Newsom Begins Governorship with an Insurance Bang

Newsom Begins Governorship with an Insurance Bang

California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, began his in January with a lot of insurance talk and some action. The state’s 40th governor signed a letter asking the federal government’s permission to mingle state and federal dollars (such as funding for Medicare, Medicaid and veterans health benefits) into a single-payer system, replacing the various public and private insurance programs with one run by Sacramento. In response, The Los Angeles Times editorial board said the “chances of the Trump administration signing on to such a plan seem more remote than the most distant star in the Milky Way.”

Newsom, however, forged on with his “California for All” agenda. He signed an executive order to establish a state-run, single-purchaser for drugs and he says he’ll establish a California surgeon general post.

The new governor also promised that the following provisions will make their way to his budget proposal:

Expanded access to health insurance premium subsidies. Newsom wants to make subsidies available to residents earning up to 600 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s $72,840 for an individual and $150,600 for a family of four.

A state “individual shared responsibility” provision. This would require people to have major medical coverage or pay a penalty.

Access to Medicaid coverage to undocumented young adults. The state Medicaid coverage for undocumented children would be extended to residents ages 19 to 26.

GIA Welcomes 2019 Cohort

The Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA), an organization that fosters insurance industry innovation, announced its 2019 cohort. GIA welcomed members of 10 Insurtech companies to Des Moines, Iowa, January 15, to begin the program. This year’s GIA cohort teams are developing and delivering new products and business models for buying insurance, cyber risk protection, underwriting automation, advisor services, digital transformation, claims resolution, pension planning, and employee benefit management. The teams include:

  • BriteBee enables consumers to shop for trusted insurance agents in an online marketplace.
  • Cowbell simplifies and expedites the process of obtaining accurate cyber insurance coverage for businesses by mapping insurable threats to the type of exposures.
  • ebbie specializes in e-application development and underwriting automation for life and health insurance companies.
  • everyday life makes purchasing the right life insurance policy easier using artificial intelligence (AI) to provide high-quality advisor services and personalized recommendations.
  • Friendly digitizes and structures documents and notes to enable automation of time-consuming, mundane tasks, such as data entry, document indexing, and adjudication for simple products.
  • Liscena automates the decisions and interactions between policyholders and insurance companies with AI-powered claims adjusters.
  • Micruity supports entities looking to synergize employee benefits with human resources (HR) strategy by enabling the addition of financial-focused insurance products, such as deferred annuities, to the company pension plan.
  • Predictive Health Partners leverages real-time predictive analytics that is personalized and conveniently delivered thru a mobile app to help employees be better consumers and managers of health care.
  • Prosper eDNA increases accuracy and planning for insurance companies working in life, long-term care and annuities by making accurate lifespan predictions, and enabling personalized epigenetic (not genetic) monitoring.
  • The Sentence Data Refinery assists insurance companies by reading and interpreting sentence data related to events and activities in claim and underwriting files with speed and accuracy.

The GIA’s 100-day program consists of one-on-one meetings with insurance professionals, site visits to insurer offices, networking events, discussions with seasoned InsurTech founders, education sessions, investor introductions and much more. The program concludes with final presentations at the Global Insurance Symposium on April 24 in Des Moines.

Colonial Life, EaseCentral Expand Partnership

Colonial Life and EaseCentral announced an expanded partnership to better serve mutual customers through a new benefits enrollment solution. The companies have successfully partnered to bring benefits enrollment solutions to the small to mid-size business market for more than two years. Their expanded partnership offers a new system upgrade that supports Colonial Life agent-assisted enrollments with secure two-factor authentication that protects employee information while allowing Colonial Life representatives to provide one-to-one employee benefits counseling. Self-enroll and call center enrollment methods also are supported by the platform for maximum enrollment flexibility.  Company reps say the expanded partnership takes advantage of the ideal combination of people and technology to deliver results and maintain service excellence.

NAFA Appoints New President

The National Association for Fixed Annuities announced that Charles J. “Chuck” DiVencenzo will assume the role of President & CEO effective April 1. NAFA says DiVencenzo will oversee the daily operations while working to actively execute the Board of Directors’ strategic vision for the organization, enhance membership experience and advocate for the value of fixed annuities and their role in American retirement planning. Prior to joining NAFA, DiVencenzo was vice president of advanced sales development for Allianz Life of North America.

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. More info at