Individual disability income (IDI) companies see jump in combined new sales after market shake-up, according to Milliman report

Milliman has released the results of its latest Individual Disability Income (IDI) Market Survey. The report, in its 10th edition, measures sales trends across 14 IDI companies, representing 90% of the market. The survey also covers recent changes in underwriting and products, the range of views that companies have on the current profitability of their business, and the favorable and unfavorable trends that can affect the long-term profitability of the IDI market. New this year, the report also includes a section discussing companies’ progress implementing the new 2013 Valuation Table.

Key findings include:

• Combined IDI new premium from the 14 IDI companies increased in 2016 by 1.3%, compared to 5.7% in 2015. Combined IDI new premium year-to-date through June 30, 2017, increased by 9.0% over the prior year.
• New premium from the employer-sponsored multilife market exceeded 43% of total IDI new premium in 2015 and 2016.
• There is continued stability in the share of new IDI premium from doctors.
• The share of new IDI premium issued using voluntary guaranteed standard issue (GSI) underwriting was 32% and 34% in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The decision of a major player to exit the individually sold IDI market this past year appears to be benefiting other IDI companies in 2017, as they take on a portion of those sales. We believe this is a short-term impact. In the longer term, overall IDI market growth may be constrained by the loss of one of the larger writers of IDI business.

To download the full IDI Market Survey, click here.

Considerations for comparing 30-day unplanned readmission rates

Hospital readmissions can add unnecessary cost to the healthcare system and can adversely affect patient health. Readmission rates are key metrics for measuring the performance of hospitals, health plans, accountable care organizations (ACOs), physicians, and post-acute care facilities because they are tied to financial rewards and penalties for those entities. This article by Milliman consultants Maggie Alston and Michele Berrios identifies key elements that should be considered when evaluating readmission rates across populations or when comparing readmission rates with different methodologies.

Questions and answers: Are you managing retiree health needs cost-effectively?

Because retirees are often the highest users of healthcare, simple changes in plan design or delivery can go a long way in reducing costs for employers. For example, we had a client that was looking to deliver benefits to its Medicare retirees more efficiently. By moving the entire population to a Medicare Advantage plan, our client not only reduced its retiree medical costs by 10% in the first year due to a reduced premium, but it also was able to provide a richer benefit design.

In reviewing your own retiree medical benefit design strategy, here are a few questions you should ask.

Is my plan coordinating with Medicare in the most efficient way?
If you have an active medical plan that also covers Medicare-eligible retirees, carefully review the coordination of benefits method. When Medicare is primary, the plan commonly coordinates under one of these approaches: carve-out, maintenance of benefits, or coordination of benefits. Because costs to the plan and retiree vary under each of these approaches it is a good idea to examine each one; there may be a way to save money for the plan or the retiree.

Am I taking full advantage of prescription drug subsidies?
Given the high use of prescription drugs in the retiree population, this area may be your best opportunity to reduce costs. Are you taking full advantage of the prescription drug subsidies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)? Consider delivering Medicare prescription drug coverage through an employer group waiver plan or with retiree drug subsidy coverage.

Am I leveraging the experts in administration?
Some companies have moved Medicare-eligible retirees to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan (MAPDP), which offers additional benefits beyond Part A and Part B coverage. The federal government pays private insurance companies to offer these plans. Because MAPDPs are fully insured, the insurer would take over the entire administration of the Medicare plan and is well-versed in managing this population, resulting in possible savings and increased efficiencies in plan administration.

Does a pre-Medicare plan make sense?
If the size of your pre-Medicare retiree population is large enough, the most cost-effective solution could be to offer a pre-Medicare retiree-only plan. Retiree populations are different and a pre-Medicare retiree-only plan can be designed with those needs in mind, in a way that efficiently maximizes benefits. For example, retirees are generally on fixed incomes, so a plan designed with set deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket maximums is more desirable.

Am I using all the utilization management tools available?
Utilization management programs can be helpful in reducing the cost of covering pre-Medicare retirees. For example, chronic diseases are likely more prevalent in your pre-Medicare retirees than your actives. Helping retirees manage these conditions can benefit not just your covered population but also your bottom line.

Do any of the plan changes that I am making have unintended consequences for my retiree population?
Seemingly small changes can have significant financial impacts for your organization when you look closely at how it affects your retirees—even though retirees likely make up a smaller portion of your total population. For example, for plans that receive the retiree drug subsidy, changes that increase cost sharing or contributions for prescription drugs for retirees may cause the plan to lose eligibility for the subsidy. Instead of cost-shifting, it may make more sense to focus on managing plan costs. You will have the added advantage of possibly lowering retiree medical accounting liabilities—e.g., Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) Subtopic 715-60 liability—by potentially reducing projected plan costs, long-term trend, and delaying the impact of the 40% excise tax on high-cost health plans.

When it comes to retiree medical coverage, it is important to ask the right questions. Given the increasing cost of healthcare and retirees’ high utilization, you may be able to make changes that positively affect your retirees and lower the cost of covering them.

Regulatory roundup

More healthcare-related regulatory news for plan sponsors, including links to detailed information.

Health plan choice and premiums in the 2018 federal health insurance exchange
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a brief that presents information on qualified health plans (QHPs) available on the federal health insurance exchange for states that use the HealthCare.gov platform. National estimates and summary tables are presented in each section of the text. State-specific estimates are in the appendix.

For more information, click here.

ACA AIR submission composition and reference guide published
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has published “Affordable Care Act (ACA) Information Returns (AIR) Submission Composition and Reference Guide.” The document provides details on composing and submitting Forms 1094/1095-B and Forms 1094/1095-C by transmitters to the IRS. The scope of the document addresses the application-to-application (A2A) messages exchanged on a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) basis between client and exposed web service endpoints and the user interface (UI)-browser-based web, requiring human initiation.

For more information, click here.

Guidance on the requirements for providing a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement released
The IRS published Notice 2017-67 offering guidance on the requirements for providing a qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA) under section 9831(d)—which was added to the Internal Revenue Code by the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act)—the tax consequences of the arrangement, and the requirements for providing written notice of the arrangement to eligible employees.

For more information, click here.

IRS updates FAQs on employer-shared responsibility payments
The IRS updated its website listing frequently asked questions (FAQs) on employer-shared responsibility provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), including questions and answers regarding employer-shared responsibility payments.

For more information, click here.

Healthcare entities must account for hurricane-related disruptions

Hurricanes can have a significant operational and financial effect on healthcare providers, insurers, and payers. Organizations that deliver or finance healthcare services in impacted areas must consider the various outcomes resulting from any disruptions. In this article, Milliman’s Lynn Dong, Scott Jones, and Michael Polakowski highlight a list of short-term and long-term effects for organizations to evaluate.

Important considerations for Medicare premium support program

Policymakers sometimes point to Medicare premium support programs as a possible cost-reduction solution for the federal health insurance program. In this article, Milliman’s Catherine Murphy-Barron and Pamela Pelizzari discuss some of the key financial and insurance issues involved in premium support proposals for Medicare Part A and Part B. The authors also explore the potential advantages and disadvantages of such an approach.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

A premium support model has the potential to fundamentally change the way Medicare benefits are provided to eligible individuals. Such a model would substantially influence both beneficiary and federal spending far into the future.

Financially, the possible implications of some premium support models have been scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to demonstrate the level of savings or costs to the federal government and affected beneficiaries. Under the options examined, the CBO found that net federal spending for Medicare would decrease in 2024 relative to current law by $84 billion (a 9% decrease) in the second-lowest-bid option (where the federal contribution is set at the second-lowest bid), and by $41 billion (a 4% decrease) in the average-bid option (where the federal contribution is set at the average bid). However, it is worth noting that the CBO projected an increase in spending by beneficiaries on their own premiums and care in the second-lowest-bid option.8

From a beneficiary perspective, the design of any premium support model would be under pressure to demonstrate that beneficiaries would have access to comprehensive coverage for an affordable price. Without sufficient information on the similarities and differences among various plans, beneficiaries may be at a disadvantage in terms of their ability to identify plans that best meet their needs. Financially, beneficiaries are at risk of incurring an increasing percentage of the cost of these plans if the federal contribution is less than the cost of the plans. In the second-lowest bid option that was scored by the CBO, beneficiaries’ spending was projected to increase by 18% (including both premiums and other out-of-pocket costs) in 2024 relative to the amount projected under current law, which represents a substantial increase in out-of-pocket costs for the same level of care.9