A New Commissioner: Ricardo Lara

It looks like Democrat Ricardo Lara will take Dave Jones’ place as California insurance commissioner after last night’s election. Last we looked, Lara had 50.8 percent of the vote, leading Republican-turned-independent Steve Poizner by 105,733 votes, with 95.7 percent of the precincts reported. Lara, who ran in support of universal healthcare, will be the first openly gay statewide office holder.

 

MORE MIDTERM FALLOUT

California Prop 8 Defeated
In last night’s election, California voters nixed Proposition 8, which would have imposed a cap on the profits earned by large dialysis companies. Sponsored by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers, the measure would have shrunk the profits of hundreds of dialysis clinics across California, requiring clinics to provide rebates to insurers and pay a penalty to the state on business revenue that exceed 115 percent of certain costs to deliver care.

What Does the Midterm Mean for Health?
According to bloggers for the Commonwealth Fund, with the House of Representatives now under Democratic control — and with Republicans still short of the 60 votes needed to override a filibuster — efforts to repeal ACA or make large-scale changes to Medicaid are likely off the table, though the administration is expected to continue to undermine key elements of the ACA. Read more here.

Post-election Insight—Plus You Earn CE!
Want to know more about how the midterm election might influence the insurance industry? Don’t miss LAAHU’s webinar event:
2018 Post-Election Update with NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein (1CE)
November 15, 2018
8:45 AM – 10:00 AM
$10 for members; $30 for nonmembers. Register here.

HEALTH

Hill Physicians Medical Group and UnitedHealthcare Expand Relationship
Hill Physicians Medical Group, California’s largest independent physician association, and UnitedHealthcare https://www.uhc.com/ announced they expanded their accountable care program through a clinically integrated network (CIN) for people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s employer-sponsored and individual benefit plans. The CIN applies to UnitedHealthcare’s non-HMO benefit plans and includes over 300 of Hill Physicians’ primary care physicians, OB/GYNs and endocrinologists, with more continuing to join.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

How About the Little Guys?

The Guardian Life Insurance Company recently released the 5th Annual Workplace Benefits Study, “Small Business, Big Benefits.” The study provides insight into how small businesses (50 employees or less) are evolving their benefits experience to enhance employee well-being, including:

• Work-Life Balance: Over the past five years, more small businesses have established flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and wellness programs to help employees improve their work-life balance. For small businesses already applying these practices in the workplace, the study confirms it makes a difference – 55 percent of workers who feel their employer cares about their well-being want to stay at their company for 10 years or more compared to 33 percent who don’t believe their company cares.

• Supplemental Coverage: Many employees feel their benefits are important to their household’s financial security and higher out-of-pocket medical costs are directly impacting their workforce well. Small businesses are responding by filling the gap and increasing their supplemental health insurance offerings: 38 percent offering accident insurance (up 15 percent since 2015), 25 percent offering critical illness insurance (up 14 percent since 2015), and 21 percent offering hospital indemnity insurance (up 24 percent since 2015).

• Benefits Technology: Cloud-based software has made human resources and benefits technology more accessible to small businesses. The Guardian study found more than 50 percent of small businesses have digitalized a majority of their benefits process.

FINANCIAL PLANNING

IRS Announces Increase to 401(k) Contribution Limit
The Internal Revenue Service announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2019. The IRS issued technical guidance detailing these items in Notice 2018-83. The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,500 to $19,000.

LIFE

Are Life Insurers Too Focused on the Core?
ThinkAdvisor’s Allison Bell has a post up about a new McKinsey report on the state of the life and annuity business. The folks at McKinsey suggest that life insurers are too focused on core business. In fact, the consults suggest that life insurers look for ways to form alliances or acquire companies in adjacent industries. Why do consultants matter? Well, the life industry regularly employs these people to tell them what to do to grow business.

MetLife Study says Coverage Important for Low-Income Families
Now that open enrollment is in full swing, you may want to take a look at MetLife’s new study “The Social and Economic Contributions of the Life Insurance Industry.” The study is authored by experts at The Brattle Group, a global economic consulting firm that advises both government agencies and private companies. It looks at the importance of life insurance across demographics, particularly for low-income families. Key takeaways:
• The study estimates that of the 18,000 low-income households expected to lose a primary wage earner in a given year, life insurance keeps more than 8,000 of them – or 45 percent – out of poverty, for savings to the government of more than half a billion dollars.
• Approximately 60 percent of Americans are covered either individually or through their workplace, with the average policy equal to 2.5 years of annual household income. Such multi-year financial assistance could potentially provide households flexibility and time to reorganize their lives by, for example, finding a job or reducing living expenses, which could help to avoid poverty permanently.
It’s a good reminder, says MetLife, that employees of all levels need to know how life insurance contributes to one’s overall financial well-being.

GIVING BACK

Thanks, Delta.
The folks at Delta Dental are making us smile today. The not-for-profit national association of the Delta Dental companies reported that its member companies donated more than $61 million in direct and in-kind community outreach in 2017, helping over 10.2 million people nationwide. By supporting 1,425 programs across the country last year, the Delta Dental companies increased access to oral health care through direct programming and financial support of dental workforce education; provided treatment to at-risk children and adults; and expanded oral health awareness, education and wellness.

PEOPLE

Women in Insurance & Financial Services Elects New National Prez
WIFS announced Michelle Harm, a Michigan-based financial professional with Prudential Advisors, was elected as national president during the WIFS annual meeting on October 24. WIFS is the largest association of financial services professionals working to attract, develop and advance women in the industry. Harm joined WIFS in 2010 and served as a leader of her local chapter. She began her national board service with WIFS in 2016 as a director, going on to assume the roles of national secretary and president-elect.

EVENTS
NAC3 Cryptocurrency Conference
December 8, Las Vegas
Come hang with Crypto Bobby, Ready Set Crypto, the Crypto Street Podcast crew and many more. This event’s focus will be on investment and how to take your gains to the next level in the current market. Register now for the early bird rate of $97. More info here.


LAAHU Holiday Party

Dec. 18, Traktir Restaurant, Tarzana, 4:30-7:30pm

Register here.

 

PIMA’s 2019 Industry Insights Conference

January 24-27, 2019, Margaritaville Beach Resort, Hollywood, Florida

Registration is now open for the Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) Industry Insights Conference. The conference will host expert speakers from leading companies around the country including Facebook, Forrester and Action Surge. Conference promises to explore new product and distribution trends; emerging markets that harness growth in new areas; social marketing to drive insurance business; marketing to Millennials and Gen Z; and an insurance industry overview of blockchain. Early bird registration and housing deadline is December 14, 2018. Visit PIMA’s conference page for more details and to register or call 817-569-7462 (PIMA).