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Jan. 10, 2019: Evolving trends in catastrophic workers' comp cases

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Taking the temperature of evolving trends in catastrophic workers' comp cases Insurance Business Magazine
The soft market in the workers' compensation space might be coming to an end, even as predictions about continued strong competition in workers' comp throughout 2018, made in the USI 2018 Insurance Market Outlook, have come to fruition. "The workers' compensation carrier marketplace remains competitive, but there are signs that things are starting to shift. Carriers are starting to notice the downward frequency trends leveling off or even reversing, with frequency starting to tick upwards," said Mark Walls, vice president of communications and strategic analysis at Safety National.

Outlook 'stable' for health insurers in 2019 despite ACA uncertainty Health Leaders Media
Despite the uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. health insurance sector remains stable heading into 2019, according to a new analysis by S&P Global Ratings. "A combination of still-favorable business conditions, financial factors, and diminished near-term legislative uncertainty balances our concerns relating to merger and acquisition activity, elevated policy risk, and re-emergent legal overhang," said S&P analyst Joseph Marinucci.

Disability doctors: Tennessee lawmakers call for independent review

Tennessee lawmakers are calling for an independent review of the state's Disability Determination Services after a Tennessean investigation revealed some doctors are getting big paydays by speeding through applications from Tennesseans who are too sick to work. Most of those applications are denied. Current and former employees, and state contractors, told The Tennessean they wanted an independent audit of the department. They claim some doctors treated the job as a "cash register" in a system where they are paid a flat fee each case they analyze.

End of tax penalty could fall hardest on previously uninsured Californians California Healthline
The elimination of the Affordable Care Act tax penalty on people who don't have health insurance could roll back recent coverage gains for Hispanics, young people, the healthy and the poor, according to a new study. The study, published recently in the journal Health Affairs, stems from a 2017 survey in which researchers at Harvard University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital asked more than 3,000 Californians who had bought individual health care plans: "Would you have purchased health insurance coverage this year if there was no penalty?"

As retiree health-care costs soar, public employers turn to private insurers
The cost of retiree health care is spiraling out of control. In just two years, according to a recent S&P Global Ratings report, unfunded retiree health-care liabilities across the 50 states increased by $100 billion to now just under $700 billion. The problem is becoming so alarming that Dearborn, MI, recently borrowed money to help fill the gap, a move deemed risky by financial analysts. A more acceptable approach taking hold, thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is scrapping government-sponsored health plans and instead paying for retirees to purchase a plan on a private health insurance exchange.

Evers issues limited health care-related executive orders Minneapolis Star Tribune
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed a pair of executive orders Tuesday designed to fulfill his campaign pledgeto increase access to affordable health care and insurance. Without the support of the Republican Legislature, though, it will be nearly impossible for Evers to get what he wants. The executive orders call on state agencies to make recommendations and take action where they can to protect consumers with pre-existing conditions, expand health care access and make insurance more affordable.

Insurance interrupted: How blockchain innovation is transforming the insurance industry Forbes
Blockchain innovation is taking hold in the insurance industry. And, it just might be the rocket fuel for transformative change in the insurance sector. According to Walid Al Saqqaf, founder of InsureBlocks, a leading educational resource for blockchain in the insurance industry, blockchain technology will become the foundational layer for a new way of doing insurance business. Additionally, when combined with artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning, the possibilities are limitless.

Jeff Sopko