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Around the PIA Western Alliance

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Montana

Governor Signs Medicaid Expansion & Vetoes Drug Price Bill: Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed a bill to expand the state’s Medicaid program. He also signed a one that has a work requirement and increased premiums for those remaining on the state’s Medicaid program for over a year.

All together he signed nine bills that involve health. One of the bills requires the state to start a reinsurance program. The goal of that program is to cut premium costs for those using the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace and reimburse insurers for high-cost claims.

A bill to reduce prescription drug prices by regulating the contracts companies can sign with pharmaceutical benefit managers hired to negotiate prices for pharmacies and manufacturers was vetoed.

Bullock said the bill would cause administrative costs to rise.

Source link: Independent Record

 

 

Oregon

Filings: Oregon consumers can get a first look at requested rates for 2020 individual and small group health insurance plans.

In the individual market, seven companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average 3.2 percent decrease to an average 13.5 percent increase, for an average of 3.3 percent. In the small group market, nine companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average 0.3 percent decrease to an average 13.1 percent increase, for an average of 8.7 percent. See the attached chart for the full list of rate change requests.

“It’s early in the process, but we are encouraged to see carriers providing more options to Oregonians by expanding into both rural and coastal communities, and the market stabilizing in spite of uncertainty at the federal level,” said Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi. “Now it is time to start our open and thorough review process that allows Oregonians to provide input on the filings that affect them.”

Moderate rate increase requests, recent health insurance company financial statements, and expansion into additional counties by multiple carriers reveal that the Oregon health insurance market is stabilizing in spite of continued uncertainty at the federal level. The Oregon Reinsurance Program continues to help stabilize the market as well. It consistently lowers rates by 6 percent each year.

Health insurance companies submitted rate requests to the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Division of Financial Regulation on May 13. Over the next two months, the division will analyze the requested rates to ensure they adequately cover Oregonians’ health care costs. The division must review and approve rates before they are charged to policyholders.

The requested rates are for plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act for small businesses and individuals who buy their own coverage rather than getting it through an employer.

Later this month, Oregonians will be able to compare their health plans and submit comments at  www.oregonhealthrates.org

Public hearing dates will also be posted to the site.

Oregonians are encouraged to comment on rate change requests during the public comment period, which opens later this month and runs through early July. The public can submit comments online and during the public rate hearings.

Preliminary decisions are expected to be announced late June, and final decisions will be made in late July.

 

 

Washington

Kriedler Disaster Plan: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s proposal to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate disasters was signed into law yesterday by Gov. Jay Inslee. Senate Bill 5106 passed the House on April 12 with a 95-0 vote and the state Senate on April 22 with a 48-0 vote. The law takes effect on July 28.

The bill creates a work group represented by 27 organizations including legislators, state agencies, insurance companies, Tribal leaders, municipal groups and other key parties. The group will review and make recommendations on how to best coordinate and improve disaster resilience work in Washington state.

“I thank Sen. Mona Das, (D-Kent), and Rep. Kristine Reeves, (D-Federal Way), for sponsoring this important legislation,” Kreidler said. “This is a crucial first step in being prepared to mitigate disasters that we face in Washington state, including earthquakes, wildfires and flooding.”

““Washington state is prone to natural disasters including earthquakes, floods, landslides, and wildfires,” Das said. We’ve seen an increase in these events because of climate change. We need to act now to ensure we’re fully prepared.”

The work group will hold its first meeting in September. The group’s final report on its recommendations on whether Washington should have an ongoing resilience program is due in December 2020.

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

 

 

Kreidler & Long Term Care: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says signing House Bill 1087 into law is a good step toward helping Washington residents deal with the costs of long-term care. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law yesterday.

The legislation, better known as the Long Term Care Services and Support Trust Act (www.leg.wa.gov), would provide up to $36,500 in assistance toward long-term care costs. Washington residents will begin paying premiums through their workplace in January 2022.

Benefits will be available to qualified residents beginning January 2025.

Kreidler noted the new benefits can be combined with other options, such as long-term care insurance policies, to help pay for needed assistance.

“This program can help people avoid impoverishing themselves to get care in their older age,” Kreidler said. “Most people don’t even think of buying a long-term care policy until they are much older and the cost is prohibitive.

“This new program will have many more people paying in from a younger age. This will help keep costs down and provide many with greater options for long-term care in the latter part of their lives. This program offers some needed peace of mind.”

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

 


Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content  insurance news 2019 

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What if there were a way to complete ACORD forms accurately on the first pass?

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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Tags:  Avyst eforms wizard  PIA insurance  PIA Member benefits  PIA Western Alliance 

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PIA Western Alliance Congratulates Deidre Thede on her New CIC Designation!

Posted By Staff reporter, Friday, May 17, 2019

Deidre Thede, CIC

Deidre Thede, CIC

Barker-Urelings Insurance | Corvallis, OR

 

Growing up in the industry I always admired those who had their CIC designation because I saw the commitment, hard work, and determination it takes to obtain. It is an honor to be included in such an elite group of professionals in the industry and I look forward to continuing my education.

 

An Oregon native, I grew up in Salem and then moved to Corvallis to obtain my Bachelors’ degree in Business Finance at Oregon State (Go Beavs!). While going to school, I worked as a part-time assistant in the Commercial Lines Department at Barker-Uerlings and accepted a full-time position upon graduating.

 

I continued furthering my career at the agency, including learning the operations and accounting side. During my free time, I enjoy being outdoors with my husband and daughter, going for runs in the country, and spending time with family.

Tags:  CIC designation  Deidre Thede 

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PIA Oregon/Idaho Honors the Best of the Best

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Professional Independent Agents of Oregon and Idaho held its annual conference last week. Agents and company representatives from around the Northwest and other parts of the country gathered at the Salishan Resort on the beautiful Oregon Coast.

The association gave out its annual agent of the year and company person of the year awards and the blinders award. The agent of the year award is the PIA’s way of recognizing a special individual whose accomplishments exemplify the best qualities an independent insurance agent can possess integrity, dedication and commitment to the members and goals of the PIA.

Dawn Roberts of LeDoux Insurance in Eugene possesses all those attributes and more. She was given the agent of the year award. Dawn has served on the Oregon/Idaho board for several years and is known for paying attention to trends and industry advances.

She has encouraged the PIA to do the same.

In her parting words as the PIA Oregon/Idaho Chairwoman last year, she looked deeply at the changes in the industry and said, “It occurred to me that the best service I have given the PIA Oregon/Idaho may be the advice I’m giving to this association as I step down.”

That advice?

“We must grow younger,” she said. “To survive and to compete with online insurance purchasing and with a technology that grows ever faster, and ever more complex, we must reach out to a younger generation and share our love of insurance with them.”

The PIA Oregon/Idaho took her advice and with the creation of the Oregon Young Insurance Professionals. That group is now successfully sharing that love of insurance with an ever-growing group of young professionals.

The company person of the year award went to Frank Lukacs of Prime Insurance. It is given each year to a company representative that helps PIA members benefit from the contributions of time, money and expertise that come from our insurance company partners.

In giving the award, PIA Oregon/Idaho Chairman Rich Sorem told Frank Lukacs and the assembled membership, “We love your philosophy — and that of your company. That philosophy is to offer us opportunities to make more money. So rather than kick a hard to place risk to the curb, your company welcomes them into the marketplace. The goal of your company — and you — is to increase the value of our businesses.”

The annual blinders award is given to an underwriter or company person who does the opposite of what this award suggests. They take off the blinders and broaden their vision. The broadening of the vision makes it easier for the rest of us to serve our clients.

Our 2019 Blinder’s Award winner is Eric Vanderveer of Oregon Mutual Insurance. The person nominating him for the award said, “He’s very personable and very professional.”

And in this case professional entails being willing to talk about placing a risk and reviewing that risk and if it can’t be placed, going out of his way to find a way to help.

That’s what a good Blinder’s Award recipient does.

This year’s $500 grand prize winner — courtesy of Liberty Mutual and Safeco — is Joe Hatzel of Abel Insurance in Coos Bay. The Oregon Young Insurance Professionals Weekend Getaway winner is Ross Sturenfeldt, Berkshire Hathaway.

The PIA Oregon/Idaho encourages attendees to take photos with their mobile devices and post them to the event’s mobile app. Cash awards — courtesy of Progressive Insurance — are given for the best posts.

1st Place: Kim Hawkins — $100

2nd Place: Rich Hallock — $50

3rd Place: Wendy Joy — $25

Golf — as always — is a huge reason many attend. These are the winners of the annual Dave Iwata Golf Tournament:

1st Place

Kevin Beebehiser

Kyler Beebehiser

Wolter Van Doorninck

Garn Kemp

2nd Place

Tom Bauer

Todd Scott

Nathan Bauer

Cameron Deiss

3rd Place

Mark Simmons

Monte Simmons

Tom Dieker

Greg Josi

Tied for 4th:

Patrick O'Keefe

Scott Esqueda

Steve Shields

Jeff Bronaugh

Joe Hatzel

Clark Sitzes

Frank Lukacs

Don Hobdy

Justin Mena

Jeff Pistoresi

Josh Cox

Max Hanson

More information about the 2020 Conference will be coming soon.

Tags:  2019 OR ID Conference and Tradeshow  PIA Oregon/Idaho Honors the Best of the Best 

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Update: Oregon SAIF Grab — Legislature Backs Down

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

sell saif insurance how do i get a saif appointment

 

At least for now the surplus of Oregon’s quasi-public workers’ compensation agency SAIF is — itself — safe. Oregon Governor Kate Brown wanted to take the millions from the surplus to help with the staggering deficit of the state’s public employees PERS system.

 

It currently has a $27 billion shortfall.

 

House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney have presented what they say is a PERS-saving alternative to Browns plan. The idea comes from Courtney and leaves out Brown’s proposal to grab the State Accident Insurance Fund surplus.

 

The PIA, and many other Oregon associations and business groups have opposed the money grab. Their opposition has apparently succeeded. At least so far.

 

PIA Oregon Lobbyist Lana Butterfield said this association — and the group — worked hard to stop the governor’s grab. “It seems likely that SAIF surplus will not be raided this session to help with the Oregon PERS deficit,” she said. “The PIA Oregon/Idaho was active in a very strong and focused coalition to protect SAIF. Thank you to all of our members who were active on this issue!”

 

It appears that — at least so far — leaders in the Oregon Legislature agree that taking the SAIF surplus is not a good idea.

 

The Courtney-Kotek plan has Tier 1 and Tier 2 PERS employees — those that entered the system before 2004 — putting 2.5% of their salaries into a pool to pay off the PERS system debt. Those hired after 2004 will have just .75% of their salaries put into the pool.

 

In other words — as some critics contend — this pushes the PERS problem down the road and basically it “refinances” the debt over 22-years.

 

The governor does not particularly like the compromise but she’s willing to go along.

“In the face of significant increases in employer rates that would force cuts to teachers, public safety, and other public services, extending the amortization in a reasonable way balances the state’s needs, and the needs of the people we serve,” a statement from her office said.

 

Public employee unions and others are opposing the Courtney-Kotek decision. Opposition comes from how it impacts employees. An actuary consulted by opponents say employees in Tier 1 could see individual account balances drop by 7.8%. The Tier 2 group will see a 12.5% reduction in their balances by retirement.

 

The Tier 3 employees will see a 7.1% reduction.

 

Melissa Unger is the executive director of Oregon’s SEIU Local 503. “They’re asking working families to shoulder a large part of the burden while other options go unexplored,” she said. “We challenge the Legislature and the Governor to consider bolder ideas that protect working families, such as selling the state-owned SAIF Corp., to pay down the pension debt.”

 

The plan also does away with Brown’s plan to take $500 million of the Oregon income tax rebate called the kicker.

 

Now if Oregon Republicans will just return to the Legislature so business can be conducted. The Republicans staged a walkout and neither house of the Legislature can do business without a quorum.

 

They will likely have returned by the time you read this.

 

Republicans have made demands for changes and refuse to come back until Democrats make all or most of those changes. The GOP leadership says it opposes a tax plan that Democrats want to enact that increases business taxes. They also oppose a cap and trade plan and gun law changes as well as a few other bills.

 

If they haven’t already negotiated a deal, Republicans say they will come back when Democrats make changes.

 

Source links: OregonLive.comlink 1, link 2, OPB

Tags:  Update: Oregon SAIF Grab — Legislature Backs Down 

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Washington State Offers Public Option Health Insurance

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

For the last several years a debate has raged in some circles that the nation needs a government option health insurance company. To better define it for those that don’t understand the term, a government option is a health insurance company run by the government.

After all — proponents crow — government doesn’t have to show a profit, so it can do the health insurance thing more cheaply than for-profit insurers. That means consumers will spend less on premiums.

At least that’s the theory and one that the federal government and eight states have looked at. Proposals have been made, debates have been done but nothing has happened.

Until now.

Washington State is about to test the government option theory. The Legislature passed a bill creating one and Governor Jay Inslee has signed the action into law. It is called Cascade Care and several plans will be offered within a tiered system. They are expected to be 10% cheaper than a comparable private insurance plan.

Plus, the plans will be available to everyone in Washington by 2021 regardless of income.

The good news for insurers is the Washington public option guarantees them a role in health insurance in the state. Private insurance companies — who will provide rate caps of about 160% of Medicare rates — will administer the plan. That saves the state from having to create a bureaucracy to run the program.

A Seattle Democrat, Sen. David Frockt is the author of the bill that created the system. He said doing the hybrid was a compromise with insurers and was needed to get the job done. “What's important about this plan is that the government is coming in and taking a more aggressive role in regulating the cost drivers of health care," Frockt said.

University of Washington Professor Aaron Katz teaches health policy and is considered an expert on health care markets. He said, “It’s an attempt to keep the insurance companies in the game.” And Katz noted, having insurance companies in the game means once it is set up, the government option is not likely to ever go away.

“The size of the business that we are giving to private insurers makes it ever more difficult to ever extract ourselves from those dependencies,” he said.

Another plus — proponents say — is the hope that doctors, hospitals and other health care providers will accept lower rates because the state has the purchasing power to send them more patients. The savings the state gets from those lower rates means they can sell plans at a competitive price.

But again, that’s the theory.

Source link: OregonLive.com

Tags:  Washington State Offers Public Option Health Insur 

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Insurance Employment — Numbers Rising ​

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Guess what? Insurance agent numbers are growing. You hear they are not, but the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) has taken Department of Labor statistics and those figures say numbers are up.

So new technologies and cost savings are not causing number drops.

 

The I.I.I. figures say the number of insurance agencies and brokers jumped from 653,300 in 2009 to 825,200 last year. Here are the figures from that decade:

 

2009 — 653,300

2010 — 642,300

2011 — 649,200

2012 — 659,600

2013 — 672,300

2014 — 720,000

2015 — 762,800

2016 — 783,500

2017 — 809,600

2018 — 825,200

 

The I.I.I. says the number of agencies and brokers grows by about 20,000 a year. Those are not insignificant numbers. Doing the math for this 10-year period, that’s a 171,700 gain.

 

In an interview with Insurance Business America, Insuretech and Synechron’s Ashish Nangla said,

 

“The latest technology trends will definitely change how the market works and how people interact with each other, as well as how things are presented in the market. There’s going to be a lot of change around customer engagement and how insurers communicate with their customers, and that might lead to disintermediation.”

 

She pointed out that agents just doing sales are going to experience disruption and be impacted by the changes. However, “agents who are working on value-added services, and who are establishing value in the insurance chain, will be able to continue as a business.”

 

The I.I.I. says insurers are — today — looking for agents and agencies and others that will partner with them to add value to their clients. Other than agents and agencies those people include claims adjusters, third-party administrators of insurance funds and other service personnel such as advisory and insurance ratemaking services.

 

Employment has risen in those groups from 254,200 in 2009 to 343,700 last year. That’s a 89,500 gain.

 

Best of all, the total number of people working in insurance — other than a minor correction in 2010 — has grown significantly since 2009. Here are the figures:

 

2009 — 2,379,600

2010 — 2,340,600

2011 — 2,336,400

2012 — 2,368,300

2013 — 2,388,900

2014 — 2,465,800

2015 — 2,538,300

2016 — 2,592,700

2017 — 2,659,600

2019 — 2,690,400

 

That’s an overall gain of 310,800 in a 10-year period.

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  Insurance Employment — Numbers Rising ​ 

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​ Flood Insurance — The Highs & Lows

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 14, 2019


 

Most of the homeowners in this country have homeowners insurance. That figure sits at about 91%. Not bad. But as we all know, homeowners does not cover flood damages. Only flood insurance can do that and ValuePenguin says just 7% of us have flood insurance.

 

That’s not a very high figure.

 

What makes the number even more ironic, 75% of the respondents say they think intense weather events like hurricanes are growing. An equally staggering 40% say they have been impacted by a weather event that forced them to evacuate or that caused damage to their dwelling.

 

Yet just 7% have flood insurance.

 

The National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) average rate — says ValuePenguin — is $699 per year. However, after surveying the entire country, there are huge differences in the cost of premiums from state to state.

 

Oddly, Florida — one of the hardest hit flooding states — pays the least amount per year at $550. That’s 21% below the national average. Florida has the second highest number of those covered at 35.5%. Louisiana — another high flood state — has the highest number of flood coverage at 43.5%.

 

Here are the top 10 states for coverage:

 

1. Louisiana — 43.5% are covered — premium: $664 — 5% below average cost — pays the 5th least amount for insurance

2. Florida — 35.5% are covered — premium: $550 — 21% below average cost — pays the least amount for insurance

3. Hawaii — 22.8% are covered — premium: $673 — 4% below average cost — pays the 8th least amount for insurance

4. South Carolina — 15.5% are covered —premium: $672 — 4% below average cost — pays the 3rd least amount for insurance

5. New Jersey — 11.1% are covered — premium: $961 — 37% ABOVE average cost — pays the 33rd least amount for insurance

 

The rest of the top 10:

 

6. Delaware

7. Texas

8. Mississippi

9. Rhode Island

10. North Dakota

 

The PIA Western Alliance states:

 

19. California — 3.5% — $806 — 15% ABOVE the average cost — pays the 15th least amount for insurance

20. Oregon — 3.0% — $889 — 27% ABOVE the average cost — pays the 28th least amount for insurance

22. New Mexico — $843 — 21% ABOVE the average cost — pays the 21st least amount for insurance

25. Washington — $901 — 29% ABOVE the average cost — pays the 30th least amount for insurance

26. Nevada — $721 — 3% ABOVE the average cost — pays the 14th least amount for insurance

28. Arizona — $666 — 5% BELOW the average cost — pays the 6th least amount for insurance

31. Idaho — $746 — 7% ABOVE the average cost — pays the 18th least amount for insurance

33. Montana — $704 — 1% ABOVE the average cost — pays the 13th least amount for insurance

39. Alaska — $902 — 29% ABOVE the national cost — pays the 31st least amount of insurance

 

Source links: MPA, Insurance Business America

Tags:  ​Flood Insurance — The Highs & Lows 

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Paradise, California Fire — $12 Billion in Insured Losses

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The wildfires in California in November of last year were devastating. People died, and thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has revised the claims loss data for the November 2018 fire, and said insurance claims have now hit $12 billion.

That’s up $614 million from the figure released in January of this year.

“While last year’s tragic wildfires turned thousands of people’s lives upside down, insurance is helping to rebuild and recover,” Lara said. “With these record-breaking fires still fresh in our memory, having the right insurance coverage for your home or business should be part of your preparation plan too.”

With that he suggested getting homeowners coverage up to date, and to do a home or business inventory and — if possible — use a video camera to document possessions.

Most of the damage from the November fires are from one causing the total destruction of Paradise. It killed 85 people and totaled 19,000 buildings.

Nicole Mahrt-Ganley of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association commented on Lara’s report and said, “Wildfire has long been part of California’s landscape and insurers understand that California faces major wildfire risk.”

Source links: California Department of Insurance, Insurance Journal, Associated Press

Tags:  California Fire — $12 Billion in Insured Losses  Paradise 

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Trump Administration, Drug Prices & Advertising

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

You’ve seen them. They are beautifully done TV commercials with mostly beautiful people acting the part of someone in desperate need for just the right drug to fix whatever malady plagues them. They always include a push for whoever needs the drug to ask their doctor to prescribe it for them.

What they don’t do is tell you how much these drugs cost.

Not anymore. The Trump administration has made a decision — via the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — to require drug companies to put how much a drug will cost a consumer in its direct-to-consumer TV advertisements. The idea says HHS Secretary Alex Azar is to help people understand just how much the drug will cost them if they — indeed — get their doctor to prescribe the drug.

“The vast majority of Americans struggling to afford their drugs are put in that position because they are paying based on high list prices,” Azar said. “We think it is a fundamental right to know whether that drug they’re being pitched is a $50 or $5,000 drug.”

Azar pointed out that the 10 most commonly advertised drugs run from $488 per month or $16,938 per month. Requiring price disclosures — he says — will help drive down the list price of drugs.

The rule has been finalized and will go into effect in about 60-days but will not apply to commercials already on the air.

Drug companies — who spend about $4 billion a year on TV advertising — insist the rule will confuse consumers, because a drug’s list price is often lower than what the patient will actually pay.

They also say listing prices may even discourage some people from seeking treatment because they don’t think they can afford a drug.

Speaking of drug prices, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham says he expects Congress to act on high drug prices. He said they’ll probably start with the patent process.

“I expect us to do something on patents and prescription drugs this year. I don’t know where the sweet spot is but doing nothing is unacceptable,” Graham said. And he — and others — assume this will be a bipartisan effort.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn agrees. He wants to end the drug company practice of taking out dozens on patents on a single drug to end competition.

Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2, Insurance Journal

Tags:  Drug Prices & Advertising  Trump Administration 

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