Daily Insurance Report  
Walt Bernard Podgurski,  Editor,  440-773-1108, 

Don't miss the insurance industry daily updates: Subscribe Here for Complimentary Subscription

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, 12/15/17

FCC repeals net neutrality rules, potentially affecting telemedicine
By Rachel Z. Arndt / Modern Healthcare
The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 Thursday to repeal net neutrality rules, ending Obama-era regulations that prohibited internet providers from blocking or slowing web content.
Whereas all internet traffic previously shared the same "lane," it can now be split among different lanes with different speeds.
Those differing speeds could hurt telemedicine since it requires a "pretty robust connection," said Mei Kwong, interim executive director and policy adviser for the Center for Connected Health Policy. "The last thing you want is for the interaction to suddenly freeze or the audio to go out or for the picture to be pixelated."
Though the FCC could make exceptions for healthcare so it's not subject to the same rules, Kwong and others said, that might still leave patients to fend for themselves.
"What do you do then for the individual who's at home and trying to get services at home?" Kwong asked.
These changes run counter to some recent Veterans Affairs Department efforts to expand telemedicine, she said.
They also run counter to what the majority of Americans want, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said Thursday. "Those very same broadband internet service providers that the majority says you should trust to do right by you will put profits and shareholders returns above what is best for you," she said.
"When the current protections are abandoned, and the rules that have been officially in place since 2015 are repealed, we will have a Cheshire cat version of net neutrality," Clyburn said. "We will be in a world where regulatory substance fades to black, and all that is left is a broadband provider's toothy grin."

Life / Health / Employee Benefits

How will the tax bill impact health care? 5 experts weigh in
Making Sen$e / PBS
As House and Senate negotiators put the finishing touches on their tax plan, one thing is clear: the legislation will likely have a big impact on health care. The tax bill could repeal the individual mandate — a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act — and could also trigger cuts in Medicaid and Medicare funding down the line. We reached out to economists, health care analysts and other experts for answers to key questions on the bill’s impact on health policy:
What impact would repealing the individual mandate have on the stability of the individual health care markets?
RICHARD FRANK, Professor of health economics at the Harvard Kennedy School — The evidence that exists suggests that in the near term, the individual health insurance market would experience further disruptions. The Congressional Budget Office estimates a reduction in the insured population by 4 million people in 2019, and 13 million by 2027. The CBO’s estimate of a 10 percent increase in premiums [if the mandate is repealed] is probably the best estimate of the immediate effect on premiums.

Health Care Costs Push A Staggering Number Of People Into Extreme Poverty
There's new — and shocking — evidence about the toll that health care costs are taking on the world's most vulnerable. A joint report pulished in the journal Lancet Global Health this week by the World Bank and the World Health Organization estimates that each year more than 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty in order to pay for health services — meaning that after covering their health bills, their income amounts to less than $1.90 a day.
Another 800 million people are spending at least 10 percent of their household budget on health care. And 3.5 billion people — accounting for more than half of the world's population — are simply forced to go without most essential services.
The kind of care they are missing out on is life-saving but also often extremely basic, says Tim Evans, senior director of health, nutrition and population at the World Bank Group.

How Five Technologies Are Shaping The Future Of Health Care
Gunjan Bhardwaj, Dr. Gunjan Bhardwaj is Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Innoplexus AG. / Forbes
As neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran says, “All good science emerges from an imaginative conception of what might be true.”
Health care and the life sciences are currently entering a wave of innovation thanks to disruptive, computer-based technologies. Paradoxically, the evolution of machine learning, which raises the threshold of intelligent analysis beyond that of the human brain, can teach us more about what it means to be human.
Traditionally slow to adopt new technology, medicine often lags behind other disciplines when it comes to systematic change. As an example, the first paper on penicillin was published in 1929, but it took 14 years before production was scaled in 1943, and only then did the U.S. military decide to fund it to coincide with the D-Day invasion of Europe. A more recent example is laparoscopic surgery, which was initially invented in 1901 but only achieved widespread use in the '90s.
Today, every industry is affected by disruptive technologies, but it's medicine that's ripe for radical change. The 2009 HITECH Act mandated the widespread adoption of electronic medical records in the U.S. By legislating medical treatment into bits and bytes, we are poised for radical innovation facilitated by disruptive software -- and particularly software capable of making use of large, complex datasets.
We believe that this shift will occur because of five key technologies: AI, big data, blockchain, robotics and 3-D printing.

How CEO Insight Can Add Value When Choosing Employee Benefits
By Rob Hecker / Chief Executive
An engaged workforce is high on any CEO’s wish list. But recent Gallup research found less than a third of U.S. workers feel involved, enthusiastic or committed to their work. And that affects the bottom line: Companies with engaged employees can perform up to 202 percent higher than other companies.
Employee benefits can be a powerful tool to drive increased engagement, staff retention and productivity. But benefits programs are a major investment for any business. To maximize your return on investment, it’s important to set a solid benefits communication strategy. Here are 3 practical tips on how CEO insight can help support key HR objectives for your benefits program.
#1. Set the parameters of success. Be clear on the right evaluation metrics with your HR team. If you don’t know or agree on what success looks like internally, it’s impossible to achieve it across the business.
#2. Ensure business buy-in. Nearly two-thirds of organizations don’t have a budget specifically devoted to benefits communication, but an under-resourced strategy is doomed to fail.
#3 Close the C-Suite gap. There’s no substitute for the C-Suite rolling up its sleeves and getting personally involved in benefits options. Serving as a role model can be particularly effective for wellness-related programs.

The year in voluntary: Fringe benefits rising to the fore
By Cort Olsen / Employee Benefit Adviser
While supplemental healthcare continues to overshadow all other voluntary benefits, in 2017, carriers began aggressively promoting a new category of low-cost fringe offerings as a way to make further inroads with their core products.
Looking back on the year, brokers like Eric Silverman, principal and owner of Silverman Benefits Group, says many carriers have begun offering value-add products that they can offer to clients in tandem with more traditional voluntary benefits, such as supplemental health and disability.
The rise of loan benefits
But while pet insurance is a niche benefit aimed at a select group of employees, Mentor says that in 2017 many of his clients began providing a benefit that appeals to a much broader swath of their workforce: Prepay day loans to help employees cover time-sensitive expenses such as rent or car payments.
“Employers are trying to put together policies where employees can borrow internally against their annual salary, and then pay back the loan through automatic payroll deductions,” Mentor reports.

Other Insurance News

FAIR plan ordered to cease and desist fire insurance moratorium
Insurance Commissioner’s action leads FAIR to immediately lift moratorium
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued the following statement:
"This morning I issued a cease and desist order requiring the California FAIR Plan to terminate immediately the moratorium it initiated on writing new fire insurance coverage in wildfire-impacted areas and ordering the FAIR Plan to make its fire insurance products available to all eligible Californians in keeping with its statutorily mandated purpose. I've been advised the FAIR Plan, after being notified of the cease and desist, agreed to lift its moratorium on writing new policies.
I originally took this action after receiving information that the FAIR Plan imposed a moratorium on writing new policies in current active fire zones across California. The FAIR Plan was established as the fire insurer of last resort to make certain California property owners have access to fire insurance coverage. There is no statutory allowance for the FAIR Plan to discontinue writing fire insurance policies for applicants anywhere in the state who need fire insurance coverage to protect themselves from financial loss. While the FAIR Plan is required to write coverage, any individuals or entities who attempt to commit insurance fraud by placing FAIR Plan or any other insurance coverage on damaged property to cover losses that already occurred will be investigated and prosecuted. If anyone is denied the opportunity to purchase a FAIR plan policy should contact our consumer hotline at 800-927-4357."

Progressive Insurance scheduled to hire 7,500-plus employees in 2018 (video)
By Olivera Perkins / The Plain Dealer
Progressive Insurance plans to hire more than 7,500 employees in 2018 -- about 1,300 of them in Northeast Ohio.
But don't wait until next year to apply for the openings, said Erin Hendrick, manager of recruiting.
"We're starting to pickup now, in terms of hiring, for roles that would start in January or February," she said. "The first quarter tends to be a pretty strong hiring period."
Hendrick said many of the openings will be in the company's customer care and claims functions. These include inbound sales representatives, who field customers' requests, such as those involving quotes for new policies, as well as representatives who handle claims.
Progressive is also hiring for IT and analytical jobs. Openings will include those for app developers, systems test engineers, data analysts and data scientists.
For more information about all openings: progressive.com/careers/

Contact Us
Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor