Daily Insurance Report  
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 ReportTuesday, 05/22/18

Supreme Court rules employers can block class action lawsuits in win for businesses
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that businesses can force employees to resolve disputes outside the court system, blocking potential class-action lawsuits in a victory for business interests.
The case challenged provisions in employee contracts called arbitration agreements in which employees agree that if there is a dispute between them and an employer they will resolve it without filing a lawsuit.
The court voted 5-4 that those agreements are legal, with the more liberal justices signing on to the dissent, saying that the decision will likely lead to less enforcement of minimum wage or anti-discrimination laws.
ABC News Supreme Court contributor Kate Shaw said that at issue in this case were claims about overtime pay that were often too small to be worth pursuing alone but are more likely to be successful if they're brought as class action cases. The employers, on the other hand, sought to enforce provisions of employee contracts that require individual arbitration and bar workers from filing class-action lawsuits.

Introducing the New Fortune 500 List
This year marks the 64th running of the list.
By ALAN MURRAY / Fortune
The 64th annual Fortune 500 list is out this morning, and you can find it here. With $12.8 trillion in revenue–2/3rds of U.S. GDP–and 28.2 million employees worldwide, these companies remain the most important engine of both the U.S. and the global economy.
Some takeaways, provided by Fortune 500 data guru Scott DeCarlo:
— Walmart topped the list, which ranks companies by revenue, for the sixth straight year in a row.
— Apple, the most valuable and profitable company on the list—$850 billion in market cap and $48 billion in profits—dropped one spot to No. 4 on the revenue ranking.
— Amazon, clearly the most feared competitor on the list, cracked the top 10 for the first time, landing at No. 8.
— With Denise Morrison stepping down from the top spot at Campbell’s, only 24 companies on the list are headed by women—whose ascent to the top spots of American business has clearly stalled.
See List: http://fortune.com/fortune500/

US clings to health coverage gains despite political drama
The U.S. clung to its health insurance gains last year, an unexpected outcome after President Donald Trump's repeated tries to take apart the Obama-era coverage expansion, according to a major government survey released Tuesday.
Overall, the survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 9.1 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2017, or a little more than 29 million people
After nearly a year of Trump, that was almost the same as toward the end of the Obama administration. For perspective, the uninsured rate dropped from 16 percent since the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010, which translates roughly to 19 million people gaining coverage.
"Despite all the noise and despite the chain-rattling Republicans have done with their failed attempts at repeal, at the end of the day the number of uninsured has stayed flat," said health economist Gail Wilensky, a longtime GOP adviser. "That's good news for the country, and it might turn out to be good news for Republicans when it comes time for the midterm elections."
But the CDC's National Health Interview Survey also showed uninsured numbers edged higher for some groups, raising questions about potential problems this year and beyond. It doesn't reflect congressional repeal of the health law's unpopular requirement that individuals carry health insurance, since that doesn't take effect until next year.

MetLife launches financial wellness tool
By Nick Otto / ebn (Employee Benefit News)
MetLife has partnered with Ernst & Young to add another tool to employees’ financial wellness arsenal.
The new offering, called PlanSmart Financial Wellness, features a multi-channel experience that combines human and digital help that focuses on behavioral change. It includes tools and guidance that aim to empower employees to build financial literacy, confidence and wellbeing.
PlanSmart Financial Wellness is a group benefit offering that MetLife is making available to employers with 5,000 or more employees, and will be free for them to use.
“In order for a financial wellness program to be transformative, it must motivate employees to change the way they engage with their finances,” Meredith Ryan-Reid, MetLife’s senior vice president of group benefits, told EBN. “Employees across all life stages need robust and relevant educational content, tools and guidance to help them take actions necessary to manage their current personal financial situations, protect against unplanned risks and prepare for future life milestones.”
The offering builds on MetLife’s PlanSmart workplace financial education program, which offers workshops and one-on-one consultations.
Employees can visit the PFW website and create a financial wellness plan focused around one specific goal. Workers can select a goal they want to achieve — paying down debt or planning for retirement, for example — and are then provided a personalized plan broken down into bite-sized activities, along with unlimited access to online resources and tools. Workers also have access to online and in-person coaching, seminars and consultations.
In addition, the solution’s “smart” platform saves the employee’s activity so they can pick up where they left off. Employees also are encouraged to remain engaged and take action through proactive features, such as checkups and reminders.
Employees are struggling when it comes to their finances, Ryan-Reid says, pointing to MetLife’s recent annual benefits survey, which found that just over a third of workers feel in control of their finances. “These concerns can impact other areas of employees’ lives, including their productivity at work. By investing in financial wellness, employers can help their workforce become more engaged and productive.”

Columnist Sara Weinberger: State should move toward universal health care
While my mother was dying of pancreatic cancer, I fielded threatening phone calls she received from collection agencies.
My mother did not realize that she was underinsured until she needed catastrophic coverage. That was 1983.
Today, the number of uninsured people has more than doubled since 2003 to 41 million. Beginning in 2019, Americans will no longer be penalized for not having health insurance. The impact on those who opt out of coverage will be devastating. Younger, healthier people are predicted to forgo health insurance, leaving a pool of of older and sicker folks, resulting in health insurance becoming even more unaffordable.
The consequences of our health care system have been disastrous. The United States annually spends $9,237 per person on health care, more than any other country, yet it ranks 12th in life expectancy among the wealthiest industrialized countries. Research demonstrates that those who can afford high-quality health insurance actually live longer than those who can’t. When was the last time you heard somebody expound on the merits of their health insurance plan?
Affordable, accessible, quality health care should be the right of every human being. The European Social Charter recognizes health care as a right that “must be accessible to the entire population.” The United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights emphasizes “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”
The U.S. is one of only four U.N. member nations that have signed but not ratified this treaty. Nobody should have to be one illness away from bankruptcy because they are underinsured or have outrageous deductibles. Nobody should have to choose between paying rent and paying for needed prescriptions, or postpone seeing their doctor because of unaffordable co-pays.

Views What to do if the IRS sends an ACA non-compliance notice in error
By Bret Busacker / Employee Benefit Adviser
The Internal Revenue Service is beginning to send out Employer Shared Responsibility Payment notices to employers that it believes failed to comply with the ACA coverage requirements in 2015 calendar year.
Some employers receiving these notices actually complied with the ACA requirements in 2015, but the IRS received inaccurate or incomplete information and has thus incorrectly identified these employers as failing to satisfy the ACA coverage requirements.
If an employer receives an ESRP notice, the employer must dispute the IRS penalty within 30 days of the date of the notice.
We have seen employers receiving very large fines for periods in which they actually complied with the ACA coverage requirements. Accordingly, all employers that were subject to the ACA coverage requirements in 2015 should review their 2015 ACA filings (on Form 1094-C) to determine who at the company will receive the ESRP notice from the IRS; and make sure the contact address is correct.

Simplify your life: Bundling benefits, workers’ comp, banking, payroll
TODD J. TRANUM / Observer, Dunkirk, NY
It’s no secret that one of the keys to improving workplace performance is to find ways to be more efficient, and that includes managing all types of human resource programs. The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier are working with a number of regional partners to present some solutions. Simplify Your Life: Bundling Benefits, Workers’ Comp, Banking and Payroll is designed to help busy professionals with a variety of tasks. This FREE event will help employers in Chautauqua County simplify their employee benefits programs, workers’ compensation, health savings accounts, banking and payroll. Several locally respected organizations have teamed up to bring you innovative and cost-saving solutions to reduce inefficiencies in these areas.
The keynote speaker will be Brian Murphy, partner with Lawley Employee Benefits. He will address the issues of how Human Resources technology and an integrated approach can save your organizations time, money and resources

Kilauea eruption: A reminder to businesses about insurance
The eruption of Mount Kilauea in Hawaii is a reminder to business owners, even those nowhere near any of the 169 volcanoes in the U.S., that they could be vulnerable to nature's most destructive forces. And that they need to be sure they're insured against disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and flooding.
But while damage from some disasters like tornadoes is covered by standard business insurance policies, losses from others may not be. But business owners do have alternatives, including insurance plans created by the federal or state governments. The drawback: Special coverage can be expensive and many owners may decide to take their chances and do without.
Insurance policies can be complex, covering only certain types of damage. These are some of the basics about natural disasters and insurance:

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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor