Let’s Focus on Mental Health

Republican John Kasich, former governor of Ohio,  and Henry Harbin, a psychiatrist and former CEO of Magellan Health, teamed up to write an opinion piece that’s posted to CNN about the dire need to focus on mental health needs for frontline COVID workers and everyday citizen quarantined at home. From the story:

A Rapid Review published last week in the medical journal The Lancet outlined the potential psychological effects of quarantine, and painted a desperate picture of what we have to face in the months and years to come. Similar to what we saw after other mass traumas, such as 9/11 and hurricanes like Katrina and Harvey, not only are the effects expected to be significant, they continue to manifest over the years. The Lancet warned of rates of post-traumatic stress among quarantined children more than four times higher than baseline, and rates of depression among quarantined hospital staff many times higher than their peers, even years later.

Kasich and Harbin offer this bit of advice:

…we need to practice self-care: avoid fixating on the news; be mindful with your time by prioritizing things that matter to you; stick to a routine that is as close to “normal” as you can manage; get some fresh air in a manner consistent with social distancing; and stay connected by checking in with close friends and family via Zoom, FaceTime, calls, text messages or other social media platforms.
Experts say another proven technique is to focus on what we are grateful for, and those things are in no short supply: healthy friends and family, grocery store clerks and delivery people, health care workers, mental health and addiction counselors, first responders, and so many more.

If you’re interested in mental health and how it relates to health insurance, please also read This New Yorker article on diseases of despair.

California Broker will be running stories regularly about mental health benefits, starting in our May print issue. If you have something to contribute, please reach out to editor@calbrokermag.com.

Colonial Life Identifies Top Stressors

Colonial Life is also aware that mental health needs rule the day. The company just conducted a survey to see what U.S. adults say they are currently most stressed out about. Finances, job and health of child/partner/elderly relative “won” the race.

GOOD STUFF

Lara Orders Return of Insurance Premiums

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara ordered insurance companies to return insurance premiums to consumers and businesses to provide financial relief during the COVID-19 emergency. The Commissioner’s Bulletin covers premiums paid for at least the months of March and April — including the month of May if “shelter in place” restrictions continue — in at least six different insurance lines: private passenger automobile, commercial automobile, workers’ compensation, commercial multi-peril, commercial liability, medical malpractice, and any other insurance line where the risk of loss has fallen substantially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commissioner’s Bulletin requires insurance companies to provide a premium credit, reduction, return of premium, or other appropriate premium adjustment as soon as possible, and no later than August 2020. Commissioner Lara has already requested at least a 60-day grace period for policyholders to pay their premiums so that insurance policies are not cancelled for nonpayment of premium during this challenging time. Together, these two actions will give consumers and businesses substantial financial relief.

What’s the Prediction on Post-COVID to 2021 Insurance Premiums?

Santa Clara, California-based eHealthInsurance.com  polled health insurers with which it’s had a business relationship with from March 30 through April 2, 2020. More than half of the insurers — 33 — responded. The result: more than 80% say they don’t expect COVID-19 to impact 2021 rates.

United Health Foundation Pledges $1 Million to Support Vulnerable L.A. County Residents

The United Health Foundation announced it has committed $1 million to provide urgent assistance to Los Angeles County residents experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership with the California Community Foundation’s COVID-19 LA County Response Fund is part of UnitedHealth Group’s previously announced initial $50 million commitment to fight COVID-19 and support those most directly impacted, including health care workers, hard-hit communities, seniors and people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. The $1 million donation to the COVID-19 LA County Response Fund will support Los Angeles County clinics and hospitals that serve unsheltered residents and low-income individuals, triaging those who are sick or who have been exposed to the virus, and will assist housing providers and shelter operators who are responding to the increased demand for emergency services for the county’s homeless population.

NAFA Webinar Thursday! 8:30am

National Association for Fixed Annuities is offering a free one-hour webinar tomorrow, April 16, 8:30am, about the CARES Act and what you need to know. Here’s a bit about what will be discussed:

The unanticipated health and economic effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic prompted the passage of the historic $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020. Designed to help mitigate the spread of the virus and to ease the economic toll on American families, businesses, and the healthcare system, many of the provisions are intended to provide relatively immediate relief. What are the critical elements you should know now when navigating conversations with your clients, and in particular, those who are small business owners?

Register here.

MetLife Provides Resources and Tools to Help Small Business Owners and Their Employees Navigate the Pandemic

Eighty-four percent of small business owners say they are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their business, and a majority (58%) are very concerned, according to a recent poll from MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In response, MetLife announced its offering several resources to both small business owners and their employees.

MetLife is making the following available to small business customers:

  • Financial Wellness.Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees can now access COVID-19-related guidance on cash flow issues, IRS taxpayer relief, government legislation, market volatility and asset allocation through MetLife’s PlanSmart® Financial Wellness planners. For 90 days, small business owners and their employees will have phone access – at no cost to them – through MetLife’s alliance with Ernst & Young LLP, the U.S. firm (EY), to credentialed EY financial planners.
  • Overall Wellness. MetLife is offering a dedicated COVID-19 hotline provided by LifeWorks. Through the hotline, small business owners and their employees will have access to services including immediate emotional support, research and referrals along with guidance and resources to cope with COVID-19. The hotline is available to all customers with fewer than 500 employees through September 30.
  • No rate increases. MetLife will not increase rates on any Group Benefits products for customers who have fewer than 500 employees for June 1, 2020, through September 1, 2020, renewals.

Additionally, MetLife is making the following available for all customers and their employees:

  • Financial Wellness HubThis dynamic new financial wellness microsite is designed to guide employees at all companies and in all circumstances as they actively manage stress, navigate life choices, and manage their finances. The hub, which will expand over time, helps consumers think about what they need to do now and how they can prepare for the future.
  • Legal document access and review. Through the end of July, MetLife Legal Plans will provide free document review and consultation to all employees, regardless of whether or not they are signed up for the service, of employers that offer MetLife Legal Plans. Employees can access MetLife’s network of attorneys to get answers to questions related to legal issues they may be facing and have attorneys review estate planning documents or insurance forms.

These customer offerings follow MetLife Foundation’s announcement on March 31 that it is committing $25 million to the global response to COVID-19 in support of communities impacted by the pandemic.

BUSINESS AS USUAL

Insurers Invest in Company that Promises to Make Sense of Chaos

Palo Alto, California-based Omniscience announced that both RGAX, LLC and Guardian Life Insurance Company of America have made equity investments in the company. Omniscience’s breakthrough computing platform and artificial intelligence (AI) are assets for these investors and the insurance industry. According to Omniscience:

Omniscience offers a platform for processing all the data presented in a problem set rather than just basing analysis on approximations.  When this unique capability is combined with Omniscience AI technology and applications, insurance customers can transform their business more rapidly by speeding and automating risk decisions, deploying capital more efficiently, and finding new business opportunities that have previously been overlooked.

GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: YOLANDA WEBB

Today’s World, What’s Fact, What’s Fiction And do we know the difference?

The truth depends on who you talk too, and how it may relate to you.

The FACT is we don’t know when this virus will play itself out. The best we can do is listen to the authorites and hope they know more than we do. Let’s start with what exactly is an essential occupation.

Commissioner Ricardo Lara for the Department of Insurance released a notice on March 20, 2020, to:  All Admitted and Non-Admitted Insurance Companies, All Licensed Producers, and Other Interested Parties.

Re: Guidance on Essential Businesses and Insurance

The notice issued by various Federal, State and Local Public Health officials generally provide that individuals may leave their residence and not shelter in place only to perform certain “essential services” or “essential activities”.

The department received many inquires whether insurance activities are “essential services” or “essential activities” within the meaning of the various federal, state and local public health orders and what functions are included in “insurance services”.

It is not appropriate for the Department to determine whether public health officials intended that any specific aspect or function of an insurance business be designated as an “essential business” or “essential activity”.

It was March 18, 2020, that Commissioner Lara issued a notice encouraging all insurance companies and other Department licensees to take steps during the COVID-19 Crisis, maintain their ability to process and pay insurance claims and provide other required consumer services for insureds in a timely manner.

A notice was sent out requesting all Insurance Companies to grant extensions to premium grace periods at least 60 days, and asked agents, brokers and other licensees to take steps to protect the safety of workers and customers by arranging alternate methods of premium payment rather than in-person payment.

It is encouraged that in-person, non-mandatory activities deemed non-essential should be delayed, if possible until further notice.

TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOURSELF AND YOUR MEDICARE CLIENTS

We as agents, brokers should be aware of the increased scams related to the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

Scammers are targeting older adults and those with long-term serious health conditions and are at a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

Fraudsters are attempting to bill Medicare for fake tests, or treatments related to the virus and are targeting individual to illegally obtain money or Medicare numbers.

WHAT TO DO TO AVOID COVID-19 FRAUD (pass along these tips to clients!)

  1. Never give out your Medicare number to anyone, other than your doctor, health care provider, or trusted representative.
  2. Protect your Medicare Card like a Credit Card.
  3. Never provide your number to anyone who contacts you though unsolicited calls, texts, or email.
  4. Be cautious of anyone who comes to your door offering free Coronavirus testing, treatment or supplies.
  5. Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention products or cures for COVID-19, it’s mostly likely a scam.
  6. Do your homework before donating to a charity or crowd funding site due to a public health emergency. Be particularly wary of any charities requesting donations by cash, gift cards or wire transfer.
  7. Be alert of “Investment Opportunities”, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including an Social Media claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19 and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
  8. Finally, watch clicking links on your computers, tablets, make sure your anti-malware and anti-virus software is up to date.

KEY POINTS FOR ALL OF US.

  • Clients stay home, and avoid exposure.
  • The coronavirus can spread through close personal contact or by touching an object or surface with the virus on it.
  • Steps to prevent other respiratory infection will help to prevent novel coronavirus.
  • Public health department is working hard to prevent the spread of the virus in all counties.

The truth depends on who you talk too, and how it may relate to you. As agents we would be remiss if we did not do our due diligence when giving our clients critical information.

The fact of the matter is we don’t know what’s around the corner, but we do know “Together we can do the Impossible”.  As agents and brokers we can educate our clients with reliable information, and if we do that, we will whether this storm.

Yolanda Webb, CHRS, is CAHU Medicare Chair & on the NAHU Medicare Advisory Council

EVENTS

  • National Medicare Supplement Insurance Industry Summit Rescheduled to 2021

The 2020 National Medicare Supplement Insurance Summit set to take place May 13-15, 2020, in Chicago will now be held June 2-4, 2021, according to the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance the conference organizers. The conference will take place at the Schaumburg Convention Center just outside of Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The 2021 conference will include its free day for insurance agents who market Medicare and other senior insurance products. Go here for more info.

  • CAHU Women’s Leadership Summit Rescheduled to August

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the CAHU Women’s Leadership Summit has been postponed from March to August 5-7, 2020, at the same location, the JW Marriott in Las Vegas. We are hopeful that all current participants, and those who were recently forced to cancel, will be able to join us in August. CAHU will automatically transfer event registrations to the new dates. If for some reason you can no longer attend, please contact Korey Platt by email for additional options.If you have any questions or concerns contact info@cahu.org.

  • LAAHU 2020 April Annual Sales Symposium Rescheduled to July

LAAHU will postpone the April 22 Sales Symposium, AdapTech until Friday, July 17, 2020. The event will take place at Skirball Center. More info at laahu.org.

  • Self-Fund SoCal April 16 Event Postponed

The Self-Fund SoCal 2020 April 16 event at the Woodland Hills Marriott has been postponed. A new date hasn’t been announced.

  • Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation Women in Insurance Regional Forums Rescheduled

IICF has rescheduled the Women in Insurance Regional Forums:

Chicago: October 14
New York: October 26

Los Angeles: October 30
Dallas: November 17
  • 16th Annual BenefitsPRO Broker Expo 2020 will be August 20-22

BenefitsPRO Broker Expo 2020 has been postponed to August 20-22 in Austin, Texas. More info here.