Health Net’s Western Region Expects Lower Enrollment For Certain Products


IN CALIFORNIA

• Health Net’s Western Region Expects Lower Enrollment For Certain Products
• Community Activists Demand Action Against HealthCare Partners
• CDI Revokes Life Agent’s License
NEW PRODUCTS
• Variable Annuity Rider
• Term Life
EVENTS
• Healthcare Webinars
LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE
• Could An Actuary Have Saved the Class Act?
HEALTHCARE
• President Obama Signs Medicare IVIG Access Act into Law
• Strategies That Help Employees Improve Their Health
• The Top Ten Health Industry Issues To Watch in 2013
• CMS Issues Proposed Rule on Exchanges
• How to Hold Down Health Care Costs
LIFE INSURANCE
• Modest Growth for Life Insurance Sales Predicted, Low Interest Rates a Concern
EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
• Executive Benefits in Tax-Exempt Organizations
• Employees Are Exerting More Influence Over Employer Benefit Strategies
MOVERS & SHAKERS
• David Bedard to Lead ING’s Fixed Annuities Business
• EPIC Hires Janice Stanger

IN CALIFORNIA

Health Net’s Western Region Expects Lower Enrollment for Certain Products

HealthnetHHealth Net says that it expects consolidated revenues for the combined Western Region Operations and Government Contracts segments to be about $10.7 billion to $11.2 billion in 2013. Compared to year-end 2012, the company expects the following:
* Total health plan membership will decline 1% to 2%.
* Commercial enrollment will decline 8% to 9%.
* Medicare Advantage enrollment will increase 1% to 2%.
* Medicaid enrollment will increase 4% to 6%.

In 2013, the company expects commercial enrollment to be more heavily weighted to smaller accounts and tailored network products that have lower than company-average premiums per-member, per-month. The company expects several factors to affect commercial health care costs per-member, per-month in the Western Region: a continuing shift from larger to smaller groups, from higher cost to lower cost geographies, and from full network products to more efficient products with lower medical care ratios. Health Net anticipates re-pricing actions with its largest accounts.

Community Activists Demand Action Against HealthCare Partners

A grassroots coalition, called “Our SALUD” is asking the state to take disciplinary action against HealthCare Partners calling it an illegally operating medical group. SALUD says that the Torrance-based medical group is operating without a Knox-Keen license, a mandatory requirement to do business in California. Physicians’ groups are not allowed to pay for or direct hospital care. Our SALUD charges that HealthCare Partners is directing hospital care and therefore providing its members a much narrower hospital network than members are entitled to under their policy.

On November 20, 2012 Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg sent a letter to the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) outlining his concerns of oversight on these issues. On December 19, the Department of Managed Health Care responded explaining that it has been in discussions with HealthCare Partners for a year now. In late December, DMHC received confirmation from HealthCare Partners that it would pursue a Knox-Keen license.

Representatives from HealthCare Partners met with DMHC staff on December 18, 2012 for a pre-filing conference, which is the first step in the license application process. “It is troubling to hear that HealthCare Partners is being guided to licensure without first being penalized for essentially putting patient lives at risk,” said Nestor Valencia, Our SALUD Community Representative.

“Before even picking up a stethoscope a doctor must have the appropriate credentials and licensing to practice medicine. I do not understand how a medical group is not subject to the same scrutiny. The DMHC must take a stance to ensure this type of illegal activity doesn’t become common place for prospective groups,” said Elba Romo, Our SALUD Community Representative.

Our SALUD is looking to pursue a cease and desist from the DMHC until HealthCare Partners is licensed and fined for its actions. A lawsuit is underway alleging that a Los Angeles resident lost half of his facial bone structure due to negligent care by HealthCare Partners. Pending the DMHC’s cooperation, Our SALUD plans to take this issue to the Attorney General and Insurance Commissioner.

CDI Revokes Life Agent’s License

The California Department of Insurance (CDI) revoked the life-only and accident & health licenses of agent Karima Ali of Fresno and her insurance agency, Brawley Insurance Services. Investigators say that Ali and her husband, Hussein, filed a false insurance license application under the name of “Golden Umbrella Insurance Services, Inc.” The pair used a former employee’s personal information, including a license number. DMHC has barred Hussein from operating as a solicitor of health care service plans (Medicare Advantage). The order was based on CDI’s denial of his insurance license and felony convictions for mail fraud in 2000 and bank fraud in 2011.

The following is a timeline of activities and actions leading up to Hussein and
Karima Ali’s License revocation:
• 2008 – Hussein’s application for an insurance license is denied because of a 2000 felony mail fraud conviction.
• 2009 – Karima gets a CDI license to act as a life-only agent and an accident and health agent.
• September 2011 – Hussein is convicted in federal court of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
• October 2011 – Karima renews Brawley’s insurance license.
• December 2011 – Golden Umbrella Insurance Services files for incorporation with the Secretary of state, using the Alis’ address.
• July 2012 – The Alis file a false license application with CDI on behalf of Golden Umbrella Insurance Services using a former employee’s personal information.
• November 2012 – CDI issues an order revoking the insurance licenses held by Brawley and Karima Ali. The revocations are effective 30 days from the date of the order.

NEW PRODUCTS

Variable Annuity Rider

Nationwide increased joint payout rates for the Nationwide Lifetime Income Rider on its Nationwide Destination Series 2.0 variable annuities. Lifetime payout rates for “Nationwide L.inc” with the joint option will increase .25% for most age bands, which means that payouts will be 4.75% instead of 4.5% for someone starting income at age 65. The spousal protection feature delivers a guaranteed death benefit covering the spouse, regardless of who passes away first, even on IRAs when there’s a single owner. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.

Term Life

American General lowered prices on its AG Select-a-Term life insurance by as much as 9% for non-tobacco classes for policies with face values of $500,000 or more. The product offers guaranteed level premiums for 17 available term durations (10-year and 15- through 30-year). For more information, call 1-800-67-3311

EVENTS

Healthcare Webinars

Health Advocate Inc., is holding the following Webinars in 2013
• January 31 — Data Warehousing and Predictive Modeling. How health informatics uncovers medical cost drivers and gaps in care to improve employee health and reduce healthcare spending.
• February 12 — Pricing Transparency Tools — How powerful pricing tools can offer significant cost savings.
• February 26 — Biometric Screening Program — How revealing unknown health risks early can motivate employees to take swift action to change unhealthy behaviors and improve their long-term health.
• March 12 – Empowered Health Program — This health-management concept combines several key benefit services into an integrated platform, removing the barriers typically found in health benefit packages.
• March 26 — Personalized Health Communications — How a personalized, low-cost communications program can drive employees to get the right care at the right time, significantly increasing compliance with recommended care guidelines and producing exceptional, long-term results.
• April 8 — EAP + Work/Life Program – How early professional counseling reduces absenteeism, boosts productivity and morale, and reduces healthcare costs.
• April 30– Chronic Care Management – How combining advanced data analysis with one-on-one coaching transforms the management of costly medical conditions. For more information, visit www.healthadvocate.com.

LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE

Could An Actuary Have Saved the Class Act?

The American Academy of Actuaries sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders, urging the appointment of an actuary to serve on the new Commission on Long-Term Care. “Without an actuarial perspective…, we are concerned that…creating a viable long-term care system will be unsuccessful,” David Shea, vice president of the Academy’s Health Practice Council.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act attempted to create a national long-term care system. Repealed by the Taxpayer Relief Act, it was determined to be unsustainable. Shea noted that, during the health reform debate, the Academy warned that the CLASS Act plan design was not actuarially sound, but the message was not heeded.

The Academy recommends appointing professor P.J. Eric Stallard to the commission. As an actuary and associate director for the Center for Population Health and Aging at Duke University, Stallard has more than 25 years of experience in long-term care actuarial practice, 40 years of research expertise in demographics, and extensive experience evaluating the assumptions used in cost projections of public programs.

HEALTHCARE

President Obama Signs Medicare IVIG Access Act into Law

President Obama signed the Medicare IVIG Access Act (HR 1845) into law January 10. HR 1845 provides for a demonstration project to examine the benefits of providing coverage to administer intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in the home for patients with Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PIDD) Medicare law contains a special provision for patients with primary immunodeficiency diseases to receive home infusions of IVIG under Medicare Part B. However, before enactment of the new law, Medicare has only been able to pay for the drug, but not the costs associated with the infusion of IVIG at home, thus rendering the benefit useless and effectively denying IVIG home infusions.

In the U.S., about 250,000 people are diagnosed with primary immunodeficiency diseases, and thousands more go undetected. Primary immunodeficiency occurs in patients born with a poorly functioning or absent immune system. There are more than 185 different types of PIDD, all caused by hereditary or genetic defects.

Without treatment, everyday illnesses like the common cold can put these people at risk for infection and more serious complications. Fewer than 10,000 Medicare patients with PIDD receive immunoglobulin therapy on a regular basis to replace the antibodies that their bodies do not produce naturally, allowing most to live healthy lives. “There’s nothing more disconcerting for a physician than to have a treatment that’s effective for a patient, and then we can’t get it to them, said Dr. Michael Blaese,” Medical Director of the Immune Deficiency Foundation. For more information, visit http://primaryimmune.org/ivig-reimbursement.

Strategies Boost Employees’ Health

Certain employer strategies, such as consumer driven plans and wellness programs, are effective in motivating employees to improve their health, according to a survey from Aon Hewitt. Researchers surveyed more than 2,800 employees and their dependents covered by employer health plans. Sixty percent of employees who are enrolled in consumer-driven plans say they have made positive behavior changes related to their health; 28% get routine preventative care more often; 23% seek lower-cost health care options and 19% research health costs more frequently.

Seventy-eight percent of employees who are enrolled in consumer-driven plans are satisfied with the plans and 89% expect to re-enroll in this option for 2013. Ninety-seven percent of workers who have been in an account-based plan for two years or more say they plan to re-enroll.

Up to half of consumers would participate in a wellness activity that offered no financial incentive as long as participation was easy and convenient. Sixty-three percent of consumers would complete a health risk questionnaire for a monetary reward, and 62% would participate in a healthy eating or weight management program. Forty-eight percent would participate in a medically sponsored program to help them manage a health condition.

Fifty-eight percent of employers offer incentives for completing a lifestyle modification program (for example, to quit smoking or lose weight). About one-quarter offer incentives (monetary or non-monetary) for making progress toward meeting acceptable ranges for biometric measures, such as blood pressure, BMI, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

Eighty-six percent of workers who received suggested action steps based on a health-risk questionnaire went on to take some action, and 65% made at least one lifestyle improvement. Total health care costs per employee were $10,522 in 2012, and employers’ share of that cost was $8,318. When asked how much of the bill their employer pays, consumers significantly underestimate the portion their employers paid, guessing about half of the cost. For more information, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.

The Top Ten Health Industry Issues To Watch in 2013

PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) published its annual list of the Top Health Industry Issues for 2013:

1. States on the front-lines of Affordable Care Act implementation – Over the next year, state officials must decide how to run insurance exchanges, whether to expand Medicaid coverage, and what type of insurance market regulation is needed. Information technology will be the biggest challenge states may face in 2013. Some states will need to undergo a major overhaul of existing Medicaid eligibility systems.

2. Consumer revolution in health coverage – Consumers’ rising voice on how they spend their healthcare dollars, coupled with state insurance exchanges, is prompting the health industry to compete on convenience, price, and transparency. Consumers are already warming up to new ways of purchasing insurance: 23% of consumers surveyed are likely to buy health insurance from non-traditional sources such as a retail store, up from 18% in 2011.

3. Medtech industry braces for excise tax impact – A 2.3% excise tax on medical device companies takes effect on January 1, 2013, representing potentially $29.1 billion to the federal government over the next 10 years.

4. Caring for the nation’s most vulnerable: dual eligibles – Dual eligibles (people who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid) make up many of the 16 million people the ACA will add to Medicaid rolls by 2019. The cost of care for duals is skyrocketing — much of it wasted due to a lack of care coordination between the two programs. Seventy percent of state Medicaid spending on duals goes to long-term care support services, such as nursing homes. Cash-strapped states are increasingly turning to the expertise of managed care companies to better coordinate care, and they are seeking innovative solutions, such as from the technology sector, to better support home-based care and caregivers.

5. Bring your own mobile device: convenience at a cost – Doctors and nurses are bringing mobile devices to work, but many hospitals do not yet have a secure enough environment to protect sensitive patient information. Sixty-nine percent of consumers are concerned about the privacy of their medical information if providers can access it on their mobile devices. Only 46% of hospitals have a security strategy to regulate the use of mobile devices.

6. Goodbye cost reduction, hello transformation – With reimbursement resetting under the ACA and pressure from the federal budget crisis and price-conscious consumers, hospitals are scrambling to reduce their costs. Forty percent of consumers postponed care in 2012 because of the costs. Having already plucked low-hanging fruit with labor productivity and supply cost reductions, more hospitals in 2013 will embark on full-scale transformation efforts to redesign how they deliver care.

7. Customer ratings hit the pocketbooks of healthcare companies – Paying for performance will take on new meaning in 2013 as consumer reviews generate penalties and bonuses for hospitals and insurers. This could mean a bonus payout of more than $3 billion for insurers and a hold back of $850 million for providers in 2013. Healthcare companies will need to invest in consumer research and education in order to take full advantage of the new payments.

8. Meeting the new expectations of pharma value – Physicians, once the primary arbiters of pharma value, now have less say in payment decisions than insurers and large providers. The final hurdle in the long, expensive path to drug and device development is not regulatory approval, but rather reimbursement. Though pharmaceutical and medical device companies play a pivotal role in health outcomes, they will have to prove it to earn it by demonstrating their value and comparative effectiveness.

9. Bigger than benefits: employers rethink their role in healthcare – With the Supreme Court ruling to uphold the ACA and the re-election of the President, employers have an opportunity to re-examine their long term role in providing healthcare coverage and explore alternative approaches provided by state and/or private exchanges. In 2013, CEOs will ask tough questions about how and why so many resources are going to something that is not core to the business. The answers will vary by company, some of which are likely to transition away from healthcare coverage while others will redesign their benefit strategies.

10. The building blocks of population health management – Medicare’s accountable care organization and patient-centered medical home initiatives laid a foundation for improving population health, but other collaborations are fueling growth in population health management. In 2013, more companies are likely to form partnerships to build their population health IT infrastructures and share responsibility for patient outcomes and satisfaction, data collection and analysis, member education and engagement, with a focus on at-risk populations. To download the full report, visit: www.pwc.com/us/tophealthissues.

CMS Issues Proposed Rule on Exchanges

CMS issued a proposed rule on Jan. 14 describing how states should handle eligibility determinations for Medicaid and other income assistance programs on state-based health insurance exchanges, beginning in January 2014. The proposed rule would lay out a structure and options for coordinating Medicaid, CHIP, and Exchange eligibility notices and appeals; provide additional benefits and cost-sharing flexibility for state Medicaid programs; and codify several provisions included in the Affordable Care Act and Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA). The proposed rule includes the following Key Provisions:

Process for Appeals of Eligibility Determinations
The rule proposes a coordinated Exchange and Medicaid appeals process. The rule proposes that enrollees have the opportunity for a preliminary case review by appeals staff, referred to as “informal resolution.”  If the enrollee is satisfied by the outcome, the decision stands as an official appeal decision. Enrollees who are not satisfied would have rights to a full appeal. As required by statute, a federally managed appeals process would be available to all enrollees in the individual market. State-based exchanges could implement their own appeals processes in accordance with the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking standards, with people retaining the right to a federal appeal at HHS after exhausting the state-based appeals process.

The proposed rule provides options for states to coordinate appeals of eligibility decisions across Medicaid, CHIP, and the Exchange. Specifically, states could choose between the following options:
• A state Medicaid or CHIP agency could delegate the authority to make final determinations in Medicaid and CHIP eligibility appeals to an Exchange appeals entity subject to standards.

• A state could retain the Medicaid and CHIP appeals functions, consistent with the choice offered to states with respect to permitting the Federally-facilitated Exchange to make Medicaid and CHIP eligibility determinations or assessments.

Notices
Notices to applicants and beneficiaries would include combined, clear, and accurate information about eligibility for all insurance affordability programs, including Medicaid, CHIP, advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions, as well as eligibility to enroll in a qualified health plan through the Exchange.  The final combined notice would be generated by the agency that completed the last step in making the eligibility determination (which could be the Exchange or the Medicaid or CHIP agency).  This coordinated process would not have to be in place until January 1, 2015.

Medicaid Benefits
The proposed rule modifies existing “benchmark” regulations applicable to Medicaid programs to implement the benefit options available to low-income adults beginning January 1, 2014.  The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking provides guidance on the use of section 1937 benchmark and benchmark-equivalent plans (now known as Alternative Benefit Plans) for the new eligibility group for low-income adults; the relationship between Alternative Benefit Plans and Essential Health Benefits; and the relationship between section 1937 and other Title XIX provisions.

Medicaid Cost Sharing
The rule proposes to update the maximum allowable cost-sharing levels and to consolidate redundant provisions. The goal is to create one streamlined set of rules for all Medicaid premiums and cost sharing.  States could establish higher cost sharing for non-preferred drugs and impose higher cost sharing for non-emergency use of the emergency department.

Streamlining Eligibility Categories
The proposed rule would do the following:
• Define the range of eligibility groups for Medicaid and eliminate obsolete categories to reflect the existing federal statute and use of the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) methodology to determine eligibility with most populations.
• Codify eligibility categories authorized in CHIPRA and the Affordable Care Act, such as new coverage for former foster care children up to age 26.
• Simplify and align the citizenship documentation process across Medicaid, CHIP, and the Exchange.

Verification of Employer-sponsored Coverage
The proposed rule includes detail on the procedures for the Exchange to verify access to employer-sponsored coverage.  An Exchange relying on HHS to fulfill the employer-sponsored coverage verification process.

Application Counselors
Application counselors play a key role in helping people apply for and maintain coverage in a qualified health plan through the Exchange and through insurance affordability programs. This rule proposes standards for certifying those who want to become application counselors.

You can submit comments to the proposed rule by 5:00 p.m. on February 13 at http://www.regulations.gov. To read the proposed rule, visit http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx.

How to Hold Down Health Care Costs

A report by the Commonwealth fund suggests strategies to hold down healthcare costs as the Affordable Care Act is enacted. Private insurance premiums for businesses and families could be lowered if multiple payers were able to negotiate to use similar payment methods and more consistent pricing under state or federal government auspices. They could align payment with efficient care and value, rather than simply passing on higher prices in consolidated markets. To ensure accountability, among health care purchasers would need to be under public auspices. The report also suggests the following:

Provider Payment Reforms
Replace Medicare’s system for determining physician fees. Hold fees constant while adjusting payment rates for services that meet specified criteria as overpriced. Only increase future payments to providers that participate in innovations in payment and delivery systems. Institute competitive bidding for medical commodities, such as drugs, equipment, and supplies.

Strengthen primary care teams for high-cost, complex patients
Change the primary care payment system to reward care management, coordination, and a team-based approach to treating patients that are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, other public programs, and by private plans participating in the new health insurance exchanges.

Bundle hospital payments to focus on total costs and patient outcomes
Allow a single payment to be made for all services provided during an episode of care involving a hospital stay for patients in Medicare, Medicaid, other public programs, and private plans participating in the new health insurance exchanges.

Adopt payment reforms with public and private payers
Require private plans participating in health insurance exchanges to incorporate alternative payment approaches, such as payment for primary care medical homes, care teams, bundled payment for episodes involving hospital care, and shared savings or global payment arrangements with networks of providers. Encourage private insurance plans in each state to negotiate health care prices that are consistent with value and efficiency — and not just pass on higher prices to consumers.

Create incentives for consumers to choose high-value care and high performing care systems
Offer a new Medicare Essential plan that provides more comprehensive benefits and better protection against catastrophic costs. The plan would include incentives for providers and enrollees to achieve better care, better health, and lower costs. Develop a value-based benefit design that encourages beneficiaries to get care from high performing care systems. These incentives would be aligned with payment reforms that give providers incentives to provide innovative care systems that improve patient outcomes.

Provide incentives for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to seek care from high-value, patient-centered medical homes, care teams, accountable care organizations, and integrated delivery systems. Work with local employer coalitions to spread the same value-based approach, with positive incentives for patients in private plans.

Enhance information on clinical outcomes of care and patient experiences
Create health information technology that can do the following:
• Compare clinical outcomes from alternative treatment choices.
• Monitor patient safety and outcomes through patient registries.
• Give consumers and clinicians transparent information on costs and prices.

Reduce administrative costs, reform malpractice policy, and set targets for total spending growth
Simplify and unify administrative procedures in public and private health plans to reduce administrative costs and complexity among providers and plans. Reform medical malpractice to provide fair compensation for injury while promoting patient safety and best practices. Set spending targets for the nation as well as states, regions, and localities. Collect data so that states and localities can develop focused policies if growth exceeds targets.

For more information, visit the www.commonwealthfund.com.

LIFE INSURANCE

Modest Growth for Life Insurance Sales Predicted, Low Interest Rates a Concern

Life insurance executives surveyed by LOMA are cautiously optimistic about sales this year, with several expecting a modest growth of around 3%. However, the executives say that low interest rates are a concern. The low interest rate environment and compressed margins will continue to put pressure on earnings, said one senior executive.

They said that new technologies, such as social media are changing consumer interactions. Mobile technology, which improves customer connections, will play an important role in the industry. And data analytics is beginning to be seen as having potential for life insurers. As consumers become familiar with cutting-edge service in other industries, they will expect similar service from insurers, one executive noted. Executives do not foresee major structural change in 2013, but some mergers are expected. One official said he expects some carriers will exit certain markets to focus on core offerings. For more information, visit www.loma.org/research/resource.aspx.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Executive Benefits in Tax-Exempt Organizations

Fifty-eight percent of tax-exempt organizations, surveyed by Mercer, offer an employer-paid non-qualified retirement plan to top executives. That compares to 49% two years ago. This kind of plan, which does not qualify for tax advantages under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), is most popular among healthcare organizations (67%) followed by foundations (53%), and charities (39%). Non-qualified plans are much less prevalent when moving down the executive rank. Nearly three times as many organizations (37%) provide supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs) to top officers than restoration plans (13%). Restoration plans provide benefits based on the same provisions as the qualified plan without regard to IRS limits. Just 8% of tax-exempt organizations provide these of plans. SERPs are most popular among healthcare organizations and charities while restoration plans are more popular among foundations and educational institutions.

Pat Kopacz, principal with Mercer’s Talent business explained that non-qualified plans are typically used to restore or enhance qualified plans. Restoration plans work well at foundations and education institutions, which tend to have sizeable qualified plans. In other tax-exempt industries, an enhanced SERP allows the organization to offer a competitive package and even compete with publicly traded companies that commonly offer equity plans, she added.

Many tax-exempt organizations offer other non-retirement benefits, such as supplemental life and additional long-term disability (LTD) benefits. Nearly all organizations that Mercer surveyed offer basic life insurance coverage for all employees with almost half providing employer-paid coverage of “one times pay.” About 40% offer supplemental employer-paid life insurance for executives with median total coverage of about three times base salary.

While executives get the same employer-paid LTD plan as all other employees, they often receive additional employer-paid coverage through a supplemental group plan or an individual policy. Thirty-four percent of all organizations and 50% of healthcare organizations provide supplemental employer-paid LTD coverage.

Mercer also looked at executive perquisites, which are executive benefits that go beyond the benefits provided to all other employees. Forty-four percent of organizations surveyed provide a car or car allowance, 17% provide country club dues, and 12% provide counseling/tax advice. However, Kopacz said, “Abundant perquisites are a thing of the past. With increased reporting and public scrutiny, perquisites that do not serve a clear business purpose have become less popular or eliminated altogether.”
For more information, visit www.mercer.com.

Employees Are Exerting More Influence Over Employer Benefit Strategies

Compared to 2010, there has been a 17% increase in the number of employers that are making benefit strategies a main focus. Seventy-nine percent of employees see their employers as a trustworthy source to help them grow and protect their money, second only to credit unions (81%.) Also, the perceived value of employee benefits has been trending upward, from 43% in 2010 to 59% today. Fifty-one percent of employees believe they are being offered a wide array of benefits, up from 38% two years ago.

Employers’ top benefit strategies are in the following order of priority:
1. Expand initiatives for wellness, prevention, and work/life balance.
2. Improve benefit communications.
3. Initiate Cost-sharing with employees.
4. Give employees more financial responsibility.
5. Increase employee benefit education and financial advice.

Employees have seen a steady trend in the effectiveness of their benefit communications, from 36% in 2011 to 42%. At the same time, employers report increased satisfaction with their benefits, at 37%, up from 27% a year ago. Jean Wiskowski, chief marketing officer, Prudential Group Insurance said that for the first time, researchers are seeing a disagreement about the effectiveness of benefit communications between employers and employees. Employers say that group meetings are the most successful form of communication and education. But employees prefer multiple forms of outreach including e-mail, traditional mail, and online presentations. “This indicates that employers may need to re-evaluate their benefits communication tools to include video and rich media employees can review at their own pace,” she said. Eighty-two percent of employees say they are reading their benefit enrollment materials, up seven points from last year. Most say they prefer benefit communications that they can read on their own time. For more information, please visit www.news.prudential.com.

MOVERS & SHAKERS

David Bedard  to Lead INGs Fixed Annuities Business

ING U.S. has hired David Bedard as president of its Annuities business segment. This part of ING U.S.’s Retirement Solutions business is focused on driving growth and long-term success in the fixed annuity market. Bedard is responsible for product, financial management and the operating performance of the fixed annuity business. He will also serve as a member of the Retirement Solutions executive team, collaborating on business strategy and direction. He has more than 25 years of experience in financial leadership positions at insurance and financial services organizations. Most recently, Bedard was executive vice president of Global Annuities for The Hartford Financial Services Group after serving as the chief financial officer of that firm’s wealth management business.

EPIC Hires More Janice Stanger

Edgewood Partners Insurance Center (EPIC ) has added Janice Stanger as an account executive on its Los Angeles benefit consulting team. Stanger brings 27 years of experience in healthcare, benefit consulting, human resources, compliance, wellness and client relationship management to EPIC. As an account executive, Stanger will provide client service leadership, including strategy, coverage negotiations, compliance consulting and the coordination and management of internal and external resources. Before joining EPIC, Stanger was a senior account executive at Intercare Insurance Solutions. Stanger has earned advanced degrees including a Master of Business Administration in Human Resources from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Human Development and Aging from the University of California, San Francisco. Stanger has also been published in numerous academic journals and trade publications. She is the author of the whole foods nutrition book, The Perfect Formula Diet. Stanger can be reached at 858-414-1314 Mobile or jstanger@edgewoodins.com.

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