What Do the Stars Hold for You?

This is the headline from a story in this week’s New Yorker magazine: “Astrology in the Age of Uncertainty: Millennials who see no contradiction between using astrology and believing in science are fuelling a resurgence of the practice.” And, because Cal Broker is such a trend starter (yes, we’re kidding), an astute reader might remember that we recently published what must be the very first insurance industry astrological outlook. We pulled a few strings and managed to get renowned astrologer Gahl Eden Sasson, a contributor to the Huffington Post and best selling author, to weigh in on what the industry should watch for in the near future. Take a read…

Mercury Retrograde – The Trickster Oct 31 – Nov 20

By Gahl Eden Sasson

Mercury is the trickster. Even when he is cruising direct through the heavens, he likes to pull practical jokes. I always thought that this was his compensation for delivering messages. When Mercury is retrograde, his tricks and ruses go to the next level. Of course, Mercury does not really retrograde, but from an earthly vantage point, Mercury does look as if he is going backwards three or four times a year for about three weeks.

Mercury, the messenger of the gods and goddesses, represents the archetype of communication, connections, computers, emails, texts, messages, directions, information, data, cables, Wi-Fi, the nervous system, and breathing. During Mercury retrograde, all these aspects of life are reversed, malfunctioning. Error messages, delays, accidents, mishaps, misspelling and glitches plague the earth.

During Mercury retrograde, it is not recommended to start new long-term projects, sign documents, make large purchases, get married, start marketing campaigns, publish, inaugurate locations or homes, or release new products. Communications of all sorts are slower and more challenging. Computers crash; stock markets turn volatile; flights are delayed; traffic is worse than usual; accidents occur more often; and Murphy’s Law takes hold of all aspects of our lives. If you need to fly during Mercury retrograde, make sure you do your online check-in and allow more time to reach the airport. Try to avoid overscheduling yourself or being overly critical and demanding. Also pay attention to your diet and food intake.

If you must start a new project, be as mindful as you can. Pay attention to small details and read in-between the lines if you must sign a document. Rewrite your emails; edit your texts; and think before you speak or post. In fact, it is better if you spend more time listening than talking. Life does not come to a halt during Mercury retrograde. You can still achieve a great deal during his retrograde. It is like going on a vacation in Sweden in the winter: It can still be fun, just make sure you take a coat. However, Mercury retrograde is a great time to edit, redo, reexamine yourself and your path, revisit old projects, and find lost objects. Try to focus on activities that have the prefix re – reevaluate, reedit, redo, reexamine, reconnect, regenerate, revisit, re-imagine, etc.

The last Mercury Retrograde for 2019 takes place in Scorpio (the sign of insurance, taxes, investments) between Halloween (Oct 31) to Nov 20. So yes, for the insurance industry it will be a chaotic time. There will be many back and forths, misunderstandings, mistakes, changes of heart/mind, confusion and glitches with web sites and enrollment. Please do as much coordination and preparations beforehand to limit the damage that Mercury Retrograde can cause. It is not hopeless, since as you read before, it is a good time to redo, reevaluate, and change existing strategies, marketing, forms of communication, promotions and insurance plans.

HEALTH

More Children Now Uninsured; Plus Many Americans Clueless About ACA

The number of U.S. children without insurance rose from 3.6 million in 2016 to 4.1 million in 2018, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Researchers say the progress made in insurance coverage for children with the advent of the Affordable Care Act is now all but reversed. The reversal is thought to have happened as a result of changes to Medicaid, delays in the funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan and as a result of the Trump Administration’s efforts to unravel the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking of the ACA, a new State of Healthcare and Politics Report from insuranceQuotes.com found that a full 34% of Americans are unaware that the ACA is still in effect. Isn’t that strange?

A How-To for RBP

Cal Broker has been talking about reference based pricing for years. But you can never get enough of basics. If you need a brush up, check out EBN’s  How-to Guide for Reference Based Pricing.

Consensus: We Want Health Coverage But…

The vast majority of Americans are behind proposals that would expand access to affordable health care coverage. That’s according to findings from a new national survey supported by the Commonwealth Fund, the New York Times, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The survey found that support is evenly split between a Medicare-for-all-style plan that would upend the current health insurance system and incremental approaches that would build on the Affordable Care Act. About one-third of respondents also said they believe states, rather than the federal government, should be in charge. Despite the differences in opinions on how we should get there, two-thirds of the public now says they support Democratic plans.

Covered Cal for Small Biz Unveils Rates

Covered California for Small Business unveiled the health plan choices and rates for small-businesses for the upcoming 2020 plan year. The statewide weighted average rate change will be 4.1 percent, which represents the lowest annual increase in the program’s six-year history and is significantly lower than national projected increases for larger employers. In a written statement, Covered California executive Director Peter Lee highlighted the success of Covered California for Small Business. “[It’s] another example of how the Affordable Care Act and this new era of health care are working for Californians,” Lee said. “As we continue to grow and provide relatively low increases, it helps all small employers and their employees by putting competitive pressure on plans across the state.” Check out the following table for a look at the rate increase history of Cov Cal for Small Business.               

Table 1: Covered California for Small Business Average Rate Change, by Year
Year Rate Increase

(Percentage)

2020 4.1
2019 4.6
2018 5.6
2017 5.9
2016 7.9
2015 5.2
Projected Large-Business Rate Change in 2020[1] 6.0

INSURTECH

Have a Great Broker Tech Idea? Apply Now for Funding and Mentorship

BrokerTech Ventures, a consortium of industry insiders including Holmes Murphy, M3 Insurance, PayneWest, ABD, Conner Strong & Buckelew, Assurance, InterWest, Graham Company and Hylant, is looking for its first cohort. 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 your tech 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.

MEDICARE

SCAN Health Plan Announces 2020 Benefits in Southern California

SCAN Health Plan®  announced its 2020 health plan benefits for Southern California. Seniors and those eligible for Medicare in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties can select from plans that cover options such as gym membership, fitness trackers, dental care, transportation, a medical alert system and respite care. SCAN’s most popular offering, SCAN Classic (HMO), provides core extras such as vision care, acupuncture and chiropractic services, transportation, gym membership, hearing aids, and, in many areas, over-the-counter products and preventive dental services. Featured extras in 2020 include no-cost telehealth, worldwide travel coverage and free Fitbit™ fitness trackers in many geographies. These are in addition to the plan’s comprehensive coverage for medical care including doctor visits, preventive care and screenings and hospitalization—all $0 in many SCAN plans. Many SCAN plans also include coverage for medical alert systems, respite care for caregivers, and Returning to Home, which provides in-home care visits after a hospital or skilled nursing facility stay for things like bathing, dressing and meal deliveries. In addition to its traditional Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans, SCAN continues to offer special needs plans. SCAN Connections (HMO SNP), for those who are also eligible for Medi-Cal, provides an easy-to-use, all-in-one plan. Chronic condition special needs plans include SCAN Balance (HMO SNP), for those with diabetes, and SCAN Heart First (HMO SNP), for those with heart disease—each providing tailored benefits such as chronic condition home-delivered meals and, for SCAN Balance plan members, insulin coverage through the gap (or “donut hole”). More info at www.scanhealthplan.com.

EVENTS

  • Alliance of Comprehensive Planners 2019 Annual Conference
    Nov. 12-15, Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, San Diego
    The Alliance of Comprehensive Planners (ACP) is a community of tax-focused financial planners who provide planning strategies for clients on a fee-only retainer basis. Conference early bird registration rates (which expire Oct. 11, 2019) are in effect now. Participation is open to all interested financial professionals. Companies interested in sponsoring the ACP Annual Conference should contact Jill Colsch at jill@acplanners.org. The agenda is available here: https://2019.acplanners.org/home.
  • LAAHU Holiday Party– Dec 17, www.laahu.org
  • CAHU Women’s Leadership Conference
    March 25-27, 2020, JW Marriott Resort&Spa, Las Vegas
    Save the date! Get early bird pricing by registering by 8/31/19 and using code NAHU19.
    More info at www.cahu.org.
  • LAAHU Annual Symposium- Save the date!
    April 22, 2020, Skirball Center, Los Angeles. More info soon!