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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.
  Monday, 09/09/19 - https://DailyInsuranceReport.com 

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Lincoln, Penn Mutual pull insurance products from New York in wake of best-interest rule
The departures follow the news that Jackson National halted sales of some products in the state
By Greg Iacurci / InvestmentNews

More insurers are deciding to pull products like annuities and life insurance from the New York market as the state's best-interest rule takes hold.

Lincoln Financial Group, the fourth-largest seller of annuities in the U.S. last year, suspended sales of fee-based annuities in New York on Aug. 1 in response to a particular consumer disclosure required by the new rule, Insurance Regulation 187.​

The rule, which took effect Aug. 1 for annuity sales and is going into effect Feb. 1 for life insurance products, requires sales of these products to be in consumers' best interests.
New York's best-interest rule is part of a movement by some states to raise sales standards for brokers and financial advisers following the death of the Department of Labor fiduciary rule, an Obama-era regulation that aimed to increase the standards for retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs. The rule was overturned by an appeals court last year.
One provision of New York's rule requires insurers offering both fee- and commission-based products to provide consumers with a comparison showing the differences between the products.

"That's going to upset a lot of commissionable, old-school distributors who don't want the client to know about the fee-only products," Mr. Flagg said.

However, Lincoln Financial believes that disclosure "may create undue confusion," which led the insurer to temporarily suspend its fee-based annuity sales, said spokeswoman Amy Norcini.

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How a stealthy insurance tech startup bootstrapped its way to a $2.35B acquisition in less than 4 years

It started as conversations between two friends about how to improve the insurance and financial services industries for consumers. That idea turned into a company when Michael Rowell and Michael Paulus made the startup leap in 2016. Less than four years later, Assurance IQ announced it will be acquired by Prudential Financial for a whopping $2.35 billion on Thursday in one of the largest acquisitions in Seattle tech history.

The blockbuster deal appeared to come out of left field, in part because the young startup kept such a low profile. Assurance never raised any outside capital. Instead, the two co-founders bootstrapped the company to profitability and built one of the top “InsurTech” startups that quietly reached unicorn status.

It’s an unusual success story in a tech industry saturated with startups that raise gobs of venture capital dollars with a growth-at-all-costs mentality and sometimes never become profitable.

“In Seattle, we’re very mission-driven and we look to solve really core problems,” Paulus said of the region’s tech ecosystem, in an interview with GeekWire on Thursday. “When you’re taking on very large, very difficult problems that you have, that’s been core to our ability to attract and retain talent. That’s certainly also what led us to Prudential and the next chapter in that mission.”

The deal is the largest insurance tech exit in history and one of the fastest multi-billion dollar acquisitions, according to Financial Technology Partners. It’s also the 23rd-largest M&A deal in Seattle startup history since 2002, according to PitchBook, in the ballpark with other giant acquisitions such as Zulily’s $2.4 billion sale to Qurate and Isilon’s $2.6 billion sale to EMC.

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We create the opportunity for innovative entrepreneurs to “pitch” their company to Venture Capitalists, Private Equity Firms, Angel Investors, Representatives from Insurance Carriers / Banks Who Have an Internal Venture Fund and/or Seeking Strategic Relationships, Product and Distribution Heads at Insurance Companies, and IMO’s.


How political maneuvering derailed a red state’s path to Medicaid expansion
By Lauren Weber / Kaiser Health News

This was supposed to be the year Medicaid expansion finally happened in Kansas.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, elected in November, had run on the issue. She triumphed in a state that had gone for Trump in 2016 by more than 20 percentage points and replaced a Republican governor who had vetoed a previous expansion bill.

Approximately 130,000 low-income people — roughly 4.5% of the 2.9 million people in the state — would be newly eligible for health insurance under the expansion, which is possible because of the federal Affordable Care Act.

But, this time around, a bill to enact Medicaid expansion never got to the Senate floor, even though the new governor and a newly empowered coalition of Democratic and moderate Republican legislators supported it.

At every turn, a handful of Republican leaders managed to block its progress, linking expansion to the welfare state and what one of them called “the abomination of Obamacare.”

And so Kansas remains one of the 14 states not to have expanded the health care program that helps disabled or lower-income people. It joined the ranks of Wisconsin and North Carolina, where fellow Democratic governors have not been able to overcome maneuvering by GOP-controlled legislatures to push through an expansion plan.

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Leaked documents show Apple’s healthcare plans for Siri

This January, Tim Cook made the astonishing assertion that Apple’s greatest contribution as a company would be in healthcare. Now, nine months later, we might have a bit more of an idea what the heck he was talking about.

A recent report from The Guardian uncovered pages of internal Apple documents containing Siri functionality instructions and transcripts. The investigation focused on the way Apple made changes to Siri’s answers to questions about feminism, gender equality, and the #MeToo movement. But it also contained some information about what Apple has in the works for its oft-struggling voice assistant overall.

Specifically, the documents revealed a list of Siri upgrades stated for release by 2021. That included increased healthcare functionality for Siri, with “the ability to have a back-and-forth conversation about health problems.”

Back in January, Cook declined to specify what exciting health features Apple had in the works. Could this be part of what he was talking about?

"There will be more things coming,” Cook said at the time. “I don’t wanna tell you what they are. (...) I’m not gonna forecast precisely, the ramps and so forth. But they're things that we feel really great about, that we’ve been working on for multiple years."

Since Cook’s statement, Apple has released more health features for the Apple Watch, but nothing that might make you say, wow, Apple really did revolutionize healthcare! Transforming Siri into a personal healthcare assistant — who perhaps has the ability to diagnose illnesses from symptoms, like an aural WebMD, or connect you directly with doctors, or call 911 — could be a step in that direction. All of these possible functions would dovetail with Apple’s claims about its Apple Watch, as the “ultimate guardian for your health.”

Anthem 401(k) Settlement Gives Schlichter $8 Million in Fees
$23.7 million settlement reached on eve of trial
Suit challenged 401(k) fees, funds
Bloomberg Law

The lawyers who negotiated a $23.7 million class settlement with an Anthem Inc. subsidiary won nearly $8.4 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses, pursuant to an order from a federal judge in the Southern District of Indiana.

Schlichter Bogard & Denton LLP, which represented a class of thousands of participants in Anthem Inc.'s $5.1 billion 401(k) plan, is entitled to one-third of the monetary settlement it negotiated, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said. She noted that the deal also included “significant and powerful” non-monetary relief, including plan design changes and tax benefits, which bumped the deal’s total value to more than $62 million.

Walton’s order was full of praise for Schlichter Bogard, which has negotiated similar multi-million dollar settlements in 401(k) suits against Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., and ABB Inc.

Kaiser to reveal detailed financials under newly-signed California bill

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill into law Thursday mandating greater transparency in Kaiser Permanente's financial disclosures as income for the not-for-profit integrated health system continues to soar.

Starting in 2020, Kaiser must break out expenses and revenue for its hospitals on a per-facility basis, revenue by type of payer, and rate increases by type of medical service provided. Kaiser, as a private, not-for-profit operator, was previously exempt from many of the state's reporting requirements for payers and providers despite covering more than 65% of California's population with large group insurance.

Starbucks serves up new employee benefits to lure workers in hot US job market
Thomas Barrabi / Fox Business / YAHOO FINANCIE

Starbucks is rolling out a suite of employee benefits as it looks to lure workers despite a tight labor market, a growing field of aggressive coffeehouse competitors and the fallout from high-profile incidents at stores in Philadelphia and Tempe, Arizona.

The perks were announced this week at a leadership summit in Chicago for Starbucks executives and more than 12,000 store managers from the U.S. and Canada. New initiatives include mental health resources for employees, ride-share options to help workers get home safely and technological developments that will streamline or automate time-consuming tasks like inventory management and scheduling.

J.P. Morgan Launches ‘Price Smart’ 401(k) Digital Pricing Solution
The new solution enhances the company’s Retirement Link defined contribution plan offering.
By Jeff Berman

J.P. Morgan Asset Management enhanced its Retirement Link bundled defined contribution plan offering by adding Price Smart, a new digital solution that it said Thursday provides advisors with the ability to instantly generate custom 401(k) pricing proposals for their clients.

Price Smart boasts three key capabilities the firm said were designed to help advisors build stronger plans at lower costs. The first is the ability to identify potential cost savings. Users get to view three pricing options per plan, in flat dollars and percentages, and compare the Retirement Link pricing proposal to current 401(k) fees to see how much their clients could save, according to J.P. Morgan.
The second key capability is that Price Smart tailors proposals to each specific plan, presenting bundled or third-party administrator (TPA) pricing for multiple scenarios, and helping clients make informed decisions by customizing additional services, the company said.

And the third main capability is that it allows users to get instant results, providing them with secure, 24/7 access to plan quotes on demand and the ability to save and manage proposals online to make updating fast and simple, according to J.P. Morgan.
Price Smart “allows advisors to instantly generate customized 401(k) pricing proposals to identify potential costs savings and enable clients to make more informed decisions,” according to Michael Miller, head of retirement distribution at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. “Retirement Link harnesses the breadth of J.P. Morgan’s investment expertise and thought-leadership to help advisors build robust plans at lower costs,” he noted.

Global Virtual Reality In Healthcare Market Will Reach USD 3,441 Million By 2027: Zion Market Research
According to the report, the global virtual reality in healthcare market was USD 260 million in 2018 and is expected to generate around USD 3,441 million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of around 33.2% between 2019 and 2027.

Zion Market Research has published a new report titled “Virtual Reality In Healthcare Market By Offering (Hardware Devices, Software, and Services), By Application (Visualization, Computer Assisted Surgery, Radiotherapy, Dentistry, Mental Health, Psychological Therapy, & PTSD, Phobias, Telehealth, Disability & Rehabilitation, Medical Training/Teaching/Determining Level of Skill, Pain Management, and Others), and By End-User (Hospitals, Clinics, & Surgical Centers, Diagnostic Laboratories, Healthcare Institutes, and Others): Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, and Forecast, 2018–2027”. According to the report, the global virtual reality in healthcare market was USD 260 million in 2018 and is expected to generate around USD 3,441 million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of around 33.2% between 2019 and 2027.

Virtual reality (VR) is the creation of a simulated virtual environment that provides real-life sensory experiences to a person. It creates a highly immersive, visual, and 3D environment where an individual can perform a series of tasks and manipulate virtual objects. The virtual treatment has various advantages over conventional treatments, such as virtual treatment eliminates using complex invasive surgical procedures and drugs in treatment, which helps in saving time and cost. Some major factors driving the virtual reality in healthcare market are rising innovative diagnostic techniques demand, growing neurological disorders incidences, and an increasing number of disease awareness programs. Virtual reality plays an important role in robotic surgery, patient education, psychological and mental health therapy, and pain management, and physical therapy.

Financial Expert Marion G. Cuff, CFS ®: Understanding Long-Term Care Insurance
MARION G. CUFF / Sparta Independent

It's a fact: People today are living longer. Although that's good news, the odds of requiring some sort of long-term care increase as you get older. And as the costs of home care, nursing homes, and assisted living escalate, you probably wonder how you're ever going to be able to afford long-term care. One solution that is gaining in popularity is long-term care insurance (LTCI).

The $86 Trillion World Economy in One Chart

According to the latest World Bank estimate, the global economy is now $85.8 trillion in size.

Here's how it breaks down by country.


Monday, 08/26/19 - Surprise out-of-network bills are hurting workers’ wallets and employers’ bottom lines

Tuesday, 09/03/19 - Bernie Sanders calls for eliminating all medical debt at South Carolina event

Wednesday, 09/04/19 - Walmart tests the waters for digital healthcare

Thursday, 09/05/19 - HAFA Announces Strategic Partnership with Community Doctors

Friday, 09/06/19 - Prudential Financial to acquire Assurance IQ, Inc., a leading consumer solutions platform for health and financial wellness needs, for $2.35 billion

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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor