over Health Insurance Exchange

Thursday, 06/06/19 - CVS to open 1500 stores focused on healthcare

Friday, 06-07-09 - Younger Workers Put Student Loan Aid Near Top of Desired Benefits
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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor