A white paper by Colonial Life finds that employers need to change how they talk about benefits for Millennials in the workplace. Benefits including insurance are best cast as an important piece of overall physical, emotional and financial health. Rather than considering dental insurance as a way to protect against tooth decay and high-priced dentist bills, Millennials may be more willing to consider dental insurance as a way to stay healthy, according to the report. Rather than considering life insurance as a way to prevent their families from being left with burial costs, Millennials may want to consider it a way to ensure that their children’s college education is covered if a household income-earner dies.
Stephen Bygott, vice president for Marketing at Colonial Life said, “Our thinking needs to evolve. For Millennials, being healthy doesn’t just mean not feeling sick. It’s a commitment to an ongoing healthy approach to life, including eating habits, exercise, and avoiding activities that can be viewed as damaging.”
Millennials are economically fragile, making up the most-concerned generation about building emergency funds, saving for large purchases, paying off education loans, maintaining a good credit score, and following a monthly budget. At the same time, nearly one-third of Millennials have no savings set aside for emergencies or to cover their expenses if they are forced to miss work.
Just 23% of Gen Xers and 18% of Baby Boomers have no savings. This lack of savings may be driving Millennials to put off getting married, starting a family, and buying a home. In 2010, 23% of Americans 18 to 31 were married and living in their own household, down from 43% in 1981 and 56% in 1968. Bygott said, “These life events are traditionally seen as drivers for insurance purchasing decisions. When people get married, have a child or buy a home, they have more to protect or worry about.”
Today’s higher-deductible health plans may be attractive to Millennials because premiums are lower. However, these plans can leave employees vulnerable to considerable financial risk. Products, such as disability insurance, critical illness insurance, and accident insurance can help fill the gaps. HR professionals should consider using technology and multiple touch points to better communicate to Millennial employees. To download a copy of the “Millennials Come of Age” white paper, visit http://coloniallife.com/newsroom/white-papers.aspx..
NAIC Offers Policy Locator
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) introduced the Life Insurance Policy Locator to help consumers search for possible life insurance policy or annuity proceeds anywhere in the nation. The national service provides search capabilities to help find a deceased person’s lost life insurance policies and annuities. An estimated $1 billion in benefits from life insurance policies are unclaimed, according to Consumer Reports. For more information, visit naic.org.
LOMA Customer Experience Conference in Vegas
LOMA is sponsoring The Customer Experience Conference March 29 to 31, 2017 at the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa in Las Vegas. For more information, visit LOMA.org.
Landmark Reports Rate Increase
Landmark Health plan’s employer-sponsored group plan rates will increase 4% for groups with two to 199 employees. The last rate increase was in April 2015 for groups with 51 to 199 employees and July 2015 for groups with two to 50 employees. Landmark says that rate stability and infrequent increases are a hallmark of its efforts to keep plans extremely affordable. Chiropractic plans can be purchased for less than $2 per employee, per month. For more information, visit www.LHP-CA.com.
Health Net and Scripps Health Join Forces
Scripps Health and its affiliated physicians are now part of Health Net’s CommunityCare HMO network for individual and family policies on and off Covered California. Brokers who have questions may call Health Net at 800-448-4411 (option 4) or Scripps at 1-800-SCRIPPS.
Public Meeting on Provider Directory Standards
On November 29, 2016, the DMHC and the California Department of Insurance (CDI) will hold a joint public meeting to solicit input on the Uniform Provider Directory Standards required under SB 137 (Hernandez, Chapter 649, Statutes of 2015). The departments are required by law to hold a public meeting on the development of the standards, which are to be released by December 31, 2016. It will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 980 9th Street Conference Room, 2nd Floor in Sacramento, CA 95814. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to participate remotely.
Covered California Appoints Chief Deputy Executive Director
Covered California’s Board of Directors appointed Doug McKeever as chief deputy executive director. McKeever will head Plan Management, Outreach and Sales, Marketing, Service Center, and Policy divisions, with a staff of close to 1,000 employees. He will be responsible for developing and implementing plans to increase growth and improve consumer services and health plan relations. McKeever comes to Covered California from CalPERS where he has been the deputy executive officer. He and his team have been working with all of the large health plans in Covered California and dealing with the same health care dynamics with providers. McKeever will begin work at his new position on January 3. The salary for McKeever’s position is $230,000.
Insurance Consumers are Unfazed by Election, Plan Cost Biggest Issue
A survey by Healthplans.com finds that only 3% of respondents changed their minds about purchasing a health insurance plan after Trump was elected into office. Plan pricing continues to be the primary concern for most consumers. Here are other highlights:
- 70% say plans are too expensive.
- 1/3 of respondents who are not planning to enroll in a health insurance plan in 2017, say it’s because plans are too expensive.
- 53% will shop around for a new plan for 2017, and half say their biggest motivation for doing so is to find a lower-priced plan.
- 40% say that news of carriers pulling out of the exchanges for 2017 has made them at least somewhat less likely to purchase a plan.
- Only 40% are satisfied with their health plan.
The survey polled 1,495 consumers who shopped for insurance plans on Healthplans.com from August 1st to November 10th 2017. For more information, visit Healthplans.com.
How Employers Are Managing Prescription Drug Costs
Employers are stepping up efforts to manage prescription drug costs, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson. Employers are paying particular attention to high-cost specialty medications used to treat complex conditions, such as cancer and hepatitis C. The following are common strategies among employers:
- 63% are evaluating and renegotiating pharmacy contracts; another 31% are planning or considering doing so by 2018.
- 61% added programs to ensure appropriate use of prescription drugs, up from 53% in 2015; 85% are considering doing so by 2018.
- 52% exclude compound drugs; another 13% are considering doing so by 2018.
Employers are using these increasingly popular strategies for specialty drugs:
- 39% are evaluating specialty drug spending through the medical benefit instead of the pharmacy benefit, up from 26% in 2015; 82% will consider it by 2018.
- 19% changed coverage to influence where and how specialty drugs are administered; another 43% are considering doing so for 2018.
- 18% established different copays for specialty drugs to promote lower-cost alternatives, such as biosimilars. That percentage could triple over the next two years.
Nadina Rosier of Willis Towers Watson said, “Companies tend to adopt simple solutions that result in a financial benefit first and move on to more complicated strategies later. Our survey shows that employers are rapidly becoming more aggressive, for example, by evaluating specialty pharmacy spend[ing] through the medical benefit to get more visibility into where these drugs are being administered. This is an essential component of managing specialty pharmacy spend[ing], but it is just the beginning. Employers still need to take action based on what they learn.”
HSAs May Restrict Healthcare Choices
The high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) associated with health savings accounts (HSAs) may be leading lower-income employees to avoid certain healthcare services, warns the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Examining the claims of one large Midwestern employer, EBRI found major variations by income level in the use of some health services. For example while switching to an HDHP led employees at all income levels to make fewer outpatient office visits, the decline was twice as great for workers making less than $50,000 per year (and their dependents) as for those making at least $100,000.
EBRI also found a link between HDHPs and the reduced use of preventive services, such as flu vaccines, by lower-income employees. Meanwhile, these individuals’ rate of emergency room visits and inpatient hospital admissions increased, although these appeared to be short-term effects.
Other types of healthcare services appeared to be unaffected by HSA/HDHP adoption or worker income, according to EBRI’s study. These included inpatient hospital days, avoidable emergency department visits, pneumonia and HPV vaccinations, and blood sugar testing for diabetics.
“A key question with high-deductible HSA-eligible health plans is how the income differences between workers affect the use of health care services and spending: Do lower-paid workers defer health care more than higher-paid workers? We found mixed results: For some health services, yes it does—but for others, it does not,” said coauthor Paul Fronstin of EBRI.
The large employer that was the subject of the study offered an HSA-eligible HDHP alongside a PPO. The data included 150,000 to 200,000 individuals, and covered their health care services and spending over a six-year period, from 2009 through 2014. The apparent short-term nature of the spike in emergency and inpatient admissions may alleviate some of the underlying concerns, the report concluded. However, if sponsors or insurers are concerned about the impact of HSA-eligible health plans on lower-income workers, they can consider modifications, such as higher HSA contributions for lower-income employees and education about the preventive services not subject to the deductible. For more information, visit ebri.org.
Quick Fixes to Obamacare Trump Can Make on Day One
President-elect Donald Trump and most Republicans campaigned on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on day one of a Trump presidency. Failing to fulfill that promise will send a signal to millions of frustrated voters that Republicans cannot be trusted, warns Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews. He said that Trump could quickly reduce the law’s current problems and give people more affordable options by doing the following:
- Issue an executive order prohibiting the IRS from collecting any Obamacare penalties for not having qualified coverage while Congress develops replacement legislation. If there is no penalty, the mandate is moot; people not receiving subsidies could then buy whatever coverage they want.
- Quickly nominate a new Department of Health and Human Services secretary. The ACA vests tremendous discretionary power in the secretary.
- Encourage states to seek 1332 wavers. Allow state insurance commissioners to deem any health insurance policy available in their state as qualified coverage under HHS’s “extended transitional policy.” This change would allow people receiving taxpayer subsidies to apply them toward any available coverage they choose.
Matthews points out that the model for repeal is the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015,” which passed the House and Senate and was vetoed by President Obama. Matthews said, “As the bill’s name indicates, it used the more limited reconciliation process, which only requires 51 votes and avoids a Senate filibuster. The bill repealed Obamacare’s subsidies, tax credits and Medicaid expansion beginning in 2018, among other provisions. An updated version might extend the deadline to 2019, so that those dependent on government help would not be affected immediately, and giving Republicans a year or two to create a replacement bill that provides for a smooth transition to a new system.” For more information, visit www.IPI.org.
LifeSite introduced LifeSite Pro, a secure digital vault for information exchange and document management, especially for financial service and insurance companies. LifeSite’s interactive portal helps them securely organize, store, and share their clients’ information in one place. For more information, visit lifesite.co.
Scan Hearing Aid Benefit
The majority of SCAN Health Plan members with hearing loss can now get significant savings on new hearing aids thanks to a 2017 benefit being introduced by the not-for-profit Medicare Advantage health plan. The new benefit includes a routine hearing exam, hearing aid fitting and evaluation, and two hearing aids per calendar year with a simple copayment of $699 or $999 per hearing aid, depending on the hearing aid selected. This is a significant out-of-pocket savings when compared with the average retail price of two hearing aids, which is approximately $4,700 per pair according to the National Academies of Sciences report on hearing aid affordability.
Med Supp Fitness Benefits
Members in Anthem’s currently marketed Medicare Supplement Plans A, F and N in California will have full access to SilverSneakers at no extra cost. SilverSneakers offers access to more than 13,000 fitness and wellness facilities nationwide, as well as the SilverSneakers FLEX network, which includes classes and activities at community-based locations. Members can take advantage of a host of comprehensive program features including facility amenities and a variety of specialized group exercise classes taught by instructors trained in senior fitness.
Short-Term Limited Medical Insurance
The new 90-day duration limit imposed on Short-Term Medical insurance for compliance with the Affordable Care Act, positions the Short-Term Limited Medical product from Standard Life and Accident Insurance Co. to fill a unique niche since it is categorized as Limited Medical and therefore not subject to the ruling. Benefits of short-term limited medical coverage include A Fast approval process, No restrictions on health care providers, and affordability. For more information, visit AmericanNational.com.
Kmart Pharmacy Announces Copays as Low as $1* with Medicare Part D
Many Medicare Part D members can now turn to Kmart Pharmacy as their 2017 preferred provider for pharmaceutical needs. Medicare Part D members can get substantial savings in their copays, including copays as low as $1, when they fill their prescriptions through a preferred network pharmacy such as Kmart Pharmacy. Kmart Pharmacies are in the preferred retail pharmacy network for 2017 Medicare Part D plans available nationwide and in Puerto Rico offered by UnitedHealthcare (AARP MedicareRx Plans), Aetna, Cigna-HealthSpring, SilverScript Insurance Company, and more