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Dec. 13, 2018: Health insurance sign-ups lagging as Saturday deadline looms

Health insurance sign-ups lagging as Saturday deadline looms
Health insurance sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act are down with just a few days left to enroll, even though premiums are stable, consumers have more choice and millions of uninsured people can still get financial help. Barring an enrollment surge, the nation's uninsured rate could edge up again after a years-long coverage expansion that has seen about 20 million people obtain health insurance.

State explores how to counteract end of Obamacare mandate or risk a million more Californians without health insurance The Mercury News
In a scramble to keep people enrolled in health care plans, what did New Jersey, Vermont and the District of Columbia do earlier this year that California has not done? They began requiring that their residents carry health coverage or face a state penalty for going without it. Such "individual mandates" aim to replace the federal mandate — perhaps the most controversial but essential part of the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare — that sought to force people to sign up for health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

2 Florida insurers balk at privacy concerns in state database The Heartland Institute
As a plan to bring price transparency to health care services in Florida moves forward, two major insurance companies are expressing concerns about possible violations of privacy and trade secrets. The state government's Health Care Cost Institute has been working with Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to create a website compiling claims data from health insurance companies across the state, to give consumers estimates of the average cost of specific procedures.

Johnson & Johnson begins settling pinnacle hip implant defect claims Insurance Journal
Johnson & Johnson has begun settling consumers' claims that it sold artificial hips knowing they were defective, marking the first settlements in the seven-year-old litigation. A federal judge in Texas overseeing the cases said about 3,300 of 10,000 "have settled or are in the process of settling," according to a recent court filing. Terms of the accords weren't made public.

Illinois legislation revises laws applicable to captive insurance companies National Law Review
Illinois has adopted a bill that includes a number of revisions to its laws regarding captive insurance companies. These include, inter alia:

• changes to the types of risk that a captive insurance company may insure;
• new requirements regarding minimum capital and surplus;
• a new requirement that captive insurance companies include with their annual reports of financial condition a statement of actuarial opinion regarding the reasonableness of their losses and loss adjustment expense reserves

Insurance mandates and out-of-pocket spending for children with autism spectrum disorder AAP News & Journals Gateway
The health care costs associated with treating autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children can be substantial. State-level mandates that require insurers to cover ASD-specific services may lessen the financial burden families face by shifting health care spending to insurers. We estimated the effects of ASD mandates on out-of-pocket spending, insurer spending, and the share of total spending paid out of pocket for ASD-specific services.

CVS takes on Amazon, Walgreens and health-care industry in pivotal shift CNBC
CVS wants to be a health-care company. It's buying a health insurer to prove it. Four years after adding "Health" to its name, CVS has become more than just a drugstore chain. Now, its vision is becoming clearer as CVS Health enters what may be the most pivotal moment in its 55-year history. CVS closed on its $70 billion purchase of health insurer Aetna on Nov. 28 after Aetna sold off some assets to win antitrust approval from the Justice Department.

The top technology trends upending the lives of insureds and insurers Insurance Business Magazine
As Christmas shoppers swarm malls and scour online stores for the year's most in demand technology gifts, companies in the insurance industry and their insureds are writing their own technology "want" lists for the coming year. From artificial intelligence to connected devices, 2018 saw a continued rise in interest from both insureds and their insurers in implementing tech-based solutions to mitigate against risks, reduce losses, and increase efficiencies — and for good reason since some experts say that insurance companies have no choice, but to innovate or risk being left in the dust by their competition.

Jeff Sopko