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.
  Friday, 06/28/19 - https://DailyInsuranceReport.com 

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


Democrats clash over ‘Medicare for all’ in first debate
Kevin Breuninger / CNBC

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the first Democratic primary debate Wednesday night that they would favor eliminating private insurance.

Warren and de Blasio were the only two among the 10 Democratic hopefuls on stage to raise their hands when asked if they favored abolishing private insurance.

The rising cost of insurance premiums, Warren said, makes it more difficult for families and children to get health care. “Medicare for all solves that problem,” she said.

Warren said she aligned with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, on government-run health care that replaces private health insurance.

“I’m with Bernie on Medicare for All,” Warren said.

The issue over health insurance marked the first stark divide among the candidates, and sparked a heated back-and-forth between many of the candidates on stage.



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Senate moves forward with first bipartisan health care plan
By Tami Luhby / CNN

The Senate Health Committee voted 20-3 to advance the legislation, which seeks to tackle surprise medical billing, lower drug prices and increase transparency in the cost of health care. The bill was cosponsored by the committee's chair, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and ranking member, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state.

Alexander and Murray hope the full chamber will vote on the bill before the August recess.

The legislation is not without controversy. Hospitals and doctors are not pleased with the surprise medical billing provision, which would protect patients when they receive emergency care at hospitals or by doctors who aren't in their insurance networks. Consumers would be responsible only for paying the in-network rates for that treatment and, if they are admitted, they must be given advanced notice of any out-of-network charges, under the legislation.
To settle the rest of the tab, insurers would pay hospitals and doctors the local median contracted rate. Providers say this could wind up limiting access to care and could limit insurers' incentive to build comprehensive networks.



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SHRM 2019 Employee Benefits Survey: Student Loan Repayment, Paternity Leave, Standing Desks and Telemedicine All Ticking Upward
Business Wire

Companies carefully tailoring benefits plans to appeal to their employee demographic, while still navigating ever-increasing health care costs

While the United States' stable job market and regulatory environment have kept employee benefits offerings steady, some benefits such as student loan repayment, paternity leave, telecommuting, standing desks and telemedicine are gaining notable upward traction, according to SHRM's latest Employee Benefits Survey, which was released today.

Companies are also conducting extensive research on their specific employee demographic to find a unique benefits package that resonates with the majority of their employees' needs and stage of life.
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Gradifi Helps Employees Accelerate College Savings
Business Wire

Gradifi’s New Automatic Payroll Deductions Make It Easy For Employees To Contribute To Any 529 Direct-Sold College Savings Plan In The U.S.

Gradifi, a leading provider of student loan and college savings employee benefits, today said it is now offering automatic payroll deductions to contribute to any direct-sold 529 college savings plan in the country.

College SaveUp, one of three Gradifi solutions designed to minimize student loan debt, is unique in providing employers maximum flexibility to help employees save for the college of their choice. Typically, automatic payroll deductions offered by 529 plans are limited to a single program and do not provide the flexibility for employees to choose their own plan.

Gradifi’s open architecture for 529 plan payroll deductions is one of two ways Gradifi helps individuals and families save for college. Employers can also make monthly, quarterly, or annual 529 plan contributions on behalf of employees through Gradifi’s easy-to-implement, cloud-based platform.



Healthcare Technology Shapes Employee Benefits
David Reid Co-founder & CEO, Ease HR TECHNOLOGIST

One of Alexa’s most recent upgrades included HIPAA-compliant healthcare skills, which allow users to complete tasks like booking appointments, accessing hospital post-discharge instructions, checking on the status of a prescription delivery and more. As technology becomes more equipped to simply the healthcare consumer experience, the employee benefits industry changes along with it.

The evolution of healthcare technology has transformed the way people think about benefits and insurance. From electronic health records to cost and care search engines to online physician reviews, the industry has seen an increase in access to health services and patient data. Case in point: April’s Amazon Alexa updates. For the first time, there is HIPAA compliant technology that makes it possible to communicate protected health information like hospital post-discharge instructions and prescription refill statuses.

Employee benefit offerings will be impacted by the advances in sharing health data via technology, especially since it can now be done in a HIPAA compliant manner. Employees and dependents don’t need to log in to a system or access the internet for information, they can simply ask Alexa questions like “Is my prescription ready?” or “Can you book me an appointment with my physician?” The data that could one day be available thanks to these types of inquiries will offer insights to health insurance brokers and HR departments about what benefits are best for their employees. Furthermore, the more HIPAA compliant technology available, the more opportunities businesses have to offer accessible healthcare and competitive benefits options that will help recruit and retain top talent.



New benefit gives employees money back if they go injury-free
By Evelina Nedlund / ebn

Guardian Life Insurance has updated its accident insurance product to include two new offerings which give employees money back if they are injury free for five years and provide payment for treatments that might normally exceed policy limits.

“The new benefit is valuable because they want to know that they’re getting something with their money,” says Guardian’s vice president Mike Estep. “If you have an accident and you can’t afford your medical payments, and you only have $500 or less in your savings, the accident insurance comes in very valuable. But if you don’t have an accident, you want to know that you're getting something from having the insurance as well.”



HealthJoy expands with launch of EAP
By Amanda Schiavo

Healthcare guidance and engagement platform HealthJoy is expanding its offering with the launch of HealthJoy EAP, which will offer employees 24/7, year-round mental health support. It will be a fully integrated service within the HealthJoy mobile app.

The employee assistance program addition comes as mental health benefits are becoming more of a priority for employers. Indeed, HealthJoy President and Co-founder Doug Morse-Schindler says he’s seen the trend emerge over the last few years, especially as more are afflicted with mental health conditions.

More than half (56%) of adults have a mental health condition, according to data from Mental Health America, a community based nonprofit that looks to help people living with mental illness.

“I do think that it’s becoming a larger focus, which is a good thing,” Morse-Schindler says. “Historically, we treated the body, excluding the mind.”



Federal Employees Suing OPM Score Win in Lawsuit Over Data Hacks
Appeals court overrules district-level finding, says federal employee unions have standing to sue.
Eric Katz, Senior Correspondent / Government Executive

A court has ruled that federal employees have standing to sue the government over its failure to protect personally identifiable information that led to massive data breaches in 2015, reversing the decision of a lower court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit largely sided with two federal employee unions in their lawsuit against the Office of Personnel Management and a federal contractor for their roles in the hacks that led to the disclosure of the personal records of 21.5 million individuals. The American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union are seeking lifetime credit monitoring and identity theft protection for affected individuals, and NTEU also sought to change the way OPM stores and protects personnel data. NTEU said its clients had a constitutional right to informational privacy and the government violated that right. AFGE is seeking a remedy under the 1974 Privacy Act, including monetary damages from KeyPoint.



Sears canceled the life insurance coverage of 29,000 retired employees. A judge just gave them a chance to fight for their benefits.
By LAUREN ZUMBACH / CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Sears canceled the life insurance coverage of 29,000 retired employees. A judge just gave them a chance to fight for their benefits.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court is calling for a committee to represent Sears retirees who lost life insurance in March that the retailer said was costing it $1.3 million in monthly premiums. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

The judge overseeing Sears Holdings’ bankruptcy is giving 29,000 retired employees a chance to fight for the life insurance benefits they lost when the retailer canceled their coverage earlier this year.

This week, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain directed the U.S. trustee overseeing the case to appoint a committee representing retirees.

Sears ended the retirees’ life insurance benefits in March, shortly after selling most of its remaining assets to Transform Holdco, an entity controlled by Sears’ former CEO and largest shareholder, Edward Lampert, and his hedge fund.

As of March 15, about 29,000 retirees had coverage with death benefits worth between $5,000 and $14,500 that cost Sears $1.3 million in monthly premiums, Sears said.




  Archives

Monday, 06/24/19 - Private Insurers Are Afraid of Medicare for All. They Should Be Excited

Tuesday, 06/25/19 - Lifestyle benefits emerging as key strategy for talent management

Wednesday, 06/26/19 - Trump signs executive order to make health costs more transparent

Thursday, 06/27/19 - A Trio of Trump Rules Will Remake U.S. Health Insurance Markets

Friday, 06-14-09 - Florida Company Sued Over Sales of Skimpy Health Plans


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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor
440-773-1108
Walt@DailyInsuranceReport.com