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2016 outlook: Health products other than major medical

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To sell health-related insurance products other than major medical insurance in 2016, it might help to start with calming music, herbal tea, or, in states where this is legal, medical marijuana.

Anything to get prospects down from the ceiling long enough that they can calm down and look at you, rather than muttering, “Full-time equivalent, full-time equivalent,” over and over. And over.

It looks as if 2016 will be the first year that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will have noticeable effects on ordinary big and midsize employers. Maybe it’s a hammer that’s dropping. Maybe it’s the other shoe that’s dropping. Whatever the right metaphor is for the start of the PPACA commercial health insurance market changing the market in a significant way, the changes are here.

Small nonprofit, member-owned health insurers are closing. Executives at the big, publicly traded health insurances are talking about their PPACA World major medical insurance operations as if those are disappointing adolescents, not perfect, adorable newborns.

See also: UnitedHealth says it should have stayed out of the PPACA exchange system longer

Many of the employers that might be open to considering new voluntary benefits options or improving their wellness and condition management programs are busy figuring out how to prepare their first PPACA World 1095-C employee coverage offer forms, which are supposed to go out to employees by Jan. 31 and to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by March 31.

Any of the individual medical customers you continue to serve may have to jump from one disappearing health plan to another.

Meanwhile, it’s an election year. Much of potential customers’ mental energy that could go into considering dental, vision, disability or critical illness insurance options, or even long-term care insurance options, may go into panicking over who will sit in the Oval Office in January 2017.

So, what could go right for you this year, in spite all of the major medical panic?

For five ideas about reasons for you to look forward to the new year, read on.

Sample Medicare card

1. The Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement insurance markets could be reasonably stable.

Given all of the commotion about the PPACA World major medical market, it doesn’t seem as if, for example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will have much capacity to do more than bleat like a sheep about Medicare product concerns.

See also: 12 Medicare facts you need to know for the current open enrollment period


2. The insurance community might be able to turn the presidential candidates and congressional candidates into disability insurance marketers.

In spite of Democrats’ and Republicans’ efforts to portray themselves as being in total disagreement about everything, they seem to be converging on the idea that people who can afford to fend for themselves generally should fend for themselves. Maybe insurers could find ways to lead candidates from both parties to talk a little about the importance of private paycheck protection arrangements.

See also: Republicans, White House agree on debt extension until 2017

ben carson ap

3. The insurance community might get some serious conversations going about long-term care planning.

Ben Carson, for example, got his campaign off to a late start in the spring, because he went home to see his mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease and was near death.

Hillary Clinton has offered a package of caregiver support proposals.

See also: Hillary Clinton latches on to caregiver support issue

This might be the year when caregiving becomes at least as much of a campaign news topic as those who design the candidates’ spouses’ party clothes.

(AP Photo/John Locher)

The nail that sticks out gets hammered down

4. Insurers and producers may end up dealing with new, updated regulations for non-medical health products.

But, this time around, the insurance community may be in a good position to mobilize consumers to defend consumers’ right to buy products like travel medical health insurance and critical illness insurance free from excessive new red tape.

Consumer groups always used to argue that the gap filler products were unnecessary, because consumers should and could buy comprehensive, smoothly functioning major medical coverage without big coverage gaps. Good luck with that strategy this year.

See also: NAIC task force creates Medigap subgroup

Money growing on trees

5. Interest rates will rise and make the managers of the surviving LTCI issuers look brilliant.

Of course, we’ve been making that prediction for several years running, but, eventually it will come true. Maybe 2016 will be the year.

See also: The LTCI focus at NAILBA 34

Image: TS/Damon Moss


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