The Real Question: Is ACA Helping Anyone?

We know that you never forget, but some people do forget that health insurance isn’t just something to argue about. It’s something that real people use everyday to help them live better. With that in mind, the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund recently conducted a survey to find out if the Affordable Care Act was helping people access health care. Here are a few of the highlights from the Commonwealth’s Affordable Care Act’s Tracking Survey:

  • Access to care  – 65 percent who used their coverage to get health care reported they would not have been able to access or afford this care prior to enrolling.
  • Network satisfaction – 87 percent were satisfied with the doctors covered by their current insurance.
  • Finding a new physician – 64 percent who tried to find a new primary care doctor since getting their insurance said it was somewhat or very easy to do so.
  • Getting appointments – 74 percent who tried to get a primary care doctor appointment and 59 percent who tried to get a specialist appointment found one within two weeks

The survey consisted of 15-minute telephone interviews in English or Spanish and was conducted among a random, nationally representative sample of 4,813 adults, ages 19 to 64, living in the United States. Overall, 1,198 interviews were conducted on landline telephones and 3,615 interviews on cellular phones. You can access more details and insight here.

View Now: Harvard’s Health Data Revolution Forum
The latest presentation from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is up. Check out Health Data Revolution: Improving Outcomes, Protecting Privacy. Here’s a little more about the program from the presenters:

Will the next great medical insight come from a clinical trial, a laboratory study — or a database search? Today, health systems and insurers have access to a mountain of data about millions of Americans: what medications they take, their health history, even, in some cases, their genetics—plus an emerging body of mobile health data. Using “big data” techniques, doctors and researchers are already mining this data to deliver better care and to gain insights into the kind of hyper-specific questions that clinical trials and observational studies struggle to answer. The approach promises major, rapid-fire, highly-personalized discoveries. At the same time, with the specter of cyberattacks and hacks looming, the need for rugged privacy protection has never been greater. In this Forum, experts in healthcare data and privacy will discuss the potential for future discovery, practical steps to enable progress, and how information can be kept secure.

What We’re Buzzing About: CVS and Aetna
CVS Health closed a deal to buy Aetna for a reported $69 billion. The Wall Street Journal described CVS’ potential acquisition of Aetna, one of the biggest U.S. health insurance companies, as “a landmark deal that would change the U.S. health-care landscape by bringing a large insurer and a big provider of pharmacy services under one roof.”  A purchase by CVS Health would allow Aetna to have its own pharmacy benefits manager, as UnitedHealthcare already does. The deal still needs to be approved by regulators and shareholders, but Cal Broker will be following the situation closely and including coverage in our January print magazine.

And The Other Thing We’re Buzzing About: Senate Tax Bill
Richard Stolz at Employee Benefit News weighs in on how the senate tax bill might impact employee benefit taxes:

“In the long run, the Senate version may be less favorable to the existing employee benefit structure, but experts say that the upper chamber’s provisions are more likely to win out in upcoming conference committee debate, due to stricter procedural rules on the Senate side.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Examiner reports that pro-ACA group Save My Care released a new television ad targeting Maine’s Susan Collins a few hours after she announced her support for the tax legislation. According to the Washington Examiner:

“The national ad calls on Collins’ constituents to call her and demand she work to remove a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate from the tax bill.  She previously told the Washington Examiner that she does not support the mandate because it primarily affects middle- to low-income Americans. She also secured other concessions such as an expansion of the medical expense deduction. Collins defended her vote for tax reform Sunday by saying on ‘Meet the Press’ she got an ‘ironclad commitment’ from GOP leadership to avoid $25 billion in cuts to Medicare next year. Collins is referring to the 2010 Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Law that triggers spending cuts if the deficit reaches a certain threshold. The Senate’s tax bill is expected to add $1 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said a bill that raises the deficit by $1.5 trillion would trigger the law and cause $136 billion in cuts, including $25 billion to Medicare. Pay-go cuts have never gone into effect though since the law was passed, as Congress has waived it 16 times. However, GOP leaders need Democratic support to waive the law, and so far Democrats have been coy about whether they would agree to a waiver.”

Health Net Awards $4.2 Million to Drive Health Workforce Development and Improve Quality of Health Data Collection
Health Net announced it is awarding a combined $4.2 million to 22 healthcare organizations across California to help increase health workforce development and improve the accuracy of encounter data collection. Most organizations received between $150k and $250k. Find more info, including a full list of the grant recipients, go here.

PEOPLE

A Very Belated Congrats to Warner Pacific’s Fabienne DiMartino
In September, LAAHU hosted The LOVE Couture fundraiser. The annual fashion show, held at the Westlake Village Four Seasons, raised a lot of welcomed funds for the Valley Community Healthcare Clinic. In addition, one woman in the insurance industry was selected to be honored for all the contributions she’s made to the industry. This year, it was Warner Pacific’s Fabienne DiMartino! We’ve been trying to get in touch with Fabienne, but have had zero luck. So instead we’ll simply pass along a few words of praise about Fabienne from LOVE Couture committee member and event organizer Naama Pozniak:

“Fabienne is an inspiration in the health insurance industry. Not only is she a beautiful person, she is intelligent and has a strong knowledge of the health industry.  She can communicate with anyone from the CEO to staff personnel with such confidence and ease.  In this ever-changing health insurance climate, she talks to people one on one or in a group setting without making anyone feel less knowledgeable.

She loves to empower women of any age, but loves to work with younger women who are coming up in what is traditionally a male dominated industry.  She guides these women to believe and know they are worth more.  She stands beside and teaches them.

I have had the opportunity to work with Fabienne for the past 6+ years so I have seen how she can make a difference.  She listens wholly, she steers you in the right direction and she is always positive!  I have been in many group meetings with her when the clientele does not understand the topic and may be afraid to ask questions (for fear of looking dumb).  At the end of these group meetings, no one has either been afraid to ask their question or not completely understand the topic after hearing her speak.

Most recently she was guiding us on a large prospect.  At the end of the meeting when we said ‘You make us feel like we can walk into the prospect with confidence.’ Her reply was ‘Great! That’s what I want.’ She is kind, compassionate and a leader in the industry.”

Thanks for taking the time to tell us about Fabienne, Naam! And, again, congrats to Fabienne!

LIFE INSURANCE

LIMRA: Whole Life Sales Fall for First Time in 14 Consecutive Quarters
After 13 quarters of consecutive growth, whole life insurance new annualized premium fell 4 percent in the third quarter 2017, according to the LIMRA U.S. Retail Individual Life Insurance Sales Survey. This decline, coupled with another double-digit decline in lifetime guarantee universal life sales, drove total new annualized premium down 2 percent in the third quarter.

FINANCIAL

Blockchain Will Disrupt. Read Up on it Now!
By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard of blockchain. It’s the ledger technology that makes digital currency like bitcoin possible. Ryan Neal at Investment News says blockchain will change the advisory business. His article calls on experts such as Ric Edelman, the founder and executive chairman of Edelman Financial Services. According to Edelman, blockchain is “…not a threat to the advisers being in business. It’s a threat to the way advisers do business.” Be sure to read Neal’s entire article.

Coming In January!
Cal Broker’s monthly magazine is available in print and online at our website. In January look for some pivotal articles to kick off the new year, including a 2018 forecast and why the broker is here to stay. We’ll also be introducing new columnists. There’s lots in store for 2018!

EVENTS
LAAHU Holiday Party- Dec. 19, Tarzana (change of venue! Please note date!)
LAAHU, with support from Health Net, will host a holiday cocktail party at Chablis food +wine in Tarzana Dec 19 from 4:30pm-7:30pm. Cost of admission is an unwrapped gift or $15. Register now!

Also: Save the date!
LAAHU Annual Conference, LA Convention Center April 11th–12th, 2018
Sponsorship & Exhibitor
Information coming soon

IICF Casino Night -May 17, 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 at IICF’s website.