So What Else is Happening in Washington?

ThinkAdvisor reported that Sen. Lamar Alexander’s new spending bill — the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020″ bill — leaves out the health care market transparency provisions from S. 1895, the “Lower Health Care Costs Act” bill.  This appears to mean that health insurance agents and brokers are safe from an S. 1895 health insurance producer compensation provision.  Is lack of transparency really a good thing, though? Anyhow…

Then yesterday the House passed the massive year-end spending bill. The bill implements the deal it made with the Senate, appropriates $1.4 trillion to keep the U.S. government open, raises the age to buy tobacco products to 21, and repeals the ACA health insurance tax, the Cadillac tax and the medical device tax. As part of the defense package, it authorizes the creation of Trump’s “Space Force,” the first new branch of the U.S. military to be created in more than 60 years. It also gives federal employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

Reuters reported that the spending package comes as the U.S. is predicted to have higher-than-average budget deficits over the coming decade, in part because of diminished revenue resulting from the 2017 Republican tax overhaul.
Senate leaders hope to pass the measure in time to head off a partial government shutdown on Saturday.

HEALTH

Sutter Health | Aetna Brings Back House Calls

Sutter Health | Aetna announced its teaming up with Heal, the leader in doctor house calls, to bring “doctors to your door” seven days a week. This service includes scheduling doctors’ visits to a member’s home or office, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., through the Heal app, website, or a phone call. Heal physicians can write prescriptions, order labs and suggest in-network referrals for specialists and other healthcare services, like behavioral health or disease management. Beginning January 1, Sutter Health | Aetna members can schedule appointments every day, including weekends and holidays. Through Heal, board-certified doctors can arrive in as little as two hours in most locations. Employers offering their employees a Sutter Health | Aetna plan can also schedule on-site Heal days.

PET INSURANCE

Metlife Acquires PetFirst

Metlife announced its entering the pet health insurance, an industry that’s had had an annual growth rate of more 20% since 2014. Met is acquiring PetFirst, a company that currently administers coverage for more than 40,000 pets.  The move makes sense because:

  • In the United States, there are approximately 184 million pets, and roughly 85 million families that own pets, but less than 2 percent are insured
  • Last year, Americans spent more than $18 billion in veterinary care expenses
  • An emergency vet visit costs as much as $1,500.

GOOD STUFF

LAAHU Holiday Bash

In case you missed the LAAHU holiday fundraiser last night, this is what it looked like:

Lots of fun!  Plus a bunch of money was raised for Camp Ronald McDonald For Good Times! You can’t beat that.

Side note: In the past, we’ve heard from a couple of readers who are displeased because Camp Ronald McDonald charity is connected in their minds to the fast food served at McDonald’s. We aren’t suggesting that nuggets and fries are health promoting. We’re simply happy that some kids who deserve help are getting it. No need to email today on this subject. We totally get it. You have a good point.

Cigna Recognized for Supporting Military and Vets

Kudos goes out to Cigna. The company was recently recognized on the 2020 Military Friendly® Silver Employer and Military Friendly® Spouse Employer lists by VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned organization that connects military service members, veterans and military spouses with professional employment opportunities.

Cigna has received the prestigious Military Friendly® Employer and Military Friendly® Spouse Employer recognition three years in a row. Express Scripts, a Cigna company, was also recognized as being a 2020 Military Friendly® Employer. Cigna surpassed Military Friendly® benchmarks in all of the categories which included hiring and onboarding veterans and military spouses, opportunity and advancement, culture and commitment, support and retention, policies and compliance, and recruiting and sourcing.

MEDICARE

Family Caregivers Guide to Insurance Now Available

Insure.com announced it has published a guide about options for long-term care protection, Medicare, Medicaid and other available support. Nearly half of parents (47%) with children aged 18 or younger are also caregivers for their own parents. Caregivers dedicate more than three hours per day, on average, to support those who need their help.

The new guide instructs readers on:

  • How to choose a Medicare plan
  • The differences between Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medigap and Medicaid
  • Options for long-term care protection
  • Life insurance possibilities including which riders may be important

Go here to access The Family Caregivers Guide to Insurance.

CAL BROKER

Be a Part of the 2020 Magic!

Cal Broker magazine has a lot in store for 2020. We’re kicking off the new year with a special issue featuring 20 voices in the industry. You’ll hear from some fresh faces and some of the usual suspects. BTW, we requested an interview from Commissioner Ricardo Lara but didn’t hear back from his press people. Hey, CDI, the offer is good for another issue!  The February issue of the magazine is also shaping up to be a good one. Phil Calhoun’s sequel to his popular “History of Commissions” will be in there, along with a story about CAHU’s upcoming Women’s Leadership Summit and much more. Yes, we realize that only here can “History of Commissions” seem like a hot ticket. That’s okay.

Thanks to all the people who have supported California Broker magazine this year! Let’s keep the education and information going strong in 2020. Contact Devon Hunter (devon@calbrokermag.com) for advertising opportunities. We’d like to do a series of reported stories on diversity and inclusion in the industry. There must be a few carriers out there that want to support this, right?  Contact Linda Hubbard Lalande (linda@calbrokermag.com) and she’ll fill you in on a new sponsorship program!

EVENTS

  • SDAHU Expo 2020 -January 16 @ 8:00 am2:30 pm
    Town and Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego. More info here.
  • Joint Industry Forum 2020, Insurance Information Institute
    January 16, Marriott Marquis, New York City. Theme is “A 21st Century Workforce that Reflects the Communities We Serve.” More info here.
  • OCAHU 8th Annual Business Development Summit
    February 28, DoubleTree by Hilton-Anaheim/Orange County
    Contact: Gail James Clarke (714) 441-8951, ext.3,
    email: orangecountyahu@yahoo.com