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Even With Harvey, Insurance Debate Goes On

With what’s happening in Texas, it’s hard to concentrate on insurance coverage. But you won’t want to miss this one: Julie Rover from Kaiser Health News outlines 5 Outside-The-Box Ideas For Fixing The Individual Insurance Market. Here’s a quick run-down of the five ideas:

1. Allow people into Medicare starting at age 55.
Lowering the age for Medicare (by allowing people to purchase coverage early or letting them join on the same terms as 65-year-olds) is controversial to say the least. Some Democrats support it as a first step toward a single-payer, Medicare-for-All system. Most Republicans oppose it on the same grounds.

2. Allow people to ‘buy in’ to Medicaid.
Democratic Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is pushing a federal Medicaid buy-in plan. It would give states the option to allow people with incomes over current Medicaid eligibility thresholds to pay a premium to join the program. Like the Medicare buy-in bill, it would allow those who qualify for federal tax credits to use them to pay the premiums.

The proposal would also raise the amounts Medicaid pays to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to the same level as it pays for Medicare patients. Because an expansion would raise Medicaid spending considerably, though, there’s little chance it will pass muster with conservative policy analysts.

3. Get younger adults off their parents’ insurance and back into the individual market.
It’s widely believed that this has a snowball’s chance in Houston of passing. Keeping young adults on a parent’s policy is basically a middle class giveaway. Any middle class giveaway will be excruciatingly difficult to take away.

4. Require insurers who participate in other government programs to offer marketplace coverage.
In an effort to strongarm encourage private companies to step up, some analysts have suggested tying participation in other government programs to ACA policies. For example, some have suggested insurers be required to provide policies in the marketplaces as a condition of being able to offer coverage to federal workers. Others have suggested that providers of Medicare Advantage plans may also be required to offer individual exchange coverage. One glitch is that the same rural areas with a lack of private individual market insurers also tend to lack Medicare Advantage plans.

5. Let people use HSA contributions to pay health insurance premiums.
A little-noticed provision in one of the versions of the Senate GOP health bill that failed to pass in July would have allowed people to use money from tax-preferred health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay their insurance premiums. There’s support from ideologically diverse health care experts, but some drawbacks. Namely, if people use their HSAs to pay premiums on HDHPs, there will likely be little or no money left to pay any out-of-pocket expenses.Still, expect to hear more about this idea.

More Single Payer Opinion
At The Hill, Merrill Matthews opines that we might end up with a single payer health care system, whether we like it or not. Writes Mathews: “While Republicans fret over how many taxpayer-funded patches they will have to stick on ObamaCare to keep it on life-support, Democrats are already moving on to their real goal: a government-run, single-payer healthcare system.”

Do Something Social and Aflac Will Give $ to Beat Childhood Cancer
Aflac, originator of the duckprints campaign, is donating $2 to children’s cancer treatment and research for each duckprints-related social media activity on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and/or Instagram, up to $1.5 million. Related social actions include:

Twitter – $2 for any tweet using the hashtag #duckprints or for retweets of duckprints-related tweets.
Facebook – $2 for any share of posts related to duckprints or using the hashtag #duckprints.
YouTube – $2 per view of the duckprints videos on YouTube.
Instagram – $2 for every post using the hashtag #duckprints.

Aflac also created a website that enables users to nominate unsung heroes in their community who have made a difference in the lives of children and families facing cancer. In addition, merchandise such as plush Aflac Ducks and duckprints-related T-shirts, slippers and other items are available for purchase at aflacduckprints.com, with all of the net proceeds going toward the treatment and research of childhood cancer. You can also download an Aflac duckprints app.

PRODUCTS

MassMutual has launched AdvisorAdvantage+, a website and tools to help financial advisors sharpen their capabilities to support retirement plan sponsors and participants.  AdvisorAdvantage+ features a web-based tool to help advisors create a value proposition to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, a web-based prospecting tool created by Larkspur Data Resources to help advisors market their capabilities to local employers, and other tools and information dedicated to the success of employer-sponsored retirement plans.

EVENTS

Annuities Regulatory Webinar – August 31, 11am Pacific
Americans for Annuity Protection‘s Kim O’Brien will speak about the latest information on legislative, White House and DOL activities.  Kim’s special guest, fee-only insurance advisor Dick Weber, will help refresh anyone’s fiduciary basics and explore the enhanced duties under the Rule. Register here.

“LOVE” Couture – A Salute to Women in Business Annual Charity Luncheon & Fashion Show- September 8 Westlake Village
Four Seasons Westlake Village is the place for LAAHU’s Salute to Women in Business Charity Luncheon and Fashion Show, Sept 8, 10a.m.– 2:00 pm. Warner Pacific, Dickerson, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Health Net, BenefitMall, United HealthCare, Rodger Benefit Group and Word&Brown are among the event sponsors. For info, see the events page at LAHU.org.

CAHU Health Care Retreat – September 11-13, Pala Casino Resort & Spa
Join CAHU for three packed days of vital information, legislative updates and networking opportunities. Keynote speaker Nelson Griswold is among the dynamic speakers. More info at to CAHU.org.

World Medical Tourism & Global Health Conference – Oct 2-4 Los Angeles
The fast growing field of medical tourism is creating a need for trained and knowledgeable professionals. Visit the World Medical Tourism & Global Health Conference for workshops and classes to become a Certified Medical Tourism Professional (CMTP). More info at medicaltourismcongress.com.

NAILBA 36 – Nov. 16-18, Hollywood, Florida
Registration is now open for the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA) 36th Annual Meeting, NAILBA 36.  Scheduled November 16-18, 2017, at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida, the meeting will attract high level representatives from brokerage general agencies, life insurance carriers and insurance industry vendors.  This year’s agenda has been expanded to deliver four keynote experiences over three general sessions and more than 15 workshops. Go to NAILBA.org for a complete schedule of events.

About Last Week…
Where were we last Wednesday? Attending two Los Angeles area events: the IICF Women in Insurance Conference Series Los Angeles Luncheon and LAAHU/VCAHU’s Medicare Conference in Studio City. Look for more about these events in the October issue of California Broker!

PEOPLE

The Standard Names Wacker Assistant Vice President & Individual Annuities Actuary
Standard Insurance Company announced that Ben Wacker has been named assistant vice president and individual annuities actuary. In his new role, Wacker leads the Individual Annuities actuarial team. Wacker has 13 years of experience in financial services. Most recently he was chief actuary at Northstar Financial Services. Prior to his work at Northstar, he was director of financial reporting at Athene and served as an assistant vice president at Ability Re. Ben began his career as an actuarial associate at The Principal.