Congress takes up retirement disclosure proposal

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Congress has begun work on the Lifetime Income Disclosure Act, a bipartisan measure that requires workplace retirement plans to give participants estimates of what retirement income their account balances would produce through an annuity.

PlanSponsor.com (4/7)

Commentary: Critical-illness insurance can protect savings

A critical-illness insurance policy can help “bridge the gap” in health coverage, writes Rod Rishel of AIG Consumer Insurance. Such policies offer a lump-sum payment that can help guard retirement savings and also provide continuity for small businesses, Rishel writes.

ThinkAdvisor (free registration) (3/28)

Insurance Sector Deal Making Shifting Into High Gear

Expect 2017 to be a year of deal making in the insurance industry, according to a report by KPMG International, with 84 percent of insurance companies surveyed planning to make between one and three acquisitions in 2017, while 94 percent plan at least one divestiture.  Two-thirds of insurers said they expect to undertake a cross-border acquisition this year.

According to the report, “The New deal: Driving Insurance Transformation With Strategy-Aligned M&A,” 33 percent of insurers say transforming their business model will be the primary driver of acquisitions in 2017, with an equal percentage citing enhancing their existing operating model and transforming their operating model as the motivators for deal activity.

“Insurers are clearly hungry for good M&A opportunities,” said Ram Menon, global lead partner at the Insurance Deal Advisory with KPMG in the United States. “They are focused on transforming their business and operating models, and even with geopolitical uncertainties, they are aggressively looking at deals that can help meet their objectives.”

Study explores link between financial, physical wellness participation

Researchers report in Psychological Science that employees who contribute to a 401(k) are more likely to see improvements in blood test abnormalities and embrace healthy behaviors than those who do not contribute to retirement accounts. The findings suggest attitudes about the future and whether they have the power to change it may play a role in retirement plan participation as well as engagement in wellness programs.

BenefitsPro.com (3/19)

Commentary: Long-term care needs to be part of health care overhaul

Any effort to reform and replace the Affordable Care Act should include provisions to address long-term care, write Everette James, Walid Gellad and Meredith Hughes of the University of Pittsburgh. Efforts to enhance long-term care should include strategies that bolster the LTC insurance market and changes to how Medicaid and Medicare cover LTC, according to James, Gellad and Hughes.

Health Affairs Blog (3/16)

Study: Part D has steadily cut elderly mortality rate

The mortality rate among elderly people has decreased by 2.2% each year since 2006 due in part to Medicare prescription drug coverage, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported in the Journal of Health Economics.

United Press International (3/9)

Survey finds retirement worries

Eight out of 10 Americans don’t know how much cash they’ll need for a comfortable retirement, and just 27% of those 50 or older feel financially ready to pay for a decade of retirement, according to research firm Age Wave. The survey found that 75% of respondents would consider buying an “annuity-type” product with a lifetime income guarantee to be certain of a financially secure retirement, and 79% would be willing to work with a financial adviser to improve their retirement outlook.

Investor’s Business Daily (3/6)

Anthem Blue Cross Foundation Tallied $3.8 Million for 2016

From teaching lifesaving skills, to increasing cancer screening and helping youth discover that eating healthy and staying active can be fun, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation continues to tackle some of California’s most complex health issues.

Last year’s results, donations of $3.8 million, plus hours of employee volunteer work, illustrate how the foundation’s partner non-profits are helping to reduce health disparities and empower local community residents to take control of their health.

“We know that when our communities are healthy, their residents are able to thrive, grow and prosper,” said Brian Ternan, president of Anthem Blue Cross. “The Anthem Blue Cross Foundation is proud to team with these organizations that are dedicated to improving the health of our communities and are working to change the lives of so many people across the state.”

Through its focus on heart health, cancer prevention, prenatal care, diabetes prevention, active lifestyles and behavioral health, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation teams with organizations that are setting the standard when it comes to innovative programs that offer long term solutions.

The foundation works with the American Heart Association, The American Cancer Society and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, among other partners.

Beyond the impact made by the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, Anthem Blue Cross associates donated more than 7,100 volunteer hours to benefit countless nonprofits in communities across the state. Additionally, during the year-round associate giving program supported by an Anthem Blue Cross Foundation match, they raised $568,000.

Study: Average cost of retirement exceeds $700,000

A study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave found that the cost of retirement surpasses $700,000 on average, far outweighing the costs of purchasing a home or paying for higher education. Thinking of retirement “as purchasing something in your future changes the dynamic of how you plan for that number,” says Kevin Crain of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

ThinkAdvisor (2/17)

Insurer Incentivizes Fitness, but Read the Fine Print

Wearing a fitness tracking device could earn you cash from your health insurance company. At first, this sounds lucrative for the people who participate, and good for the companies, who want healthier insurance customers. But it’s not quite so simple.

Under the program, people who have certain health insurance coverage plans with UnitedHealthcare can elect to wear a Fitbit activity tracker and share their data with the insurance company. The data would be analyzed by Qualcomm Life, a company that processes medical data from wireless sensors for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies. Depending on how active participants are, as measured by the Fitbit, they could earn as much as $1,500 toward health care services each year.

Interest in wearable fitness trackers is booming. More than half of people who already own one believe their devices will help them increase their life expectancy by 10 years – even though it’s impossible to actually know that because the clinical trials necessary would take at least a decade. Adding free money to the mix only makes the devices seem more attractive.

It’s important to consider potential costs to the patients. We are not far from days when wearable health devices will be able to diagnose illnesses. While this is not legal now, if Obamacare were repealed, as Republicans have vowed to do, corporate partnerships like this one with UnitedHealthcare and Fitbit could pave the way for insurance companies to use fitness tracker data to deny coverage or hike up rates for consumers.

The article is here.

Last Updated 11/1/2017

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