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Could Trump’s Push To Undo The ACA Cause Problems For COVID Survivors? Biden Thinks So.

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The same day the Trump administration reaffirmed its support of a lawsuit that would invalidate all of the Affordable Care Act, Joe Biden sharply warned that the suit endangers millions of Americans.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said the law is even more important now, more than a decade after it was enacted, as the COVID-19 epidemic sweeps the U.S. The virus has killed more than 130,000, and Biden noted that some who survive may have long-lasting health problems.

His speech in the battleground state of Pennsylvania focused on a legal challenge headed to the Supreme Court and the fallout if the court upholds a 2018 U.S. District Court decision that struck down the entire ACA, including preexisting condition protections that bar insurers from rejecting people with medical problems or charging them more.

“And perhaps most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19 could become a new preexisting condition,” Biden said.

The Trump administration has supported the challenge. A decision from the Supreme Court is expected next year, after the November presidential election.

But would a decision against the health law affect COVID-19 patients in the way Biden described?

We decided to check because it’s likely to come up a lot in the presidential electioneering. We reached out to the Biden campaign to find out the basis for his statement. A campaign spokesperson responded by reiterating the points made by the former vice president in his speech and sharing various news stories about COVID-19 and the preexisting condition coverage issue.

Several law and health policy experts noted that Biden is on fairly firm ground, though the issue — like many others in health care — is complicated.

First, A Little History

Before the ACA went into effect in 2014, insurers on the private market could reject applicants for coverage if they had any number of medical conditions, such as cancer, depression, heart disease — even high blood pressure, acne or plantar fasciitis. Consumers had to fill out forms listing their medical conditions when applying for coverage. An estimated 54 million Americans have a preexisting condition that could have led to a denial under pre-ACA rules, researchers estimate.

Also, at the time, some consumers had coverage cancelled retroactively once they fell ill with a serious or costly disease, as insurers would then comb through years of medical records looking for anything the consumer had failed to report as preexisting, even if it seemed to have little or nothing to do with the patient’s current medical concern.

Those rejections and cancellations mainly affected people who bought their own coverage, not those who got insurance through their jobs.

Job-based coverage, which is the main way most insured people get their plans, had some protections prior to the passage of the ACA. For example, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 said people who held health insurance continuously for at least a year could not face preexisting condition limits when they enrolled in a new employer plan, as long as they didn’t go uninsured for more than 63 days.

Those who didn’t meet that yearlong coverage requirement or went uninsured between jobs could find their medical conditions excluded for up to a year in a new group plan.

Before the ACA, insurers broadly defined preexisting conditions. Many included any condition for which a patient had received treatment, or even undiagnosed conditions for which a reasonable person should have sought treatment.

The ACA changed that. Among other things, it barred insurers from rejecting applicants based on their health, excluding coverage of preexisting medical conditions and charging sick people more than healthier ones. It also ended annual or lifetime dollar limits on coverage and said employers that offer insurance can’t make new workers wait more than 90 days for coverage to kick in.

Could COVID-19 Become A Preexisting Condition?

Biden’s comment raises the question of whether COVID-19 would be considered a preexisting condition in a future without the sweeping health law on the books.

Because the virus is so new, there’s no definitive answer on its long-term health effects.

But media reports note hospitals and physician groups are finding evidence that some recovered COVID patients suffer from lung damage, blood clots, neurological conditions, strokes or fatigue.

Researchers are now starting to follow patients to track long-term effects.

Given insurers’ history, it’s certainly reasonable to assume they would put what are now cropping up as potential COVID complications in the preexisting-condition category, said Sabrina Corlette, who studies the individual insurance market as co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University.

“There is a real concern that if those preexisting condition protections are overruled or taken down by the Supreme Court, people who have COVID-19 could be medically underwritten, charged more or be denied a policy,” said Corlette.

That is possible, said Joe Antos, resident scholar in health policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. But many of the people most likely to suffer complications from the coronavirus likely already had conditions like diabetes, asthma or heart disease that would already have put them in danger of being rejected for coverage under pre-ACA business practices, he added.

In other words, COVID-19 could simply find a place on a long list of other conditions that could disqualify consumers from obtaining insurance.

And even if the high court tossed out the ACA, insurers might choose to keep offering coverage to people with health problems, say some analysts, including Antos.

But this take triggers skepticism.

“Insurance companies have an obligation to shareholders, and that obligation is to maximize profits,” Corlette said. “They don’t do that by covering a lot of sick people when competitors are not doing it.”

The Biggest Unknown

Just how would Congress and the president react if the ACA is struck down?

Under a Biden presidency, coupled with Democrats holding the House and possibly winning the Senate, the ACA would definitely be replaced, the experts all agreed.

Under a second-term Trump administration, Republicans would face a dilemma because — even though the party has called for the law’s repeal since its enactment –— they have been unable to agree on how to replace it. Yet polls have consistently shown that parts of the law, especially the preexisting condition protections, are very popular with a wide swath of voters.

“They don’t want to come across as coming up hard against people who have health conditions,” said Antos.

Private practice attorney Christopher Condeluci, who served as tax and benefit counsel to the Senate Finance Committee when the ACA was drafted, agreed. He thinks Congress or the president would act to save the preexisting condition protections at least.

But how to do so is problematic. That provision is intricately tied with many other parts of the ACA, those aimed at getting as many healthy people to enroll as possible in order to spread costs out among the many, rather than the few.

The ACA did that partly by requiring most Americans to carry insurance coverage — the provision at the heart of the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the legislation. Restoring that requirement might be tricky, so the path forward for a split Congress or a second-term Trump presidency to come up with a solution quickly — or at all — if the Supreme Court tosses the entire law is a difficult one.

Our Ruling

Biden said that if Trump had his way, COVID complications could become a preexisting condition. He said this while discussing what might happen if the ACA is overturned by the Supreme Court. Though the statement can’t be definitively proven, there’s a lot of evidence backing it up.

First, some patients are showing at least short-term aftereffects of COVID-19, some of which could be costly. Some may prove long-term.

Second, insurers dislike costly medical conditions. Their business model is designed to have enough healthy enrollees to offset those with costly conditions. Before the ACA, they did that by rejecting people with medical conditions, charging them more or excluding coverage for those conditions. Some also temporarily delayed coverage for specific conditions in group plans offered by employers. Without the ACA, no federal law would prevent them from returning to these practices when selling plans on the individual market.

We rate Biden’s statement Mostly True.

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By: Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News
Title: Could Trump’s Push To Undo The ACA Cause Problems For COVID Survivors? Biden Thinks So.
Sourced From: khn.org/news/could-trumps-push-to-undo-the-aca-cause-problems-for-covid-survivors-biden-thinks-so/
Published Date: Thu, 09 Jul 2020 09:00:20 +0000

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Wildfire prone property insurance bill in California due for hearing

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The post Wildfire prone property insurance bill in California due for hearing appeared first on Live Insurance News.

The bill is expected to be heard in upcoming weeks as opposing sites prepare for major battle.

A new California bill, the outcomes of which will have a lot to say about coverage for wildfire prone property in the state, will soon be headed for hearing. The hearing is expected to be a heated one as strong opposing opinions have the opportunity to be voiced.

Opponents of this bill are calling it a direct attack on consumer protections in insurance.

That said, proponents of the bill claim it is the best method for making coverage available to wildfire prone property in California. The bill in question is Assembly Bill 2167. It was written by Assemblyperson Tom Daly (D-Anaheim). If it passes,it will create the Insurance Market Action Plan (IMAP) program. The IMAP program is meant to protect residential properties.

So far, AB 2167 has progressed quickly, when taking into consideration that a chunk of the legislature has been considerably restricted by pandemic crisis precautions. It was first presented in early June and backers have been saying that it was brought forward in good timing and that it has all the momentum it needs to be passed.

That said, AB 2167 has not been without opposition. In fact, it has faced considerable opposition, having been called an attack on Proposition 103, insurance consumer protection law. California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara lobbed that argument at it, calling it an “insurance industry wish list, with nothing to help consumers,” and Consumer Watchdog, whose founder, Harvey Rosenfeld, was the original author of Proposition 103.

The insurance industry strongly supports the bill, saying it will help wildfire prone property coverage.

Insurance organizations such as the American Property Casualty Insurance Association and the Personal Insurance Federation both support AB 2167. The bill also has the support of the California Association of Counties (CSAC), as well as Fire Safe Councils of California, and the CalFIRE union.

The Consumer Federation of America, another watchdog organization, has predicted that if AB 2167 passes, it will cause 40 percent increases in insurance rates. On the other hand, insurance groups claim that the bill offers owners of wildfire prone property a greater opportunity for choice and competition among insurance companies based on coverage and premiums while avoiding the limitations and high costs associated with FAIR Plan coverage.

The post Wildfire prone property insurance bill in California due for hearing appeared first on Live Insurance News.

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By: Marc
Title: Wildfire prone property insurance bill in California due for hearing
Sourced From: www.liveinsurancenews.com/wildfire-prone-property-insurance-bill-in-california-due-for-hearing/8549884/
Published Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2020 09:00:14 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…
https://getinvestmentadvise.com/retirement-planning/is-this-the-last-hurrah-for-bonds/

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Is this the last hurrah for bonds?

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Recently, I have written quite a bit about the long-term return expectations for investing in bonds. See here, here, here and here.

Spoiler alert: I don’t think it’s good.

But long-term bonds this year have been quite an amazing story as the COVID pandemic has caused the Fed to take historically monumental actions. As a result, we’ve watched long-term Treasuries tear the roof off the market. For instance, a 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (name withheld for compliance purposes) is up more than 31% YTD as of July 31st.

That is insane!

But there is a good reason for this increase shown below.

The red circle shows a decrease in the 30-year Treasury rate of almost 40% over a span of six months. That’s practically unprecedented with only two periods (2008 and 1981-1982) having similar declines over such short periods.

But this begs the question: Is this the last hurrah for bonds as a driver of any meaningful return? Below is the 30-Year Treasury rate over the last 40+ years.

For what it’s worth, people have been forecasting the end of the bond bull market since 2012 (maybe even earlier) and yet it has continued despite those predictions. But at some point, the bond party will come to an end.

The Fed has been clear that they are going to keep rates stable until at least 2022 which means this may not change for a little while longer. Or in the near term, I could even see the high returns continuing if we experience pandemic economic shutdown round two.

But, I can’t see a world where this is the case for much longer than that – most importantly over the span of a 30-year retirement.

The official end of the bond bull market depends on a recovery from the pandemic economy as well as a few other factors causing rates to rise. But when they do, it seems likely to me that this may be the last great hurrah for bonds for quite some time.

The question is when to get off that train and that undoubtedly requires a personal answer.

Stay the Course,
Ashby


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The post Is this the last hurrah for bonds? appeared first on Retirement Field Guide.

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By: Ashby Daniels, CFP®
Title: Is this the last hurrah for bonds?
Sourced From: retirementfieldguide.com/is-this-the-last-hurrah-for-bonds/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-this-the-last-hurrah-for-bonds
Published Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2020 13:47:16 +0000

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Allstate Q2 report shows a strong 49 percent increase in profit

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The post Allstate Q2 report shows a strong 49 percent increase in profit appeared first on Live Insurance News.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, the insurance giant reported a $1.2 billion net income.

The Allstate Q2 earnings report has revealed that the company brought in a net income of $1.2 billion and saw a 49 percent increase in profits over the second quarter of 2019.

The insurer saw a $904 million underwriting income, which is a 146 percent year over year rise.

The 146 percent increase in the Allstate Q2 underwriting income brought the company’s income from last year’s second quarter at $537 million to $904 million this year. The insurer’s total revenues rose by 0.5 percent to $11.2 billion, particularly driven by its property-liability premiums, which are making up for the investment income declines it has suffered.

“Allstate’s strong results reflect a resilient strategy and rapid adaptation to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Allstate Corp chairperson, president and CEO Tom Wilson.

The insurer also benefited form a reduction in auto losses due to the pandemic. Fewer cars on the road has reduced the number of claims from crashes. At the same time, the company experienced a rise in premiums earned, which was somewhat offset by the shelter-in-place paybacks made by the company to reflect a reduction in miles driven. Catastrophe losses further offset the auto premiums earnings.

The Allstate Q2 achievements were made even with the 15 percent auto premiums payback.

The insurer started its auto payback at the start of the pandemic lockdowns and extended it through June 30. It has faced criticism by some as many of the major auto insurers in the US kept up their various forms of discounts, rebates and reductions, and some are continuing to do so, while Allstate has brought its assistance to an end amid substantial profits.

Allstate’s insurance payback came to about 8.3 percent of its premiums across all business lines. The company saw an additional 0.5 percent of premiums affected by bad debt expense as a result of the insurer’s special payment plan for billing flexibility during the pandemic. That plan started in the first quarter and has come with a $948 million cost overall. Of that total, $738 million occurred during the second quarter.

Following the Allstate Q2 statement, the insurer said that it did not intend to provide any further customer paybacks. It said it intended to allow “losses to flow into our rating as we always do, and to be more precise on a state-by-state and market-by-market basis versus a broad shelter-in-place payback.”

The post Allstate Q2 report shows a strong 49 percent increase in profit appeared first on Live Insurance News.

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By: Logan B.
Title: Allstate Q2 report shows a strong 49 percent increase in profit
Sourced From: www.liveinsurancenews.com/allstate-q2-report-shows-a-strong-49-percent-increase-in-profit/8549881/
Published Date: Thu, 13 Aug 2020 09:00:47 +0000

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