Consumer Watchdog Calls for Lara Investigation

The nonprofit progressive consumer advocacy group that focuses on healthcare and the insurance industry is calling for an investigation into California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara’s campaign finance dealings. The Santa Monica-based organization charges that there is new evidence that warrants an “investigation into money laundering and bribery”. They’ve sent a letter to California’s attorney general and others. You can read that letter here.

VISION

Transitions Optical and the American Optometric Association Release Research that Finds Misunderstandings about Online Vision Screenings

Looks likes there’s a little confusion out there about the role of online vision screenings, according to findings from Transitions Optical’s latest vision benefits survey and the American Optometric Association. Many folks believe online screenings are substitutes for the real deal — an in-person, comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist. November’s Cal Broker will dive into this issue. But, for now, just know that comprehensive eye exams can detect a number of vision problems, eye diseases and overall health issues that online eye exams can’t—including glaucoma, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Light sensitivity, another issue on the radar for Transitions (no need to explain why!), is also covered in the 2019 annual Transitions Employee Perceptions of Vision Benefits survey. The survey found nearly nine in 10 employees say they experience light sensitivity—a common vision problem for employees who spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or working outside in the bright sun—in the workplace. Additionally, 88% say it negatively affects their work performance.

STUFF WE LOVE

EssentialCare Critical Illness Takes Home Awards For Severe Mental Illness Rider

BCS’s EssentialCare Group Critical Illness product won the 2019 Insurance Nexus ‘New Product of the Year’ and ‘North American Contribution to Society’ awards.

EssentialCare Group Critical Illness provides fixed payments directly to the insured in the event of a covered critical illness diagnosis. The product includes a first-of-its-kind optional rider that provides coverage for four severe mental health conditions: severe major depressive disorder, severe bipolar I disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia, classifying them as a critical illness under the policy and providing needed financial support in the event of one of a diagnoses. The World Health Organization says more people than ever are suffering from mental illness. It’s great to see that the insurance industry is stepping up to the plate!

Aflac Unveils 2018 Corp Social Responsibility Update

Supplemental insurance carrier Aflac unveiled its corporate social responsibility report, 2018 CSR Report: “Purpose … with feathers.” The report details the initiatives and volunteer work happening at the company.

Among the many accomplishments:

  • A 29% increase in volunteer hours logged by Aflac employees in 2018, compared with 2017.
  • In 2018, Aflac received ISO 14001:2015 certification in environmental management at its headquarters in Columbus, Georgia.
  • In 2018, Aflac invested more than $3 million toward the My Special Aflac Duck project. As of August 2019, the company has provided more than 5,000 of these comforting companions to children at more than 220 hospitals in 48 states, free of charge.

Aflac says the report reflects the company’s commitment to bring value to the community through ethics, diversity, equity, inclusion, philanthropy and the environment.  These are all areas that Cal Broker and our readers care deeply about. Yep, companies that do good do better in business. Bravo, Aflac!

IICF Week of Giving Is Oct 12-19

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation Week of Giving is October 12-19, 2019. Most volunteers participating in the IICF Week of Giving do so as part of a company team. Find out more here. Happy giving!

INSURTECH

Insurtech Rising

Insurtech investments for 2019 are on pace to be the highest ever despite fewer startup launches, according to a recent report from the Deloitte Center for Financial Services:

With $2.2 billion raised in the first half of 2019, the fourth-highest midyear total and lower than 2018’s total by only $400 million, insurtechs are on pace to eclipse 2015’s record investment of $3 billion.

MEDICARE

MA Plans Expected to Be Cheaper, More Abundant

Open enrollment is right around the corner. Ahead of Oct. 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it expects average monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage plans to drop from $26.87 this year to $23 next year, the lowest in 13 years, while the average number of plans per county will increase from 33 to 39. According to CMS, MA enrollment is expected to climb to 24.4 million next year, up 9.9% from 22.2 million this year.

AHIP Prez Lauds MA

Matt Eyles, president and chief executive office of America’s Health Insurance Plans, opened AHIP’s annual Medicare conference in Washington listing what he saw as the successes of Medicare and Medicare Advantage.  Eyles told the crowd that the greatest innovations in Medicare are being created and led by health insurance providers and their partners. Of course, the insurance industry interested in keeping Medicare Advantage alive and well rather than a government-run insurance program. Anthem now has more than 1 million beneficiaries in its Medicare Advantage plans. Humana has roughly 4 million people in its Medicare Advantage plans and UnitedHealth has 5.19 million in its Medicare Advantage plans. Read more at Bloomberg Government.


UnitedHealthcare and Canopy Team Up for Bay Area MA

UnitedHealthcare announced it offer a new Medicare Advantage plan in the Bay Area featuring Canopy Health care providers. The UnitedHealthcare Canopy Health Medicare Advantage plan will be available to more than 630,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Contra Costa, Alameda and San Francisco counties.  The plan will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, pending regulatory approval. People may enroll during Medicare Annual Enrollment from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

EVENTS

CAHU Annual Conference & Symposium– We’ll see you here!

 

Oct 3-5, Costa Mesa
Register here.

Vanguard Halloween Party Oct. 4. Costumes encouraged. Register here.

 

 

IICF Week of Giving

Oct 12-19, 2019. More info here

Alliance of Comprehensive Planners 2019 Annual Conference
Nov. 12-15, Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, San Diego

​​​​​​The Alliance of Comprehensive Planners (ACP) is a community of tax-focused financial planners who provide planning strategies for clients on a fee-only retainer basis. Conference early bird registration rates (which expire Oct. 11, 2019) are in effect now. Participation is open to all interested financial professionals. Companies interested in sponsoring the ACP Annual Conference should contact Jill Colsch at jill@acplanners.org. The agenda is available here: https://2019.acplanners.org/home. More info here.

CAHU Women’s Leadership Conference

March 25-27, 2020, JW Marriott Resort&Spa, Las Vegas
Save the date! Get early bird pricing by registering by 8/31/19 and using code NAHU19. More info at www.cahu.org.

LAAHU Annual Symposium- Save the date!

April 22, 2020, Skirball Center, Los Angeles. More info soon!