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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 ReportWednesday, 07/18/18

More and more health care bills are over $1 million—and expensive drugs are playing a major role
An $80,000 prescription is ‘relatively common now,’ Sun Life Financial U.S.’s president says
Million-dollar health care is on the rise — and expensive drugs are playing an important role.
The number of patients whose medical care cost at least a million dollars over the course of a year rose by nearly 90% between 2014 and 2017, according to a new report conducted by Sun Life. (Because the report was about Sun Life clients, it focuses on the highest-cost medical bills of individuals with health insurance through their jobs, often at large companies.)
Expensive injectable drugs, especially for rare diseases, are one factor that’s fueling the rise, according to the report.
In 2016, for example, total treatment costs for a patient with a severe swelling disorder were $6.7 million, the highest in a single year, according to Sun Life. Last year, total medical costs for an individual with a blood disorder came to $5 million.
“We’re seeing drug claims that can be in the millions of dollars,” Dan Fishbein, president of Sun Life Financial U.S. SLF, -0.32% told MarketWatch. “Most people don’t imagine getting an $80,000 prescription, but that’s relatively common now.”

Survey: Doctors blame health care costs on Big Pharma
By Wendy Leonard / Deseret News, Utah
"Doctors do care about medical costs and are sensitive to those costs," said Dr. Robert Glasgow, vice chairman of clinical and quality operations at the U.'s department of surgery. "Physicians don't set pricing for insurance, and we can't determine the price of a drug or a new technology, so it's easy to feel powerless when it comes to impacting costs."
He said all stakeholders in health care, including Big Pharma and insurance companies, hospital systems, government, employers and patients, should be accountable for all costs.
The survey reports that its respondents, who are mostly physicians, "overwhelmingly believe pharmaceutical firms, followed closely by insurance companies, hospitals and health care systems, have the biggest impact on costs." Unfortunately, the survey reveals, the physicians don't feel equipped or prepared to talk about financial concerns of patients and also believe health care costs are too confusing for patients to figure out on their own.

Health IT Roundup—Healthcare breach costs outpace all other industries; Digital health funding hits $4.9B globally
by Evan Sweeney / Fierce Healthcare
Data breaches cost healthcare organizations twice as much as banks.
Healthcare breaches come with a hefty price tag
Healthcare organizations that suffer a data breach pay more than $400 for each lost or stolen record, according to a survey.
That’s nearly twice as much as the next-highest industry, finance, and almost four times as much as the retail industry.
The global survey conducted by IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute included in-depth interviews with nearly 500 companies across a range of sectors that experienced a breach. According to the results, healthcare companies pay $408 per lost or stolen record compared to $206 per record in the financial industry and $174 per record among pharmaceutical manufacturers.

This new addition greatly increases Voluntary Disruption’s geographic footprint to better serve our national partners and clients.
TOWSON, MD, Tuesday, July 17, 2018 — Voluntary Disruption, a Division of Silverman Benefits Group, a leading independent enhanced benefits firm with a large national footprint and a reputation for bespoke strategy and best-in-class service, announces its hiring of 19-year industry veteran Brandy Hartin. Hartin will be based out of Tampa Bay, Fla., as Voluntary Disruption’s National Sales Director and will report directly to Eric Silverman, Founder and Owner. Hartin will be responsible for prospecting and securing new adviser, broker and consultant partner relationships while working as Voluntary Disruption’s head of all group client strategy, new account installs and enrollments.

The new role of HRAs after Trump’s ACA executive orders
By Shandon Fowler/ Employee Benefit Adviser
At the end of 2016, as one of his final acts as President, Barack Obama signed into law the “21st Century Cures Act.” Within that broad-based bill was a stipulation overturning previous IRS guidance on HRA use, which essentially allowed small business owners (50 or fewer employees) to give their employees money to shop for individual health coverage — and potentially ACA-subsidized coverage.
This move was significant for two reasons. First, it encouraged employers to give employees a lump-sum to then shop for their own coverage rather than selecting employer-sponsored, payroll-deducted coverage. Second, it allowed for HRAs to be the vehicle for this contribution, thereby enabling employers to maintain tax preference without the added administrative burdens of offering employer-sponsored health insurance.
President Trump wants to allow for HRAs to be used for non-group coverage to employers of all sizes, not just small employers. If regulatory language makes the same approach for small businesses available to businesses of any size, broker and consultants should view this as an industry-redefining disruption.

Financial Wellness and Group Disability Insurance: Keys to Workplace Productivity
Posted by The DIS Sales Team
When employees have financial stress, they are less productive. This is a big problem in the workplace. According to a 2017 PWC Survey, 53% of employees feel stressed about their personal finance situations, and 46% said that financial challenges cause them the MOST stress in their lives. Half of those who feel financially stressed say they spend 3 to 4 hours every week dealing with personal finance issues!
Just as increasing health insurance expenses drove employers to adopt Wellness programs over the last 30+ years, maximizing the productivity of the work force is behind the growth of Financial Wellness programs today.
According to the same PWC survey, not having enough emergency savings is employees’ top financial concern. Only 28% of those who are financially stressed could cover unexpected expenses. This finding is confirmed by the 2015 SHED (Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking) which revealed 46% of respondents are not able to cover an unplanned $400 expense without borrowing money or selling a possession.
This savings void is even more troubling if you consider that 51 million working households lack private disability insurance. That’s why disability insurance is essential, and a key pillar of any financial wellness program.

Why is income protection such an important issue for businesses?
A study by Zurich Insurance Group, the global insurer, and the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford on ‘income protection gaps’ (IPGs) based on a survey of over 11,000 respondents in 11 countries, has found that:
There is significant untapped demand for income protection insurance. Just over half (52 percent) of respondents without insurance say that they would be willing to consider buying it.
Personal experience of IPGs (whether first- or second-hand) is a bigger factor influencing demand than financial literacy. This may upend a number of assumptions about the effectiveness of financial education and literacy campaigns.
Professor Gordon L. Clark, the director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford points to a barrier in cost perception: “People are very conscious of the value for money in insurance, but the perceived cost is vastly exaggerated”.
“Moreover, people have to be convinced there’s some payoff beyond the automatic deduction from their income.”
Failure to protect income in the event of disability or illness poses a significant challenge, both in traditional and emerging economies. For families, the impact of illness or disability on income can be devastating. But not only individuals and households suffer. Income protection gaps can also profoundly affect businesses, governments, and the economy as a whole, undermining productivity and eroding social ties.

9 Navy SEAL Sayings That Will Improve Engagement And Accountability In Your Organization
Brent Gleeson, Contributor / Forbes
As a Navy SEAL combat veteran, I can assure you that - in the Teams - engagement and accountability are not issues we have to deal with. If you are lacking in these areas, you don’t make it far in our selection and training process. But we have the most challenging special operations training program in the world. It costs millions of dollars to acquire one SEAL. So you can imagine how important talent acquisition, engagement and retention are to the organization.
Obviously, we can’t replicate this process in the civilian sector but there are some principles from our culture that I have ingrained in my own companies and companies I work with. And you can do the same.
The following sayings are derived from our philosophy and the Navy SEAL Ethos. They define our culture and how we approach life and work.
1. The only easy day was yesterday.
2. It pays to be a winner.
3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
4. I persevere and thrive in adversity.
5. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my team and accomplish the mission.
6. Uncompromising integrity is my standard.
7. We demand discipline. We expect innovation.
8. Embrace the pain.
9. I am never out of the fight.

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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor