HealthCare.gov enrollments were 17% higher this year compared with the same time period last year, according to data shared by HHS this week, and many of those signing up are new enrollees. Although the shortened enrollment window ending today means the total will likely come in well under last year's enrollment, observers have been surprised by this year's pace given reduced advertising and navigator support.
Hawaii this week kicked off a program that provides people giving home-based care to an elderly family member with as much as $70 daily for buying supplies, hiring help or covering lost wages. Maine and Washington are states in which officials could develop similar programs.
Executive bonus plans that include life insurance options can be a good idea for small businesses, writes Jason Wellmann of Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America. Such plans have positive aspects for the executive, who can receive a death benefit and potential income stream, and the business, which can gain a tax deduction and a powerful way to recruit and retain talent, Wellmann writes.
Some industry executives say they are concerned that the increasingly popular "hybrid" indexed annuities are too complex, but supporters say the products give companies a way to stand out among competitors. "If you bring out another S&P 500 indexed annuity, you have what everyone else has," said Scott Stolz of Raymond James & Associates.
The fate of the Republican tax bill became uncertain when Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he would not vote for the measure unless the child tax credit is increased, a provision that would increase the cost of the bill. Under congressional rules, the bill can't increase the deficit during the next 10 years by more than $1.5 trillion if Republicans are to pass it without Democratic votes.
The changes to how pass-through businesses are taxed in the tax bill could shake up the brokerage industry, some firms fear. The problem stems from the fact that independent brokers would be able to deduct up to 20% on their taxes as a pass-through business while brokers employed at larger firms, including those owned by banks, would not benefit from those deductions, potentially prompting some brokers to switch jobs.
Nine states are planning to introduce their own auto-IRA plans in the absence of any national initiative, but the costs at launch for participants will be rather high. One big factor is the cost of creating a network for employers to implement automatic payroll deductions.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has invited comments on a proposal to allow member firms to conduct remote inspections of branch offices in place of on-site inspections under certain circumstances. The proposal would require firms to have a clear set of procedures to determine which offices would qualify for remote inspections and includes a number of qualifying factors to help with that assessment.
Legislation filed by Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Dave Reichert, R-Wash., aims in part to encourage employers to include annuity options in their retirement plans by clarifying the safe harbor for annuity selection. Employers would be able to depend on annuity providers' representations with regard to supervision by state regulators.
Many advisors are too busy running their day-to-day business to consider their brand, writes marketing professional Pete Muckley. Muckley discusses what constitutes a brand, how to know if it needs re-appraisal and how to set about a successful rebranding process.
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