How Big — or Small — Will the Donut Hole Be?

Votes are still being counted, but congress has returned after the pre-election hiatus. And while many lawmakers may be on their way out the door, 2018 isn’t over as far as healthcare news. In fact, the Washington Examiner reports that we should watch for changes in the Medicare donut hole, since congress and the White House have to make a new deal by Dec. 7 to fund the government: “There is potential for some healthcare items to be added into this package. The most controversial would be an attempt by the pharmaceutical industry to roll back a requirement starting in 2019 that forces drug companies to give a larger discount for certain Medicare drugs.”

The omnibus eight months ago included an amendment that alters coverage for the Medicare donut hole. Starting in 2019, pharma companies were supposed to offer a 50 percent discount for any drugs in the donut hole. However, the March omnibus changed that figure to a whopping 70 percent. The pharma industry has been trying ever since to improve their outlook. Two months ago, pharma lobbyists reportedly tried unsuccessfully to bring the discount down to 63 percent. Pharma’s opponents are now warning that the lobbyists will try to work their magic to impact the discount in December’s spending deal. Read more here.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The Industry and Fire

This Motherboard article has nothing to do with life and health insurance, but in light of current events you may find it interesting to understand the role the insurance industry has with private firefighting. As well as how our federal government impacts fire fighting. From the article: “The need for a private firefighting industry is fueled by the growing risk of climate change-related damages, which is exacerbated by defunding and undermining action related to climate change at the federal level.”  Moving right along…

Climate Change Reps to Protest at NAIC Meeting

If you’re going to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners meeting on Thursday, head’s up. Representatives from various environmental groups will hold a public event featuring activists dressed as recognizable insurance mascots to catch the attention of insurance representatives.
The protest is scheduled for:Thursday, November 15, 11:45am-1:00pm

Hilton Union Square
NAIC 2018 Fall National Meeting
333 O’Farrell St (between Taylor & Mason)
San Francisco, CA 94102 

PRODUCTS

Gemini Health Announces Drug Cost Transparency Service

Gemini Health announced a new initiative to help lower prescription drug costs by working with Surescripts to deliver price transparency at the time of  prescribing. Gemini’s Drug Cost Transparency Services will be delivered via Surescripts Real Time Prescription Benefit service integrated with electronic health record (EHR) software companies representing the vast majority of U.S. physicians. Clients for the new service include Blue Shield of California as well as other healthcare payers, their providers and members. 

Aflac Launches Latest Lump Sum Critical Illness Insurance But Not in California

Aflac announced the initial launch of its latest lump sum critical illness insurance policy. The product is direct-to-consumer and is aimed at freelancers, contractors and self-employed solopreneurs. It’s not yet available in California. No word from the company if there are plans to offer it here.

LTC

Genworth’s Beyond Dollars Study 2018 Reveals Caregivers Are Getting Younger; Stress, Mental Health Issues Continue

Caregivers in the United States are getting younger and continue to struggle with stress and depression, no matter what their age, according to Genworth’s new Beyond Dollars Study 2018. The study, which is conducted every three years, documents the emotional, physical and financial impact of caregiving on families beyond the cost of long term care services, which the company tracks in its annual Cost of Care Survey.

Among highlights of this year’s Beyond Dollars Study:

  • Caregivers are getting younger:  More than half (58 percent) of today’s caregivers are between the ages of 25 and 54, with an average age of 47, down from 53 in 2010.
  • Care recipients are getting younger, too. Since 2010, when 62 percent were older than 75, the average age of the care recipients has been coming down.  In 2018, the average age of care recipients was 66.
  • Although age-related physical limitations (44 percent) and illness (32 percent) remain the primary reason people need care, accidents have been steadily increasing as a reason for needing care, jumping from 11 percent in 2010 to 21 percent in 2018.
  • Most of the study respondents felt proud to be able to offer support and, in fact, 82 percent reported positive feelings resulting from providing care. However, the majority of caregivers surveyed (53 percent) reported feeling high levels of stress and more than a third (41 percent) reported feelings of depression and resentment. To compound matters, more than half (52 percent) of caregivers reported they did not feel qualified to provide physical care.

In addition to mental health issues, the Beyond Dollars Study found that caregiving can have an impact on other aspects of caregivers’ lives:

  • The stress of caregiving can put family caregivers’ health at risk: 46 percent of caregivers reported that a long term care event negatively affected their health and well-being
  • Half (50 percent) of caregivers reported they have less time for their spouses, children and themselves.
  • 40 percent indicated their relationships with their spouse/partner was negatively impacted
  • 29 percent said their relationship with their children was negatively affected.
  • 48 percent of caregivers reported a reduction in their quality of life because of the added expense of paying for care.
  • 62 percent of caregivers said they lost income as a result of caregiving.

In the Beyond Dollars Study, 84 percent of caregivers and 75 percent of care recipients said they would’ve done things differently if given the chance.  Not surprising, care recipients most often cited ‘planning better’ as the one thing they would do differently if they had a re-do.

PEOPLE

MassMutual Appoints Carroll as New Head of Workplace Distribution

Bob Carroll has been appointed as Head of Workplace Distribution for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.   Carroll is responsible for executing the workplace distribution strategy, continuing to develop sales talent, driving revenue and growing MassMutual’s share of the retirement and worksite markets. Additionally, Carroll will represent MassMutual as a thought leader in the retirement and voluntary benefits markets, and partner with key accounts and relationship management teams to drive business growth and retention.

Dearborn National Names Witwer President and CEO; Benesh to Retire

Dearborn National Life Insurance Company has named Michael Witwer, chief operating officer, as its new president and chief executive officer. Witwer succeeds Gregory Benesh who will retire January 2, 2019, after six years with Dearborn National where he previously served as chief financial officer and chief actuary.

EVENTS
NAC3 Cryptocurrency Conference
December 8, Las Vegas
Come hang with Crypto Bobby, Ready Set Crypto, the Crypto Street Podcast crew and many more. This event’s focus will be on investment and how to take your gains to the next level in the current market. Register now for the early bird rate of $97. More info here.


LAAHU Holiday Party

Dec. 18, Traktir Restaurant, Tarzana, 4:30-7:30pm

Register here.

 

PIMA’s 2019 Industry Insights Conference

January 24-27, 2019, Margaritaville Beach Resort, Hollywood, Florida

Registration is now open for the Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) Industry Insights Conference. The conference will host expert speakers from leading companies around the country including Facebook, Forrester and Action Surge. Conference promises to explore new product and distribution trends; emerging markets that harness growth in new areas; social marketing to drive insurance business; marketing to Millennials and Gen Z; and an insurance industry overview of blockchain. Early bird registration and housing deadline is December 14, 2018. Visit PIMA’s conference page for more details and to register or call 817-569-7462 (PIMA).

LAAHU Annual Conference — Save the date!

April 17, 2019
New Location: Skirball Center
2701 N Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049

LAAHU’s Annual Conference is the largest in the state and includes updates from DC, breakout sessions for IFP, small group, large group and medicare. It’s a don’t miss! More info to come soon.