Bill That Could Weaken ACA Employer Mandate Nears House Floor, CBO Says it will Cost $50B+

This week the House Rules Committee is slated to consider a version of H.R. 3798 (the “Save American Workers of 2017” bill) that is said to include both the original text of H.R. 3798 and the text of two other bills, H.R. 6718 and H.R. 4616. This expanded version of the bill would:

  • Change the ACA employer coverage mandate threshold for “full-time employee” to 40 hours per week, from 30 hours per week.
  • Keep the ACA employer coverage mandate from applying to any month beginning after Dec. 31, 2014, and before Jan. 1, 2019.
  • Postpone the start date of the ACA excise tax on high-cost health benefits packages to Dec. 31, 2022, from the Dec. 31, 2021, start date now in effect.
  • Repeal an ACA excise tax on indoor tanning services.
  • Require employers to provide Form 1095 coverage statements to individuals only when individuals ask for the statements, instead of having to send the statements to all employees, recently departed employees and certain dependents every year.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that should the legislation be enacted, it will cost taxpayers $51.6 billion over the next decade. The House Rules Committee is meeting today to prepare the measure for a floor vote.

Aetna Suit Against Consumer Watchdog Dismissed

A California judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Aetna against the non-profit Consumer Watchdog and law firm Whatley Kallas, LLP over Aetna’s disclosure of members’ HIV status. The Ruling came in response to the groups’ filing of Anti-SLAPP (“Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation”) motions. Consumer Watchdog released a statement noting that on page 9 of the Ruling, the Court said:

“The fact that Watchdog is named [in the Aetna’s lawsuit] leads the court to conclude that the situation is a classic case of an attempt to chill and in this case punish the original plaintiffs for exercising their right to address a grievance. . . . [Consumer Watchdog and Whatley Kallas’] actions clearly arose out of their involvement in representing their clients in the settlement and this current lawsuit for indemnity is a way of punishing the lawyers directly and the original plaintiffs indirectly for the underlying lawsuit.”

This matter stems from a lawsuit filed by Consumer Watchdog and Whatley Kallas against Aetna for its improper disclosure of the HIV positive status of thousands of its members.  If you’d like to see the letter that Aetna sent to HIV participants that has generated all these suits, take a look at the photo that accompanied this NPR story. Aetna has charged that Kurtzman Carson Consultants, an administrative support company for legal and financial businesses, is to blame for the mishap. In February Aetna also sued Kurtzman Carson.

 

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Millennials Ripe for a Sweet Employee Benefit Deal

Student loan repayment programs may not become components of 401(k) plans. This change is due to a private letter ruling released on Aug. 17, in which the IRS provided support for an unnamed employer’s request to offer a student loan repayment program as a component of their 401(k) plan. The ruling essentially allows employees to receive the equivalent of matching contributions without electing to make their own contributions. Employee student loan repayments — made outside of the plan — serve as a stand-in reference for the missing employee elective contribution, EBN reports. Some additional details about the approved program:

  • Employees who join the program, and make a student loan payment of at least 2% of compensation for the pay period, will receive a 5% non-elective contribution in the plan.
  • Employees who join the program are still allowed to defer money into the plan in the traditional sense, however, they cannot receive an employer contribution on both the student loan piece and the traditional deferral piece.
  • Eligibility for the program will be the same as the eligibility requirements of the plan.
  • An employee can opt out of the program at any time.
  • An employee must be employed on the last day of the plan year to receive the contribution.
  • A true up calculation will be done to ensure that the employee receives the appropriate contribution.

This is an obvious win-win particularly for millennial employees and the employers who want to hire them.

 

PRODUCTS

Landmark Offers New Group Voluntary Chiropractic and Acupuncture Plans

Landmark announced will begin offering six new group voluntary plans, three chiropractic plans and three acupuncture plans. An employer may offer one or more plans to their employees so long as a minimum of two employees enroll in each plan offered. These new plans replace the old Basic Chiropractic Plan that was previously offered. All groups enrolled on an old plan design will be automatically moved to a new plan at renewal. For more information, including the rates and plan designs, download Landmark’s Group Voluntary Chiropractic and Acupuncture Plans PDF. You can also call (800) 298-4875, Option 5 or email  sales@LHP-CA.com.

 

Global Atlantic Delivers a New IUL with a Strong Death Benefit Guarantee

Global Atlantic Financial Group launched Lifetime Foundation ELITE, a new indexed universal life insurance product for individuals seeking streamlined, affordable and secure death benefit guarantees. Lifetime Foundation ELITE provides a simple approach to life insurance with a death benefit guarantee. Assuming minimum premium requirements have been met, the death benefit of the policy can be guaranteed up to the earlier of age 90, or 40 years, depending on the insured’s underwriting class. With a death benefit guarantee up to age 90, the risk of outliving the guarantee can be diminished significantly, which helps to alleviate concerns often associated with IUL products. Lifetime Foundation ELITE offers customizable riders, including the Illness Accelerated Death Benefit Rider, a Wellness for Life® Rider and more. Rider availability varies by state.

 

Penn Offers Wamberg Genomic Cancer Guardian

Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company will be providing Wamberg Genomic Advisors Cancer Guardian™ program to its associates, plus their spouses and dependents, starting October 1. Cancer Guardian is a program that provides guidance, resources and access to leading-edge DNA testing at the time of a cancer diagnosis.  Wamberg recently announced enhancements to Cancer Guardian to now include expanded Comprehensive Cancer Support.

 

FINANCIAL PLANNING

Advisor Survey: Robo Advisors Not a Threat

Consumer research firm Practical Perspectives recently announced the findings of their national, online survey of more than 350 advisors, almost half managing $50 million to just under $250 million in assets. Most respondents work as solo practitioners or as members of a small team. The purpose of the survey was to learn how advisors view their future and the challenges ahead.

Among the survey’s takeaways:

  • Most advisors expect that planning and education will be the key drivers of the value they deliver to clients going forward — a focus that many RIAs and IBDs have already adopted.
  • More than half of the broker-dealers surveyed view investment advisor as their primary role serving current and prospective clients.
  • Roughly 60 percent of advisors across all three channels identify attracting new clients as their leading challenge.
  • Nearly two-thirds of advisors expect that the use of digital or technology platforms will represent the most significant shift in serving clients, followed by an increased focus on holistic services (51 percent). Robo-advisors are not seen as a threat.
  • Compliance, however, is seen as a key risk impacting advisors’ ability to meet client needs, highlighted by more than 50 percent of broker-dealers and roughly 40 percent of IBDs and RIAs.
  • About half of IBDs and RIAs view streamlining and scaling their practice as a major challenge for the future compared to about 30 percent of BDs.
  • More than half of advisors (55 percent) expect baby boomers will be their primary client segment five years from now, while about one-third expect their primary client then will be Gen Xers.
  • Close to 90 percent of advisors expect their practices will continue to grow.

Download the full report here.  Or read more about it on ThinkAdvisor.

 

INDUSTRY ACCOLADES

Lemonade Becomes First U.S. Insurer to Commit to Not Investing in Fossil Fuels

Insure Our Future, a campaign to get the U.S. insurance industry to ditch ties with fossil fuels, has announced that Lemonade, an insurance company powered by AI, will become the first U.S. insurer to commit to never invest in fossil fuels, urging other insurers to follow suit. Insure Our Future and Lemonade’s announcements became public during a panel at the Global Climate Action Summit, which featured California’s Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and representatives from major insurers, climate advocacy and consumer organizations. The panel discussed the important role the insurance industry can play in decarbonizing the economy.The campaign launches almost two months after 17 leading consumer, climate and social equity NGOs sent a letter to 22 major U.S. insurers, urging them to stop insuring and investing in coal and tar sands and to scale up their support for clean energy. In a written statement Insure Our Future namechecked many major insurers, including AIG, Liberty Mutual, Berkshire Hathaway, Prudential and MetLife. The organization says that so far none of these companies has substantively responded to the July 13 letter.

Genworth’s Website Rules

Genworth was named the winner of a gold Stevie® Award in the Financial Services category of The 15th Annual International Business Awards® (IBA) for its new website, www.genworth.com. The company aimed to devote the site to helping families understand and prepare for the impact of growing older on their health, families and finances. Genworth’s website also was recognized by the dotCOMM Awards for excellence in web creativity and digital communication with a Platinum Award, the top award in the Website/Finance category. The dotCOMM Awards is administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.  Way to go, Genworth!

Insurtech Lucens Group Recognized on the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies

Lucens Group announced recognition by Inc. Magazine as one of the 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the United States. Lucens came in at 717. The company  says its success is due to the increased interest by insurance carriers  and claimants in simplifying various aspects of the claims process and enhancing the overall claimant experience.

 

Aflac Unveils 2017 Corporate Social Responsibility Report

Aflac celebrated its 2017 corporate social responsibility (CSR) accomplishments by unveiling its 2017 CSR Report: More Than a Promise. The comprehensive report highlights the actions and initiatives led by the company’s leaders, employees and independent sales agents to bring value to the community through ethics, diversity and inclusion, philanthropy and sustainability.

PEOPLE

Belvin Joins Dickerson Insurance Services

Dickerson Insurance Services, an Alera Group Company, welcomed Jennifer Belvin to its Inland Empire team of field sales executives. Belvin brings more than 25 years of employee benefits experience in sales and account management from both the GA and broker side of the industry. She has also served as a board member for the Inland Empire Association of Health Underwriters. Belvin can be reached at jennifer@dickerson-group.com or direct at (951) 505-0175.

Vanderwolf and Scritchfield Join MDRT Executive Committee

MDRT announced its 2019 Executive Committee. Ross Vanderwolf, CFP, began his one-year term Sept. 1 as president and Randy Scritchfield, CFP, LUTCF, is the newest addition to the team as secretary.  Congrats Randy and Ross!

 

EVENTS
Oscar Broker Event

September 13, Skirball Center, L.A.

Learn what Oscar is doing to help producers grow their IFP business, on and off-exchange. Ask your small group GA, or register here.

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.

 

Senator Stone to Speak at DCAHU 2nd annual Medicare Summit

Thursday, September 20, 8:30am – 2:30pm

Villa Portofino Clubhouse, 4001 Via Portofino, Palm Desert

Hear Senator Jeff Stone, Ryan Dorigan from Applied General Agency and CAHU’s Margaret Stedt, Society of Certified Senior Advisors. 2 CEs available.

Advance tickets $30 or $60 at the door. More info and registration here.

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! Theme is “Get Ready to Rock and Roll with Medicare.” Click here to register.

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.

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.

LIDMA 15th Annual Fall Meeting & Business Showcase

October 14-16, InterContinental Hotel in New Orleans

Life Insurance Direct Marketing Association is the life insurance industry’s most focused gathering of high performance direct response marketers, producers, underwriters and service providers who are driving positive changes in the distribution of life insurance in order to benefit middle market consumers. Attendance at the LIDMA Fall Meeting & Showcase is available only to LIDMA members.  This year LIDMA is also offering a discounted annual membership fee for first-time producers for $495, which is half off.  Information on the various membership categories and pricing is available at www.lidma.org.