Verma Also Likes to Tweet

The Washington Examiner reported that Obamacare enrollment fell slightly this year, with 11.8 million consumers signing up for coverage compared with 12.2 million in 2017, according to a Trump administration official count. Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, followed the proclivities of her boss and took to Twitter. Verma tweeted that the 2018 open enrollment was the “most cost-effective and successful” open enrollment ever. She also tweeted that despite delivering the most successful consumer experience to date, Americans continue to experience skyrocketing premiums and limited choice on healthcare.gov. The Washington Examiner noted that part of the reason for the soaring premiums is President Trump’s decision in October to halt cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which prompted them to raise rates.

Top Large Group Health Insurers Includes Two California Companies
Employee Benefit News released its rankings of the top large group insurers in the nation. Oakland-based Kaiser took first place and San Francisco-based Blue Shield of California came in at #8.  See the whole list here.

AIG Debuts Online Tool to Help ID Life Insurance Solutions, Offers Tips for Generational Outreach
American International Group, Inc.,debuted Generation Station, a new online tool to help financial professionals quickly pinpoint potential types of life insurance solutions based on a client’s age, gender and a few other attributes. The tool and related resources are available at AIG’s Generation Matters.

AIG warns that every client is unique, but here are a few generational tips for advisers:

Millennials (born 1980-2000)

  • Go digital. Acknowledge preferences to access information, people and products online.
  • Make it quick and easy. Provide Millennials with time-saving resources they can access virtually anytime, anywhere, such as online calculators, checklists and quoting tools.
  • Include the client’s inner circle. Focus on individual needs while understanding that Millennials may crowdsource for information.
  • Be transparent. Having grown up in a time when fact-checking can happen almost instantaneously, Millennials can be quick to spot inauthenticity. To help win them as clients and referrals, be yourself.

Generation X (born 1965-1979)

  • Initiate research. Gen Xers have had ample time to learn how to make informed purchasing decisions. Substantiate your claims with research and stats from a variety of nonbiased sources.
  • Give control. Many Gen Xers are leaders in both the home and the workplace. Allow them to be in the driver’s seat and not in a position to feel painted into a corner. Consider multiple choices and worst-case-scenario options that offer clients a way out.
  • Be succinct. Gen Xers are known for their work ethic and some also serve long hours as a primary caregiver to an aging parent. Rather than giving a lengthy pitch, focus on results.
  • Remain connected. Millennials aren’t the only consumers who research their purchases online. Use technology with Gen Xers to empower decision-making.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)

  • Meet one-on-one. Respect client needs for face-to-face interactions. Create in-person opportunities to get to know as much as you can about each prospect – his or her family, interests, birthday and more.
  • Show professionalism. Boomers have reached the age by which they’ve likely earned key credentials and achievements, so acknowledge theirs and share your own, as well as those of affiliated organizations.
  • Think big picture. Boomers face potentially long retirements. Recommend a tailored, long-term plan that is specific to each client’s unique needs and situation.
  • Focus on the team. In the classic “we’re in this together” spirit, concentrate on common goals and how your recommendation will add value — you are on their team.

DENTAL/VISION

Colonial Life Offers Dental/Vision
Colonial Life, known for its voluntary offerings including disability, life and accident insurance, announced it is rounding out its product portfolio with dental and vision coverage. Colonial Life’s dental and vision benefits will use sister company Starmount Life Insurance, a national dental and vision carrier. The Colonial Life dental and vision plans are now available in 40 states. More info at Colonial Life.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Out Here In The West We Really Like HSAs
Benefitfocus, Inc., a provider of cloud-based benefits management software, just released its “State of Employee Benefits 2018 – Regional Edition” report, a snapshot of real, but anonymized employee benefit election data from 540 employers on the BENEFITFOCUS® Platform representing 1,281,447 individual consumers, broken out by U.S. Census region.

The data reveals benefit offering and adoption trends throughout the country related to health plan enrollment, voluntary benefits adoption and employer and employee HSA (Health Savings Account) contributions.

The State of Employee Benefits Regional data echoes many of the broader themes from the main State of Employee Benefits report, released by Benefitfocus earlier this year. The Western region, however, leads in HAS contributions, corresponding with rising HDHP offerings.  Among the findings for our region:

  • Since 2016, HDHP offering rates have increased 76 percent in the West.
  • Employees in the West made and received the highest HSA contributions, with employee contributions averaging $1,490 and employer contributions averaging $750 for individual plans, up 11 percent from 2017 and 19 percent from 2016.
  • Employers in the West offer the most choice in voluntary benefits, such as accident, critical illness and/or hospital indemnity insurance.

For more findings, download the full report here.

Don’t Miss—April 10! Hodges-Mace’s Mike Ehrle Presents Webinar on Merits of Mobile Tech in Employee Benefits And Best Practices to Reduce Healthcare Costs, Boost Retention
Cal Broker regular contributor Mike Ehrle of benefits delivery company Hodges-Mace, LLC, will present a webinar on “The Role of Mobile Technology in Modern Benefit Strategies” on Tuesday April 10, at 10a.m. Pacific. During the one hour session, Ehrle, SVP of strategic partnerships, will reveal how savvy employers are leveraging mobile tools and other disruptive technologies to contain health care costs, communicate with employees and increase retention rates.  Register here to participate and receive the recorded link after the event. Webinar attendees will learn:

1) How mobile consumer technologies are changing and complimenting employer benefit strategies
2) How to adjust the healthcare cost curve using mobile strategies
3) How communicating the benefits offered by an employer, via mobile strategies, can lead to higher retention and ultimately lower healthcare costs for an employer

TECH

MidCap Equity Partners Invests in BeneFix, Software Provider for the Insurance Brokerage Industry
MidCap Equity Partners announced it has invested in BeneFix, a provider of state-of-the-art technology for independent insurance brokers. BeneFix has created an intuitive platform that allows small businesses and brokers to manage benefits. The aim is to overhaul the historically paper-drive process make it simpler for businesses, brokers and carriers to stay organized, up-to-date and in communication.

Looks Like We’re All Feeling A Bit Cyber Insecure
Our friends at the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) say that 8 in 10 Americans are concerned about the ability of a businesses to safeguard their financial and personal information. That’s according to their new survey conducted by The Harris Poll. No wonder, either. In 2017 alone, roughly 143 million U.S. adults were hit by some form of malware, virus, spyware or phishing scam. Now AICPA says that nearly half of U.S. adults (48 percent) think it is at least somewhat likely identity theft will cause them financial loss in the next year. The survey found four in five Americans (81 percent) said they’ve changed their behavior based on the threat of cyber breaches affecting credit card and debit card processing systems.  Those changes include a majority increasing self-monitoring of credit and debit card accounts for fraudulent activity (56 percent), while about 4 in 10 are either using cash and/or checks more often (43 percent) or choosing to shop at locally owned stores more often instead of national retailers (40 percent). Help spread the word about protecting and mitigating damage. Share AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission tips with your clients:

  • Monitor your credit report & set protections. You can request a free credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies once a year, including TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Additionally, some monitoring services allow you unlimited access to your credit information year-round. These services are there to help you spot inaccuracies, potential fraud and more on your credit report. This should also be done for children. Theft of a child’s ID may go undetected for many years such that by the time they are adults, the damage has already been done.
  • Don’t provide your Social Security number unless it’s necessary. A space for it on a form doesn’t necessarily mean that it is required. For example, your doctor’s office may use a unique number issued by your insurance company to enter your claim but their form may have a space for SSN anyway. Don’t be afraid to ask if they really need it.
  • Make sure your WIFI network at home is secured with a password. A skilled data thief can access information on an unsecured network. Additionally, when away from home, avoid providing credit card or other personal information on unsecured Wi-Fi networks like those in airports or coffee shops.
  • Don’t provide personal information in response to any unsolicited communication. Even if the caller, text or email claims to be from a bank or credit card company needing to “verify” your account to “prevent fraud.”  If in doubt, call the number on your bank statement or the back of your credit card.
  • What to do if it happens? Act quickly to limit the damage. Call your credit card company and report it. They will close your card and issue a new one. File a police report to ensure that you are covered for any damages that you may incur. If your Federal return is affected, call the IRS 800-908-4490 and file Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit.

For more information about what to do in the event of identity theft, 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy offers tips here.

GIVING BACK

Aflac Recognized for Corporate Responsibility Report
Aflac has been named winner of PR News’ 2018 CSR Awards and Nonprofit PR Awards for its Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Aflac’s 2016 CSR Report, “Everyone Has the Power to Do Good,” features employees and independent sales agents who have championed social responsibility efforts in their respective communities.

PEOPLE

Former AIG and Athene Executive Joins Start-UP Denim as CTO

Startup Denim, provider of an intuitive mobile and social media advertising automation platform for financial services companies, announced former AIG and Athene executive Charlie Turri is joining the company as chief technology officer (CTO).  Turri’s hire is seen as part of a larger trend in the insurance industry where executives are leaving jobs at well-established insurance companies to join startups. Denim’s CEO and founder, Gregory Bailey, held positions at Athene and Pacific Life before starting the company in 2015.

Look for more coverage on this emerging trend in upcoming issues of Cal Broker!

EVENTS

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.

LAAHU Annual Conference- Field Day 2018
April 11-12
Los Angeles Convention Center
Janet Trautwein, NAHU CEO, and the wonderful Alan Katz (a long-time Cal Broker contributor) will be among the guest speakers. This event has been
Find out what is going on in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento plus much more!
Registration, exhibit and
sponsorship info now available!

Big “I” Legislative Conference
April 18-20
Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington, D.C.
Attend a one-of-a-kind legislative event for the independent agency system and educate members of Congress on issues important to you and your clients. Registration includes an in-depth issues briefing, legislative breakfast with high-profile Congressional speakers. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), a general session and networking opportunities. Register here.

LAAHU May Meeting
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.

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.