Can Health Insurance Companies Charge the Unvaccinated Higher Premiums? What About Life Insurers? 5 Questions Answered

Given the average cost of a COVID-19 hospitalization in 2020 ran about US$42,200 per patient, will the unvaccinated be asked to bear more of the cost of treatment, in terms of insurance, as well?

We asked economists Kosali Simon and Sharon Tennyson to explain the rules governing how health and life insurers can discriminate among customers based on vaccination status and other health-related reasons.

1. Can insurers charge the unvaccinated more?

This is a really interesting question and depends on the type of insurance.

Life insurance companies have the freedom to charge different premiums based on risk factors that predict mortality. Purchasing a life insurance policy often entails a health status check or medical exam, and asking for vaccination status is not banned.

Health insurers are a different story. A slew of state and federal regulations in the last three decades have heavily restricted their ability to use health factors in issuing or pricing polices. In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act began prohibiting the use of health status in any group health insurance policy. And the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2014, prevents insurers from pricing plans according to health – with one exception: smoking status.

2. Are premiums or coverage being affected yet?

Fortune recently reported that while several of the biggest U.S. life insurance companies aren’t yet asking customers for their vaccination status, a few insurers told the magazine they are doing so for people at high risk. It wasn’t clear from the article whether this is affecting premiums.

A recent study comparing life insurance policies from 2014 through February 2021 found that premiums and coverage didn’t change a lot during the pandemic. The study did find some evidence that policy terms for the oldest individuals and those with high-risk health conditions did worsen.

The authors of the study suggested that the rapid development of vaccines may be why life insurance markets haven’t yet shown a dramatic response to COVID-19, but their work does not distinguish the vaccinated from the unvaccinated.

It’s important to note that no matter what, premiums and coverage on existing life insurance plans won’t change, so a death due to COVID-19 will definitely be covered. In general, denial of life insurance claims is rare and occurs only for specific documented reasons.

3. So smokers may pay higher premiums?

In life insurance, smokers definitely pay higher premiums, as do people who are obese.

ValuePenguin, a unit of LendingTree that provides research and analysis, found that smokers typically pay over three times more for life insurance than non-smokers.

The site also found that obesity increases premiums by about 150% – or more if the person also has medical conditions associated with being overweight.

As for health insurance pricing, the Affordable Care Act allows insurers to increase premiums by up to 50% for smokers. The difference between what smokers and non-smokers pay may actually be higher because the former can’t use a key government subsidy to pay for the smoker surcharge.

The ACA makes no similar exception for obesity.

4. How about discounts for the vaccinated?

There is a tool health insurers – including self-insured employers – have to lower premiums to those who are vaccinated: wellness incentives.

Just as insurers and companies offer discounts for things like trying to lose weight or stop smoking, they are also permitted to reduce the health insurance premiums that vaccinated employees pay.

In 2019, the average maximum incentive offered by employers for workers to participate in wellness activities was $783 per year.

Some employers are already incentivizing COVID-19 vaccinations this way. For example, Missouri State University offers a $20-a-month discount on health insurance premiums for employees who got a COVID-19 jab. Others are considering similar discounts.

And so, even though insurers can’t charge the unvaccinated higher premiums, people who refuse to get a shot can end up paying more than their vaccinated colleagues.

5. Do insurers consider other vaccine or flu shots in rates?

To the best of our knowledge, insurers haven’t specifically used vaccination status or getting a flu shot in setting premiums.

As part of having access to your medical records, life insurers might get to know whether you received vaccinations, but there are no systems in place to verify each year whether you got your flu shot. Health insurers can’t ask about vaccine status for the reasons listed above.

Employers can offer incentives to get a flu shot through their wellness programs.

[Like what you’ve read? Want more? Sign up for The Conversation’s daily newsletter.]The Conversation

Kosali Simon, Professor of Health Economics, Indiana University and Sharon Tennyson, Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Cornell University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

By:

Source: Can Health Insurance Companies Charge the Unvaccinated Higher Premiums? What About Life Insurers? 5 Questions Answered – HealthyWomen

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Does Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine Affect Your Life Insurance Policy

You can’t always believe what you read on social media, especially when it comes to medical information amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A May 2021 Instagram post went viral claiming that a user’s family was denied a life insurance benefit because the deceased had gotten the “experimental” COVID-19 vaccine. But the vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have all received emergency use authorizations. The post has been flagged as a false claim, and it shows no supporting evidence.

In fact, life insurers cannot deny a death benefit because the deceased is vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). “The fact is that life insurers do not consider whether or not a policyholder has received a COVID vaccine when deciding whether to pay a claim. Life insurance policy contracts are very clear on how policies work, and what cause, if any, might lead to the denial of a benefit. A vaccine for COVID-19 is not one of them,” Paul Graham, ACLI senior vice president said.

People who are hesitant to get vaccinated because they don’t want to lose insurance benefits can rest assured that the COVID-19 vaccine won’t have an effect on death benefit payouts.

In fact, now is a good time to take a look at your life insurance coverage to make sure your loved ones will be taken care of in the event of your death. You can compare life insurance policies on Credible to make sure you’re getting a fair quote for a comprehensive plan.

“The fact is that life insurers do not consider whether or not a policyholder has received a COVID vaccine when deciding whether to pay a claim. Life insurance policy contracts are very clear on how policies work, and what cause, if any, might lead to the denial of a benefit. A vaccine for COVID-19 is not one of them.”

– Paul Graham, ACLI senior vice president

WANT CHEAP LIFE INSURANCE? CONSIDER THESE STRATEGIES

3 legitimate reasons why insurers can deny a death benefit claim

While life insurers can’t deny a death benefit because of your vaccination status, there are reasons why a death claim can be rightfully denied.

  1. The deceased died within 2 years of taking out the policy. In most states, the insurance company can investigate the policyholder’s medical records to see if there were any misrepresentations on their policy.
  2. The deceased had an Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) policy. This type of life insurance policy doesn’t cover medical-related deaths or deaths by suicide.
  3. The deceased was not paying premiums. The insurance company may not be obligated to pay out the death benefit if the policyholder was not paying their premiums and the policy was terminated.

It’s important to understand the specifics of your life insurance policy so that your beneficiaries aren’t caught off-guard in the event of your death. Check your policy agreement to learn more. If you’re not satisfied with your level of coverage, you can shop for a new life insurance policy on Credible.

If you die from COVID-19 complications, will your beneficiaries get a death benefit?

Yes, insurance companies will pay out for deaths from coronavirus-related circumstances. However, the insurer may not pay the death benefit if the policy premiums were in nonpayment, as mentioned above.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is an effective way to protect yourself from the adverse health effects stemming from COVID-19, including death.

DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH LIFE INSURANCE COVERAGE?

Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine make you ineligible for life insurance?

We already know that being vaccinated against COVID-19 isn’t a reason for a life insurance company to deny a death benefit. Insurers also cannot prevent you from taking out a policy because you’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement released March 15, 2021, the Life Insurance Council of New York confirmed that “receiving a COVID-19 vaccination has absolutely no bearing on a life insurer’s decision to pay a claim or issue new coverage.”

Regardless of your vaccination status, you can shop for life insurance on Credible’s online marketplace.

CONSIDERING BUYING TERM LIFE INSURANCE? 4 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

Source: Does getting the COVID-19 vaccine affect your life insurance policy? | Fox Business

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Critics:

Life insurance (or life assurance, especially in the Commonwealth of Nations) is a contract between an insurance policy holder and an insurer or assurer, where the insurer promises to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money upon the death of an insured person (often the policy holder). Depending on the contract, other events such as terminal illness or critical illness can also trigger payment. The policy holder typically pays a premium, either regularly or as one lump sum. The benefits may include other expenses, such as funeral expenses.

Life policies are legal contracts and the terms of each contract describe the limitations of the insured events. Often, specific exclusions written into the contract limit the liability of the insurer; common examples include claims relating to suicide, fraud, war, riot, and civil commotion. Difficulties may arise where an event is not clearly defined, for example: the insured knowingly incurred a risk by consenting to an experimental medical procedure or by taking medication resulting in injury or death.

Life-based contracts tend to fall into two major categories:

  • Protection policies: designed to provide a benefit, typically a lump-sum payment, in the event of a specified occurrence. A common form—more common in years past[when?]—of a protection-policy design is term insurance.
  • Investment policies: the main objective of these policies is to facilitate the growth of capital by regular or single premiums. Common forms (in the United States) are whole life, universal life, and variable life policies.

References

Is Patient Financing Right for Your Health Practice?

In these times of post-pandemic financial uncertainty, additional return on investment for medical providers is more welcome than ever. Patient financing — which for the purposes of this article means partnering with an external lender to provide service and procedure payments — can produce not just steady income for a practice, but help ensure that patients won’t have to put off procedures or, worse yet, abandon them altogether.

For example, Toronto Plastic Surgeons provides this facility to its patients through Medicard Patient Financing. There are also veterinary financing services for pets available through Medicard Patient Financing. What are some reasons practitioners might have employed in deciding upon this option?

No More Delays

There are, unfortunately, economic disparities when it comes to accessing healthcare services. Too often, the high-income and privileged have more access to healthcare resources than the medium- and low-income populations. Patient financing can help in reducing this imbalance, because the simple and daunting truth is that many medical problems don’t come announced, and it’s often impossible to plan for their associated expenses. With financing, patients don’t need to wait to get their accounts in order before opting for procedures — the result is, ideally, prompt and less stressful treatment.

Related: Fintech fuelling growth in Healthcare Financial Industry

Increased Patient Satisfaction

Since clients can often better manage their expenses via patient financing, they tend to be more satisfied on the whole. In part this is because they are not stressed and burdened with sudden financial decisions associated with urgent medical procedures. Better yet, they are more likely to stay loyal to a practice if they don’t have to worry as much. Compared to other practices that don’t offer this option, they are more likely to choose the former, which can mean increased business through word of mouth.

Reduced Collection Costs

When you partner with a patient financer, you receive payments on time. It also means that your team won’t spend needless hours and energy trying to collect payments.

Steady Cash Flow and Less Bad Debt

In setting up a conventional payment plan for a patient, your team is taking the responsibility of keeping tabs on payments and collecting them on time. It’s essentially extending a loan to a patient, typically without any interest. However, expenses like bills, payroll and lease/rent go on as usual. This can lead to tied up in , which will easily and quickly impact a budget. But when you opt for association with a patient financing company, the latter bears the cost of collections, including giving you the option of getting payment upfront.

Related: Healthcare is in Turmoil, But Technology Can Save Businesses Billions

Better Marketing

Association with a financing company with its own marketing arm can help promote a business — making your clinic stand out in comparison to competitors.

Which to Choose?

When it comes to financing models, three predominate. In the first, Self-Funding, you as the healthcare provider are responsible for receivables. From creating a payment schedule to collecting funds to following up with the patient, your team carries out all the tasks. In the Recourse Lending model, you work with a patient financier/lender, which will approve a patient’s loan after the business/practice passes qualifying criteria.

If the patient doesn’t pay, the lending/financing company will recover the losses from you. Among the drawbacks here is that the practice will have to bear the losses and lender’s fees. Lastly, there is the Non-Recourse Lending model. Similar to the second, you work with a lending company. Key differences are that it is the patient who has to pass the underwriting criteria (if the lender doesn’t approve the patient, no funding is provided by them), and that losses are borne by the lender. One disadvantage of this method is that the lenders charge interest from patients; when rates are high, patients might not be interested. Also, patients with a weak credit history might be rejected during the underwriting evaluation.

By : Chris Porteous / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor – High Performance Growth Marketer

Source: Is Patient Financing Right for Your Health Practice?

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Critics:

Publicly funded healthcare is a form of health care financing designed to meet the cost of all or most healthcare needs from a publicly managed fund. Usually this is under some form of democratic accountability, the right of access to which are set down in rules applying to the whole population contributing to the fund or receiving benefits from it.

The fund may be a not-for-profit trust that pays out for healthcare according to common rules established by the members or by some other democratic form. In some countries, the fund is controlled directly by the government or by an agency of the government for the benefit of the entire population. That distinguishes it from other forms of private medical insurance, the rights of access to which are subject to contractual obligations between an insured person (or their sponsor) and an insurance company, which seeks to make a profit by managing the flow of funds between funders and providers of health care services.

When taxation is the primary means of financing health care and sometimes with compulsory insurance, all eligible people receive the same level of cover regardless of their financial circumstances or risk factors.

Most developed countries have partially or fully publicly funded health systems. Most western industrial countries have a system of social insurance based on the principle of social solidarity that covers eligible people from bearing the direct burden of most health care expenditure, funded by taxation during their working life.

Among countries with significant public funding of healthcare there are many different approaches to the funding and provision of medical services. Systems may be funded from general government revenues (as in Canada, United Kingdom, Brazil and India) or through a government social security system (as in Australia, France, Belgium, Japan and Germany) with a separate budget and hypothecated taxes or contributions.

The proportion of the cost of care covered also differs: in Canada, all hospital care is paid for by the government, while in Japan, patients must pay 10 to 30% of the cost of a hospital stay. Services provided by public systems vary. For example, the Belgian government pays the bulk of the fees for dental and eye care, while the Australian government covers eye care but not dental care.

Publicly funded medicine may be administered and provided by the government, as in the Nordic countries, Portugal, Spain, and Italy; in some systems, though, medicine is publicly funded but most hospital providers are private entities, as in Canada. The organization providing public health insurance is not necessarily a public administration, and its budget may be isolated from the main state budget. Some systems do not provide universal healthcare or restrict coverage to public health facilities. Some countries, such as Germany, have multiple public insurance organizations linked by a common legal framework. Some, such as the Netherlands and Switzerland, allow private for-profit insurers to participate.

See also

Unemployment Insurance For Self Employed Individuals

In the midst of recent economic hardship, the federal government has bolstered the financial assistance offered to businesses and improved the benefits of unemployment insurance for self-employed individuals. If you’re self-employed and wondering what aid you qualify for, we’ll help guide you through the process and what you need to know.

What is unemployment insurance?

Unemployment insurance is a government program that provides financial assistance to those who are out of work through no fault of their own. When people say they’re “collecting unemployment,” they’re really referring to collecting unemployment insurance payments.

This program is funded by the federal and state governments, with the federal authorities setting the program’s general guidelines. However, state governments are in charge of administering the program. This allows states to decide additional eligibility requirements and to set their own restrictions on how much and for how long residents can receive their benefits.

In the midst of recent economic hardship, the federal government has bolstered the financial assistance offered to businesses and improved the benefits of unemployment insurance for self-employed individuals. If you’re self-employed and wondering what aid you qualify for, we’ll help guide you through the process and what you need to know.

What is unemployment insurance?

Unemployment insurance is a government program that provides financial assistance to those who are out of work through no fault of their own. When people say they’re “collecting unemployment,” they’re really referring to collecting unemployment insurance payments.

This program is funded by the federal and state governments, with the federal authorities setting the program’s general guidelines. However, state governments are in charge of administering the program. This allows states to decide additional eligibility requirements and to set their own restrictions on how much and for how long residents can receive their benefits.

In general, states review and average an employee’s earnings over the past several weeks and calculate each person’s benefit amount based on a percentage of that average (typically around 50%).

For example, if your state’s benefit rate is 47%, then your state might

  • average your weekly wage from the past 52 weeks and then
  • calculate a weekly benefit to you based on 47% of that average.

At this rate,

  • if your average wage for the past 52 weeks is $650 per week, then
  • you would receive $305.50 per week in unemployment insurance during each week that you remain eligible for the benefit.

Are unemployment insurance payments taxable?

Yes. You’ll report your income from unemployment insurance on your income tax return. That amount will be subject to federal income taxes and state income taxes for some states. When setting up your benefit checks with your state, you may choose to have taxes withheld from your payment.

How do you know if you qualify for unemployment insurance benefits?

There are three main eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance benefits.

The first is that you’re “unemployed through no fault of your own” as defined by the law in your state. This typically means that you didn’t quit your job but rather that you lost your job because of a lack of available work.

  • There are some exceptions to this.
  • Check with your state’s unemployment office on the specific details for your state.

The second main eligibility requirement is that you have earned a minimum amount of wages and worked for a minimum amount of time at your job. Whether or not you have maintained employment for consecutive quarters in the previous year also plays a part in this.

  • Each state sets these minimums.
  • All states look at your recent work history and earnings during the previous year. They typically call this your “base period.”

The third main eligibility requirement in most states is that you’re able and available to work and are actively seeking employment. In most places, this means you must engage in a good faith search for employment.

  • States often set a number of how many searches and employment contacts you must complete per week.
  • Additionally, if you’re offered suitable employment, you must accept it.
  • You’ll also need to continuously file weekly or biweekly claims to maintain your eligibility.

Are there changes to unemployment insurance benefits for self-employed individuals due to the pandemic?

Yes. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act included Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) that allows for benefits to some workers who typically wouldn’t qualify for unemployment insurance. Self-employed workers may qualify under PUA, including

If you’re in this group, you can claim up to 39 weeks of benefits, and those benefits are available retroactively beginning with any weeks of unemployment on or after January 27, 2020.

  • As with typical unemployment insurance, how much you’ll receive varies by state.
  • Unless new legislation is passed, unemployment insurance for self-employed individuals will expire on December 31, 2020.

Additionally, under the CARES Act, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PUEC) program allows states to extend unemployment benefits for up to 13 weeks. This legislation also provides flexibility to states in determining what is considered “actively seeking work.” You don’t have to meet the same requirements to qualify if you’re unable to search for work because of:

  • Quarantining,
  • restrictions or
  • illness due to the pandemic.

These benefits will also expire on December 31, 2020.

Can you qualify for unemployment benefits if you’ve been furloughed?

During normal times, furloughed workers often don’t qualify for unemployment insurance. However, if you were furloughed because of the coronavirus, you likely qualify for unemployment benefits through the CARES Act.

How do you apply for unemployment benefits?

Unemployment benefits are requested through the same state agencies as before the pandemic. In most states, the application is simple and can be completed online, over the phone or in person.

Unemployment benefits can be a great help to those currently out of work. If you’re self-employed and needing assistance, there’s no harm in applying for this government-funded relief.

TurboTax is here to help you navigate the different COVID-19 relief programs that you might be eligible for. Get up to date information, tax advice and tools to help you understand what coronavirus relief means to you empowering you to get more money in your pocket in this time of need at our Self-Employed and Small Business Coronavirus Relief Center.

For more tax tips in 5 minutes or less, subscribe to the Turbo Tips podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and iHeartRadio

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The 5 Best Tax and Financial Franchises You Can Open This Year

1

With a delayed tax day, PPP loans and government bailouts, personal and finances have rarely been as confusing as they are in 2020. Helpful experts are vital right now, and these financial businesses can provide a much-needed boost to their environments.

Whether you already have your own tax service company or lack experience in the industry, one of the top five entries in the sector of our Franchise 500 can help you make a good investment … and help your clients make one, too.

1. Goosehead Insurance Agency LLC

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 129
  • Franchising since: 2011
  • Initial investment: $41,500 to $116,500
  • Initial franchise fee: $25,000 to $60,000
  • New units in 2019: 111 units (+26.2 percent)

Goosehead Insurance Agency LLC manages a portfolio of A-rated insurance carriers, allowing its franchisees to focus on sales and new business. The company, which started franchising in 2011, has shown tremendous growth over the past three years in particular, adding 345 U.S. franchises (a 181.6 percent increase).

Related: The 5 Top-Ranked Franchises You Can Buy for as Little as 5 Figures

2. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 197
  • Franchising since: 1986
  • Initial investment: $45,130 to $110,255
  • Initial franchise fee: $15,000 to $25,000
  • New units in 2019: 33 units (+0.6 percent)

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service offers a mentorship program and has regional directors who can help franchisees create their business strategies. Its Walmart kiosks expand the company’s brand across the country, and the year-round tax service specializes in computerized federal and state preparation for individual returns.

3. Brightway Insurance

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 254
  • Franchising since: 2007
  • Initial investment: $42,300 to $178,916
  • Initial franchise fee: $30,000 to $60,000
  • New units in 2019: 25 units (+15.1 percent)

Brightway Insurance prides itself on being accessible to those without experience in the field. “In fact,” states the company website, “half of all Brightway locations with Books of Business over $10 million are owned and operated by people with no prior insurance background.” The company has seen strong growth over the past three years, going from 123 units to 191 since 2016.

4. H&R Block

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 306
  • Franchising since: 1956
  • Initial investment: $31,557 to $149,398
  • Initial franchise fee: $2,500
  • New units in 2019: -564 units (-5.2 percent)

Founded by brothers Henry and Richard Block in 1955, H&R Block has since prepared more than 600 million tax returns. The company offers an array of financial services to its customers as well as to potential franchisees — tax business owners can sell their business to H&R Block and work with the company on a personalized exit plan that offers competitive buyout packages.

Related: 10 Low-Cost Franchises You Can Start From Home Right Now

5. Fiesta Auto Insurance and Tax

  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 336
  • Franchising since: 2006
  • Initial investment: $67,052 to $120,599
  • Initial franchise fee: $10,000
  • New units in 2019: 11 units (+5.6 percent)

Fiesta Auto Insurance and Tax was originally founded to meet growing demand for auto insurance within underserved Hispanic and blue-collar communities in Southern California. In the past decade, the company has seen strong growth, tripling its number of units from 68 to 207 since 2010.

By

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

GM-980x120-BIT-ENG-Banner

✪✪✪✪✪ http://www.theaudiopedia.com ✪✪✪✪✪ What is FRANCHISE TAX? What does FRANCHISE TAX mean? FRANCHISE TAX meaning – FRANCHISE TAX definition – FRANCHISE TAX explanation. Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/… license. A franchise tax is a government levy (tax) charged by some US states to certain business organizations such as corporations and partnerships with a nexus in the state. A franchise tax is not based on income. Rather, the typical franchise tax calculation is based on the net worth of or capital held by the entity. The franchise tax effectively charges corporations for the privilege of doing business in the state. Whether or not a business must pay a franchise tax to a state in which it does business can cause some confusion. Some states report using both the economic and physical presence tests, and in some states there are no written, public interpretations of their test at all.

Life Insurance Companies Go To Plan B During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Life insurance companies are open for business, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced many of them to find workarounds and new solutions in order to maintain their sales and meet increased demand. Amid health concerns and the inability to get life insurance medical exams done, many life insurers have had to go to “Plan B.”

“Each day, since we monitor the rates and rules of dozens of insurance companies, it seems we’re seeing memos cross our virtual desks with new rules, exclusions and rate changes,” observes Byron Udell, CEO of AccuQuote, a national online life insurance agency. He says it has become a full-time job to keep up with the changes coming from life insurers.

If you’re shopping for life insurance right now, a company’s Plan B might shut you out of buying a company’s insurance policies, or it may even turn out be to your advantage.

Here’s a look at the newest trends that could affect your life insurance choices.

Closing the Door on Certain People and Policies

Some life insurance companies will no longer sell policies to folks age 70 and older. Penn Mutual, for example, won’t take applications from people 70 and older and has postponed applications that were already pending from people in that age group.

Long lengths of term life insurance can also be a victim of the pandemic. Prudential PRU , for example, has stopped selling 30-year term life insurance. Shorter term lengths are still available.

Temporary coverage is also harder to get now. In the past you often had the option to attach a check for an initial premium payment to your application. This serves to give you temporary coverage while the application is being processed. Now insurers such as Assurity will no longer provide this temporary coverage.

Going Without a Medical Exam

The life insurance medical exam has become a huge sticking point in the sale of life insurance. Understandably, life insurance buyers don’t want the personal contact required for the life insurance medical exam. The availability of getting an exam is also limited in some areas of the country.

The life insurance medical exam is becoming, by necessity, non-essential.

“In the current environment, no one wants a stranger coming into their home who has been in five to 10 other homes that day, and who needs to stick you in the arm with a needle, take your blood pressure, weigh you, measure you, etc. . . . none of which can be done while maintaining a safe distance!” says Udell of AccuQuote.

The life insurance medical exam is becoming, by necessity, non-essential.

“Insurance companies have had to get very creative in adjusting to this new reality and make sometimes uncomfortable decisions about how they underwrite new business, and which processes and procedures they considered essential,” says Ryan Pinney, President of Pinney Insurance, a distributor of insurance and financial products that specializes in digital sales, service, and support.

Plan B is to use more data instead of an in-person medical exam. Many life insurers were already relying on data as part of “accelerated underwriting” processes, and the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred other insurers to switch to data and abandon exams.

This data typically includes information from electronic health records, prescription databases and motor vehicle reports.

Haven Life is also finding workarounds when it can’t quickly get a person’s physician statement. Instead it’s using an applicant’s most recent blood work—for example, from a past preventive care visit—and past medical claims. Medical billing claims data is provided by a third-party service and becomes available to an insurance company when you sign the HIPAA release that’s a standard part of applications.

International Travel? COVID-19 Exposure? Expect Delay

Nothing sparks a life insurance application postponement faster these days than international travel or having had exposure to the coronavirus.

If you’ve recently returned from international travel, expect your application to be postponed at least 30 days. If you plan international travel, expect a postponement that starts when you return.

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you can also expect a postponement of your application for at least 30 days. What constitutes “exposure”? That may not be clearly defined, but having someone in your household with a coronavirus diagnosis is a clear-cut qualifier.

Going Online

You likely handle many parts of your life online, from shopping to communicating to education. For many life insurance companies, steeped in a history of slow and manual processes, doing everything online is another Plan B.

In addition to gathering electronic data on applicants, life insurers have had to quickly ramp up to electronic applications, e-signatures and electronic policy delivery.

“Consumers might be surprised that those things weren’t already widely in use, but the life insurance and financial services industry has been slow to adopt these tools for a wide array of reasons, including regulatory concerns and the fact that they are often dealing with large sums of money and doing things in a manual process aids in fraud detection and prevention,” says Pinney of Pinney Insurance.

A Tremendous Buying Opportunity

Don’t try to shop this life insurance market on your own, advises Udell of AccuQuote. He recommends dealing with an experienced independent broker rather than contacting individual companies on your own.

“Independent brokers typically have a much larger menu and are more likely to know each company’s rules and help their clients navigate which companies may still be issuing policies in situations where others may not,” Udell says.

“For consumers concerned about or needing life insurance, I would tell them now may be one of the best times to obtain it.”

– Ryan Pinney

The situation isn’t all negative. While life insurers have had to leave their comfort zones, consumers can find opportunities for buying life insurance that they’ve never had before.

“For consumers concerned about or needing life insurance, I would tell them now may be one of the best times to obtain it,” says Pinney. “For the first time, coverage amounts of five or even 10 million dollars can be had without the additional step of a medical exam. Six weeks ago, the most you could hope for without an exam was typically a million dollars or less. This is a tremendous opportunity to get the life insurance you need and to have one of the most streamlined and non-invasive processes for purchasing it that has ever existed.”

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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I’m the Insurance Analyst for Forbes Advisor. I’ve been writing about insurance for consumers for more than 20 years. Insurance intersects with many parts of our lives, yet it’s tough to untangle, and wrong choices can make a financial mess. I’m here to help you make sense of it. I’m especially interested in how data is affecting the price you pay for all insurance types.

Source: Life Insurance Companies Go To Plan B During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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The Technologies Driving Tomorrow’s Healthcare Solutions

Robots performing surgeries? New hip joints “printed” on command? “House calls” made from hundreds, even thousands of miles away? What seemed like science fiction just a few years ago has become an everyday reality as technology is revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered.

Innovation changes health care for the better

Back in 2010, a video of a surgical robot sewing a split grape back together seemed so improbable, it went viral, garnering more than 5 million views [“Suturing a Grape,” YouTube clips (various uploads).] Fast forward to today, and robot-assisted surgery is firmly in the mainstream, used for gallbladder, prostate, gynecologic and kidney surgeries. The benefits of this minimally invasive technique are significant, including faster recovery times, shorter hospital stays, and less patient down time.

3D printing, still in its relative infancy, is already making massive contributions in healthcare. 3D-printed joint components have been used in more than 100,000 hip replacement surgeries over the past decade, according to a GE Report from March of 2018. The next evolution for 3D printing will be even more spectacular, promising the ability to print artificial organs, blood vessels, and even synthetic ovaries.

At a time when there is a shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas, telehealth is becoming a viable alternative to an in-office visit.

Virtual medical providers enable doctors to treat millions of Americans each year through internet and telephone consultations. That’s based on estimates from a recent J.D. Power study from July 2019, which found 9.6% of the adult population has used telemedicine in the past year. More than 75 percent of hospitals use telehealth services, too, as noted by the American Hospital Association Fact Sheet dated February 2019. Patients can consult with a doctor via phone or video, and receive diagnoses and prescriptions. Some employers use telehealth to provide virtual health clinics for employees.

Managing the cost

While such health innovations are exciting, they come at a cost. That’s where supplemental insurance can play a key role, enabling employers to offer a benefits option that provides added financial security over and above traditional health insurance. Beyond financial security, supplemental insurance also offers employees peace of mind.

“Employees are increasingly shouldering the high cost of medical care, especially when it comes to new medical solutions,” says Teresa White, president of Aflac U.S. In fact, 85 percent of employees see the need for supplemental insurance benefits to cover such costs, according to the Aflac WorkForces Report.

Adding to the challenge is the complexity of what’s covered and what isn’t under traditional health insurance.

“Health care today isn’t simple,” says Virgil Miller, Aflac EVP and chief operating officer. “Some consumers are confused by their benefit options and what their health care plans cost and cover. Our annual Aflac WorkForces Report found that just 39 percent of employees have a full understanding of their health insurance policies.

“And with medical debt being the most common reason people fall behind on bills, supplemental benefits such as Aflac’s should be a priority on every smart preparation checklist. Aflac helps cover the expenses health insurance doesn’t.”

Innovations improve insurance, too

Customer concerns like these led Aflac to create online tools like its easy-to-use critical illness calculator. “The calculator makes it easier for consumers to understand typical out-of-pocket heath care expenses and how Aflac’s critical illness coverage can help cover the costs health insurance doesn’t cover,” Miller says.

Aflac sees technological innovation as essential in serving its policyholders. To provide good customer service, Aflac worked with several industry experts on a technique called journey mapping to understand the various touch points and pain points customers have. “Through journey mapping, our customer experience teams created reliable road maps of where we needed to take our technology in the future,” adds Keith Farley, vice president of innovation for Aflac.

One byproduct of this research is an advanced mobile app called MyAflac. With the MyAflac mobile app, policyholders can handle myriad healthcare-related tasks, ranging from filing a claim to signing up for direct deposit of their insurance payments, right from their phones. Combined with Aflac’s One Day PaySM initiative, it helps get payments into the hands of policyholders faster than ever. “Our goal is to help policyholders worry less about finances and focus more on recovery, which can lead to better health outcomes,” adds Miller.

Innovation is woven into every level of Aflac’s culture. Farley points to My Special Aflac Duck as a perfect example of this. “This isn’t just a toy, it is a high-tech robot that interacts with children, helping provide them with comfort as they move through their cancer treatment. As a company, we have been blown away by the response,” Farley says.

The company has invested millions of dollars into this program including donating to cancer research, developing the duck and giving away more than 5,000 of them to pediatric cancer patients at more than 220 hospitals in 47 states.

Innovation is also at the heart of how Aflac designs its benefits policies. Aflac’s cancer policy, for example, helps policyholders take greater advantage of cutting-edge medical techniques. “Genetic testing helps identify potential health risks and help people understand and prepare for potential risks. Screenings can also save lives. Aflac’s cancer policy is designed to reflect the evolution of patient needs and challenges, and it helps cover modern approaches to prevention, early detection and diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care,” White says.

At Aflac, innovation is more than saving money and improving efficiencies. It is part of its mission to help employers support their employees to lead healthier and happier lives. At the end of the day, it’s about growing consumer trust and satisfaction, Miller says.

One Day PaySM is available for certain individual claims submitted online through the Aflac SmartClaim process. Claims may be eligible for One Day Pay processing if submitted online through Aflac SmartClaim, including all required documentation, by 3 p.m. ET. Documentation requirements vary by type of claim; please review requirements for your claim(s) carefully. Aflac SmartClaim is available for claims on most individual Accident, Cancer, Hospital, Specified Health, and Intensive Care policies. Processing time is based on business days after all required documentation needed to render a decision is received and no further validation and/or research is required. Individual Company Statistic, 2019.

Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999

By Anita CampbellCEO, Small Business Trends

Source: The Technologies Driving Tomorrow’s Healthcare Solutions

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https://www.job-applications.com/afla… An Aflac benefits consultant talks about the interview process, interview questions, how to get a job and what its like to work for Aflac.

Life Insurance For The Living?

“I have enough life insurance to bury me.” That’s what most people tell me. Many of my customers can talk easily about stocks, bonds, and real estate, but they often don’t understand the many usages for life insurance besides a death benefit. In my experience, these benefits are usually discovered only after it’s too late…….

Source: Life Insurance For The Living?

When Should Children Have Access To Their Inheritances – Rob Clarfeld

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Regardless of whether or not you are subject to the estate tax, it is essential to have a current will and related documents. I recently wrote two articles on the sticking points that can cause well-intended adults to delay the execution of their estate plan: Choosing an Executor of your Estate and Naming Potential Guardians for Minor Children.

Another common consideration is determining the appropriate time for children to have access to their inheritance.  Although my focus here is on distributions from trusts created by a will (testamentary trusts), these considerations also apply to trusts created during your lifetime (inter-vivos trusts).

A major distinction between your will and lifetime irrevocable trusts is that; during your lifetime your will can be regularly updated to reflect current thinking, while amending or changing provisions within a lifetime irrevocable trust will generally be more restrictive and often require a statutory solution (decanting), where possible, or having to seek permission from the courts.

Generally, distributions can be discretionary, mandatory or event-driven. For most (with high confidence in a trustee), I recommend a combination of allowing for both mandatory and discretionary powers to make distributions – assuming the facts and circumstances allow for it.

The most common distribution structure we’ve seen over time seems to include mandatory distributions at specified ages – i.e. ages 25, 30 and 35. This could mean that one-third of the principle is distributed at age 25, one-half of the balance at age 30, and the remaining balance distributed at age 35.

Prior to or between mandatory distributions, the trust can provide that the fiduciary has the power to make either fully discretionary distributions or distributions under some “ascertainable standard,” such as for the beneficiary’s health, education, maintenance and support (HEMS). The power to distribute can be very broad (absolute) or narrow – the HEMS standard is a statutory standard that lies somewhere in between and may provide certain tax protections.

I find it interesting that clients with young children often initially choose ages 25, 30 and 35, only to then stretch out the ages of mandatory distributions as both they and their offspring age. This implies that any initial confidence the parents had in their children’s ability to handle large sums of money early on (e.g. age 25) dissipates as the distribution becomes more imminent and, perhaps, the monetary sum increases.

A common alternative is to allow for a portion of the principal to remain in trust for the beneficiary’s lifetime, while granting current beneficiaries the power to appoint future beneficiaries (e.g. descendants). Putting aside one’s choice of ages of distribution, I favor a hybrid approach that combines some mandatory distributions with the ability to make discretionary distributions for assets in continuing trusts. To me, this approach stands out for its flexibility and asset protection benefits.

Specifying only mandatory distributions or event-based distributions (i.e. earning a degree, marrying, passing drug screens, etc.), greatly reduces the fiduciary’s flexibility. As a fiduciary for many estates and trusts, I often see inflexibility as an unnecessary impediment to a more successful plan particularly when a beneficiary’s life circumstances change.

For example, recently a beneficiary with a medical degree finished his residency and chose to specialize in high-risk surgery. As a trust provides a significant degree of asset protection, I would have preferred that at least a portion of the principal remain in trust for the beneficiary’s lifetime. This would have been most beneficial to the beneficiary given his exposure to potential future liability due to his choice of profession.

Of course, decisions with respect to trust distributions include both the principal (as discussed above) and the income that is generated by that principal. It has been common to allow income distributions at age 21 or some other age. However, it should be noted that when an estate plan is designed, you may be unsure of the ultimate size of the children’s inheritance, thus requiring mandatory income distributions (or principal distributions) that may lead to very large distributions at relatively young ages.

An alternative approach can be to designate an income stream in today’s dollars, and then build in a cost of living adjustment to account for inflation. Even better, perhaps, would be to allow for income distributions to simply be at the discretion of the trustee. By giving greater flexibility to the fiduciary, distributions can be made based on the requisite need at the time.

Overall, there is not a “one size fits all” solution to these situations. It is of paramount importance to invest the appropriate amount of time, thought and care when drafting these documents. Doing so will help to lay the groundwork for more favorable outcomes later in life that ultimately better reflect the grantor’s initial intentions.

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What Do Customers Want in Life Insurance – Tony Vidler

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In the life insurance area of financial services the answer is even tougher to find than usual, because insurance is for virtually all consumers an absolute grudge purchase.  When we think about it logically every person who buys insurance (especially life or disability insurance) hopes that they are wasting their money…the last thing they want is a claim, isn’t it?

Simplistically it seems obvious enough that customers want money to turn up quickly and painlessly to help a surviving family or business adjust to the loss of a person.  That’s the end result that customers are looking for of course, but the more vexing question at the front end of the process is what do customers want when trying to determine which insurer should be chosen?

The research that I have seen during the last 5 years shows that there are common themes globally, regardless of cultural or geographic or demographic issues.  The primary areas of concern for consumers are:

  • simplicity
  • transparency
  • trust
  • loyalty

Each of these areas can be considered from two different perspectives: Product, and, People.

Product

Generally consumers want to be able to make good choices through comparison, to determine relative value.  An ongoing issue in life insurance is the difficulty for consumers to easily compare different options and products, despite the prevalence of online pricing comparators that have evolved in recent years.  Comparing price of the products remains relatively meaningless if the consumer is unable to differentiate the products themselves from each other in terms of how they work, or might be expected to perform.

The terminology that the industry uses contributes to the lack of simplicity for consumers, but so too does the inability to explain in clear terms why a particular product might be superior or unique, or why the pricing is what it is.

This lack of simplicity and transparency in product undermines the general desire to establish a commercial relationship based upon trust, as the complexity actually generates levels of distrust. The majority of consumers know full well that the life insurance is likely to be something which they hold for many years, so establishing trust in the insurer and the product at the outset is a major factor.

So too is the expectation of loyalty from consumers according to the research.  The customers expect largely to have some form of loyalty recognition built into the insurance-customer relationship that rewards the years of patient premium payment.  This is an area where generally the product manufacturers perform pretty poorly.

People

The second key area where these core consumer needs must be met if the industry (and its products) wants greater support and participation from consumers is from the people representing the industry and its products.

Without doubt there has been significant focus upon the “transparency” issues for advisers in recent years, largely as a result of evolving professionalism across the industry globally, supported by regulatory reform.  Yet, the research suggests that consumers feel that the industry is not yet transparent enough.  And that extends well beyond just the advisers these days.

  There is a growing public perception that the people inside institutions, and indeed the institutions themselves, are not transparent enough.  Of course many on the distribution side of the fence (the advisers) actually agree with the consumer here.

The complexity that remains within product and pricing presents opportunity for industry professionals to demonstrate value and meet a core customer need, thought to do that successfully requires establishing the required levels of trust.  Higher levels of transparency from all parties in the product design, implementation and servicing chain will assist with establishing higher levels of trust, but so too will greater simplicity in terminology and improved communications with the market at large as well as individual clients.

For all the technical excellence which has been created, it seems apparent that consumers are not giving the industry a pass mark on simplicity.  Or transparency.  Or communications.  And we certainly do not appear to be on loyalty to long-standing customers either.  One can only conclude that the pace of change and the use of technology to increase financial literacy and place information together with control of personal data into the consumers hands will escalate.

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