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Walt Bernard Podgurski,  Editor,  440-773-1108, 

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Editorial Mission Statement: The goal of this publication is to provide readers a broad selection of what is being written about the insurance industry and related issues. Some articles may have a “tilt” towards a particular perspective one way or another. Inclusion in this newsletter is not an endorsement of any views or content; but report the various and differing views appearing in media.
  Daily Insurance ReportFriday, 06/22/18

NY, Mass. to sue over Trump health plans skirting ObamaCare requirements
Jessie Hellmann / THE HILL / MSN
New York and Massachusetts will sue the Trump administration over its expansion of health insurance plans that don't meet all of ObamaCare's requirements.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D) and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) argue the expansion of association health plans will "invite fraud, mismanagement and deception."
"We will sue to safeguard the protections under the Affordable Care Act and ensure that all families and small businesses have access to quality, affordable health care," the attorneys general said in a statement Wednesday.
"We believe the rule, as proposed, is unlawful and would lead to fewer critical consumer health protections."

Once More Into The Breach: Conservative Think Tankers Publish A New Obamacare Replacement
Avik Roy / Forbes Staff
The Consensus Group proposal improves upon Graham-Cassidy by requiring that “at least 50% of the block grant goes toward supporting people’s purchase of private health coverage” in the individual insurance market. Under the new program, states would be required to offer Medicaid enrollees the opportunity to purchase “commercially available coverage” with their Medicaid dollars, and plans sold under the block grants would be exempted from costly Obamacare rules, like 3:1 age bands that double or triple the cost of insurance for young people.
Most significantly, the Consensus Group proposal would also block-grant the legacy, pre-Obamacare Medicaid program under the same structure. Hence, the proposal has the potential to substantially improve the quality of coverage that low-income Americans receive today.

5 numbers you need to know from the SHRM 2018 Employee Benefits Survey
On day two of its largest-ever annual conference, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) released its 2018 Employee Benefits Survey. Generally, the respondent group of 3,518 SHRM-member HR professionals has adopted a more diverse set of benefits offerings over the last five-year period, SHRM vice president of research Trent Burner said during a panel analyzing the results.
Here are five key figures from the report to help HR understand the current benefits landscape, as indicated by respondents:
67 - Sixty-seven individual benefit offerings were measured by the survey and are being offered by a larger number of employers in 2018 compared to 2017 data.
62% - Sixty-two percent of employers offer "health care services such as diagnosis, treatment or prescriptions provided by phone or video," which is up a whopping 28 percentage points from last year's survey when just of over a third (34%) of employers reported offering the same category of benefits.
70% - More than two-thirds of organizations, or 70%, offer some form of telecommuting option to employees, be it on a full-time, part-time or ad/hoc basis, SHRM said.
6 - A total of six parental leave benefit categories saw increases in organizational offerings in 2018 compared to last year. Maternity is by far the most common.
4% - Just 4% of respondents said they are offering a company-provided student loan repayment benefit. On the other hand, over one third (35%) are offering financial advice services online, and 34% are offering such sessions in a one-on-one type format.

What's new in employee benefits? Health advocacy programs
Teri Dreher / Daily Herald
When employers hire a health advocacy firm to serve employees, they can structure the arrangement any number of ways. Services are wide-ranging and may include:
• Acting as a confidential resource for employees, answering general health care and insurance-related questions and offering recommendations and emotional support.
• Helping employees research and select medical providers, including physicians, home care services and nursing homes for aging parents.
• Serving as a liaison with doctors; explaining health conditions and treatment options in layman's terms.
• Helping employees deal with sensitive personal and family problems, such as mental health and substance abuse.
• Hosting presentations for employees, educating them on relevant health care topics.

Why employers can’t afford inadequate benefits
By Cort Olsen / Employee Benefit Adviser
However, before employers attempt a benefits overhaul, they should focus on better education and communication about their existing benefits. Just under half of the survey’s 756 employees profiled report knowing all the perks their employers offer, and only 40% say their employers help them understand the benefits that are available.
Benefits are an even stronger incentive than salary when considering a job offer and an unattractive benefits package may drive candidates away. At least 66% of workers agree that a strong benefits and perks package is the largest determining factor when considering job offers, and 61% are willing to accept a lower salary if a company offered a better benefits package.

Decisely to Help Small Businesses Offer Affordable Health Coverage Through New Association Health Plan Rules
ATLANTA, June 21, 2018 – Newly expanded Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines will now make it possible for small businesses to offer compelling, competitively priced employer-sponsored group benefits plans beginning September 1, 2018. New data from employee benefits brokerage and HR services company Decisely shows the enormous demand for this change. Decisely’s deep expertise in the Association Health Plan (AHP) market uniquely positions them to help businesses quickly and easily take advantage of these rule changes.
Small businesses and franchisees have historically been excluded from the employer-benefits market, forcing millions of employees to pay for their own healthcare and other related benefits. However, a new survey by Decisely of more than 700 small business and franchisee employers uncovered strong demand for these benefits with 84% of respondents expressing a desire to offer their own plans.
“These new rule changes make it possible for millions of small businesses to now qualify for these plans, potentially extending benefits to millions more American workers,” said Decisely CEO Kevin Dunn. “Our deep experience and long success in developing AHPs for companies makes us uniquely qualified to help these newly eligible companies quickly and easily design, launch and manage their own benefits programs.”

Oscar Health To Enter Six New Insurance Markets Despite Obamacare Attacks
Bruce Japsen Contributor / Forbes
Oscar has filed to offer insurance in nine states and 14 markets in 2019, “nearly doubling” its current footprint
Oscar Health said it will sell health insurance in six new markets, an aggressive expansion for 2019 despite continued regulatory and political assault on individual markets by the Donald Trump administration and Republicans in Congress.
The New York startup, which has made a big bet on offering individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act, has expanded Obamacare offerings this year to more states. That expansion into new markets paid off, with the insurer enrolling more than 250,000 in individual products under the ACA for this year.
“Our six new markets will be spread across three new states — Florida, Arizona, and Michigan — and three additional large metro areas in Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas,” Oscar CEO and co-founder Mario Schlosser said in announcing the expansion. Oscar’s other co-founder is Josh Kushner, the brother of President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared.

Key ObamaCare groups in limbo as they await funding
Local groups that help people sign up for ObamaCare and Medicaid have yet to hear from the Trump administration about their annual federal funding, leaving many in limbo and fearing the grants could be too small or might not come at all.
“We really haven’t gotten any update or any deadline to submit applications or any knowledge at all about what the future is going to bring,” said Karen Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, one of the state’s larger health-care navigator programs.
The organizations typically hear from the federal government in April or early May with information about how much money will be available for grants, when key deadlines are and the expected award date.

Captive insurance audits by IRS
Lance Wallach
The terms "captive insurance" and "federal income tax code" are anything but captivating. Yet, captive insurance has captivated the attention of the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), which has placed captive insurance on its list of the "Dirty Dozen Tax Scams"—an annual list of the most abusive positions taken by taxpayers.1 The IRS’s aggressive stance on captive insurance has become more focused after the IRS’s victory in Avrahami v. Commissioner, 149 T.C. No. 7 (Aug. 21, 2017).

Zurich just struck another insurtech partnership
Legacy insurer Zurich has intensified its fintech partnership efforts by contributing to a €15 million ($17.6 million) investment in insurtech Digital Insurance Group (DIG). As part of the deal, Zurich will leverage DIG's solutions and implement them in its own business.
DIG was formed last year, when digital insurance broker Knip and Netherlands-based insurtech Komparu merged. The company has a data-driven insurance platform, which allows clients in Europe and Latin America to roll out tailored and mobile-first insurance experiences.

How to Buy the Right Business Insurance
By Inc. Staff
These pages will walk you through some of the most common types of coverage. You probably won't need them all; some you likely already have. Even if you think you're covered, however, you may be mistaken. Companies much larger than yours have gone to the mat with their insurers and come up empty-handed. Your task when buying insurance is to steel yourself for the mind-numbing language of the policy -- and to know precisely what's covered and what's not. If you don't see the coverage you're looking for, or you don't understand some of the terms, seek clarification from your agent.


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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor