BY DAWN MCFARLAND
I love how this is the song often played to get fans motivated at sporting events.
Is it stuck in your head now?
Well, there are worse tunes…
HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone, we survived! The last couple of years have been such a time warp, and 2022 in California will kick off no differently. Legislators come back Jan. 3 and we will see what is next for AB 1400, the current California Single Payer Bill. (BTW – are you a member
of CAHU? (cahu.org) Worth every penny of your $2/day membership fee!)
As I write this in the beginning of December, I can tell you that the CAHU Legislative Team has been diligently working to supply solutions to those investigating a “unified financing” system, AND we are looking forward to sharing some great news with you on January 20 at our Annual Legislative Update Webinar. Members have free access and this time we are allowing NON-members to join us for $25. Register at www.cahu.org, under the ‘events’ tab.
Before we continue to talk about 2022 year planning, let’s recap 2021. Frankly it felt like 4th Q 2019 never ended and we are in perpetual enrollment/change periods. Let’s take a look…
AEP 2021 – Don’t even get me started on the commercials that have our seniors questioning everything. And this was a tough enough year with the WellCare consolidation, and Anthem PDP migration. Add in the fact that the first two weeks of AEP it’s tough to get an accurate quote because the systems all need to get ‘caught up’. It’s kind of like the first few days after a new haircut — things don’t lay exactly right. Then there was a major carrier quoting foul up that caused many agents to need to re-analyze a large portion of their book. And the big zinger, “Medicare’s Part B monthly premium for 2022 will increase by $21.60, the largest dollar increase in the health insurance program’s history, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Nov. 12. Standard monthly premiums for Part B will cost $170.10 in 2022, up from $148.50 in 2021.”
IFP (Individual and Family Plans) – We have been in “open enrollment” the entire year through Covered CA. American Rescue Plan Act of 2021(ARPA) increased access to subsidies for higher income earners and this has led to many more people getting help paying their health insurance premiums. That and the 8.5% affordability have also confused many because the “family glitch” still exists — if a spouse in the household has an affordable offering from the employer for them alone, and the family is able to enroll (at full price) they are NOT ELIGIBLE for a subsidy. Hard part there is that they may not find out until tax time 2-3 years down the road and have to pay back the subsidy they received.
In 2021, anyone that received even ONE unemployment check had access to more cost sharing and a monthly premium as low as $1 for a silver level plan. This ended on December 31, 2021 so be sure your client is paying the new adjusted premium beginning Jan. 1!
Something to note, with the increased income levels eligible for subsidies, employee benefit brokers may see an increased curiosity about Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRA’s) — just another tool to stay ahead of the game. And that is the perfect transition to…
Employee Benefits – Virgin groups are coming in HOT! Vaccination mandates are yet another thing agents are consulting on. Speaking of vaccines, hybrid workplaces are the new trend. I’ve seen articles that say 86% of workers want to continue working from home. Oh, and let’s not forget the implementation of Broker Commission Disclosure for any group where you earn more than $1,000 in commission, written after 12/27/2021.
Pro Tip – NAHU used its legal team to create a template form that members can use. Check it out at NAHU.org.
Thanking my lucky stars that IFP commission is reported by the carrier to the client! Aside from the administrative burden, I think this is actually a great way for clients to really learn the value you bring — I’m hearing that the groups are quite surprised that agents don’t make more. But we already knew that right?
If you want to be a part of positive change in our industry, check out the NAHU and CAHU 2022 calendar below and join us when you can. It’s also a good idea to check out your local chapter events calendars too!
• JANUARY 20TH – CAHU Legislative Webinar and State Update (ZOOM)
• FEBRUARY 27- MARCH 2ND – NAHU Capitol Conference in Washington D.C, with a virtual option.
• MAY 9 – MAY 11TH – CAHU Capitol Summit in Sacramento
• JUNE 25-JUNE 28TH – NAHU Convention in Austin, TX
• NAHU Power Hour – every 4th Wednesday @3:30 pm PST –open to all at no charge, great place to check out one of my favorite member benefits — camaraderie!
As we move from 2021 into 2022 I want to acknowledge the human loss and devastation of the last two years and send wishes that as we move forward we cherish the moments and learn from the behaviors so we can have a positive impact on those around us, which will in turn create a ripple effect. Life is a journey, not a competition. #BeKIndToEachOther
DAWN MCFARLAND is VP of legislation for CAHU and president of M&M Benefits Solutions in Los Angeles.