Tag Archives: Pandemic

COVID-19 and proposed ACA market premium impact

Expected costs related to COVID-19 may increase or decrease health insurance premiums in the ACA commercial markets. When setting premiums for 2021, health insurers will consider a variety of factors related to virus, including the acute treatment and vaccination for COVID-19, changes in access and demand for healthcare, lasting effects on population health, economic effects on enrollment and utilization of care, and other operational effects.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has released a template to assist state regulators in their reviews of 2021 premium impact assumptions for COVID-19. The template outlines a number of pricing considerations.

As of June 15, 2020, six states and the District of Columbia have publicly released preliminary ACA premium rates for 2021. This paper by Milliman’s Dane Hansen, Andrew Bochner, and Emily DeAngelis examines the reported impact of COVID-19 on these rates.

Communicating to employees during a pandemic

This spring has been an interesting and challenging time to be a business leader. As the workplace location, habits, and culture across the board have been turned inside out, leaders have had to think differently.

Returning to the workplace

While the move to working from home happened quickly, the return to work will be slower and more complicated. If you haven’t made movement back to workspaces and office buildings, think carefully about all of the implications of our new six-feet-apart world. How will you handle an employee who refuses to wear a mask when required? When will you open the kitchens and make coffee and water available? How many people will you allow in a restroom at a time? Do people have to walk clockwise around the space? Where do you put hand sanitizer stations? Setting aside all of the logistics, how do and will employees feel?

Tips for employee return-to-workplace communication

Like any other workplace change, making sure employees are aware and understand this new world will be equally as important as the actual changes themselves. Training, education, and effective communication are key aspects of many of the local requirements for returning to office buildings. Required or not in your area, they should be your top priority in the process of returning employees to any common workplace, in any location. As you begin to think through your employee communication strategy, below are a number of tips to keep in mind as you communicate return-to-workplace situations. We recommend working in partnership with a trained consultant and your legal counsel to ensure that you meet the requirements for your location (if any) and so that your employees recognize you take their health and safety seriously and understand what is expected of them.

  • Start with developing a clear and detailed safe work plan; review any policies that need to be updated
  • Write in plain, easy-to-understand language
  • Use images and diagrams where appropriate
  • Outline what the building management is doing, how the company is supporting this effort, and clear expectations for employees
  • Partner with Human Resources and legal counsel; they can help you steer clear of perceptions of discrimination and other potential employee relations or legal issues
  • Get input from your senior leaders; they should be knowledgeable and included well before you communicate to employees
  • Train your managers and supervisors on the safe workplan and what is expected of them; they are the front line of employee communications
  • Use different media to supplement a written plan; hold a webinar and record it; create a video; leverage your online employee portal; do a podcast
  • Make good use of signs throughout the office to help with key behaviors
  • Be clear where employees should go with questions
  • Start communicating well before individuals are allowed (or expected) to return to the workplace
  • Explain that the situation is fluid and manage expectations by noting that when new information becomes available the plan will be updated; communicate those key changes with leadership and employees

Careful not to overdo it

Especially now, employees want to understand what you are doing to keep them safe and to believe that you care. But you don’t want to overdo it either. Whether it’s due to a lack of trust or excess worry, some organizations are holding many more meetings than usual to “check-in,” which employees can find invasive and intrusive. If “eyes on your employees” was your primary form of performance evaluation, you might be feeling unsettled in this new work-from-home arrangement. In most situations, you’ve likely hired responsible, talented people who want to, and will, do good jobs under any circumstance. Trust they will and reward them when they do. Tip: Let them dictate the check-in frequency. Be willing to tailor your approach to the communication needs of the individual(s) or group(s). Then, over time, survey your employees and ask them how it’s working (the frequency, content, etc. of the communications).

Wherever you are along this journey, just don’t forget employees’ needs have shifted and will likely continue to change. Be flexible and willing to adjust your communication approach constantly. As you prepare for the next phase, whatever that might be for you, look for that Goldilocks communication approach—not too much, not too little, but just right.

Understanding the path to COVID-19 vaccination

Vaccinations have historically been shown to boost a person’s immune system, eliminate and prevent the spread of infections, and lessen the burden on the healthcare delivery system. The concept of using vaccines has been around since the 1500s with several accounts describing smallpox inoculation as practiced in India and China.

Vaccines undergo strict testing and research under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards prior to becoming available to the public. Vaccinating populations has helped countries take steps toward wiping out debilitating and deadly infections such as polio and smallpox.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Milliman’s Stephen George has written a new paper focusing on:

  • Examining why, when, and how vaccines are used
  • Highlighting the vaccine development pathway
  • Reviewing previous experience with viral pandemics
  • Assessing ways payers can address COVID-19

Challenges of interpreting data, reports, and media coverage regarding COVID-19

As COVID-19 has spread around the globe, scientists, mathematicians, economists, health professionals, and thinkers of all types have worked within their fields of study to try to quickly understand, analyze, and explain the effects of the global pandemic.

On a daily basis, important and time-sensitive questions are being posed and answered through the popular media, scientific journal articles, and countless other avenues. With the abundance of pandemic-related articles and discussions, it can be difficult to sort through the noise and determine which sources of information can be trusted, what analysis might not stand up to scrutiny, and how to reconcile apparently conflicting findings.

Milliman consultants Pamela Pelizzari, Stoddard Davenport, and Carol Bazell offer some perspective by exploring the challenge of interpreting data, reports, and media coverage surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in this paper.

Infographic highlights trending compensation benefits for healthcare workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis are treating patients around the clock to help them recover. As a result, many workers have fallen ill and been forced to quarantine indefinitely, while some have even lost their lives. In the United States, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations are adjusting their benefits and compensation policies to support their employees during these uncertain times.

The following infographic highlights results from the Milliman Northwest Healthcare COVID-19 Pulse Survey, which summarizes key actions local healthcare employers are taking to address issues in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. For more perspective on the survey and benefits and compensation landscape, read Lauren Busey’s article “Managing benefits and compensation for healthcare workers in the time of COVID-19.”

This blog post first appeared on Retirement Town Hall.

The path to containment: A health system perspective from Mexico City

The recent outbreak of H1N11 virus seized worldwide attention and raised concerns about a potential pandemic.

We spoke with Eduardo Lara di Lauro, principal and managing director of Milliman’s consulting practice in Mexico, about the situation and about some of the implications for the insurance industry in that country and elsewhere.

Q: At this point, how much do we know about the progress of the H1N1 strain of the influenza A virus in Mexico?

Eduardo Lara di Lauro: This is very much an evolving situation and we still don’t have the answers to many questions. One of the questions in the air is, “Why Mexico? Why did this flu have more deadly presence in Mexico?” I think that the way the public sector is recording the cases could well be critical. What first brought the outbreak to attention was when physicians began to notice a higher rate than normal of pneumonia in young adults. Every year almost 10,000 Mexicans die from the effects of seasonal flu that complicate producing pneumonia. Usually they are the elderly and the very young, people whose immune systems are not robust enough to fight off the virus. As actuaries, we know how important it can be to determine the best sources of information that provide the greatest amount of detail, in order to accurately determine origins and first causes. We had been having some fatal cases of pneumonia in Mexico previously, but we didn’t know the first causes of those cases until now. Now the physicians are making additional tests in order to determine what the cause of the pneumonia in each case may have been. This flu may actually have been going on for awhile.

I think it’s also important to note that the number of cases so far appears to be relatively small—as of May 6, some 1,112 positive cases, with 42 deaths out of a population of 110 million. The rate is pretty low. Obviously we are still attempting to determine the overall timeframe of the progress of this outbreak, and that will be key to helping us understand where we are. We don’t know yet if this outbreak is just starting, or at the middle, or nearing the end. The number of deaths seems to be stabilizing, perhaps indicating that the first wave of this influenza has peaked. It takes from one to five days from a person getting the virus until the symptoms begin to present, and then tests must be run to determine exactly what it is, which also take time. There are a lot of things we really don’t know yet. The government may have overreacted in terms of the measures taken, telling everyone to stay at home, closing schools, no public events, and so on until May 6. But I would say it’s better to do whatever is necessary to stop the spread of this virus first. As people in Mexico now get back to resuming their normal economic activities it is likely we will see new moderated flu outbreaks in some areas. In order to say the illness is contained we need to have at least 15 days without new cases, according to Mexico’s health authorities.

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