Life and health insurance industry experiences strong growth in 2014

Life and health insurance industry experiences strong growth in 2014

TORONTO, Aug. 31, 2015 /CNW/ – Today, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) released the 2015 edition of Canadian Life and Health Insurance Facts. During 2014, the industry continued its trajectory of strong growth, despite the climate of prolonged low interest rates and slower growth of the Canadian economy. “The strong performance of the Canadian life and health insurance industry highlights the trust Canadians have in our companies, and that we continue to offer products and services that our customers need and value,” notes CLHIA President and CEO Frank Swedlove.

In 2014, Canadians’ purchases of insurance products were robust and the industry experienced year-over-year growth in premium revenues not seen since 2007, up 7.7% to $99.4 billion. Industry assets in Canada also rose 11.5% to $721 billion of which almost 90% were held in long-term investments, funding longer-term capital and infrastructure investments, critical to economic growth. Further, the industry paid out $83.5 billion to Canadian policyholders and annuitants in 2014, or more than $1.6 billionevery week. More details and statistics can be found in the CLHIA’s industry Factbook which is available on line atwww.clhia.ca

About the CLHIA

Established in 1894, the CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member companies account for 99 per cent of Canada’s life and health insurance business. The industry provides a wide range of financial security products such as life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and supplementary health insurance to 28 million Canadians. It also employs 155,000 Canadians as full-time employees and agents as well as independent advisors across the country.

SOURCE Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc.

Shannen Doherty Reveals Breast Cancer Diagnosis in Insurance Lawsuit Against Ex-Manager

LOS ANGELES _ Shannen Doherty is battling breast cancer that worsened during a lapse in her health insurance caused by her former business managers, the actress claimed in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The former “Beverly Hills, 90210” star claims that her former business managers and accountants mismanaged her money and allowed her health insurance to lapse last year.

Because of that, she said she didn’t go to the doctor until she had insurance and there was a delay in diagnosing her cancer, which will likely require more drastic treatments, including a possible mastectomy and chemotherapy.

Doherty, 44, received the diagnosis in March and her doctors have said earlier treatment might have stopped its spread, the lawsuit states.

An attorney for the accounting firm Tanner Mainstain Glynn & Johnson denied the company caused Doherty’s health insurance to lapse.

“Tanner Mainstain is saddened to learn that Ms. Doherty is suffering from cancer and wishes her a full recovery,” the company’s attorney, Randall J. Dean, wrote in a statement. “However, the claim that Tanner Mainstain caused her to be uninsured, prevented her from seeking medical care, or somehow contributed to her cancer is patently false. Tanner Mainstain will aggressively defend all of Ms. Doherty’s claims in court.”

Doherty’s husband, photographer Kurt Iswarienko, also is suing the firm and its former partner, Steven D. Blatt, accusing them of mismanaging the couple’s money and leading to other financial troubles, including tax audits and liens.

A phone message for Blatt was not immediately returned.

The lawsuits do not specify how much damages Doherty and Iswarienko are seeking. Doherty has been unable to work since the diagnosis.

“The spread of the cancer has caused (Doherty) severe emotional distress,” the lawsuit states.

“The relationship between a business manager and its client is based on trust, in honesty and competence,” Doherty’s attorney, Devin McRae, wrote in a statement. “That trust was violated here, and we hope that the defendants will correct it in a responsible manner.”

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Are 3 big insurers a flashing light for regulators?

WASHINGTON – Would a reduction from five health insurance giants to three trigger a flashing light for regulators concerned about industry competition?

That’s how many big companies could remain after the proposed combinations of Anthem with Cigna and Aetna with Humana, and experts say it would at a minimum bring scrutiny of the deals.

 At only three companies, “The agencies’ ears tend to perk up,” said Allen Grunes, who led merger investigations at the Justice Department as an antitrust attorney. “The underlying economic concerns start to really kick in,” said Grunes, a co-founder and attorney at the Konkurrenz Group in Washington.

In this case, the Justice Department will have to pass judgment on Anthem’s planned $48 billion acquisition of rival Cigna, a deal that would create the nation’s largest health insurer by enrolment with about 53 million U.S. patients. The antitrust attorneys and economists at Justice will also be examining Aetna’s $35 billion deal for Humana.

The question is whether the mergers would hurt competition and consumers, making the companies so dominant that they could push already high health-care costs even higher.

“This will be a very lengthy and complicated process,” said Robert Bell, an antitrust attorney at Hughes Hubbard.

Health care is one of three major industries — along with food and energy — that are especially important to the economy and consumers, and so they receive a careful review from regulators, he said.

“I think the government’s going to be extremely cautious about reducing the number of primary health care carriers down to three,” Bell suggested. “I would be very surprised if both mergers were permitted to go through.”

The proposed deals also are likely to draw the attention of state attorneys general, he said.

Among the factors the government likely will examine:

—What does competition look like in the markets — in states and for different insurance products — where the companies now operate, and how might that change after the mergers?

—How easy is it for new competitors to enter those markets? If the number of big companies is reduced, would new ones come in to fill the gap?

— What is the impact of the health-care overhaul law on competition in the industry?

But health-care policy consultant Dan Mendelson said that when the Justice Department monitors review the mergers, they’ll look at them on a local, not national, level. Health care is local, and the two proposed mergers don’t involve much geographic overlap, he said. That means they wouldn’t create the sort of consolidation involved in other industries such as telecommunications, in his view.

“I think by historical standards these mergers go through,” said Mendelson, who is CEO of Washington-based consulting firm Avalere Health. “They go through because there is not a lot of overlap, and they create efficiencies and allow companies to spread (costs) across a lot more people.”

Mendelson acknowledges that the question here will be whether the historical standards hold.

The picture is complicated by the fact that the insurance industry is regulated by states, not the federal government. States decide how insurers can conduct business and what new companies can enter the market.

Some states have a very competitive environment for health insurance while in others a few companies dominate the market, said Jesse O’Brien, a health-care advocate with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. He puts Oregon, California and New York among those in the competitive category, and West Virginia, Illinois and Michigan in the category with a few dominant companies.

For the government regulators, “There’s kind of a balancing act that needs to be struck,” O’Brien said.

AP Health Writer Matthew Perrone contributed to this report.

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