Daily Insurance Report  
Walt Bernard Podgurski,  Editor,  440-773-1108, 
Walt@DailyInsuranceReport.com

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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.
  Tuesday, 01/15/19 - www.DailyInsuranceReport.com

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Other View: California’s other fiscal time bomb
Marc Joffe / APPEAL-DEMOCRAT

California’s state and local agencies have $187 billion in unfunded retiree health care and other benefit liabilities that threaten to crowd out public services, such as public safety and education, that Californians expect government to provide.

Fortunately, state and local officials have more options to manage these other post-employment benefits than they do for public pensions. It’s urgent that they start exercising these options.

The estimated $187 billion in unfunded liabilities comes from a Reason Foundation review of audited financial statements published by the state, University of California system and several hundred local governments, including counties, cities, school districts, community college districts and other special districts for the 2017 fiscal year.

The bulk of the unfunded liabilities are carried by the state – $88 billion – and a handful of large agencies, such as Los Angeles County, with $25 billion in unfunded post-employment benefits, and the University of California system, with $19 billion.



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Judge halts Trump administration's weakening of Obamacare's contraceptive mandate
Tami Luhby / CNN

A California federal district court judge halted the Trump administration's weakening of Obamacare's contraceptive mandate Sunday, a day before the new rules were to take effect.

The injunction, however, only applies in the coalition of 13 Democratic states, plus the District of Columbia, that brought the lawsuit.
In his ruling, Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr., said the states "face potentially dire public health and fiscal consequences from the implementation of the Final Rules."

He noted the states would have to contend with increased costs from providing contraceptive care in clinics to their residents and from a higher rate of unintended pregnancies. Meanwhile, eligible entities can still avail themselves of exemptions or seek accommodations to the mandate.



An easy, free way to lower health-care costs for millions of Americans
DR. LEE GROSS, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR / THE HILL

HRAs are employer-funded accounts used to augment group health plans. Contributions made to HRA accounts are not taxed. Under Obama-era rules, HRAs can be used by employees to pay for qualifying health expenses, as determined by federal regulations and employers, in conjunction with a group health insurance plan.

HRAs can, for example, be used by people to cover out-of-pocket costs for a medical procedure. Funds that remain in an HRA account at the end of each year can be rolled over to the following year, encouraging health care savings.

Although HRAs currently offer some employees and their family members important benefits, they have been limited dramatically by federal agencies — a problem the Trump administration is now working to solve.

The administration could improve its proposed rule by clarifying that patients who pay for direct primary care (DPC) agreements would be eligible for reimbursement through their employer’s HRA. By classifying DPCs as a qualifying health-care expense, employees could use their HRAs to pay DPC costs, making it easier than ever for them to have access to more affordable primary care services.



Employees Report a Wide Range of Benefits Contribute to Financial Security
Research findings suggest that employers could do a better job of educating employees about benefits that may improve their overall financial security.
Rebecca Moore / PLANSOURCE

Employee benefits can address the underlying causes of financial stress, but it is important for plan sponsors to recognize that different workers have different needs, which may make them take interest in a different spectrum of benefit programs, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

A new cut of data from the EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Health and Workplace Benefits Survey finds the highest source of financial stress for Baby Boomers and Generation X employees is saving enough for retirement, cited by 54% and 43%, respectively. However, for Millennials, saving for retirement (27%) falls behind paying monthly bills (35%), having savings in case of an emergency (29%) and the amount of debt they have (29%). Student loan repayments came in fifth on the list of sources for Millennials’ financial stress, at 24%.

The survey also found that two-thirds or more of employees surveyed said benefits, including many voluntary benefits, contribute to their financial security. While 89% indicated health benefits contribute a little (34%) or a lot (55%) to their financial security, 88% said the same for a retirement savings plan (39% a little, 49% a lot) and 87% said so for a defined benefit (DB) plan (45%, 43%), a majority of employees also reported that critical illness insurance (40% a little, 34% a lot), cancer insurance (34%, 40%) and long-term care insurance (38%, 30%) contribute to their financial security. The number one reason (61%) employees gave for purchasing these voluntary benefits is that it is less expensive to purchase through the employer than on their own.



10 Financial Planning Tips from the AICPA to Start 2019 Off Right
BUSINESS WIRE

The first few weeks of the new year are a perfect time for Americans to ensure their financial house is in good order and set themselves up to achieve their monetary goals. To help Americans best position themselves for the year ahead, members of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) share the following planning tips so the new year can bring a ‘new financial you.’

1. New Year, New Plan
2. Review 2018 Spending in Conjunction with 2019 Budgeting
3. Review Automatic Payment Subscriptions and Renewals
4. Update Your Form W-4 for Withholding
5. Make an Early Calculation of Your 2018 Taxes
6. Revisit Workplace Retirement Plan Contributions
7. Make a 2018 IRA and HSA Contribution (if you haven't already)
8. Don’t Wait, Contribute to Your IRA Now
9. Take a Look at Your Current Allocation
10. Make Annual Exclusion Gifts to Heirs Now



Using a Health Savings Account to Pay Long-Term-Care Premiums
You can tap an HSA to pay the premiums for a long-term-care insurance policy, but the amount you can withdraw tax-free depends on your age.
KIMBERLY LANKFORD, Contributing Editor / Kiplinger

If you’re 40 or younger, you can withdraw up to $420 tax-free from an HSA in 2019 to pay the premiums; if you’re age 41 to 50, you can take out $790; if you’re age 51 to 60, $1,580; if you’re age 61 to 70, $4,220; and if you’re age 71 or older, $5,270. If you and your spouse both have long-term-care policies, you can each use money tax-free from your HSA to pay premiums, up to the aged-based maximum for each of you (based on your ages by the end of the year). These limits increase slightly each year for inflation.

To qualify, the long-term-care policy must cover only long-term-care services. And it must pay out if you need help with at least two activities of daily living or have cognitive impairment. Most traditional long-term-care insurance policies qualify. If you’re not sure, ask your insurer if your policy is “tax-qualified.”



Plan Strategies, Inc. Launches New 401(k) Education-Centric Website
PRNewswire

Plan Strategies, Inc. (PSI), an SEC-registered investment advisory firm focused solely on the 401(k) market, is pleased to announce the launch of its new and improved website, http://www.planstrategies.com. The new website features a modern, easy-to-use design, improved navigation, and a comprehensive, relevant blog.

PSI's new website reflects the brand's continuing commitment to the use of technology to guide employers through the minefield of fiduciary risks that plan sponsors face. PSI has provided 3(38) and 3(21) fiduciary services and dedicated customer service to companies of every size. Now, the firm hopes to expand its reach through its enhanced online presence.

"With 401(k) fiduciary lawsuits on the rise, we're committed to our mission of helping employers meet their fiduciary duties while providing investment advisory retirement plan services to their employees," said Burke Johnson, President and Chief Operating Officer of PSI. "Our new website and blog will serve as a resource center where employers can learn about their fiduciary duties and how we can help them."



When you're not Jeff Bezos: Tips for most financially painless divorce
Rebecca Walser / Personal Finance, FOXBusiness

Use a premarital agreement
It is reported that the Bezos, who married young and without major financial means, do not have one. Even though they can be a romance killer, a premarital agreement trumps the division of property your home state follows because it is a private contractual agreement that both parties agree to ahead of any problems. While some lawyers may still try to circumvent its terms, especially where major assets exist, a properly drafted agreement is difficult to overcome.

Keep separate property separate
Even if you do not have a premarital agreement, if you come to the marriage with sufficiently more assets or if you inherit assets or receive gifts during the marriage, keep these assets separate and apart from any joint marital accounts. This way they can retain their character as your separate property, not subject to marital division.

Keep a record of debts paid or down payments made
If you plan to use your individual assets to pay off your future spouse’s student loans or put the down payment down on your joint home, keep a record of those funds and agree that those funds remain your separate property.





  Archives

Monday, 01/14/19 - Best Buy teamed up with Care.com to offer 10 days of child care to all employees for only a $10 daily co-pay

Tuesday, 01/08/19 - House Democrats to examine idea of government-run health care system

Wednesday, 01/09/19 - New York City launches $100 million universal health insurance program

Thursday, 01/10/19 - The Top Five Small Business Trends To Monitor In 2019

Friday, 01/11/19 - A “New Front Door” To Healthcare - - CVS “concept stores”




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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor
440-773-1108
Walt@DailyInsuranceReport.com