We’re Grateful for SCAN’s Work This Thanksgiving!

A very special thank you goes out to our friends at SCAN Health Plan. In keeping with a 27-year tradition, the health plan will deliver more than 2,100 turkey dinners with all the trimmings to senior residents throughout Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties on Thanksgiving Day. SCAN recruits local volunteers to package and deliver the holiday meals. This is just one more example of SCAN’s commitment to address the issues beyond medical care that can lead to negative health outcomes—such as social isolation, food insecurity and lack of transportation. We can’t thank you enough, SCAN, for serving Thanksgiving to these vulnerable members of our communities. Keep up the good work. 

HEALTH

ACE Tips for Handling Diabetes & Holidays

Thank you to the American Council on Exercise for the following 5 tips for taking control of the holiday season and staying on top of diabetes. Please pass them along to your clients:

  1. Set priorities – Rather than trying to do everything this holiday season, take a few minutes to decide what is most important to you (and your health) and then adjust your priorities accordingly. Give yourself permission to say no to invitations or requests if you need time to take care of something else—or simply to relax.
  2. Make a plan – Use a calendar app to plan your days, so you can avoid both overbooking and being rushed. This approach allows you to take care of your diabetes by scheduling time for exercise, keeping medical appointments and reminding yourself to test your blood glucose or take medication. Block off time for yourself as well, so you can enjoy reading, meditation or whatever helps you relieve stress or reenergize.
  3. Celebrate in moderation – Between family gatherings, meeting friends for lunch and sweet treats at work, the holidays can serve up a tempting array of foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugars. Moderation is key:
    • Before a family dinner or work party, have a healthy snack to take the edge off of your hunger.
    • Choose low-glycemic options when available and remember to count carbs in beverages, including alcohol.
    • Bring a diabetes-friendly dish to a potluck so you’ll have at least one good option.
    • If you’re feeling tired or anxious, or just need to get away from the food and drink, thank your hosts and go home to take care of yourself – it’s okay to leave an event early.
  4. Stick to your exercise program – Exercise is always an important part of diabetes management, especially so when you’re stressed or feeling anxious or depressed. If you find it difficult to keep up your usual exercise routine:
    • Make workout dates with a friend or coworker and help each other stay on track.
    • Instead of meeting someone for coffee, meet up for a walk.
    • Break up exercise into 10-minute bouts if that makes it easier to fit it into your schedule.
    • Talk to a personal trainer or health coach about ways to adjust your exercise schedule until the holidays are over.
  5. Be prepared if you travel – If your holiday plans include traveling, pack extra medication and supplies in case you are delayed for some reason. Keep them in a carry-on bag that travels with you at all times and toss in a few diabetes-friendly snacks as well. Also, bring prescriptions for your medications and supplies should you need to have them filled away from home. Finally, while it’s unlikely you will need it, it’s a good idea to find a diabetes physician, hospital and emergency care at your destination before you leave home.

Body Weight May Impact Flu Shot Effectiveness

This is fascinating…it looks like researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that the flu shot is less effective for people who are overweight or obese. This is a snippet from the NPR report:

As people become overweight, their metabolism changes. And Beck says that metabolic shift affects many cells, including immune system cells. She has studied the details of this in mice.

Elderly people face the same problem. “Sometimes they can make an antibody response, but it’s their T cells that aren’t functioning, so they can still get infected with flu even though they’ve been vaccinated,” she says.

As a result, a “30-year-old obese person has the immune cells that look a lot like what you might expect in an 80-year-old individual,” Beck says.

Now that the issue is known, though, researchers are looking for ways to work around the problem with future immunization.

Medicare for All? Not so Fast

The New York Times reports that many Dems are warning that it’s a bad move to hop on the Medicare for All bandwagon. The fear is that the GOP will try to paint them as socialists if they back such a program. Support for the Affordable Care Act earned the party critical electoral gains in 2018 and 2019, according to strategists who predict a battle will likely emerge between Dems who want Medicare for All and those who support strengthening the ACA.

DMHC Says Nope to OC Doc– No Surprise!

The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) announced it has reached a settlement agreement against Dr. Nancy B. Way, a general surgeon in Newport Beach. Way must stop illegally balance billing patients, must conduct an audit to determine the amount of illegally collected balance billing payments and must reimburse patients. Way will also pay a $13,000 civil penalty. DMHC reminds all that if a consumer is balance billed or receives a surprise medical bill, they should file a grievance with their health plan and include a copy of the bill. Their health plan will review the grievance and should contact the provider to stop billing the enrollee. If the consumer does not agree with their health plan’s response or if the plan takes more than 30 days to fix the problem, they can file a complaint with the DMHC Help Center at www.HealthHelp.ca.gov or 1-888-466-2219.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

More Anonymous: Researchers Get Rx Execs to Talk

It’s not just the author of the new book on Trump who wants to go by “anonymous.” It looks like executives from prescription drug companies also like the anonymity. Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University and the OHSU/Oregon State University College of Pharmacy managed to recruit four pharmaceutical industry executives to speak confidentially about why drugs for multiple sclerosis have been rising 10 to 15% each year for the past decade.  As a point of reference, U.S. Medicare patients with multiple sclerosis often pay, on average, nearly $7,000 out of pocket to treat their condition each year.  In their published study, which appeared in the journal Neurology, the executives were blunt about the rationale behind the pricing. One exec told the researchers this:

“I would say the rationales for the price increases are purely what can maximize profit,” one executive said. “There’s no other rationale for it, because costs (of producing the drug) have not gone up by 10% or 15%; you know, the costs have probably gone down.”

Take a look at the whole study here.

LTC

Increased 2020 Tax Deductible Limits For Long-Term Care Insurance Announced

The Internal Revenue Service recently announced increased limits for tax deductibility of long-term care insurance premiums.  According to IRS Revenue Procedure 2019-44, a couple age 70 or older who both have the right kind of long-term care insurance policy can deduct as much as $10,860 in 2020.  The 2019 limit is $10,540.

The following are the new 2020 deductible limits (2019 in brackets):

2020 Tax Deductible Limits Long-Term Care Insurance

Premiums paid for traditional long-term care insurance are includable in the term ‘medical care’.   The following are the just announced 2020 limits (per-individual):

Attained Age Before Close of Taxable Year         2020 Limit (2019)
40 or less                                                                $430  ($420)
More than 40 but not more than 50                 $810  ($790)
More than 50 but not more than 60                  $1,630  ($1,580)
More than 60 but not more than 70                   $4,350  ($4,220)
More than 70                                                          $5,430  ($5,270)

These increased tax deductible limits can be a significant benefit for those with tax-qualified long-term care insurance policies, according to Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. Tax deductibility for long-term care insurance is a great subsidy especially after retirement, but only a small segment of newly purchased long-term care insurance policies offer the tax deductible opportunity, says Slome.  “The special tax advantages allowed by the IRS are only available with tax-qualified health-based long-term care insurance,” Slome explains.  “Many more individuals today are buying linked-benefit LTC policies such as life insurance and annuity policies with a long-term care benefit but these almost never will qualify for premium tax deductibility.” More info at AALTCI  and at www.aaltci.org/tax.

TECH

Still Two Days Left to Submit Your Brilliant Idea!

Got some great tech ideas based on the insurance agent/broker experience? BrokerTech Ventures, a consortium of insurance industry companies, wants to hear from you. Propose your idea and, if your proposal is selected, you’ll be a part of a small group of entrepreneurs who will receive money and mentorship to help get that idea off the ground. BrokerTech will select seven to 10 proposals for a $50k convertible note and mentoring. Early stage ideas are welcome. The submission window is open until Nov. 29. Read more about it in the Des Moines Register. Find BrokerTech on Twitter @BrokerTechVen or on LinkedIn @BrokerTech-Ventures. Email questions to hello@brokertechventures.com. Or visit the website brokertechventures.com.

EVENTS

  • LAAHU Holiday Party– Dec 17, www.laahu.org
  • SDAHU Expo 2020 -January 16, 2020 @ 8:00 am2:30 pm
    Town and Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego. More info here.
  • OCAHU 8th Annual Business Development Summit
    February 28, 2020, DoubleTree by Hilton-Anaheim/Orange County
    Contact: Gail James Clarke (714) 441-8951, ext.3, email: orangecountyahu@yahoo.com
  • CAHU Women’s Leadership Conference
    March 25-27, JW Marriott Resort&Spa, Las Vegas
    More info at www.cahu.org.
  • LAAHU Annual Symposium- Save the date!
    April 22, Skirball Center, Los Angeles. More info soon!