• Running Up the Middle – Let’s Keep the Affordable Care Act

    June 5, 2019

    Tags: ,


    Well remembered for urging the House to “pass the bill so we can see what’s in it,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged caution on Medicare for All, believing that the Affordable Care Act is still the best path to ‘quality, affordable care’  She clarified in an interview that Medicare for All, for most people, simply means “coverage for all” which then does not necessitate using a single payer system as advocated by Bernie Sanders.

    President Trump, meanwhile, got support to drop the ACA when a District Court judge in Northern Texas said that ACA was unconstitutional.  There is an appeal filed from a group of Attorneys General protesting this move.  The administration continues to side with the court, with the Justice Department writing it had “determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed” and will file a brief. This in spite of the opposition of HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General William Barr.

  • What’s the Plan? Republicans Respond to Medicare for All but Stall

    June 3, 2019

    Tags: , ,

    Republicans have a counter, though no one yet knows what it is.  President Trump has promised…to show what it is after the 2020 elections.  He has endorsed some proposals already, which may be included in his more comprehensive plan.  One (Graham-Cassidy) shows the elimination of the ACA Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies, with the money being reallocated to the states, who would also be able to override some ACA benefit standards.  The 2020 White House budget points to this by creating block grants to the states for a similar purpose.  Conservatives also have a plan, which follows a similar path.  In short, everyone is against having the Federal government run it – they are all passing to the states.

    Of course, Trump really does need a plan, given that his 2020 budget calls for a cut of more than $845 billion in Medicare, purportedly to “cut waste, fraud and abuse.”  The OMB director said “he’s not cutting Medicare in this budget” so…so how can we have Medicare for all when Medicare itself is always under attack?

    The general grouping of proposals are:

    • Passing block grants and funding to the states
    • Adding public plan features to private insurance
    • Giving people a choice of public plans alongside private plans (e.g. Medicare for those age 50 to 64 while still being able to buy private insurance instead)

  • Medicare for All: a Free for All Among Politicians and Insurers are Worried

    May 30, 2019

    Tags: ,


    It’s not just Bernie Sanders’ vision any more.  Even more centrist Democrats have taken the pledge, with Senators Harris, Gillibrand and Booker having cosigned Sanders’ bill.  The basics? Health insurance would now no longer be paid directly by employers, but indirectly through a 7.5% payroll tax and a contribution by employees of 4%.  Medicare and Medicaid would be eliminated and everyone would be covered.  Insurance companies would still exist, but only to sell supplemental or ancillary plans; they may not compete directly with the government plan.  Insurers are, of course, worried and publicly pledging to come up with a way to build upon the existing system.

    As if the bill for expanded coverage is not large enough, the Medicare for All proposal has been expanded further to include Long Term Care.  This provision, which had been part of the initial Affordable Care Act, was abandoned almost as soon as it began once lawmakers saw the potential size of that coverage bill.

    Things recently got more interesting when Seema Verma, the director of CMS (which runs Medicare) went on Fox News and said “Medicare for all is the biggest threat to the American health care system.”  She noted that socialized health care systems in other countries have problems of their own, including long wait times and poor care, which leads citizens to travel to the U.S. for drugs and care they can’t secure at home.  More to the point, she said “the reality is we’re having problems today paying for the Medicare program and the trustees have warned about solvency, so adding more people to the program is only going to exacerbate it.”

    Arguments pro and con – why and why not:

                Pro      Advocates say the change is simple – money spent on private health insurance and health care would be shifted to the federal government in the form of taxation

                            The federal government would set prices and force health care providers to accept current Medicare payment rates, which is roughly 40% below what private insurers pay

                            The government run system would mean everyone would be insured and people would access health care services more frequently because they would be free (maybe copayments would be required, though this has not yet been decided)

                Con     “Trust US” – 70% say they are satisfied with their coverage, but all 181 million Americans now covered by employers would have to make a move to a program that is unexplained, unproven and about which the results are unsure

                            There are those who are not crazy about centralized big government in any aspect of our lives – and then, of course, there are the additional taxes

                            No matter how they slice it, hospitals, physicians and affiliated providers are going to take a big pay cut, and there won’t be much room for negotiation when the government is the only game in town (think Walmart)

                            Patients will have to make a shift in expectations – seen the waiting list and lines in Canada lately?

                            The Sanders plan would increase federal spending by about $32 trillion over its first ten years, or $3 trillion per year.  The Congressional Budget Office projects federal spending for the entire 2019 fiscal year at $4.4 trillion

  • Democrat Proposals for 2020: Medicare for All…and Other Proposals that Lean Left and Lefter

    May 28, 2019



    Medicare for All:  Bernie Sanders has introduced the plan in the Senate, and it is supported by Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, who have all sponsored these bills, along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in the House.  Mayor Pete Buttigieg is also on record as being in favor of such a system.  The proposed plan would eliminate private insurance and transform Medicare into a single-payer system run entirely by the federal government.  Opponents, even within the Democratic Party, are wary, however, of banning health insurers from selling anything, as well as the total price tag.  The general estimate is a whopping $32 trillion.

    Medicare for America:  Supported by Beto O’Rourke and possibly Kirsten Gillibrand.  This aims for universal coverage while giving workers the option of keeping their employer-sponsored plan or switching to a new and expanded version of Medicare.  The proposal rolls in anyone now on Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare-subsidized plans and the Childrens’ Health Insurance Program.  Plans offered by employers would have to match standards set under the proposed new program.

    Medicare X Choice Act:  Sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet and Tim Kaine and in the House by Antoniuo Delgado, John Larson and Brian Higgins.  Among candidates, the plan is also supported by Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. The proposed plan leaves in the existing system and creates a public option (this was proposed during the debate over the Affordable Care Act and ultimately rejected).  The proposal, if approved, would also expand tax credits for purchase.

    Medicare at 50 Act:  Supported by Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand.  The proposal essentially allows U.S. citizens between the ages of 50 and 64 to buy a Medicare plan, and can use Obamacare subsidies to do so.

  • Spring Clean Your Life | California Benefits Agency

    May 28, 2019

    Tags: ,

    The winter doldrums have left most of the country and we are witnessing the arrival of spring. Just like the budding trees and baby animals signify a new start, so does a fresh cleaning of your home. But don’t let the spring cleaning stop with the physical place where you live—extend it to all corners of your life. Give your life a good spring cleaning by organizing, decluttering, and setting goals.



    By now everyone knows who Marie Kondo is—the master of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”  What began a worldwide phenomenon of “sparking joy” in your home can be applied to your work life as well. Start by organizing your thoughts. Write down the tasks you want to accomplish whether it be daily, monthly, or yearly. Calendar the tasks so you know when you want them completed and prioritize them so you know what importance you assign to each item. Prioritizing tasks helps you accept a request or confidently say “no” when someone asks you to do something knowing it doesn’t fit in with your priorities.  Organizing tasks works for both your personal and work life.



    A good decluttering session is good for the soul! Step back and look at your workspace—are there piles of paper stacked on your desk? What about that mound of things you keep saying you’ll take upstairs in your house? Do you have relationships that are cluttering up your life? Take an hour each week to sort through your workspace piles. Choose to save only the papers/magazines/notes that you need to complete your job or that you want to save for sentimental reasons. Toss the rest of those papers in the recycle bin! After you are able to pare down the piles, begin asking yourself if the next paper that comes across your desk needs to be saved, trashed, or recycled so that those mounds don’t grow into mountains again. The same goes for stuff around your house. Start that garage sale box, begin a keepsake box, and trash the rest. Finally, kick those toxic relationships to the curb. You know the ones—the relationships that suck the life out of you. If you have someone whose values and priorities don’t align with yours, choose to keep them at arm’s length so you can spend more time with the people who hold priority in your life.


    SET GOALS     

    Goals are unlike resolutions.  Resolutions are a firm decision to do or not to do something. “I resolve not to eat dessert after every meal.” Goals give direction to follow to achieve a desired outcome. For instance, a career goal may be to finish your college degree or obtain a special certification. A relationship goal could be to have weekly date night or to start a family. Financial goals may include paying down debt, setting aside money from each check for a summer vacation, or to begin regularly giving to a non-profit dear to your heart. Set goals as you spring clean your life to give yourself direction in how you spend your time and effort this year.


    As you begin spring cleaning your life, you will be surprised what good things are able to flow into those corners that were previously inhabited by disorganization, clutter, or lack of focus. By giving yourself a chance to have a fresh start in your life, you are encouraging new growth. And new growth is always exciting!

  • Single Payer has its Layers – California may Adopt Even if the Feds Don’t

    May 23, 2019

    Tags: ,

    Governor Gavin Newsom has released details on his overhauled “Healthy California for All Commission,” which will start meeting in September.  It will also increase in size from 5 to 13 members, all appointed by legislative leaders including the governor, and headed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The Commission would be required to deliver its final report to the governor and Legislature by February 1, 2021.

  • Insuring the Times of Your Life | CA Benefits Group

    May 20, 2019

    Tags: ,

    Preston Newby was a youth minister. He and his wife, Tara, were driving with their son to visit family—excited to announce a new baby on the way. In the keeping with the kind of person Preston was, he stopped to help at the scene of an accident. That’s when he was struck by another car and killed. He was only 24.

    Fortunately, this young couple had done their planning and had bought life insurance. So despite the emotional upheaval that Preston’s death caused, Tara, a stay-at-home mom, and her two sons were able to carry on financially as they had before. You can watch their story here.

    How many other people have prepared like this for the unexpected? Unfortunately, not enough: 43% of adult Americans don’t have life insurance, according to the 2019 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA.

    Many people think, “I’m young. That won’t happen to me.” Statistically they may be right. However, they could be up being one of the statistics. You just don’t know—and that’s the problem. The solution is life insurance.

    If you have people you love and who depend on you, or you have financial obligations to meet, you need life insurance to protect against the “what ifs”—at every stage in life. Here are just a few reasons you may need life insurance, or more of it, throughout your life.

    Single with no children: You may think you don’t need life insurance, since you have no dependents, but if you owe money, you need it. It ensures that your debts, including student loans and funeral expenses, won’t be passed on to your family. Additionally, if you are taking care of aging parents or a special-needs sibling, or know you will in the future, life insurance is a smart way to make sure that care can continue uninterrupted.

    Married or partnered: As you begin your lives together, you’ll likely incur joint financial obligations like buying a home, in addition to monthly bills. It makes sense to protect your spouse or partner with adequate life insurance. It’s also a smart move to get coverage in place now if you plan on having a family in the future.

    Parents with children: If you’re in the midst of this stage, financial obligations abound. Many couples rely on two incomes to make ends meet and single parents may be their children’s one-and-only. Life insurance is critical at this point. When figuring out how much you need, remember that the economic impact you have on your family can be measured not just by how much you earn now, but by how much you’ll earn over the course of your working life. Life Happens’ Human Life Value Calculator can help you figure out what that will be.

    Empty-nesters/retirees: Your kids are on their own and your mortgage is paid off, so you may think you don’t need life insurance. However, if you are still building your retirement nest egg, life insurance ensures that if something happens to you that your spouse or partner can still live comfortably in retirement, despite any shortfalls.

    Keep in mind, life insurance is a simple answer to an important question: Would anyone suffer financially if I were to die. If the answer is yes, it’s time to sit down with an insurance professional.

    By Maggie Leyes

    Originally posted on

  • Millennials are HR’s biggest challenge in the multi-gen workplace | California Benefits Agency

    May 16, 2019

    Tags: ,

    Dive Brief:

    • Almost half of HR professionals (48%) reported millennials as their largest non-desk work group, but 32% said they are the hardest generation among Gen Z, Gen X and baby boomers to engage, according to research from Speakap. The corporate social platform surveyed 250 HR professionals in the U.S. and U.K. on their use of technology to retain and engage employees and their biggest workforce challenges.
    • The survey uncovered that millennials value products less than meaningful experiences; are idealistic rather than pragmatic; are continuously searching for personal fulfillment, rather than just a job; and don’t tolerate subpar experiences — from brands delivering a customer experience to employers delivering an employee experience.
    • Almost three-fourths of the survey respondents said their organizations currently use technology-driven HR initiatives, and 75% said they have turnover rates averaging up to 30% a year. Socially engaging experiences, real-time feedback and mobile access positively impact engagement with millennial and Gen Z workers, according to the feedback, and reducing turnover and improving employee-manager relationships are bigger HR priorities with Gen Z workers than with boomer and millennial workers.

    Dive Insight:

    Attracting and hiring talent is only the start of establishing a positive employee experience. Employers must first make employee engagement a priority, especially among millennials, who are apt to job hop when they feel underutilized. Because millennials were born into the tech age, between 1981 and 1996, employers that keep up with technological advancements and provide the latest digital tools may engage them better at work. Employers that don’t will have a harder time competing for talent in general, according to a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report.

    “First and foremost, companies should tap into millennials’ intrinsic desire for personal fulfillment and a sense of purpose,” Erwin Van Der Vlist, Speakap​’s co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

    Personalization reportedly has high appeal among millennials, especially when the concept is applied to benefits. Emily Bailey, managing principal at OneDigital, told HR Dive in a 2018 interview that there are major differences in how millennials select benefits. She said younger workers are more likely to pass on voluntary benefits and opt for those that meet a more immediate need, such as tuition reimbursement or remote-work options.

    Employers might consider myriad options to engage millennials, such as connecting their organization to a cause through corporate social responsibility initiatives, prioritizing career development and providing meaningful work experiences.

    By Valerie Bolden-Barrett

    Originally posted on

  • They still won’t be making house calls, but there is a changed future for healthcare

    May 8, 2019

    A recent White Paper on the future of health care delivery in the United States has outlined a “blueprint” on what awaits us:

    • The experience may begin with a technology enabled, concierge like outreach to connect the patient to resources based on their profile. This may include establishing a relationship with a primary care provider they can reach virtually or in person with safeguarded data.
    • There should be one consolidated place for digital app reminders, pharmacy connectivity and other sources of online support to help them take care of themselves on a daily basis. There may be different costs for different types of services, and they may work with a more exclusive set of providers.
    • To optimize the health of workers and the sustainability for employer plan sponsors, health care benefit offerings need to evolve in terms of design, delivery, decision support and value, taking advantage of technology and leveraging local market solutions in new and meaningful ways.

  • Who Can I Name as a Beneficiary on My Life Insurance Policy? | California Benefits Advisors

    May 7, 2019

    Tags: ,

    First off, great job on buying life insurance! You took an important step by protecting the ones you love.

    Every life insurance policy requires you to name a beneficiary. A life insurance beneficiary is typically the person or people who get the payout on your life insurance policy after you die; it may also be a trust, charity or your estate.

    You can also name more than one beneficiary, as well as the percentage of the payout you want to go to each one—for instance, you could designate 50% to a spouse and 50% to an adult child.

    You’ll typically be asked to pick two kinds of beneficiaries: a primary and a secondary. The secondary beneficiary (also called a “contingent beneficiary”) receives the payout if the primary beneficiary is deceased.

    Providing for Kids
    A big reason why people buy life insurance is to provide for children left behind. Usually this is done by making the surviving spouse or partner who cares for and is raising the kids the beneficiary. But what if you’re widowed or—God forbid—-both you and your partner pass away at the same time?

    First, know that it’s not a good idea to name a minor as a beneficiary. That’s because the law forbids life insurance payouts to anyone who has not reached the age of majority, which is 18 to 21 depending on your state. If a child were to be named, then it would be turned over to probate court. The court will name a guardian who has oversight of the money/estate until the child comes of age.

    Fortunately, there are two options. The first is to name an adult custodian. The custodian should be someone you can trust to use the money for things like housing, health care, and education until the child reaches the age of majority. At that point, any remaining money gets turned over the child and they can spend it any way they want.

    The second option is to work with an attorney to set up a trust. In this scenario, the trust is the beneficiary and a trustee is named to manage and distribute the funds. The main advantage of a trust over naming a custodian is having more control.

    A trust lets you specify how you want the money distributed—and it lets you do so even when your kids are adults. (One quick word of caution: Definitely consult with an attorney if you’re setting up a trust for a special needs child. They can help you create one that doesn’t impact your child’s eligibility for government assistance like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.)

    Naming a Charity
    Do you have a cause that’s near and dear to your heart? If so, you might consider naming a charitable organization as the beneficiary of your life insurance.

    There are several ways to do this. They include naming the charity as a beneficiary on a new or existing life insurance policy, making the charity both the owner and the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, adding a charitable-giving rider to a life insurance policy, or working with a community foundation to figure out the best way to distribute a payout.

    Final Tips
    Think carefully about naming your estate as a beneficiary. This can trigger a long and costly legal process known as probate. A faster and more efficient solution is to name specific individuals or organizations as beneficiaries.

    1. Get specific. Instead of naming “my spouse” or “my children” as beneficiaries, list their names along with their addresses and Social Security numbers. This saves a lot of time since the insurance company doesn’t have to track down information.

    2. Always name a contingent beneficiary. Passing away and leaving behind life insurance without a living beneficiary could mean the payout goes to someone you never wanted your policy to benefit. It could also require a court-appointed administrator to sort things out.

    3. Pick trustworthy custodians and trustees. Really consider who’d you trust your child’s financial well-being with if you weren’t in the picture. Your kids may love their uncle or aunt, but is he or she mature and responsible with money? If not, pick someone else who is.

    4. Regularly review your beneficiaries. It’s a good idea to review your beneficiaries about once a year and after major life events like a marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or a death in the family.

    5. Communicate your wishes. Let your beneficiaries know your intentions and how to find the policy.

    6. Be aware of special situations. There are some situations that could trigger a tax on the life insurance benefit—for instance, when the policyholder and the insured aren’t the same person. Likewise, things can get sticky if you live in a community property state and don’t name your spouse as a beneficiary. An insurance agent can give you life insurance advice on this and much more.


    By Amanda Austin

    Originally posted on

Español »