ACA: It’s A Love/Hate Relationship

The November monthly tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that half of those polled had a favorable view of the ACA, while 46 percent viewed it unfavorably. Partisan politics appears to drive the split. A full 80 percent of Democrats said they supported ACA, while 81 percent of Republicans said they didn’t. Kaiser Health News reporter Julie Rovner takes a deeper look, though, at the public’s love/hate relationship with the health care legislation. She finds that misinformation, confusion and the truth that the ACA doesn’t benefit everyone all play a role in public sentiments over the controversial legislation.

Covered California for Small Business Continues Growth, Announces Partnership With EaseCentral
A partnership with California Broker contributor EaseCentral is the latest advancement for Covered California for Small Business, which announced enrollment growth from 14,183 in 2014 to more than 40,000 as of Dec. 1, 2017. EaseCentral will include Covered California for Small Business in its integrated software platform. Employees of small businesses across the state will be able to log on and see the plan choices provided through Covered California for Small Business. The automated system should lead to cost savings and an improved enrollment process for agents and the small businesses they work with across the state.

And don’t miss Cal Broker’s January issue! David Reid, CEO of EaseCentral, and Bryan Wood, agency principal at B. Wood Insurance,  discuss the importance of the broker, why they are here to stay, as well as technology’s future role in the insurance process.

Individual Health Mandate Is The Thing
Donald Moulds, writing for the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund blog To The Point, makes a few strong arguments that repealing the individual mandate actually restricts –rather than increases –freedom in this country.  Bloomberg News reports that Maine’s Senator Susan Collins has made an ACA deal that could unravel fast: “Collins joined 50 of her GOP Senate colleagues Saturday in voting for tax legislation, but only after securing what she’s called a promise that Congress would pass two other bills before year’s end. Both measures are aimed at shoring up insurance marketplaces that experts say would be ravaged by one part of the Senate tax bill that would repeal the ‘individual mandate’ imposed by the Affordable Care Act.” Read the full article at Employee Benefit News.

The Carlyle Group to Acquire BenefitMall
Global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group announced that it has agreed to acquire employee benefits and payroll services provider BenefitMall. The transaction is subject to customary conditions and is expected to close by year-end. Financial terms were not disclosed. Dallas-based BenefitMall partners with a network of 20,000 brokers and CPAs to deliver employee benefits and payroll services to more than 200,000 small and medium-sized businesses. Representatives of BenefitMall have written for California Broker. Look for one of their articles about 2018 age bands in the upcoming February print issue.

MEDICARE
Medicare Supplement Assoc and Society of Certified Sr Advisors Team Up
The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance and the Society of Certified Senior Advisors have announced plans to work together on the 2018 National Medicare and Senior Insurance Products Sales Summit, which will take place June 12, 2018, at the Marriott Grand Hotel in St. Louis.

The event will provide insurance agents with the opportunity to meet and learn from national experts conducting some 50 different educational workshops as well as to meet face-to-face with leading insurers, marketing and educational organizations at the nation’s largest expo for Medicare and senior insurance products.  Those not able to attend can view recordings of workshop sessions online following the event.

The Society for Certified Senior Advisors offers the Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) credential, which is the leading certification for professionals serving older adults.

The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance organizes the June 12 free day for agents as part of the organization’s national Medigap industry conference.  For information and access passes for the free agent day, call the Association at (818) 597-3205 or visit the organization’s website.

FINANCIAL PLANNING

Kudos For MDRT
Association Media and Publishing recently honored the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) with six Excel awards for engaging content in digital media. MDRT received recognition for two educational videos, three-episode podcast series and one blog post. The association also received a silver award for the MDRT Podcast platform as a whole and bronze for the MDRT Blog. MDRT members can access the organization’s  content via the blog and MDRT Resource Zone, which houses multimedia resources that guide members on how to best advise clients, run their practice, achieve work-life balance and more. Nice work keeping your members informed, MDRT!

INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

5 Insurance Industry Trends to Watch From Smart Harbor
2018 is almost here. Ready for some predictions? Smart Harbor, a digital technology solutions provider for insurance, says watch these five trends.

  1. All about the infrastructure: Insureds’ expectations for the always-on agency are real, and to serve clients anytime, anywhere, agencies need systems and processes that can efficiently handle business. Whether the agency is looking to grow, expand, or even exit, having a strong and flexible digital infrastructure is critical. This includes interactive websites with online chat and quoting capabilities, client portals and mobile apps, next generation agency management systems and integrated call centers for 24/7 services. Agents will be evaluating their infrastructures and expanding capabilities and services for clients.
  2. Move from closed loop to open access: In the insurance ecosystem, agents operate in many environments, including regularly accessing multiple carrier websites, agency management systems, and customer relationship management systems. Many of these applications are closed, meaning they don’t allow the free exchange of data, forcing agents to spend time on manual workarounds and double data entry. Agents will seek to partner with companies and implement tools that can bridge the gap between various systems, and choose applications that are built on open structures, meaning they “talk” to one another.
  3. Pursuit of the paperless agency: Though e-signature is nothing new—it has been around the industry for 20 years—a large number of agencies will finally implement e-signature and other e-document tools in 2018. To improve productivity and increase sustainability, more agencies will transition to an all-digital mentality when it comes to sending, receiving and signing documents. But they can’t do it alone. Removing all paper from insurance transactions will require collaboration with carriers and be informed by regulators.
  4. Synergistic partnerships increasing access to sales analytics: The carrier/agent partnership is about to go beyond a provider/seller framework. Agents gather unique sales data such as target market behaviors, web preferences, and specific product interest that can help carriers improve sales and marketing efforts. Meanwhile, carriers have the technological infrastructure and expertise enabling them to provide education, training, and best practice programs that can help agencies improve their digital capabilities. These two entities will foster deeper and stronger partnerships that will enable both the carrier and the agency to improve sales and grow their businesses.
  5. Agents embrace artificial intelligence (AI): Machine learning, robotics, artificial intelligence – these tools may seem daunting and beyond the capabilities of agents who are just beginning to adapt digital solutions. But as they become more commonplace, agents will appreciate the ease and benefit of using these technologies and even realize they might have been using some form of AI already. From automatic fill on certain forms to using machine learning to move key prospects to top of the workflow to installing chatbots on websites that can resolve claims and answer clients’ simple questions, agencies will convert from trepidation to the implementation of AI  that will drive key processes.

EVENTS
LAAHU Holiday Party- Dec. 19, Tarzana
LAAHU, with support from Health Net, will host a holiday cocktail party at Chablis food +wine in Tarzana Dec 19 from 4:30pm-7:30pm. Cost of admission is an unwrapped gift or $15. Register now!

Annuity & Life Sales Webinar – Dec 20. 10a.m. PST
Join Kim O’Brien for an exclusive webinar featuring AssessBest’s top producing advisors. Kim will also discuss regulation trends to watch for in 2018! Register here.

LAAHU Annual Conference, LA Convention Center April 11th–12th, 2018
Registration, exhibit and sponsorship info now available!

IICF Casino Night -May 17, San Francisco
Join the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation for a fun night of gambling and insurance industry networking while also raising money for community grants. The event takes place at The Rotunda, Union Square, San Francisco. Registration and sponsorship info available at IICF’s website.