Wells Fargo Agrees to Pay Big Money For Bad Practices

While we gobbled turkey leftovers last week, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $575 million to 50 states and the District of Columbia. About $150 million will go to Californians. The settlement is linked to specious sales practices from 2002 through 2017, including enrolling some customers in term life insurance policies that customers didn’t authorize. Think Advisor recently reported that Wells Fargo Advisors has had a net loss of 1,012 registered reps since the fall of 2016.

Oops, we almost forgot…

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Insurance Commissioner Report Leads to $ for Life Beneficiaries

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones released a report on New Year’s eve detailing the results of the multi-state investigation of life insurance companies’ failure to use the Social Security Administration’s “Death Master File (DMF)” to pay life insurance benefits owed to beneficiaries. The report reveals that the investigation initiated by Jones with five other insurance commissioners in 2011 has resulted in life insurance companies paying out nearly $10 billion in life insurance benefits owed to beneficiaries across the United States, and of that more than $1 billion alone has been paid to California beneficiaries.

HEALTH

Dems Face Fight Over Medicare 50

The Washington Examiner reports that Dems may face a battle over Medicare expansion. On the table is a proposal to let people enroll in Medicare beginning at age 50. The plan, which is being dubbed as “Medicare 50,” would allow people to buy into Medicare if they are between the ages of 50 to 64. People could purchase Medicare as an alternative to ACA plans if they are uninsured or if they want it instead of the coverage they’re getting through work. The idea, previously introduced as the Medicare Buy-In and Stabilization Act, won’t become law while Republicans control the Senate. But backers reportedly hope that the Democratic House majority can generate support for the concept by holding hearings and advancing it in the lower chamber.

Cigna Launches Loneliness Index

Cigna recently released results from a national survey exploring the impact of loneliness in the United States. The survey, conducted in partnership with market research firm Ipsos revealed that most American adults are considered lonely.

The evaluation of loneliness was measured by a score of 43 or higher on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire developed to assess subjective feelings of loneliness, as well as social isolation.  The survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older revealed some alarming findings:

  • Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).
  • One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).
  • One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).
  • Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2) – even though they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely.
  • Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
  • Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.
  • Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).

The health insurer says that people who engage in frequent meaningful in-person interactions have much lower loneliness scores and report better health than those who rarely interact with others face-to-face. In addition, getting the right balance of sleep, work, socializing with friends, family and “me time” is connected to lower loneliness scores. However, balance is critical, as those who get too little or too much of these activities have higher loneliness scores. In response to the survey findings, Cigna has launched a patient-facing assessment for loneliness that’s free to the public. Cigna’s Loneliness Questionnaire measures feelings of loneliness and offers solutions to help.

 

AP Outs Health Insurers Funding of Private Medicare Advocacy Group

The Associated Press reports that the multimillion dollar budget for Better Medicare Alliance, a group gaining influence in Washington as a champion for Medicare beneficiaries, is bankrolled by UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Humana. Not surprisingly, these three insurance companies together account for close to 50 percent of all enrollees in private Medicare Advantage plans. The organization’s website and Facebook page don’t disclose where its money comes from, but the info was gleaned through federal tax returns and interviews with the organization’s president.

HSAs Tame Retirement Threats?

Our pal Bob Lawton at Lawton Retirement Plan’s Monday Morning Minute has a great post up  this week. According to Bob: 

Recently, Barron’s published a nice history of 401(k) plans titled “The 401(k) Is Turing 40. We Looked At The Good, The Bad And The Future.”

As someone who has worked for more than 30 years with thousands of 401(k) plans including those from some of the best companies in the world such as Apple, AT&T, IBM, John Deere and Northwestern Mutual, I get tired of hearing that 401(k) plans are broken.

They are not. Our approach to funding retirement needs to evolve in response to changes in our economy and culture.

Bob warns that such changes have lead him to conclude that health care is the biggest threat to retirement. That’s why he’s talking about HSAs. Find out more by reading his entire post. And, while you’re at it, you might as well read EBN’s 10 Things You Need to Know About Health Savings Accounts.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

Drugs and Money

ScriptSave WellRx prescription discount program has posted its annual update for members which highlights the Changes to Prescription Formulary Lists for the year ahead. The analysis reveals which prescription drugs will be dropped by the largest pharmacy benefit managers and which are likely to be dropped by many leading insurance companies. According to the analysis, two of the largest PBMs in the U.S. – Express Scripts and CVS Caremark – may drop dozens of medications from their insurance plans. Patients with lung disease, heart disease, reproductive health issues, hormonal conditions, allergies and severe acne, chronic bowel disease, Lyme disease, high cholesterol and insomnia could be affected. Moreover, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that more than 36 drug-makers are raising their prices on hundreds of medicines in 2019. The article contends prices will rise an average 6.3 percent, including pricing hikes on different doses for the same drug.

COLABS

Another Aflac Announcement: Company Plans to Invest in Singapore Life

Aflac Incorporated announced that it has made a $20 million minority equity investment in Singapore Life Pte. Ltd., a digitally-focused life insurance company based in Singapore. At the same time, the company announced that its operating subsidiary American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus plans to enter into a reinsurance agreement on certain protection products with Singapore Life. Reps for Aflac say that Singapore Life is an excellent example of how technology can be leveraged to provide better financial solutions. The latest announcement comes after December news that Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. will buy 7 percent of Aflac for about $2.4 billion.

Denim Announces Partnership with UK Innovation Program

Denim Labs, a mobile marketing platform for financial services, announced it has been selected to partner with Startupbootcamp Colab InsurTech London (SBC Colab).  SBC Colab, an innovation program, identifies insurers’ priorities and gaps within business operations and aligns them with the best emerging technologies. Denim says the partnership with SBC Colab should pave the way to many new international opportunities. Earlier this year, Des Moines-based Denim was named an InsurTech 100 by London-based FinTech Global. As the industry grapples with rapid innovation and digital transformation challenges, FinTech Global produced the InsurTech 100 list to identify the world’s 100 most innovative companies.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

retirement planning

2019 Should Mean More Moola for Employees

A majority of surveyed chief financial officers and finance executives predict employees will be happier with their paychecks this year. Prudential and CFO Research surveyed senior executives. Two-thirds of the execs said that a reportedly tightening job market and new cash reserves resulting from a slashed corporate tax rate should lead to wage increases. Over half of the executives expect to increase 401(k) plan matches too.

EVENTS

LAAHU Breakfast Meeting- Employment Law Update

January 17, 2019, 8-10 a.m.

Monterey At Encino, 16821 Burbank Blvd, Encino, CA 91436. Register here.

Marilyn A. Monahan, owner of the Monahan Law Office in Marina del Rey, will present on new employment laws. Marilyn focuses her practice on advising employers and consultants on compliance with employee benefit and insurance laws, including ACA, ERISA, HIPAA, and COBRA. Her volunteer activities include serving as Secretary of the Employee Benefit Planning Association (EBPA). Marilyn has also served on the Board of Directors of the Professionals in Human Resources Association (PIHRA) (2008-2018).

VCAHU Charity 5k Walk/Run

Event is Saturday, January 12, 2019, Ventura

$40 registration, register before Jan. 10 4:59pm.  Register here.

VCAHU is extremely excited to bring the community together in an effort to raise a goal of $10,000 in order to have a Children’s Dream Racer built for Ventura County Medical Center’s Pediatric Unit / PICU. Children’s Dream Racer is a child-sized version of a real NASCAR race car. Built by retired NASCAR builder and founder of CDR, Mark “Smitty” Smith. These cars are built from the same materials used to fabricate a real NASCAR. Smitty’s mission is to place a Children’s Dream Racer in hospitals and cancer centers all across the U.S. so that children going through treatment have a chance to escape the worries of their circumstances for even a few moments out of their day. Proceeds generated from the 5k will go toward the build and delivery of the Children’s Dream Racer.

PIMA’s 2019 Industry Insights Conference

January 24-27, 2019, Margaritaville Beach Resort, Hollywood, Florida

Registration is now open for the Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) Industry Insights Conference. The conference will host expert speakers from leading companies around the country including Facebook, Forrester and Action Surge. Conference promises to explore new product and distribution trends; emerging markets that harness growth in new areas; social marketing to drive insurance business; marketing to Millennials and Gen Z; and an insurance industry overview of blockchain. Early bird registration and housing deadline is December 14, 2018. Visit PIMA’s conference page for more details and to register or call 817-569-7462 (PIMA).

LAAHU Annual Conference

April 17, 2019, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles. Register here.  Exhibitor info here.  Sponsorship info here.

LAAHU’s Annual Conference is the largest in the state and includes updates from D.C., breakout sessions for IFP, small group, large group, medicare and more!

IICF Horizon Award GALA and IICF Global Conference –Save the dates!

March 21, 2019, Downtown Los Angeles

June 12-14, 2019, New York City

 

CAL BROKER

California Broker’s January print issue is now out. A look ahead…February is our millennial issue! Advertisers can contact devon@calbrokermag.com for special 2019 rates.