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New Employee Healthcare Company Being Created "Free From Profit-Making Incentives" 

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase on Tuesday announced a partnership to cut health-care costs and improve services for their U.S. employees. The announcement slammed the shares of multiple companies in the health-care sector.

The giant companies, which together employ more than 1.1 million workers, will launch an independent operation that's intended to be free from profit-making incentives.

The new company's goal at first will be to target technology solutions to simplify the health-care system.

Details of the new company were sketchy, with principals of Amazon, Berkshire and J.P. Morgan noting that the way it will work remains to be seen. They're hoping that their sheer size will help bring the necessary scale and resources to tackle the issue.

"The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy," Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett said in a statement. "Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable. Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country's best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes."
 

The announcement makes sense of Amazon's early moves in health care over the last year. It speaks to the desire to rip apart the traditional health-care system from distinctive silos. Experts have anticipated more deals and vertical integration in wake of CVS announcing its intention to buy Aetna.

Adam Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting, said it's "long past time" for employers like these three to force innovation into the health-care system.

"For better or worse, there are warped incentives baked into every aspect of the U.S. health-care system, from medical innovation to care delivery to insurance and benefit management," Fein told CNBC. "Rather than merely bashing the current system, I hope this new organization can help patients and their physicians make more informed and more cost-effective decisions. Technology will be necessary but not sufficient to make positive changes."

Analysts echoed the sentiment that the health-care system is outdated and ripe for disruption, paving the way for the new endeavor. However, they cautioned it could take time. Some experts are skeptical the three companies can meaningfully lower costs and improve outcomes.

"If this winds up being the low cost provider to make insurance more affordable at employer level, it could wind up being a real disruptive competitor to an industry that has not seen any new players in years/decades," Jefferies analyst Jared Holz told CNBC. "[I'm] not going to call this black swan event yet because there are few details and would be making too many assumptions but it has potential to be."

J.P. Morgan currently uses Cigna and UnitedHealth Group to administer health benefits on a self-insured basis and Amazon uses nonprofit Premera Blue Cross, according to Evercore analysts. Amazon uses ExpressScripts as its pharmacy benefits manager, said Leerink Partners' Ana Gupte.

Shares of Berkshire and J.P. Morgan fell slightly, while Amazon edged higher.

However, shares of health-care companies fell sharply. Express Scriptsand Aetna sank 3 percent; Cigna slid percent while CVS and UnitedHealth fell 4 percent.

"Today's announcement by Amazon, J.P. Morgan & Chase company, and Berkshire Hathaway is clear recognition that the healthcare system needs to continue to create and deliver meaningful value to payors and patients," Express Scripts said in a statement."...We look forward to hearing more about this new initiative and how we can work together to improve health care for everyone."

Amazon in particular can play a strong role if it promotes a greater presence for technological advances including artificial intelligence and information sharing platforms into health care, said Idris Adjerid, management information technology professor at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business.

"We find that technology initiatives which facilitated information sharing between disconnected hospitals resulted in significant reductions in healthcare spending," Adjerid said in a statement. "That said, it is unclear what the scope of this effort will be. If this partnership is to meaningfully improve healthcare delivery, it needs to include more than the employees of these companies."

The announcement was light on details but said three top executives, one from each company, will take the lead on the project: Berkshire investment officer Todd Combs, J.P. Morgan's Marvelle Sullivan Berchtold and Beth Galetti, a senior vice president at Amazon.

Combs was a hedge fund manager before joining Berkshire in 2010. Berchtold was previously global head of mergers and acquisitions at drugmaker Novartis before joining J.P. Morgan last year, and Galetti was FedEx's vice president for planning, engineering and operations before joining Amazon in 2013, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

"The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. "Hard as it might be, reducing healthcare's burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort."

"Our people want transparency, knowledge and control when it comes to managing their healthcare," said J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. "The three of our companies have extraordinary resources, and our goal is to create solutions that benefit our U.S. employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans."

Here's the full press release:

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) announced today that they are partnering on ways to address healthcare for their U.S. employees, with the aim of improving employee satisfaction and reducing costs. The three companies, which bring their scale and complementary expertise to this long-term effort, will pursue this objective through an independent company that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints. The initial focus of the new company will be on technology solutions that will provide U.S. employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.

Tackling the enormous challenges of healthcare and harnessing its full benefits are among the greatest issues facing society today. By bringing together three of the world's leading organizations into this new and innovative construct, the group hopes to draw on its combined capabilities and resources to take a fresh approach to these critical matters.

"The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable. Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country's best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes," said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett.

"The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. "Hard as it might be, reducing healthcare's burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner's mind, and a long-term orientation."

"Our people want transparency, knowledge and control when it comes to managing their healthcare," said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. "The three of our companies have extraordinary resources, and our goal is to create solutions that benefit our U.S. employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans," he added.

The effort announced today is in its early planning stages, with the initial formation of the company jointly spearheaded by Todd Combs, an investment officer of Berkshire Hathaway; Marvelle Sullivan Berchtold, a Managing Director of JPMorgan Chase; and Beth Galetti, a Senior Vice President at Amazon. The longer-term management team, headquarters location and key operational details will be communicated in due course.

Business Insurance

Insurance 101 for new business owners

 

Business Insurance Meeting

If you’re thinking about starting a business, you know a thing or two about taking risks. But remember, it’s smart business to limit your risks however and wherever you can.

That’s where business insurance — and solid advice from your agent — come into play.

Is business insurance necessary?

The short answer is absolutely. Especially if you have employees, in which case some types of insurance, including workers’ compensation and disability insurance, may be required by law.

What’s the risk?

Many small businesses go without insurance because of the cost. But those businesses haven’t carefully considered what not having insurance could cost them.

Tips for protecting your business

These tips can help you secure the right insurance for your company:

  • Work With an Agent
  • Create a Detailed Business Plan
  • Assess the Unique Risks Common to Your Business
  • Packages Many Smaller Risks Into Umbrella Policies
  • If You Have a Home-based Business, Make Sure You Cover Both
  • Review Annually

 

To see this article in full, go to Pittsburgh Business Times

Amazon Insurance

Will Amazon Disrupt Insurance As We Know it?

Patricia Davies of BANKNXT writes:

Disruption is on the way for the UK insurance market, and it’s in the shape of Amazon. 

amazon-predicted-to-make-a-disruptive-entrance-into-insurance.jpgNo one can dispute the success of Amazon in the UK as a digital retailer, and many insurers have held it in high esteem as a company to emulate in terms of innovation and overall service proposition. But now Amazon poses a real threat to UK insurers.

Amazon is currently recruiting insurance professionals in London to join a new team looking to disrupt the insurance market in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. This should have UK insurers worried for a number of reasons:

  • Amazon has a positive reputation for putting customers’ needs at the heart of its propositions. Amazon offers clear, transparent services such as the ability to track a package, next-day delivery, a clear returns policy and customer reviews on products, providing clear communication to customers throughout the purchasing journey. This level of trust and transparency is something the insurance industry has really struggled with, especially after the likes of the PPI scandal. According to the GlobalData 2017 General Insurance Survey, 18% of consumers would buy their motor or home insurance from Amazon, highlighting the potential for the brand to cross-sell into insurance and take market share from established players.
  • Amazon has established itself as a key service provider for households. Its Prime service, promising fast delivery as well as offering a TV channel and movie service, makes for a popular subscription model. We’re already seeing a number of new propositions moving away from annual renewal to a monthly subscription basis, which would fit well with Amazon’s current business model.
  • In addition, its investment in technology and innovation has brought households the Echo and Dot, voice-activated speakers that use artificial intelligence to support everyday family needs. As we move nearer to an age of smart, connected homes, Amazon is well placed to lead the way. This will also position it well for providing insurance needs, as tech in the home will soon define the insurance requirements of an individual household. This close and interactive relationship is a long way from the limited annual renewal or claim process touchpoints insurers work to.

See more of her article here

Will what's happening in the UK now start happening in the US?

california insurance

California's Wildfire Losses Are Estimated at Over $1 Billion, Insurance Officials Say

California-Wildfires InsuranceThe estimate is based on claims received by insurers, and is expected to rise.

By Reuters 
October 19, 2017

The California Department of Insurance said on Thursday its preliminary estimate for insured wildfire losses was $1.05 billion, based on claims received by the state’s eight largest insurers, adding that it expected the numbers to rise.

Insurers have received 601 claims for commercial property losses, 4,177 claims for partial residential losses and 3,000 claims for auto losses, said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones during a media call.

Since erupting on Oct. 8 and 9, the blazes in parts of Northern California have blackened more than 245,000 acres, (86,200 hectares) and destroyed an estimated 6,900 structures as of Thursday, including homes, wineries and other commercial buildings.

More than 15,000 people remain displaced, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said on Thursday.

A fire that started Monday in the Santa Cruz Mountains now threatens 300 homes, Jones said.

Residents of Northern California’s wine country left homeless by the state’s deadliest-ever wildfires could be temporarily housed in federal government trailers, officials said on Wednesday, as the death toll from the blazes rose to 42.

Moody’s Investor Service estimated insured losses at $4.6 billion on Monday, based on an earlier figure of 5,700 destroyed structures, according to a report.

Insurer Travelers Cos Inc, which announced its third quarter results on Thursday, also warned investors of large claims likely this quarter from the wildfires.

At least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed so far.

 
The company paused a share repurchase plan in September to conserve cash as it reviewed claims from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which made landfall in September and October, and it is still evaluating that position in the light of wildfire claims, said Travelers Chief Executive Alan Schnitzer on a conference call with analysts.


State Farm
 is California’s largest homeowners insurer and sixth-largest commercial fire insurer, according to a Moody’s analysis.

The insurer, as of Thursday, received 3,220 homeowners insurance claims and 1,110 auto insurance claims, mostly from damage sustained in Napa and Sonoma Counties, a spokesman said.

Other large insurers in California include Farmers Insurance, CSAA Insurance Group, Travelers and Allstate Corp and Chubb Ltd..

perscription drug pricing

Drug Pricing Transparency Law Signed by Governor Jerry Brown

prescription_drugs.jpgCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown has signed state legislation requiring drug companies to report certain price hikes for prescription medicines in a move that could set a model for other states to follow.

The law, which aims to provide more transparency around pharmaceutical and biotech company pricing methods for their medicines, requires drug manufacturers to give a 60-day notice if prices are raised more than 16 percent over a two-year period. The law also requires health plans and insurers to file annual reports outlining how drug costs affect healthcare premiums in California.

“Californians have a right to know why their medication costs are out of control, especially when pharmaceutical profits are soaring,” Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement on his website announcing the new legislation.

The bill has been opposed by drugmakers, who argue that wholesale price increases do not reflect the actual prices paid for medicines after discounts and rebates.

Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the leading biotech industry trade group, issued a statement condemning the bill and arguing that it would not serve its intended purpose.

“This law will neither provide meaningful information to patients nor lower prescription drug costs,” the group said, adding that the law “seriously jeopardizes the future of California’s leadership in this innovative industry.”

California is home to hundreds of biotechnology companies.

Pharmaceutical companies have so far dodged stricter federal oversight despite growing public and political outrage over pricing practices for both branded and some generic medicines.

But states, struggling to cover rising healthcare costs, have been addressing the issue rather than wait for federal help. At least 176 bills on pharmaceutical pricing and payment have been introduced this year in 36 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

A new Maryland law takes aims at egregious price hikes on generic versions of older off-patent drugs that are supposed to be far cheaper than the original branded medicines after some companies took massive increases on generic drugs not facing competition from other distributors.

Amid the furor some drugmakers, including Allergan Plc and AbbVie Inc, have voluntarily pledged one annual price increase of under 10 percent on branded prescription medicines. It had been common industry practice to raise prices twice a year, often by double-digit percentages.

However, even annual price hikes of 9 percent over a two-year period would put a company in the crosshairs of the new California legislation.

(Reporting by Berkrot in New York; Editing by Richard Chang and Lisa Shumaker)

Taking the Mystery Out of the Costs of ObamaCare

How will your business be affected by the upcoming changes to health insurance benefits that the new federal healthcare legislation will bring?

 

 

"ObamaCare" could represent the largest overhaul of rules and regulations for your business in many decades. Are you sure you will be compliant?

Let us review your present policies to ensure that you are ready. 

Humanomics Insurance Services, Inc.
15600 Devonshire Street, Suite 203
Granada Hills, CA 91344

Phone: 818.830.5600

 

obamacare

Can ObamaCare Survive?


02berwick-master768.jpgDonald Berwick writes in the New York Times:

"..they can starve the agencies that have to administer the law, making it hard for them to do their jobs. They can make it riskier for insurance companies to participate and can decrease enforcement of requirements that policies cover a basic set of benefits. The new administrator of Medicare and Medicaid, Seema Verma, favors giving states waivers to avoid some of the law’s provisions, weakening coverage and increasing out-of-pocket costs. "

Can your small business actually benefit from the ongoing changes in health insurance from ObamaCare? Humanomics Insurance Services, Inc. can help ensure that your small business gets the most from ObamaCare.

We can contact you to answer your questions and help you over the bumps and uncertainties of providing healthcare insurance for your employees. 

 Click me

obamacare

Will ObamaCare Actually Help Your Small Business?

Small Business Needs Obamacare.pngJody Miller, CEO of a small business in California, wrote a very important article in the Huffington Post last month. In it she wrote about the unfair advantages that large businesses have over small businesses in attracting talent.

Can your small business actually benefit from the ongoing changes in health insurance from ObamaCare? Humanomics Insurance Services, Inc. can help ensure that your small business gets the most from ObamaCare.

We can contact you to answer your questions and help you over the bumps and uncertainties of providing healthcare insurance for your employees. 

 Click me