The Trump administration took new steps this week to relax health insurance rules, moving to allow the sale of more short-term health plans that don’t need to offer consumers the full range of health protections. Read more in this Los Angeles Times story or on Kaiser Health News.
New Guide for LTC and 1035 Exchanges
The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) has published a new guide to kick off a national campaign to heighten awareness for the use of 1035 exchanges for effective and tax-advantaged LTC planning. The guide, AALTCI’s Guide To Long-Term Care Planning Using 1035 Exchanges formally launches the national consumer and insurance-focused campaign.
Thank You, Health Net! Insurer Helps Out With National No One Eats Alone Day
Health Net, Inc. helped the students of three California elementary schools. The insurer pitched in at Stockton’s Hamilton Elementary School on Feb. 9, 2018, to celebrate a positive prevention initiative that promotes inclusion. Health Net hosted an assembly in honor of National No One Eats Alone Day, created by the non-profit Beyond Differences. More than 500 students participated in activities teaching them about social isolation and the negative impact it can have on students’ health and academic performance.
According to Carol Kim, vice president of community investments & public affairs for Health Net, social isolation has been identified as a precursor to bullying, self harm and community violence. She said students have shown that, when they are given the appropriate tools, they will stand up for others as empathetic and caring activists, not passive bystanders.
Hamilton Elementary School was one of more than 2,000 schools across the country that celebrated No One Eats Alone Day. The initiative reached more than 1 million students.
Other Health Net-supported No One Eats Alone Day events were held at Sacramento’s H.W. Harkness Elementary School on February 8 and Isador Cohen Elementary School on February 9.
LifeSecure Launches Critical Illness Product
LifeSecure Insurance Company has expanded it suite of supplemental products by launching Critical Illness insurance. The product is now available to individuals, families, and employers and their employees in 16 states with additional states soon to follow. LifeSecure’s Critical Illness insurance provides a lump-sum payment between $5,000 and $50,000 for individual coverage, and $10,000, $15,000, or $20,000 for worksite coverage.
Other key plan features include:
- Coverage for nine major illnesses, including heart attack, stroke, invasive cancer and skin cancer
- An unlimited lifetime benefit maximum – benefits can be used more than once to cover the re-occurrence of a disease and the subsequent diagnosis of a different covered condition
- A health screening benefit as a standard feature for individual coverage; optional for worksite coverage
- Coverage for the whole family – including a spouse or partner and dependent children
HealthCare.com Buys Pivot
HealthCare.com, a privately-owned search-and-compare health insurance shopping platform that connects consumers with a network of insurance brokers and carriers, announced the all-cash acquisition of Pivot Health, a provider and manager of specialty health insurance products. Headquartered in Phoenix, Pivot Health develops, manages and markets proprietary, specialty health insurance products for individuals, including short-term medical, fixed indemnity and supplemental gap coverage. The company says it expects to add to its portfolio of insurance products in the coming months. Following the transaction, Pivot Health will continue to operate independently. HealthCare.com will continue to manage its health insurance and Medicare comparison model.
Hot Benefit: Fertility Assistance For All
The percentage of employers offering fertility benefits is expected to grow from 55 percent in 2017 to 66 percent by 2019, according to the Willis Towers Watson 2017 Maternity, Family and Fertility Survey. Of the employers currently offering fertility benefits, 65 percent offer coverage for fertility services to same-sex couples — a percentage expected to increase to 81 percent by 2019. EBN reports that fertility benefits (as well as maternity benefits) will be one of the hot retention tools and employers will aim to provide innovative solutions to personalize the benefits such as app-based mobile phone fertility or maternity programs.
Bloggers Discuss What the U.S Can Learn From the U.K.’s National Health Service
Commonwealth Fund opinion bloggers David Blumenthal and Jennifer Dixon acknowledge that the U.K.’s National Health System is suffering from hours-long waits in the emergency department, patients treated in hallways in the midst of an intense flu season and more this winter. They argue, however, that this should be viewed as a learning opportunity for the U.S.
Healthcare Execs and Compensation
Only 10 percent of healthcare organizations were “very satisfied” with their annual incentive plans (second-lowest of eight industry groups), while 21 percent of healthcare organizations were “very satisfied” with their long-term incentive plans (third-highest of eight industry groups). Blogger Pearl Meyer says it’s possible that long-term incentive arrangements are relatively new to healthcare, and that those initiating such plans may be experiencing some obvious benefit from them, whether actual or perceived. Find out more here.
New Poll: High Earners More Likely To Say They Have Noticed Pay Bump From Tax Overhaul
A new poll from Morning Consult and POLITICO found that 45 percent of voters indicated they supported the tax bill signed into legislation earlier this month, compared to 35 percent who opposed it (19 percent didn’t know or had no opinion). This number has remained steady since the Morning Consult/POLITICO poll conducted January 11 through 15, which saw 45 percent support and 34 percent opposition for the final tax bill.The newest survey was conducted February 15 through 19 among 1,989 registered voters and has a margin of error of +- 2 percentage points. The poll also found that voters who make more than $100K (40 percent) were more likely to say they have seen an increase in their pay, compared to 33 percent of voters who make between $50-100K and 16 percent of voters who make under $50K. See the full results of the poll here.
Got A Side Hustle? CPA Warns of Tax Plan Pitfalls
Even though the new tax law has many provisions favorable to small businesses, many in the gig economy could lose their deductions, says certified public accountant Lisa London. The reason? Londno says the IRS may consider a business a “hobby” and therefore the related deductions would be disallowed. Before 2018, the side business’ expenses could be deducted up to the amount of sales made if the taxpayer itemized his deductions.
But no more. With the doubling of the standard deduction, the new law suspended the deductibility of “Other Miscellaneous Deductions.” This means the income must be reported, but the related expenses are only deductible if the IRS would consider it a business and not a hobby.
London recommends that first and foremost, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs must keep complete and accurate records that are separate from their personal finances. Second, they must show intent to make a profit, which should include business and marketing plans. If a side business is also a fun activity, it’s best to document the less fun aspects.
Best: Life/Annuity Doing Well, But More Tech Progress Needed to Keep Footing Secure
The U.S. life/annuity industry in 2017 was characterized by strong balance sheets and solid earnings. However, according to A.M. Best’s 2018 Review/Preview special report, the industry still remains plagued by macroeconomic and regulatory factors, as well as internal forces such as lackluster sales, rapidly evolving tech requirements and changing consumer behavior.
Hixme Appoints Thayer VP, Product
Hixme, a platform for consumerizing large employer health benefits, announced the appointment of Kirsten Thayer to vice president, product. Thayer has 17 years of extensive experience in software development and delivery.
Special note: Don’t miss Cal Broker’s March issue, where Hixme CEO Denny Weinberg lays out everything you might want to know about the company and how it aims to disrupt large group benefits.
LIMRA 2018 Distribution Conference
Feb 28-March 2, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, Ponte Vedra, FL
Sessions about agent retention, InsurTech, consumer engagement and more. Info and registration at the conference website.
Ventura County Association of Health Underwriters Chili Cook Off
March 15, 12-4p.m., Camarillo Ranch House
$25 for members / $35 for guests
Games, chili, dessert & a C.E course included. More info here.
IICF Horizon Award Gala
March 15, The Globe Theatre, Los Angeles
Register here. Sponsorship opportunities also available!
NAC3, the North American Crypto Currency Conference
March 24-25, Playa Studios, Los Angeles
Event appropriate for seasoned crypto currency pros and those merely curious about Bitcoin, Ethereum, Blockchain etc. Tickets and info now available at https://www.nac3.io. Companies interested in sponsorship can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
LIMRA Life Insurance Conference
April 9-11, Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, Chicago, IL
Using predictive modeling, data scientists at LIMRA’s new Center of Excellence for Data Analytics have identified factors that influence individual life insurance buying behavior and have built profiles of types of customers who are likely to buy. This analysis, along with experts of social economics and customer experience, will be featured at the conference, which is jointly hosted by LIMRA, LOMA, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). Register here.
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 at IICF’s website.
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 email@example.com for more info