Thursday, Dec. 10, is “Get Covered America Day.” The national initiative is a call to action, urging people to stay home, wear a mask, support health care heroes and help 16 million uninsured Americans sign up for a quality health insurance plan to fight the ongoing pandemic. With the unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases nationwide, the need to act has never been greater. The most recent data shows that of the 28 million Americans currently uninsured, more than half of them — 16 million — are eligible for financial help to pay for their health insurance costs or for free coverage through Medicaid. The financial help significantly reduces their monthly premiums, which means that two out of three consumers can get a plan for $10 per month or less.
“During the worst health care crisis of our generation and with millions losing insurance coverage due to the bad economy, doing promotion and outreach is the right thing to do and sound public health policy,” said Covered California executive director Peter Lee. “Millions of Americans who otherwise would not know they had affordable insurance options will hear about getting covered from their personal doctor and other trusted sources because of the Get Covered 2021 effort.”
Shout it from the rooftops: consumers should sign up by Dec. 15 in order to have coverage that begins on Jan. 1, 2021. A host of advocates and celebrities will be taking part in the Get Covered America Day. More info at GetCovered2021.
We have a guest post today from Elizabeth Stephen of Striata titled “How insurers (and their brokers) can make the most of the COVID-19 moment”. Don’t forget to read to the end of the newsletter to find it.
- 35% of respondents said they are enrolled in a MA plan for 2021 because they’ve had it before and prefer it, 29% like the prescription drug coverage, 16% like the affordability, and 9% like the supplemental benefits.
- Of those who decided on a MA plan because of supplemental benefits, 35% cited COVID-19 supplemental benefits specifically, while 27% cited telehealth benefits.
- 45% were switching from an original Medicare plan in 2020 to a Medicare Advantage plan in 2021.
- Of those enrolled in a MA plan for 2021, 65% compared all of their Medicare options before enrolling, while 26% did a “brief amount of research.”
Insight From Purchasing Power Surveys
Voluntary benefits company Purchasing Power® recently conducted an informal survey of HR professionals to assess the impact that both COVID-19 and financial stress is having in their workforces. A second survey sought to identify the recommendations benefit brokers will be making to their clients to address the concerns. The surveys revealed that 21.7% of HR professionals plan to add new financial wellness benefits to their employee benefits package, while 67.9% of benefit brokers expect more interest from clients in providing those voluntary benefits.
The top 5 key takeaways from HR and benefit broker leaders include:
- Employees are dealing with out-of-work spouses/partners. Among the many financial challenges that employees are facing, 81% of those who shared their circumstances with their HR department said money is tighter than ever because a spouse or partner was laid off or furloughed during the pandemic.
- Key indicators to HR that their employees are struggling with finances more now than prior to COVID-19 are 401(k) withdrawals and requests for financial assistance from their employers. The survey revealed that 55.9% of HR professionals surveyed report seeing an increase in 401(k) withdrawals, while 36% had requests from employees for financial assistance from the company.
- Higher levels of employee stress (86%), reduced productivity (65%) and decreased morale (6%) are the three biggest ways financial stress affects a company. Other notables on the list are more absenteeism (47.7%) and increased healthcare claims (41.3%).
- Voluntary benefits can address the specific needs employees have as they continue to struggle with and overcome pandemic challenges. Over 85% of benefit brokers surveyed said they are very likely to recommend additional voluntary benefits to their clients for their employee benefit packages in 2021.
- Critical illness insurance (81.1%), accident insurance (75.5%), employee purchase program (59.4%) and identity theft protection (57.1%) are at the top of the list for benefit brokers planning to recommend more voluntary benefits.
The Coronavirus Pandemic: Airborne Transmission, Ventilation and Reopenings
Do you want the latest info on the pandemic and reopenings? Do you have clients, employees and family members looking to you for solid information? Time to tune into this Friday’s Facebook live stream….
The Coronavirus Pandemic: Airborne Transmission, Ventilation and School and Workplace Reopenings
Presented jointly by The Forum at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and The World from PRX
Live stream on Facebook and The Forum site, Friday, December 11, 2020, 9a.m. Pacific
Careful Readers Make Terrific Points
We’ve had a couple of very careful readers call us out lately.
Renee G. respectfully pointed out that a recent newsletter mentioned wanting to turn the page to brighter times. Renee emailed …”I’m nitpicking a bit… but brighter times takes away from those who have had a great year etc. I like to play devil’s advocate often and in my opinion, we’ve had some great recent years in many ways.” Renee also requested that we try to be crystal clear when linking to opinion articles versus reported articles. Great input, Renee!
And reader Daniel C. pointed out last week’s newsletter should’ve said that ThinkAdvisor was reporting on a Texas broker who was charged with murdering his client. You’re right, Daniel. It’s innocent until proven guilty.
We read your emails and want to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
Telehealth Going Strong
According to new data from FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, telehealth claim lines increased 2,980% nationally from September 2019 to September 2020, rising from 0.16% of medical claim lines in September 2019 to 5.07% in September 2020. However, from month to month, the telehealth share of medical claim lines fell 16.5% nationally from 6.07% in August 2020 to 5.07% in September 2020. The data represent the privately insured population, excluding Medicare and Medicaid.
News from Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission
Have you ever read something and thought “Gosh! that sounds important, but I’m not really sure how to use the info?” Us too. But we’re hoping the following is somehow usable and interesting to you:
The Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission held its Annual Meeting virtually on December 4. The Commission re-elected Rhode Island superintendent Elizabeth Kelleher Dwyer to serve as chair and Wisconsin commissioner Mark Afable to serve as vice chair, and elected West Virginia commissioner James Dodrill to serve as treasurer. The management committee for the coming year also includes Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.
The Commission completed several action items during the first year of the Insurance Compact Compass Strategic Plan including engaging Squire Patton Boggs LLP and Rector & Associates to conduct an independent governance review and business assessment, respectively. At this meeting, these firms shared their findings and recommendations for strategically navigating risks and opportunities to improve governance, member communications, financial sustainability and to address the legislative delegation issues raised by the Colorado Supreme Court in a third-party matter earlier this year.
During the Annual Meeting, the Commission adopted its 2021 Annual Budget which converts the expedited review service from a pilot to a permanent service. The Commission adopted an emergency rule to stay the effectiveness of an amendment to NAIC Model 805 Standard Nonforfeiture Law for Individual Deferred Annuities pending adoption by the NAIC at its Plenary meeting on December 9th. The emergency rule is effective for 120-days and requests the Product Standards Committee study and recommend when and how to incorporate the amendment into the applicable Uniform Standards. Please visit insurancecompact.org for further information about the Annual Meeting and its upcoming meetings.
Note: The Insurance Compact enables state insurance regulators to develop uniform national standards for asset protection insurance products, such as life insurance, annuities, disability income and long-term care insurance. The Insurance Compact establishes a central filing point for these insurance products, enhancing the speed and efficiency of regulatory decisions and allowing companies to compete more effectively in the modern financial marketplace, while continuing to provide protection for consumers.
And if anyone can explain why California doesn’t appear to be a part of this, that would be appreciated.
SCAN Group Appoints New Leadership to Support Expanded and More Diverse Populations
SCAN Group announced the hiring of three new executives and one promotion to support larger and more diverse senior populations. Timshel Tarbet has been appointed as SCAN’s new vice president of business excellence and diversity strategy, effective immediately. An experienced healthcare executive, she served in the United States Air Force and will oversee new initiatives to bring SCAN to new, diverse populations. Also:
Jill Selby has been promoted to senior vice president, product development and market expansion.
John Petito will serve as vice president and chief of staff.
Sarah Cedeño will serve as director of special projects.
- LAAHU’s Zoom Happy Hour is the first Wednesday of the month from 4-5p.m. Members and nonmembers welcome. Register here.
- NAHU Power Hour, 4th Wednesday of the month from 4-5p.m. Pacific. Members and nonmembers welcome. Register here.
- NAIFA-Los Angeles 68th Annual Will G. Farrell Award & Leadership Recognition Event, Virtual, Feb. 18, 2021. More info here.
- CAHU Women’s Leadership Summit, April 7-9, 2021!
The latest news from CAHU’s WLS committee is that the CAHU Women’s Leadership Summit will now take place April 7 –9, 2021, at Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas. Questions should be emailed to email@example.com.
How insurers (and their brokers) can make the most of the COVID-19 moment
With the country still very much in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, communication between companies and customers has become more important than ever. That’s as true of insurance brokers as it is of any other company. Unlike many companies, however, customers are also communicating with their insurers more than ever. That’s inevitable in such economically uncertain times.
Correctly equipped, however, brokers can help insurers communicate effectively with their customers. An enhanced broker experience will, in turn, yield positive results, such as better engagement, which leads to better productivity, service and ultimately more customers and revenue.
The role of the broker
Insurance brokers are on the front lines assisting customers with life-changing events such as getting married, purchasing a house/car, etc. And in the event of a crisis, they often help customers navigate the claims process.
Ultimately, brokers know a company’s customers best. They have most likely met with them face to face and assessed their specific needs and risk factors. As a result, they have an existing relationship with the insured.
Keeping them onside is therefore pivotal. The best way to do so is with effective communication. Not only will good communication help ensure a good broker experience, but it will also keep the specific insurance company top of mind with brokers and help them understand the products, so they can better serve the needs of their customers.
This approach will, in turn, help brokers understand the importance of reaching their customers as quickly as possible on the most relevant channels. They’ll also grasp that whatever messaging they put out has to feel personalizsed and empathetic.
Those are important lessons and help to engender positive sentiment to what’s usually a grudge purchase. But that won’t last forever. As life returns to some semblance of normal, people will start to feel the same kinds of irritation they did at the beginning of the year. It’s therefore pivotal that insurers equip their brokers to reach out now and make the most of a moment when people are crying out for a good customer experience.
While continuing to provide relevant, easy to understand and contextual information is an important part of retaining customer trust and loyalty, it can’t be the only thing insurers and their brokers should do.
They also need to ensure that they’re maximizing the kinds of technology that improves the customer experience, especially when it comes to communication.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, can improve customer experience through the analysis of data on hand in order to decide the next message that is best suited to each customer, based on actions taken with the insurer or changes in life-stages that shift their needs. By delivering the right message to the right person, at the right time, an organization can dramatically improve the customer experience. That relevance and timeliness, meanwhile, is most likely to result in the response the business wants: a policy renewal, an upsell or a new sale.
Machine Learning (ML), meanwhile, can help decide which content is suited to a customer based on data on hand, such as past behavior, demographics and location, making it easier to deliver truly hyper-personalized communication.
Conditions aren’t going to get any easier for insurers in the coming months, with the economy likely to take years to recover. Insurers therefore need to equip their brokers to build good customer communication habits and create an even better customer experience.