Spending deal would delay Cadillac Tax

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Earlier this month, the Senate approved a bill to repeal many core elements of Obamacare, including the “Cadillac tax” on high cost health plans. At the time the vote was seen as a symbolic act because the bill’s supporters lacked the votes necessary to overcome President Obama’s veto. Although Senate Democrats are opposed to repealing the President’s health reform law, there is bi-partisan support for modifying, delaying, or eliminating the Cadillac tax. Under a Continue Reading →

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PACE Act Passage Elicits Praise and Frustration

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Earlier this month, President Obama signed the bipartisan PACE Act to stop the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from changing rules that apply to employers with between 51 and 99 employees. This is important both as a rare example of bipartisan cooperation to reform Obamacare, as well as a preservation of the status quo for employers in this mid-market segment. The Act has been praised by insurance brokers and business groups, but has ...

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Focus on Specialty Drug Costs

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The price of prescription drugs has been a well-known issue for decades. In recent months, however, the price of specialty drugs in particular has received increased attention on social media and from the mainstream media and candidates for President. Much of this attention focused on Turing Pharmaceuticals’ 5,000% price increase for Daraprim last month, but the cost of specialty drugs has been trending upwards for years.

According to Business Insurance magazine, group health plans’ specialty drug costs ...

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ACA Reporting Forms Released

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Last week the IRS published the final versions of the forms and instructions that applicable large employers (ALEs) will need to use to report on employees’ 2015 health coverage. Draft versions of the forms were released in June and the final versions do not include any major changes. With the final versions now available, ALEs can begin working to complete the forms in advance of their February 2016 deadline.

Reporting under ACA Sections 6055 and 6056 was originally scheduled ...

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Big Changes at Assurant

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Last week, Assurant, Inc. announced an agreement to sell its employee benefits business to Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, a subsidiary of Sun Life Financial, Inc., for $940 million. This transaction comes just three months after Assurant shut down operations at Milwaukee-based Assurant Health. It also coincides with the announcement of increased dividends to shareholders and a rise in the company’s stock price.

The employee benefits business purchased by Sun Life includes Assurant’s voluntary and employer paid dental, ...

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Willis Looks to Lift Consulting Business With Acquisitions

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Large insurance companies like Aetna and Humana are not the only goliaths that are joining forces these days. A number of insurance brokers and consulting firms have been actively pursuing mergers and acquisitions to create synergies and growth opportunities. Willis Group Holdings plc, the London-based parent of Willis North America, has been particularly active this year.

Willis announced plans in January to combine its wholesale insurance brokerage units with Miller Insurance Services LLP. At the time, Willis CEO Dominic Casserly said ...

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Aetna-Humana merger drives fee-based model

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With Aetna poised to acquire Humana in 2016, industry observers have noted how industry consolidation generally and Aetna’s growing market share in particular will lead more intermediaries to adopt a fee-based compensation model. Although fee-based compensation for intermediaries is not a new concept, it is far less common than traditional commission based compensation. However, it appears increasingly likely that fee-based compensation will become much more widespread in the coming years.

Traditionally, insurance agents and brokers have been paid for ...

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Carrier Consolidation to Continue

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The top of the health insurance industry is poised to become an even more exclusive club. In recent weeks, news has broken that the nation’s five largest health insurance companies (UnitedHealth, Anthem, Aetna, Cigna, and Humana) are jostling to acquire a major competitor or be acquired by one. It appears that it is only a matter of time before another round of health insurance industry consolidation commences, potentially raising anti-trust concerns.

Over the weekend, Anthem announced plans to acquire ...

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Arise to offer AboutHealth plans

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AboutHealth, one of two new health system partnerships in Wisconsin, recently announced plans to sell health plans to individuals and employer groups through a co-branding agreement with Arise Health Plan. Early announcements from AboutHealth have focused on efforts to improve clinical integration and cooperation among its members. The agreement with Arise marks the first instance in which AboutHealth member systems have negotiated a single contract with a health insurance company.

Arise Health Plan is a wholly owned subsidiary of ...

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HR Award Winners Celebrated!

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Winners of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s inaugural HR Awards were celebrated last night at an awards program held at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. The HR Award program is intended to recognize the best human resources programs or practices that have had a positive impact on employees and the overall organization. More than 200 people attended the event, which included a cocktail reception, dinner, and the awards ceremony.

The many individuals and companies that were nominated for the awards were judged ...

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