Author Archives: Reeve Conover

CIGNA NY Fined $2,000,000 by Insurance Department

DFS SUPERINTENDENT VULLO ANNOUNCES $2 MILLION FINE AGAINST CIGNA FOR VIOLATIONS OF NEW YORK INSURANCE LAW

DFS Investigation Discovered That Cigna Illegally Sold Stop-Loss and Fully Insured Health Insurance Policies Outside of New York to New York-Based Small Groups

Cigna Cherry-Picked Risks, Undermining the Integrity of New York’s Health Insurance Market

Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo today announced that the Department of Financial Services (DFS) has fined Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company $2 million for violations of New York State Insurance Law involving the illegal sale of stop-loss insurance and unapproved health insurance policies that would otherwise have been part of New York’s small-group market.  Stop-loss insurance may be sold only to large group employers that self-fund underlying medical expenses in order to mitigate liability for losses that result from an unexpected amount of claims.  In a consent order entered into with Cigna and announced today, DFS found that Cigna improperly sold stop-loss and fully insured health insurance policies outside of New York to New York-based small groups with employees in New York State, and where, in many cases, the companies solicited business and conducted other activity in the state.

“By deliberately choosing to write New York risks outside of New York, Cigna’s actions harmed New York’s community-rating program for small group employers,” said Superintendent Vullo.  “Cigna cherry-picked risks, which may have improperly induced forum shopping in the New York small-group market.  DFS will continue to protect New York consumers and take appropriate enforcement action against any company that engages in unfair trade practices to undermine New York’s health insurance market.”

After receiving complaints about Cigna’s practices, DFS requested that Cigna immediately cease selling the illegal stop-loss policies pending a DFS inquiry.  The company initially agreed but later resumed selling the policies in question.  DFS also became aware that Cigna was issuing fully insured health insurance coverage outside of New York to New York-based small groups based on the fact that those small groups were incorporated outside of New York but where, in many cases, the companies’ solicitation and other activity occurred in New York.

Cigna, based in Connecticut, is licensed as a life insurance company in New York, and is authorized to write life, accident, and health insurance in New York, including stop-loss insurance.  Cigna does not have fully insured health insurance coverage products approved to sell to small groups in New York.

A targeted examination by DFS found that Cigna sold 81 group health insurance policies in violation of New York Insurance Law, including 38 stop-loss insurance policies to New York small groups seeking to self-insure and 43 fully insured health insurance policies to small groups as if they were selling to non-New York small groups.

A copy of the consent order can be found here.

Gov. Cuomo announces new state shift pay rules

From News 12:

PLAINVIEW –

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday new protections for hourly workers across the state: They’ll have to be paid extra if their employers put them on call.

Along with the announcement, the state Department of Labor released a list of employment guidelines designed to protect and compensate workers who are asked to adjust their schedules on the fly.

“This is really hard-targeted toward industries that are based on shift work,” says Caitlin McNaughton, an employment attorney. “Essentially what this does is allow those people in those industries to at least have two weeks’ notice and plan their lives.”

The new regulations will outline a system in which employers would have to pay workers additional “call-in pay” if they failed to provide their employees with adequate notice. For scheduled work days, that means two weeks. It also mandates additional pay for employees whose shifts are cancelled less than 72 hours before they were scheduled to begin.

The plan has its supporters, like Syosset’s Vin Ritraj, who says it just makes sense. But critics say the added expense might lead some employers to reduce staff.

The regulations take effect in early January, following a 45-day comment period.

Are Too Many Baby Boomers Too Indebted?

 

 Financial burdens could alter their retirement prospects.

 Provided by Reeve Conover

 

 

Imagine retiring with $50,000 of debt. Some new retirees owe more than that. Outstanding home loans, education debt, small business loans, and lingering credit card balances threaten to compromise their retirement plans.

 

How serious is the problem? A study from the University of Michigan’s Retirement Research Center illustrates how bad it has become. Back in 1998, 37% of Americans aged 56-61 shouldered recurring debt; the average such household owed $3,634 each month (in 2012 dollars). Today, 42% of such households do – and the mean debt load is now $17,623.1

 

Are increased mortgage costs to blame? Partly, but not fully. Quite a few homeowners do trade up or refinance after age 50. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau notes that between 2001-2011, the percentage of homeowners 65 and older carrying a mortgage went from 22% to 30%. The data for homeowners 75 and older was more alarming. While 8.4% of this demographic had outstanding home loans in 2001, 21.2% did by 2011.2 

 

Education debt is weighing on boomer households. According to the Motley Fool, the average recent college graduate has $30,000-$35,000 in outstanding student loans. It would take monthly payments of $300-$400 over a decade to eradicate that kind of debt.3

 

As good debts have risen, bad debts have also grown. MagnifyMoney, a financial analytics website, pored over the most recent round of UMRRC data and determined that 32% of older consumers now contend with revolving debt each month. The average recurring non-mortgage debt for these seniors: $12,490, of which $4,786 is attributed to credit cards. A staggering 22% of older Americans have more than $10,000 in revolving credit card debt – pretty painful when you consider that the average credit card carries 14% interest.1

 

One school of thought says that retiring with a mortgage is okay. Interest rates on home loans are rising, but they are still not far from historic lows, and homeowners who have bought or refinanced recently could be carrying loans at less than 4% interest. While carrying mortgage debt into retirement may be bearable, owning a home free and clear is better.

 

How about you? Can you retire debt-free? It may seem improbable, but if small steps are taken, that goal may come within reach.

 

Every year you delay retirement is another year you have full financial power to attack debt. Working longer may not be ideal, but it can give you the potential to start retirement owing less. Cutting off financial support for young adult children can also free up money to pay down debt. They have many more years to pay off what they owe than you do. You could also think about moving to a cheaper home, driving a cheaper car, or living in a cheaper state; any linked short-term financial expenses might pale in comparison to the potential savings.

 

Whether you pay off your smallest debts first or your highest-interest ones, you are subtracting burdens from your financial life. The fewer financial burdens you have in retirement, the better.

 

Reeve Conover may be reached at 843-8190, www.reevewillknow.com

 

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investments

 

 

 Citations.

 

 

1 – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/09/20/how-debt-is-threatening-retirement-dreams/ [9/20/17]

 

2 – cbsnews.com/news/mortgage-tips-for-retirees-and-near-retirees/ [10/20/17]

 

3 – tinyurl.com/ybgvt7po [9/29/17]

IRS announces enforcement of the Pay or Play Mandate

The Obamcare Employer Mandate is about to be enforced.  According to this article in foxbusiness, the IRS sent letters to employers dating back to 2015.  There is a lot of debate about the effect of this, as 96% of groups over 50 lives offer insurance, and most employers are under the 50 threshold.  Clickl the link for the full article.

Blue Choice SC Formulary Changes

This is an announcement from Blue Choice:

BlueChoice HealthPlan continually evaluates our prescription drug formularies and drug management programs to ensure effective management of quality and costs. We work with a group of independent doctors and pharmacists to assess our pharmacy programs and get recommendations.

Based on the group’s feedback, BlueChoice® will make minimal changes to theformularies, Prior Authorization and Quantity Management programs. All changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2018, unless noted otherwise. These changes apply to the BlueChoice Tiered Prescription Drug List for our large group and CarolinaADVANTAGE plans. We will send this communication to our group administrators to notify them of the changes.

Reeve Conover is a Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/dealer member FINRA/SPIC. Cambridge and Conover Consulting are not affiliated. Licensed in SC, NC, NY, CT, NJ, and CA.
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