Actuaries Cautious of Association Health Plan Rule

The final Department of Labor association health plan (AHP) rule will have significant implications for health insurance consumers and markets. Expanding the availability of AHPs can lead to increased insurance options and lower premiums for some, but higher premiums for others, according to the American Academy of Actuaries. The Academy’s Association Health Plans issue brief highlights important considerations for consumers and policymakers when evaluating the effects of the new AHP rule, such as:

  • Remember the MEWA problem? Without clearly defined regulatory authority, AHPs could face increased insolvency risk as evidenced by the history of bankruptcies of multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs).
  • AHPs would be unlikely to obtain lower provider payment rates than larger insurance companies. Rather, AHP premium savings would more likely reflect a combination of less generous benefits and a healthier enrollee population.
  • When AHPs operate under less restrictive rules than plans complying with Affordable Care Act rules, they can attract some of the healthier population away from and increase premiums for ACA plans.

You can download the issue brief and the American Academy of Actuaries Individual and Small Group Markets Committee’s February and March 2018 comments on the proposed AHP rule at actuary.org.

Value-Based Care: Sutter Health and UnitedHealthcare Deliver Results Through their ACO
Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), a part of Sutter Health, and UnitedHealthcare say their ACO arrangement has reduced the number of emergency room visits for UnitedHealthcare plan participants by 7 percent since 2015 and increased use of less expensive, generic prescription drugs by more than 4 percent. In addition, the organizations say they have reduced the number of short-term hospital admissions by about 9 percent. The results are based on data from more than 75,000 patients enrolled in UnitedHealthcare employer-sponsored health plans who have been receiving care from PAMF physicians since 2015. According to a release issued by the companies, these factors have enabled UnitedHealthcare and PAMF to reduce annual medical costs by more than $15 million over the last two years.  For more info about UnitedHealthcare’s changing relationships with care providers and value-based programs, visit www.UHC.com/valuebasedcare and download the Value-based Care Report.

CAL BROKER
The July issue of California Broker magazine is now online! Check out part 1 of our annual dental survey. And don’t miss David Fear’s story on reference-based pricing!


MEDICARE

Medicare People: Make Your Life Easier with NippyLinks
If you sell Medicare, you’ll immediately see the beauty in NippyLinks, a new app that’s a quick and efficient solution for managing and accessing your provider and business portals and logins. The app was developed to aid Medicare brokers to quickly access health plan websites with broker portals, their password and user Id stored for each site. Brokers can promptly retrieve physician searches, plan benefits, networks, formularies for each health plan and more.  Download Nippylinks from iTunes and Google. Cost is $19/year. For more info visit Nippylinks.com.

CHA Receives Senior Medicare Patrol Grant
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living awarded California Health Advocates (CHA) one of the country’s 54 grants for the next 5-year grant cycle for Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP). CHA has been the SMP grantee since the program’s inception in 1997. The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program, first established in 1997 by federal law, empowers Medicare beneficiaries, and their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse. SMP projects nationwide provide local outreach, education, and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries through a trained volunteer workforce. California’s SMP, with its over 600 volunteers across the state, conducts outreach campaigns, organizes and participates in community events, teaches Medicare beneficiaries to protect their Medicare numbers, shows their peers how to detect billing discrepancies on their Medicare statements, and to how report suspicious activity for further investigation. They also have their own “SMP superheroes” that use humor and skits to educate and empower their peers to stop Medicare fraud. For this 5-year grant cycle, the Administration for Community Living awarded one grant for each state and one for the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More info at CHA online.

ACCIDENT

Colonial Life Offers New Group Accident Plan
Colonial Life announced its new group accident plan increases the benefits payable for covered accidents by an average of 37 percent, with no increase in premium. Offered on a guaranteed-issue basis, employers can choose to offer one of four different plans with varying levels of coverage. They also can include a health screening benefit or a hospital confinement benefit for a covered sickness to expand their options. The plan also is compatible with health savings accounts and isn’t subject to Affordable Care Act requirements. For more information about Colonial Life’s new group accident plan, contact David Polen at DPolen@ColonialLife.com or 803-678-6158. Or visit Colonial Life online.

LIFE/LTC

Securian Launches New Brand Identity & New Life/LTC Hybrid
Life insurer Securian Financial announced it is launching a new brand identity and its first-ever national advertising campaign focused on the “family investor.” Securian Financial is moving to a new brand promise, logo and identity system. The company says it is building a strong brand for distributors, so they can spend less time explaining who Securian Financial is and more time educating plan sponsors and customers about their financial services solutions. In addition, Securian launched an enhanced hybrid product, SecureCare, which is a life insurance and long-term care solution that offers new premium payment options and enhanced benefits. Customers can now choose a single or multi-year premium schedule of five, seven, 10 or 15 years. It also pays benefits using a cash indemnity-style model with improved flexibility.

FINANCIAL PLANNING

NFEC Launches Updated Financial Coaching Program by Offering One Year Free Coaching for People In Need
As you well know, people with substantial assets automatically have access to qualified financial consultants. Those with more modest assets, however, often have limited opportunity to get help when it comes to making financial decisions. But here’s a great chance for an average earner to get free advice: Santa Monica-based National Financial Educators Council is selecting up to 30 people to receive one year of financial coaching complimentary from their Certified Personal Finance Consultants. In exchange, those selected agree to provide feedback about the program and coaching. Anyone interested in the complimentary financial coaching opportunity can register here.

The Fiduciary Rule is Vacated – For Real
The Dept. of Labor’s fiduciary rule, passed under the Obama Administration, threatened to change the legal and disclosure demands for retirement advisors. Instead of requiring only advisors who were charging a fee for service to be subject to the rules of a fiduciary it would’ve deemed all financial pros subject to the rules. That is, the rule would’ve legally obligated everyone to put their client’s best interests first, rather than simply finding “suitable” investments for the client. Furthermore, it would’ve required all financial pros to fully disclose all commissions made by the transaction. In effect, industry experts said the new rule threatened to eliminate many commission structures that govern the industry. Looks like that’s not going to happen, though. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued its mandate, making official and permanent its March 15 decision to vacate the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule in its entirety. The National Association of Fixed Annuities and many other organizations worked to defeat the fiduciary rule.

MDRT

Recommend A Speaker For MDRT 2019 Meetings
More than 15,000 Million Dollar Round Table members from 53 countries just attended the MDRT Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. At the Main Platform, MDRT president James D. Pittman, CLU, CFP, announced that the 2019 annual meeting will take place in Miami from June 9-12, 2019. MDRT’s global membership can also attend the inaugural 2019 Global Conference which will take place in Sydney, Australia, Sept. 1-4, 2019. Do you want to speak at these meetings or do you know somebody you think should? The 2019 MDRT Recommend a Speaker online form is now open for both conferences. But don’t delay. MDRT members have only until July 13 to fill out the recommendation.

GIVING BACK

IICF Week of Giving 2018: October 13-20
The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation announced the 2018 Week of Giving will be October 13-20. Registration for nonprofits and volunteers is now open. Check out IICF Week of Giving for more info. 

EVENTS

Instant IRA Success

July 26-27, Chicago, IL
Ed Slott and Company will offer Instant IRA success, a two-day workshop that provides in-depth insight into retirement planning under the new tax laws. Learn more here. More info: www.IRAhelp.com, or e-mail Info@irahelp.com.

2018 DMEC Annual Conference
August 6-9, Hilton Austin, Austin, TX
More than 700 disability and absence management, HR and legal professionals will discuss paid leave, mental health, disability and more at the 2018 DMEC Annual Conference. Workshops and panel discussions include:

  • The Business Impact of Paid Leave:  An Interactive Workshop
  • Mental Health in the Workplace:  The Invisible Disability, Now Visible
  • FMLA/ADA Lessons Learned: Recent Court Cases, Jury Verdicts and Settlements
  • It Seems Simple, But: The Complexities of Reasonable Accommodation
  • ADA Leave Cases Post-Severson
  • Minimizing the Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace
  • State by State:  Paid Family and Medical Leave Legislation
  • Disability and Fitness for Duty in Transgender Employees
  • Get Explicit About Implicit Bias

See a full program and more info here.

CAHU Health Care Summit
August 7-9, San Diego Hilton, Bayfront
This year’s theme is “New Hope for the Modern Agent.” This year CAHU will be offering multiple Continuing Education tracks on Medicare, IFP and Group Benefits, Business Development and more. There will be two NAHU certification courses offered on August 7. Individuals who register for the Summit and a certification course will receive a $50 discount upon completing both registrations. Details here.

Golden Gate Association of Health Underwriters
4th Annual NORCAL Medicare Summit
August 16-17, DoubleTree Hotel, Pleasanton, More info at ggahu.org.

CAHU Foundation Gala
September 14, Fairmont Grand Del Mar, San Diego
Please join CAHU for a Masquerade Gala to revitalize the CAHU Foundation. Festivities begin at 5:30pm at the famous Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Formal attire is requested.  Gala tickets and hotel reservations can be purchased here. Or call (800) 322-5934.  More info at the CAHU Foundation website. 

LAAHU and VCAHU Medicare Summit
September 20-21, Pickwick Gardens Conference Center, Burbank
September 20- certifications and product training (including SCAN)
September 21- C.E. Courses and breakout sessions! Click here to register.

NAILBA 37
November 1-3, Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Orlando, Florida
Detailed information about NAILBA 37 will be available soon. Exhibit hall and sponsorship opportunities available here.  Or contact etoups@nailba.org for more info.