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PIA Western Alliance knows you want to be the best in the field, and the best way to stay on top is to stay informed. PIA Weekly Industry News Brief is an informative e-news brief that delivers the most relevant industry content.


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Another Very Successful PIA Washington & IIABW Annual Joint Conference Concludes

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The annual Joint Conference of the PIA Washington/Alaska and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Washington was held last Thursday and Friday at the beautiful Skamania Lodge on the Columbia River Gorge.

The setting no pun intended is gorgeous as agents and company personnel from all over the state and nation connected for all things PIA. Education, an awards banquet and the giving of awards for service, the election of a new board of directors and another cant be beat sold-out trade show punctuated the conference.

And of course the annual golf tournament featured a bunch of teams enjoying a beautiful day on Skamania Lodges equally beautiful golf course. Here are the days winners:

1st Place: Dave Street, Mark Backstrom, Jeff Puffinburger, Todd Carter

1st Place: Dave Street, Mark Backstrom, Jeff Puffinburger, Todd Carter

2nd Place: Jim Slaugenhaupt, Mike Button, Troy Granger, Diana Madsen

3rd Place: David Babbitt, Jerry Kelly, Rich Hawkins, Duane Henson

Closest to the Pin:

Women: Diana Madsen

Men: Mark Backstrom

Longest Drive:

Women: Carrie Cheshier

Men: Ryan Simpson

Straightest Drive:

Troy Granger




The annual joint conference ended on Friday evening with a beautiful Columbia River Gorge stern wheel cruise.


Take a look at some photos from this event:

WA Joint Conference 2014 Gallery


The PIA Washington/Alaska and the IIABW thank our sponsors and exhibitors for their support.

Title Sponsors:

Liberty Mutual Insurance
Safeco Insurance
Major Sponsors:

Grange Insurance Association
Imperial PFS
Mutual of Enumclaw
Progressive Insurance
Travelers Insurance
Partner Sponsors:

Capital Insurance Group
Capital Premium Financing
Oregon Mutual Insurance
Western National Insurance Group

Supporting Sponsors:

Allied Insurance
Pemco Insurance

Contributing Sponsors:

AmTrust North America
Berkley North Pacific Group
Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
Griffin Underwriting Services
Pacific International Underwriters
Prime Insurance Company
Superior Underwriters
Western Experts in Transportation

Tags:  Conference  Convention  Insurance Content  PIA Washington & IIABW Annual Joint Conference  Weekly Industry News 

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Update: Another Judge Blocks Medicaid for the Poor in Non-ObamaCare Exchange States

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Tuesday, October 7, 2014

No doubt this controversy and the final decision on it will rest with the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, this court and that will make conflicting decisions pushing it that direction.

Enough with being cryptic. The issue is Medicaid for those states that chose to not do their own Affordable Care Act exchange or marketplace as they are now called and decided let the federal government do the job. Opponents say the Affordable Care Act specifies that the Medicaid subsidies for those needing it to purchase insurance applies only to the 14 states that are doing their own exchanges.

Opponents of the opponents, and the Obama administration disagree. So has one U.S. district court. Another similar court has said those funds cannot be spent in non-exchange states. Both decisions were announced the same day in August. The Internal Revenue Service made the decision to go ahead in spite of the split decision and the Medicaid funds are being spent.

Now a judge in Oklahoma U.S. District Judge Ronald White in Muskogee has agreed with that court and said the administrations use of those funds is against the law. In his decision, White said the language of the law is clear and limits Medicaid funds to only those states operating their own exchanges.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said, The administration and its bureaucrats in the IRS handed out billions in illegal tax credits and subsidies and vastly expanded the reach of the health-care law because they didnt like the way Congress wrote the Affordable Care Act.

The administration via the U.S. Justice Department will appeal. Spokeswoman Emily Pierce said, The district judge in the Oklahoma case made a decision that is inconsistent with the text of the statute, the clear intent of Congress, [and] common sense.

Dont look for any changes in Medicaid spending. The administration will continue to do its thing while this issue winds its way through the courts.

In the meantime, PIA National reports several states that were initially reluctant to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are now moving forward with plans to expand coverage under Medicaid after the November elections. They are motivated by states like Pennsylvania that have received the federal government's approval to add commercial innovations to the Medicaid program to make it more palatable to conservatives.

This could be a case of money talks.

The bulk of the 27 states already expanding the program are starting to receive billions in federal subsidies for insurers, hospitals and healthcare providers. Thats putting pressure on politicians in other states to do so as well. Some states like those with Republican governors such as Indiana are negotiating with the federal government for agreements. North Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming are also exploring options.

But while the turning tide on Medicaid bodes well for Obamacare, Republicans refuse to concede any points in the ideological battle around the healthcare model.


Source: Health Insurance Exchange

Tags:  Judge Blocks Medicaid for the Poor in Non-ObamaCar  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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Act II of ObamaCare — A Look at the Upcoming Year

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The consulting company the Segal Group took a look at what employers can expect from the Affordable Care Act in 2015. Here are the conclusions of the Segal Groups 18th annual Health Plan Cost Trend Survey:

  Cost increases for group and pre-Medicare retiree coverage will be between 6.2% and 10.4% depending on the type of plan.

  Prescription cost coverages will be higher by an average of 8.6%

  Last year it was 6.3%.

Edward Kaplan who runs the firms health practices said, New specialty drugs coming onto the market and price increases for brand-name drugs are the main forces driving prescription drug plan cost trends. Typically, less than 1% of all prescriptions are specialty drug medications, yet these drugs now account for more than 25% of total prescription drug cost trends. The projected specialty drug/biotech trend rate for 2015 is an exceptionally high 19.4%.

These are the trends Segal listed in the report. They are for 2015 and are compared to 2014:


Preferred Provider Organizations


Point of Service


Health Management Organizations

6.2% 7.2%

High Deductible Health Plans


Fee-for-Service/Indemnity Plans


Prescription Drug Carve-Out


Caps for out-of-pocket expenses says the Segal report will drive the medical benefit costs up 1% and prescription drug coverage costs by 1.5%.


Source: Businessinsurance.com

Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Industry  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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The Affordable Care Act — Act II

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Affordable Care Act Act II is about to start. The new CEO of HealthCare.gov Kevin Counihan promises better acting and a plot with a happier ending. In fact, he claims act two of ObamaCare will have raving fans.

Translation: the sign-up for ObamaCare season starts in November and Counihan said things are night and day compared to last years debacle. Everyone agrees. Anything would be better.

Counihan also warns while it will be better, shopping the ObamaCare federal exchange will not be perfect and imperfections after many millions of dollars in spending will still exist.

Its a real priority for us to create raving fans. We want our service experience to be highly satisfying. We think the best way we can attract new enrollment is by satisfying the customers we already have, he said.

He recently talked about several upgrades to HealthCare.gov and said people can window shop for plans. They couldnt do that last year. He also said the registration process will be shorter and simpler.

Critics point out that consumers still wont be able to easily figure out the best doctors, hospitals and drugs covered by the different plans. So theyll have to continue to call insurers or go to insurer websites for information.

California Republican and frequent ObamaCare critic Darrell Issa chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He considers the federal website, the law itself and its implementation to be a disaster and says if ObamaCare was a private company shareholders would be suing.

Issa continued through a spokesman in his office. But in this administration, theres no high-level accountability and the focus remains fixated on signing up as many Americans as possible regardless of the cost, the security risks, or the impact on the quality of health care for all Americans.


Source: Insurancebroadcasting.com

Tags:  Healthcare  Insurance Content  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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Americans and a Survey: The World is Getting Riskier

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This is the second year Travelers has done this survey. Its the Travelers Consumer Risk Index. The survey measures how we view the world and what were worried about. And the conclusion is Americans find the world risker than ever before.

Six in 10 of us or 60% find the statement true.

Severe weather and distracted driving are high on the list as is the loss of personal privacy and identity theft. Those 18 to 34 AKA as the Millennials are less worried about the risk level compared to other age groups.

The survey also says we are preparing for risk and uncertainty and are proactive in managing that risk:

  85% said they do regular safety checks on their vehicle.

  82% have put smoke detectors in their homes.

  64% have put together food and water and have stored it away in case of severe weather.

 As noted earlier, Millennials are less worried and less likely to do the steps just listed.

Getting more specific on worries and risk:

  Insurance: Consumers 69% feel they are covered pretty well when it comes to home and auto insurance. The good news is that 64% of them review their insurance polices every year. And 35% of them have actually have conversations with their insurance agent on their policies. Lastly, 51% say they would spend more time evaluating their homeowners insurance needs if they had to insure both the home and auto.

  Severe Weather: 64% worry about it but only 39% think it has become frequent in their region. Just 34% think itll cause heavy damage to their property. People in the Northeast worry more about the weather with 55% of them saying weather is getting worse in their areas. Thats way up from last years 34%.

  Personal Privacy Loss & ID Theft: 82% say they are worried on some level. The same percentage worries about identity theft. Its a big a worry as a personal health problem. On ID theft, were less concerned than we were a year ago 23% compared to 31% which is odd because cyber theft is increasing radically. Millennials are less concerned 53% about ID theft, technology and computer intrusions on personal privacy than other groups.

  Distracted Driving: 89% worry about getting in an accident with someone who is driving distracted yet 51% dont worry about getting into an accident due to their own distracted driving. That said, 80% worry about 16 to 21-year drivers in their households and their distracted driving.

Travelers Claims VP Patrick Gee as to its purpose: We developed the Travelers Consumer Risk Index to identify peoples daily concerns and encourage them to find ways to manage risk. We expected to see many of these risks among the top concerns for consumers. Whats interesting is the disparity between the perception of risk and the mindset that it cant happen to me when it comes to issues such as distracted driving and severe weather.

Tips to help keep you safe if there is a wildfire

Tips to help keep you safe if there is a wildfire

The point is to help people prepare for risk. The survey is done by the Travelers Institute and is part of the Travelers Consumer Insurance Education symposia series. You can find more information on Travelers Prepare and Prevent website: Click Here


Tags:  Consumers  Insurance Content  The World is Getting Riskier  Travelers 

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People Living Longer but Not Necessarily in the U.S.

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released statistics on lifespans. Data from WHO says were living longer and in some cases more prosperous lives. Japan continues to be the nation with people who live the longest. The average lifespan is 84-years. And Japan also has the best under age five mortality rate.

As for the U.S. were ranked 30 on the WHO scale.

LIMRA the Life Insurance and Marketing Research Association tracks life spans in the U.S. It found in 1900 close to 75% of the people in the U.S. died before reaching the age of 65. In 2010 weve improved. LIMRA said 70% of people now die after the age 65.

Ironically, thats hurt the life insurance business because with improved longevity, people arent as anxious to buy life insurance. Policy sales in 1960 hit 83% of the total adult population. In 2010 it fell to 70%.

Thats for families. For individuals the percentage fell to 44% from 72%.

The Social Science Research Councils 2013-2014 American Human Development Report looked at the life span average in the U.S. Hawaii has the longest life span at 81.3 years. Mississippi is the shortest life span at 75 years.

Thats four years below the 79 year average.

Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) Senior Vice President and Chief Economist said like noted earlier the longer life spans have cut into life insurance sales. He says it is declining and 66% of those surveyed say its too expensive. Within that group 34% say it is the main reason for non-purchase.

Data from the I.I.I. and LIMRA said 30% of U.S. households do not have life insurance.

Heres the list of the nations with the longest life spans and their average ages:

  Japan 84 years

  Andorra 83 years

  Australia 83 years

  Italy 83 years

  Singapore 83 years

  Switzerland 83 years

  Canada 82 years

  Cyprus 82 years

  France 82 years

  Iceland 82 years

  Luxembourg 82 years

  Monaco 82 years

  New Zealand 82 years

  Norway 82 years

  Spain 82 years

Here are the states with the longest life spans. Two PIA Western Alliance states are in the top-15. They are California at three and Washington is 13th:

  Hawaii 81.3 years

  Minnesota 81.1 years

  California 80.8  years

  Connecticut 80.8 years

  Massachusetts 80.5 years

  New York 80.5 years

  Vermont 80.5 years

  New Jersey 80.3 years

  New Hampshire 80.3 years

  Utah 80.2 years

  Colorado 80.0 years

  Wisconsin 80.0 years

  Washington 79.9 years

  Rhode Island 79.9 years

  Iowa 79.7 years

 Here are the other PIA Western Alliance state statistics:

  Arizona 79.6 years

  New Mexico 79.6 years

  Oregon 79.5 years

  Idaho 79.5 years

  Montana 78.5 years

  Alaska 78.3 years

  Nevada 78.1 years


Source: Insurance Business America, Insurance Business America

Tags:  Life Expectancy  Living Longer  People Living Longer but Not Necessarily in the U.  Weekly Industry News 

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What’s your 2015 E&O goal?

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Tuesday, October 7, 2014