Price Likes Individual Mandate – Now


In some of his first public comments since resigning as secretary of Health and Human Services amid a travelexpense scandal more than eight months ago, Dr. Tom Price criticized the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Price said he now believes nixing the individual mandate is a bad idea. Of course, this is the same guy who only last summer laid the groundwork for the mandate’s eventual dismantling, contending it was “driving up the costs for the American people.”  Read the whole story on Kaiser Health News.

HEALTHCARE

Blue Shield of CA and Gemini Aim to Improve Prescription Services
Blue Shield of California and Sausalito-based Gemini Health, LLC, announced they have launched the Drug-Cost Transparency Service.TM With the new service, health care providers can now use existing electronic health records (EHR) to view drug and comparative pricing information during patient visits to determine which medications are covered for their Blue Shield patients. Gemini’s technology provides actionable information at the point-of-care to a prescriber before a medication decision is made and the prescription is sent to the pharmacy. Prescribers receive the following information in real time:

  • Actual patient out-of-pocket cost information for the selected medication that’s based on patients’ health plan benefits and formulary.
  • Accurate total drug cost savings (based on actual payer costs and rebates) for up to three lower-cost, dose-matched clinically equivalent alternative medications.
  • Accurate patient cost and total savings for alternative pharmacies (e.g. specialty or mail-order).
  • Whether any prior authorization is required, and/or shows alternative medication(s) that don’t require a prior authorization.
  • Any coverage notices that would create pharmacy call-backs to the prescriber’s office.

TRAVEL

Allianz Grows Revenue 30%
Allianz Worldwide Partners USA, a provider of consumer specialty insurance and assistance, announced its 2017 results: $954 million in revenue, a 30 percent increase over the prior year.  The company says significant growth was driven by new partnerships as well as strong growth of existing partnerships that span travel and event ticketing.  The U.S. business unit of Allianz Partners provided insurance to 35 million customers in 2017 through its travel insurance, event ticket, registration protection, tuition insurance and other specialty products. The company is best known for its travel protection and assistance offered to consumers through partnerships with leading travel providers, including airlines, online travel agencies and retail travel agents.

DISABILITY

The Standard Introduces New DI Services
The Standard’s Workplace Possibilities program — a 10-year-old program that provides a holistic approach to managing employee absence and disability —  now has some new services. The company says the services will make it easier for employers of all sizes to manage employee absences and disabilities effectively. New services include:

  • Access to a co-managed claims team. For employers with more than 5,000 employees, the new Workplace Possibilities+ package provides dedicated clinical resources to review all open disability claims. This co-managed team includes specialized Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act or ADAAA assistance and ergonomic evaluation tools to help support employees’ accommodation needs.
  • Specialized ADAAA accommodation and ergonomic evaluation support. An ADAAA accommodations specialist can help identify employees who need accommodations, evaluate an employee’s specific situation through conversations, review medical documentation to develop personalized accommodation recommendations and collaborate with an employer’s HR team to implement solutions.
  • Ergonomic tools to help proactively address employees’ health conditions. Employees can access an online risk assessment tool that provides training and guidance on proper ergonomic techniques before medical interventions are required. Workplace Possibilities consultants also can provide telephonic consultation with employees who may benefit from additional assistance.
  • Job demand analysis. An online job analysis tool can help managers document the requirements, risks and restrictions of their employees’ jobs. The tool also can identify interventions that can help keep employees on the job or help employees safely and effectively return to work.
  • Community partnership and rural relocation services. Employers can access a network of community partners — including nonprofits and local chambers of commerce — to help support alternative employment and training opportunities within regional industries. The program can also help rural employees identify career paths and opportunities outside of their local area.

VISION

VSP Launches Same Day Enrollment
VSP announced its Individual Vision Plans will launch a same-day enrollment program, allowing uninsured patients to sign up for a vision plan on the spot at their doctor’s office. Patients simply call VSP and ask to enroll in a VSP Individual Vision Plan, and within minutes of signing up, patients are able to use their benefits to cover the cost of their exam and materials. The same-day enrollment program will be available to practices that are a part of the VSP Individual Vision Plans Doctor Program. More info available at Myvspplan.com.

ANNUITIES

Pacific Life Intros New Variable Annuity Rider
Pacific Life Insurance Company has launched Core Protect Plus, an optional guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit available for an additional cost with certain Pacific Life variable annuities. The benefit provides clients with a protected payment base (the amount from which clients will draw income) equal to the higher of a simple 7 percent annual credit or the highest anniversary value. Additionally, annual market lock-ins that result in a higher amount of income are available throughout the life of the rider. Core Protect Plus also offers investment flexibility and locked-in pricing. Clients can allocate their portfolios among 15 asset allocation strategies, and are not required to participate in asset-transfer programs or managed-volatility portfolios to qualify for the rider. Once purchased, the price of Core Protect Plus is guaranteed not to change for the life of the contract. For more information about Core Protect Plus, contact a Pacific Life consultative wholesaler at (800) 722-2333. Additional information is available by visiting Annuities.PacificLife.com.

AGENCY NEWS

So Cal’s Conrey Creates Site Geared with Key Buyers in Mind
Conrey Insurance Brokers and Risk Mangers, founded in 2002, announced it has launched a new website and the company took cues from Forbes reporting on the uptake of women making financial decisions. Conrey eschewed the traditional stock images of business professionals, company meetings and computing. The site now aims to focus the messaging and branding on women as the financial decision makers, as well as the hopes and dreams of its clients through children who now are imperative to protect, says Jerry Conrey, MBA, agency principal. Conrey, is the former CFO of the American Agents Alliance Insurance Association, a trade group for insurance agents and brokers. Check out the new site here.

PCF Insurance Services Completes Four Acquisitions and a Refinancing
Woodland Hills-based Peter C. Foy & Associates (PCF) Insurance Services announced it completed the acquisition of R.L. Milsner, Inc. Insurance Brokerage; Senex Insurance Services, Inc.; Stratton Agency; and Clark & Associates of Nevada, Inc. In addition, PCF has completed a recapitalization and financing with Madison Capital Funding, LLC, the preeminent financing partner to the insurance distribution industry.  In February 2017, PCF partnered with BHMS Investments to accelerate the Company’s growth through a series of retail agency acquisitions.  BHMS is a private investment firm located in New York with a track record of success in aggregation strategies, including insurance brokerage.

EVENTS

Roundstone Annual Medical Captive Forum
May 9, FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio – Several hundred employers will learn ways they can take control of their health benefit spend. This year’s event will include topics such as: helping employees adopt real time health care pricing strategies; partnerships with local health care centers of excellence; carveout solutions for high cost care; and the annual employer panel discussing best practices and success stories.  The Forum will conclude with our keynote speaker, Alex Sheen, founder of local nonprofit because I said I would and four-time TEDx Talk Speaker.  More info at Roundstone Insurance.

EBPA & LAAHU Social Event
May 10th, Blue Cow Kitchen + Bar, 350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, 4pm – 7pm
Get to know members of both the Employee Benefit Planning Association and Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters. Members and guests welcome. Two drinks and appetizers included with each registration. Register here.

LAAHU May Meeting- Long-Term Care
May 17, 8am, Sportsmen’s Lodge, 12825 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
Topic is  marketplace changes in long term care with presenter Steve Cain, director of LTCI Partners. There will also be an election of directors. Nominations can be made from the floor at the meeting. Click here for names of those already nominated.

IICF Casino Night
May 17, The Rotunda, San Francisco
Join the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation for a fun night of gambling and insurance industry networking while also raising money for community grants. The event takes place at The Rotunda, Union Square, San Francisco. Registration and sponsorship info available here.

CAHU Capitol Summit
May 21-23, Sheraton Grand, Sacramento
Speakers will address issues such as universal coverage, upcoming state and federal bills, and the current “lay of the land” in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.  In addition to insight and information, the Summit also has opportunities for fun and networking. Keynote speaker is radio show host Joe Getty. Register and info available here.

NAFA Annuity Leadership Forum & Hill Walk
June 13-15, Grand Hyatt, Washington, DC
Events provide an opportunity for membership to network with one another, advocate on behalf of fixed annuities and learn about ways to enhance distribution. Keynote speaker is journalist Fred Barnes. Info and registration here.

IICF Western Regional Forum
June 21, The Millennium Biltmore, Downtown Los Angeles
The one-day regional format provides opportunities for greater participation and networking with colleagues here in the West and beyond. There will be ample time for networking with speakers as well. Topic this year is Driving Diversity: Cultivating Individual and Industry Confidence. Learn more at womensconference.iicf.org

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.