The concerns of an aging population and a greater interest in employee benefits overshadowed COVID-19 as the health-related issues that most interested InsuranceNewsNet readers in 2021.
A look at INN’s most-read health-related articles for the year showed that long-term care insurance and disability insurance attracted the most reader interest, with four of the 10 most popular health-related articles devoted to the topic.
But the most popular health-related article of the year dealt with a topic that impacted our readers’ practices.
Health Insurance Brokers Must Disclose Commissions To Clients, Prospects
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the federal budget act passed by Congress and signed by then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 3, contains a section aimed at commission transparency in health insurance. The law requires health insurance agents and brokers to detail their services as well as their direct and indirect commissions to current and potential clients. Industry organizations mobilized quickly to explain the implications of the law to their members.
Post-Pandemic, Americans Remain Unprepared For Disability
As employers increasingly focus on the overall financial wellness of their employees, disability insurance must be part of the conversation.
The COVID-19 pandemic arguably proved the case for the importance of income protection and financial wellness, and it did lead to an increase in individuals considering or buying life insurance. But even as employers paid out nearly $11 billion in disability benefits pay related to COVID-19, many individuals still aren’t investing in disability insurance.
Former Trinity Healthshare Ministry Files For Bankruptcy
Health sharing ministries have become popular among some consumers as an alternative to traditional health insurance that complies with the Affordable Care Act. But one such ministry ceased operating after filing for bankruptcy. Sharity Ministries, formerly Trinity Healthshare, filed for bankruptcy and ended its operations.
The Connecticut Insurance Department said it received complaints from consumers who purchased a membership with the health sharing ministry believing they had bought a traditional health insurance policy. But they later learned that the plans were not insurance with no guarantee that any portion of their medical bills would be paid, the department said.
The ‘Napkin Concept’ Showing LTCi’s Impact On Tax Planning
Many financial professionals don't include long-term care insurance when tax planning with their clients. However, for clients in certain tax brackets, increased income to pay for extended care expenses could negatively impact their tax bill.
The author of this article presented a strategy to reposition tax-inefficient dollars into a tax-free solution that offers additional leverage to pay for long-term care expenses.
Greater Interest In Employee Benefits The ‘Silver Lining’ Of COVID-19
The silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it sparked a greater interest in employee benefits and products such as life insurance. Research from The Hartford uncovered some key trends, including:
- Employees are concerned about taking leave, and stigma surrounding taking time off work continues to be a concern.
- A renewed interest in “bedrock benefits” such as health insurance, group life insurance and disability insurance.
- Promoting a compassionate workplace culture in which there is flexibility and empathy surrounding the whole person.
Washington State LTC Law Provides Opportunity For Agents
In 2019, the Washington state legislature and the governor passed a law in which, starting on January 1, 2022, all W-2 employees in that state will be assessed a 0.58% premium assessment based on their wages. The employer must collect this premium assessment through a payroll deduction. and remit the proceeds into a state trust account that will be used in the future to pay for people who are in a health crisis and need long-term care. Self-employed and federal employees are exempt from the mandate.
But those who purchase long-term care insurance can opt out of the law’s requirements. This opens an opportunity for advisors to help consumers enroll in coverage.
$3.5T Budget Deal May Take Pressure Off Long-Term Care Insurance
A $400 billion home health care package was dropped from the infrastructure deal that appeared before Congress in August, but it appeared in some form in the $3.5 trillion Senate reconciliation bill.
The home health package was designed to allow seniors and people with disabilities remain independent in their homes as America’s aging population floods an already-overwhelmed long-term care system and LTC insurance market.
New York Life Acquires Cigna’s Group Life And DI Business
New York Life announced it completed the acquisition of Cigna’s group life, accident and disability insurance business. The $6.3 billion acquisition gave New York Life an additional 3,000 employees and more than 9 nine million customers.
With the completion of the acquisition, New York Life became a top five insurer across group life, accident, and disability insurance.
Insurers Struggle To Convert Online Visits Into Bound Policies
Despite consumers' widespread adoption of digital channels to engage with insurers, most insurance sales still finalize offline or in-person.
Selling insurance digitally can be challenging because insurance the insurance purchase is complex. Consumers are easily confused and often require guidance and assistance. As many as 75% of insurance customers have trouble understanding commonly used insurance terms and definitions, according to Simon-Kucher research. Buying insurance also can be intimidating as it requires a commitment of time to learn, understand and choose the appropriate product.
Americans Are Split On Return To Normal Life
A survey by HealthCareInsider, a health insurance website, shows Americans are uncertain about when we will return to post-COVID-19 life and about what that “normal” will look like.
Jeff Smedsrud, CEO of HealthCareInsider, told InsuranceNewsNet his company commissioned the survey to get consumers’ perspective on issues that matter to them. He said he was “somewhat surprised” that the survey showed some pessimism on a return to normalcy.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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