The AHCA passed in the House of Representatives. So now what?

The AHCA passed in the House of Representatives with a narrow vote of 217 to 213. Jenny Riley and Bill Winter of Hodges-Mace weigh in with this guest editorial
The AHCA was introduced for a vote in the House on March 24th, but was ultimately pulled from consideration before a vote took place. After much debate, the bill was reintroduced with two amendments: the MacArthur amendment and the Upton amendment. The MacArthur amendment introduced a system for states to apply for waivers to some of the requirements under the ACA. The Upton amendment allocated funds to states that receive those waivers to use toward their own programs.

The next step for the AHCA will take place in the Senate. The Senate is anticipated to make several changes to the House bill before a potential vote is scheduled. In addition, many question whether provisions of the House bill will survive the Senate reconciliation process. Ultimately, we all must wait and see how the process shakes out in the Senate.

Recent media coverage on the House bill has been focused largely on the impact to the individual insurance market. As an employer, you may be asking what does this mean to me? Section 206 of the AHCA amends the employer mandate by changing the $2,000 and $3,000 employer penalties to $0 for months beginning after December 31, 2015. In addition, Section 207 of the AHCA further delays implementation of the excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored coverage (aka: the “Cadillac Tax”). However, the requirement to offer compliant coverage to all full-time employees still exists in the House bill. As a result, the potentially favorable reduction in taxes and penalties is offset by the continuing obligation to offer coverage and, potentially, to provide ACA-style reporting.

The precise impact on employer reporting continues to remain unclear. The requirement imposed on employers to offer coverage to full-time employees, and to measure and report part-time or full-time status, appears to remain intact. While there will no longer be a penalty to the employer for failure to offer compliant coverage, the House bill retains many reporting requirements (presumably because employers receiving employer-provided coverage are not entitled to refundable tax credits). As with any new legislation, only the final law and its implementing regulations will give employers the certainty needed for effective planning.

We will continue to closely monitor the progress of the AHCA as it moves through Congress.

LIFE INSURANCE

Colonial Life Announced Independent Customer Satisfaction Survey Results
Nine out of 10 Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company policyholders are satisfied with the handling of their disability claims, according to customer satisfaction surveys by Market Decisions, an independent research company.

Colonial Life reviewed more than 75,000 disability claims in 2016 and paid a total of $193 million in benefits to disability insurance policyholders. Colonial Life’s new online claims service allows customers to file claims online. Customers can also easily upload supporting claim documentation from a computer or mobile device and have payments deposited directly into their bank accounts.

Surveys were conducted throughout 2016 by Market Decisions on behalf of Colonial Life. The independent research firm surveyed a random sampling of claimants about their experience and satisfaction with the new claims process. Key findings in surveys of voluntary disability insurance policyholders included:

  • 90 percent were satisfied with the overall handling of their claim.
  • 93 percent said clear language was used in communications.
  • 92 percent were pleased with claims-submission experience.

For more information visit the Colonial Life’s website or connect with the company at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

VISION

Dearborn Launches National Vision Care Product
Dearborn announced its teamed up with EyeMed to launch Dearborn National Vision Care. “Our relationship with EyeMed allows us to offer easy to use vision benefits, an extensive network and award-winning service,” said Dearborn President and CEO Greg Benesh. “Dearborn National Vision Care adds to our growing product portfolio and ensures that we have a full suite of insurance solutions that make our customers’ lives easier and help them have healthier vision care habits.” Dearborn National Vision Care offers:

  • Access to the nation’s largest vision network, with more than 79,000 independent providers and national retailers, including LensCrafters®, Pearle Vision®, Target Optical, Sears Optical, and JCPenney Optical
  • A member portal with access to benefit details, claims and provider locations
  • Competitive discounts
  • Savings on frames, including designer frames, premium lenses and coatings, as well as contact lenses
  • Award-winning customer service

For more information, visit the company’s website.

ANNUITIES

June event: NAFA Annuity Leadership Forum & Hill Walk
The National Association for Fixed Annuities will host its annual Leadership Forum and Hill Walk June 21-23, 2017. Events are being held at the Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington, D.C. The forum provides an opportunity for attendees to discuss the most important legislative and regulatory issues facing the fixed annuity industry, as well as share experience and expertise. Attendees will also walk the Hill to express their concerns about pending and potential regulation and legislation with lawmakers, and celebrate National Annuity Awareness Month in the nation’s capital. For more info, visit NAFA’s meeting page.

FINANCIAL PLANNING

Young Agents Raise Scholarship Money
The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) Young Agents Committee (YAC) raised more than $26,000—including $17,599 in a silent auction—this year for InVEST, a one-of-a-kind financial literacy program that educates high school and college students about insurance, risk management and financial services. The InVEST program is a key driver to attract new talent to the insurance industry and is currently in more than 800 colleges and high schools across the country. “Young agents are eager to make difference in the insurance industry and supporting the InVEST Scholarship fund is a great way to give back,” says Joe Hamilton, national Young Agents Committee chairman and independent insurance agent at the Hal Rakowski Insurance Agency in Lakeside, California. “Hosting this fundraiser is a wonderful way for young agents to help future independent agents, the next generation of CSRs, producers and principals find a rewarding and exciting career in insurance.” For more information on InVest, go to the organization’s website. For more info on the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America go to  IIABA’s website.