Tuesday, March 4, 2014

One Line Applications - The Next Step

When life insurance companies look at the cost of acquiring new business, it is very clear that the processing of a paper application is much more expensive than one submitted electronically.  Over the past several years, several companies have offered proprietary on line submission programs on a voluntary basis with varied success.  Led by Genworth Financial, we are now seeing what looks to be the next step in the transition from paper to electronic submission of life applications.

Beginning April 7, 2014, if a Colony Term paper application for $250,000 face amount
or below is received on or after this date, Genworth Financial will process it but pay no commission or
incentive compensation on the case. You can contact them to cancel a case and resubmit via their LQR on line submission program for the commission to be payable.

They will pay commissions and incentive compensation per standard eligibility rules on all cases $250,000 and below that are submitted through LQR or the iLQR process they offer through iPipeline. Colony Term tickets may be submitted using Life Quick Request through agency websites, iPipeline’s IGO and via Aplifi AFFIRM for Life.  You can visit our Need To Know Page for more complete details of this program.

It is our belief that other companies will follow Genworth Financials lead in requiring on line submission of applications and to assist agents and brokers in this process, Affiliated Marketing and it's partners have developed DataRaptor.

DataRaptor is the most revolutionary and robust insurance sales system in the world. Designed with the insurance professional in mind, DataRaptor is more than a typical CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system – it is an evolutionary change in the way insurance is sold!

  • Personalized e-marketing website
  • Field underwriting & suitability tools
  • Quote and Submission for multiple companies
  • A consistent one page application for all carriers
  • Nurture campaigns for leads and clients
  • Automated follow-ups based on lead status
  • One click data transfer to forms & applications
  • Task & event tracking
  • Integrated case status & notes
  • Click-to-call dialing
  • Incorporated text messaging
  • Detailed sales reports

By adopting a proven method of working smarter – not harder – you can maximize the value of every lead and client, too! Based on an intuitive, web-based design, the DataRaptor Sales Management System was built by top producers to provide the tools you need to succeed.
Top insurance producers have an edge based on a systematized, automated approach to managing their business. They sell more, earn more, and have happier clients because they effectively :

  • track leads and sales opportunities
  • minimize non-revenue generating task
automate marketing, lead generation, and sales functions.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

DataRaptor Is Coming!!!!

DataRaptor Is Coming!!!!

Over the next few months, the Ez Life Sales platform will grow into the most revolutionary and robust insurance sales system in the world - DataRaptor. This evolution is more than a change of name; it is a change in the way insurance is sold. We have designed DataRaptor with you, the insurance professional, in mind. Along with the features of a typical CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, we have included
Integrated insurance quoting
  • Field underwriting and health screening tools
  • Marketing and sales help
  • Data transfer directly from CRM to application
  • Automated e-mails based on lead status
  • Nurture campaigns for leads and clients
  • Integrated dialer (optional)
  • Integrated texting (optional)
  • Click to call (optional)
  • Email clients directly from CRM
  • Case status directly into CRM
  • Detailed sales reports
  • Plus so much more…

Sign Up for Ez Life and automatically receive the new DataRaptor platform when it is released.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Ex Spouse Gets The Money

The Ex Spouse Gets The Money

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says a Virginia law can't override a federal employee's decision to make his ex-wife, not his wife, his beneficiary in a federal insurance program.

Warren Hillman made Judy Maretta beneficiary of his Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance policy before their divorce and his re-marriage to Jacqueline Hillman. He never changed his beneficiary designation, and Maretta got the money after his death.

The second wife sued, but the Virginia Supreme Court said the first wife gets the money since her name was on the form.

Virginia law revokes a beneficiary designation in favor of the current spouse. But Maretta argued it was pre-empted by federal law saying named beneficiaries get the money.

The high court agreed in a unanimous judgment.
This actually happens more than most people realize.  We see it with some regularity on group life insurance that is part of an employers benefit package.   An employee puts his wife as beneficiary and later divorces never thinking to notify his employer to change his life insurance policy.

Navigator Pay

Navigator Pay
As most of you are aware, in addition to brokers and agents selling though the insurance exchanges (if approved by your state), there will be a new group called Navigators that will assist individuals and groups when they chose a plan through the exchange.
Here are a couple of states that have announced the payments that will be made to their navigators:
California will pay Navigators $58 per successful enrollment. Assuming a California Navigator successfully enrolls 4 applications per day or 940 applications annually, California estimated that a full-time Navigator with supervision, overhead, and labor expenses will cost $54,500 annually, or $26.20 per hour. The actual rate of pay for a Navigators and Enrollment Assisters will depend on the entity that employs the Navigator or Enrollment Assister and the awarded block grants.

Arkansas estimates it would pay In Person Assisters (IPA) $12.00 per hour, excluding taxes, benefits or other employment costs. Nevada’s contract with Kelly Services uses an administrative fee of 35%. If this same formula was used in Arkansas, the estimated cost of Arkansas’s IPAs would actually be $16.20 per hour.

Mergers Will Impact Prices

Mergers Will Impact Prices

Merger activity among hospitals seems to be increasing in anticipation of the Affordable Health Care Act becoming the law of the land in 2014.
Two decades ago, there were on average about four rival hospital systems of roughly equal size in each metropolitan area, according to research done by Martin S. Gaynor of Carnegie Mellon University and Robert J. Town of the University of Pennsylvania. By 2006, the number of competitors was down to three. Consolidation has continued, in 2002 doctors owned about three in four physician practices. By 2008 more than half were owned by hospitals.
If there is one thing that we all know, it is that limited sources of care drive prices up while quality and innovation suffer. A report by Leemore S. Dafny of Northwestern University found that hospitals raise prices by about 40 percent after the merger of nearby rivals.
The rate of increase in health care spending has slowed. Since 2009 health care spending has been growing less than 4 percent per year, the slowest rate in more than half a century, according to information from the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But it is still outpacing inflation by a significant margin, despite a sharp slowdown in the use of medical services.
According to the Health Care Cost Institute, the rising health care spending of Americans under 65 in the last two years has been driven entirely by rising prices; not by more use. From 2009 though 2011 the fee for an outpatient visit to the emergency room rose 17 percent. The price of a routine office visit to a primary care doctor rose 8 percent. The price of radiology services rose 12 percent.
There are provisions of the health care law such as accountable care organizations that lend themselves to limiting competition. “Hospitals want to maintain their revenue streams and enhance their bargaining leverage,” said Professor Gaynor. “This is a way to do so.”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

SKINNY" Plans Avoid Penalties For Larger Groups

"SKINNY" Plans Avoid Penalties For Larger Groups

US employers will be able to largely avoid penalties under the Obama-backed health care legislation, while offering very limited plans to their workforces. An article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal notes that these bare-bones plans may lack key benefits such as hospital coverage.

The WSJ article indicates that some benefits advisers and insurance brokers are offering these limited benefit plans to large employers. While these plans would cover minimal requirements such a preventive services, they do not offer full comprehensive coverage.

Government officials admit that these ‘skinny” plans appear to qualify as acceptable minimum coverage under the health care law. Companies offering these plans would dodge $2,000 per worker penalties for not offering health coverage. Although they might face other penalties if employees opt-out of the plans and choose to purchase subsidized coverage on the insurance exchanges, these fines would be far less costly.

The ACA act requires employers with 50 or more workers to offer health care coverage or face penalties. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has promoted these plans as if they would cover benefits such as mental health treatment, hospitalizations and other vital services.

The WSJ however, points to a largely undetected loophole in the rules indicating that such mandates only apply to plans sponsored by insurers that are sold to small businesses and individuals. These cover only about 30 million of the 160 million people with private insurance. This leaves 130 million people—more than 40 percent of the US population—with private insurance that is not governed by these coverage mandates.

In general, larger employers, those with more than 50 workers, will only be required to cover preventive services without a lifetime or annual cost limit. Such low-benefit plans would constitute “health coverage” at a cost to employers that could be as little as $40 to $100 a month per employee—all while avoiding the ACA’s penalties for not providing coverage.

Government health officials are not pleased with the news that employers would seize on these business-friendly loopholes in the health care law. “We wouldn’t have anticipated that there’d be demand for these types of band-aid plans in 2014,” Robert Kocher, a former White House health adviser, told the Journal. “Our expectation was that employers would offer high quality insurance.”

Self Insured Plans For Small Groups

Self Insured Plans For Small Groups

For small businesses, being self-insured would let them avoid new requirements under the law that call for traditional small group plans to include richer benefits, such as mental-health and maternity care. Self-insured companies can also avoid changes to pricing rules that could increase costs for groups of healthy workers.
It comes with risks: A car accident or cancer case can leave small businesses on the hook for big medical bills. That is why most large insurers have generally offered such services to companies that have 100 or more workers and can spread the costs around.
Now, the health law is changing the risk-benefit calculation for smaller businesses. The approach is part of a growing playbook of strategies to minimize the effects—and potential costs—of the health law. Insurers are also letting small companies renew their yearlong health-benefit plans early, before the end of 2013. That would delay the impact of health-law provisions that broadly kick in on Jan. 1, but would only affect plans once they renew after that date.

There is some indication that UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc. will begin offering smaller employers—including firms with as few as 10 members in UnitedHealth's case the option of a form of self-insurance in some markets later this year.
Officials in several states are seeking to stem the strategy by limiting so-called stop-loss insurance, which covers unexpected, large health-care bills for self-insured companies. Lawmakers in California and Rhode Island are considering bills that would impose new rules on such coverage when offered to small employers, who otherwise would find self-insurance too risky. Some states, including New York, bar stop-loss insurers from covering small groups.
Still, self-insurance by small companies "is growing because of its ability to circumvent some of the" federal health law's provisions, said Tanji Northrup, assistant insurance commissioner in the Utah Insurance Department.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

DataRaptor Is Coming......

DataRaptor Is Coming......

 This summer will bring an evolutionary way to market and sell insurance.
See the preview at:

Friday, April 12, 2013

ACA Health Care Subsidies

ACA Health Care Subsidies

In our continuing review of the impact on our industry and our clients due to the implementation of the ACA heath care act this article discusses individuals buying private health insurance and receiving subsidies to help pay for it.
These subsidies are based upon your income and since no one knows what they will make in 2014 when individuals apply the amount they receive will be based upon their reported income in 2012.
A sample draft of the application for insurance that runs 15 pages for a three person family asks people to project their 2014 income if their current income is not steady or if they expect it to change.
Most taxpayers won't actually receive the subsidies. Instead, the money will be paid directly to insurance companies resulting in reduced premiums.
The subsidies are tax credits because they are administered through the tax code and will help low and middle income families buy health insurance through the state-based exchanges. According to an estimate by the congressional budget office, 18 million individuals will qualify for assistance. A family with an income up to 400 percent of the poverty level is eligible. This year, four times the poverty level is about $62,000 for a two-person family. For a family of four, it's $94,200.
If the income reported on the application is less than what is actually earned for 2014, the individual (or family) would have to repay the excess received according to the following guidelines. 

 If families get bigger subsidies than they are entitled to under the law, the amount they have to repay is capped, based on income and family size. If they get less than they qualify for under the law, the government will pay them the difference in the form of a tax refund.
There are also special rules that protect people who marry or divorce from being required to pay back subsidies just because their marital status changes.
There are four thresholds for repaying the subsidies:
A family of four making less than $47,000 would have to repay a maximum of $600.
If the same family makes between $47,000 and $70,000, the amount they have to repay is capped at $1,500.
If the same family makes between $70,000 and $94,200, the amount is capped at $2,500.
Families making more than four times the poverty level have to repay the entire subsidy.
These levels of repayment are not set in stone. Twice since the health care law was passed Congress has increased the caps for how much people will have to repay. Combined, the current two measures are expected to raise more than $40 billion over the next decade, according to Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Smokers And The ACA Health Care Reform Act

Millions of smokers could find themselves unable to afford health insurance because of tobacco penalties in the ACA health care law according to experts who are beginning to understand the potential impact of a little-noted provision in the massive legislation.

The Affordable Care Act allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting Jan. 1, 2014.

Younger smokers could be charged lower penalties but older smokers could face a heavy hit on their household budgets at a time in life when smoking-related illnesses tend to emerge.
A 55-year-old smoker could pay a penalty of nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 in addition to their base premiums.

Workers covered on the job would be able to avoid tobacco penalties by joining smoking cessation programs, because employer plans operate under different rules. But experts say that option is not guaranteed to smokers trying to purchase coverage individually.

Nearly one of every five U.S. adults smokes. That share is higher among lower-income people, who also are more likely to have jobs that don't offer health insurance and would depend on the new federal health care law.

Insurers won't be allowed to charge more under the overhaul for people who are overweight, or have a health condition like a bad back or a heart that skips beats — but they can charge more if a person smokes.

Starting next Jan. 1, the federal health care law will make it possible for people who can't get coverage now to buy private policies, providing tax credits to keep the premiums affordable. Although the law prohibits insurance companies from turning away the sick, the penalties for smokers could have the same effect in many cases, keeping out potentially costly patients.

The law allows insurers to charge older adults up to three times as much as their youngest customers.  The law also allows insurers to levy a 50% penalty on older smokers while charging less to younger ones. Although government tax credits that will be available to help pay premiums, they cannot be used to offset the cost of penalties for smokers.

Take a hypothetical 60-year-old smoker making $35,000 a year. Estimated premiums for coverage in the new private health insurance markets would total $10,172. That person would be eligible for a tax credit that lowers the cost to $3,325.  The smoking penalty could add $5,086 to the cost. Since federal tax credits can't be used to offset the penalty, the smoker's total cost would be $8,411, or 24 percent of income. That's considered unaffordable under the federal law. The numbers were estimated using the online Kaiser Health Reform Subsidy Calculator

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Fee For ACA

Continuing our review of the impact of the  ACA healthcare law, it has recently been announced that there will be an additional tax placed on all policies beginning in January 2014.  Health & Human Services has released additional directives that include a $63 annual per person fee to help offset the cost to insurance companies for providing coverage to those who were previously considered uninsurable. 

The fee will be assessed on all "major medical" insurance plans, including those provided by employers and those purchased individually by consumers.  Many employers already offering coverage to their workers don't see why they have to pay into a stabilization fund which mainly helps the individual insurance market. This tax puts the large companies on the hook for tens of millions of dollars and adds significant additional cost to mid-size and small employers.

Beyond the impact of the cost to agents on a personal basis, this fee may also push more employers to either not offer health coverage through their companies or to reduce the number of employees that are eligible for coverage by making them "part-time".

The fee will reduce each year and will total $12 billion in 2014, $8 billion in 2015 and $5 billion in 2016.  It will phase out completely in 2017 — unless Congress decides to extend it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Agent or Navigator?

With the re-election of President Obama and with the Democrat controlled Senate, the Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) will become the law of the land. 

Today we will address the role of Navigators:

The ACA requires all state Exchanges to fund what will be called Navigators.  The Navigator’s job is to provide individuals and families with the information necessary to determine which health insurance option best fits their needs and then help them enroll in their plan of choice.

The ACA recognizes that different types of Navigators will be needed to help people access coverage through the Exchanges. In Section 1311(i), the ACA lists a variety of groups that could serve the functions of Navigators and suggests that multiple Navigators will be needed to ensure success. According to the ACA, Navigators may be community and consumer-focused non-profit groups; trade, industry, professional associations; commercial fishing industry organizations; ranching and farming organizations; chambers of commerce; unions; partners of the Small Business Administration (SBA); licensed insurance agents and brokers; and other entities capable of carrying out the required duties.

It would seem that the traditional role of an insurance agent/broker will be replaced by this new position. 

To become a Navigator the individual or group must have an existing relationship, or could establish relationships, with employers and employees, uninsured and underinsured consumers, or self-employed individuals likely to qualify to enroll through the Exchange.
 Navigators may not receive any direct or indirect payments from health insurers and insurers are explicitly prohibited from being Navigators. Navigators are funded through grants provided by state Exchange funds.   This is to avoid a conflict of interest, but no directive has been issued to clarify if this applies to new business being written through the exchange or all business including any that may already exist in an agent or brokers practice.

We will post new information on the role of Navigators as it becomes available.  Subscribe to this blog to receive updates.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Visit Us On Facebook Too!

You Can Also Visit AMG On Facebook

Assurant Upgrades Benefits

Assurant Health AccessSM is upgrading benefits — at no extra cost — for new Fundamentals and Enhanced clients. For plans effective December 1 and later, new policyholders will receive upgraded benefits on the medical services they'll use most!