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2 posts from March 2014


What Is "Dead Peasant's" Insurance: A Conversation with Peter Kochenberger (March 20th)

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 Corporate Owned Life Insurance are life insurance policies corporations buy on their employees whereby the corporation is the named beneficiary.  This practice, at least initially, was adopted as a way of insuring a company against the loss of a limited number of key executives.  These policies also became attractive because both premium returns and benefits paid were not taxed.  Over time large companies, like Walmart, purchased these policies on millions of employees increasingly for the tax advantages and, industry executives argued, to provide or afford employee and retiree medical benefits.  Beyond the moral objection of profiting from an employee's death, even in instances where the person dies years after they left their employer, these polices perversely incent companies to compromise on insuring employee health and workplace safety.  While regulatory limitations have been placed on these policies, in 2007 dead peasant's insurance was estimated to account for 30% of the life insurance market. 

During this 22 minute podcast Peter explains what is an "insurable interest," whether we know how corporations use the income derived from these policies, whether  employee consent is required, the outcome of law suits filed by surviving family members against corporations for this practice, reforms made in 2006 to better regulate this practice and whether these policies do indeed on balance undermine insuring worker safety and health status.   

Professor Peter Kochenburger is the Executive Director of the University of Connecticut's Law School’s Insurance Law Center.  He also serves as Director of the Law School’s graduate program, is a Consumer Representative for the National Kochenburger%20360x450[1]Association of Insurance Commissioners and is an Associate Editor for the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal.  Before joining UConn. in 2004 Professor Kochenburger spent eleven years as Counsel at Travelers Property Casualty, where he managed coverage and bad faith litigation, as well as legislative and regulatory affairs across such subjects as workers compensation, OSHA, guaranty funds, tort reform, antitrust, and environmental issues.  His professional experience also includes serving as an Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division of Iowa’s Department of Justice and from 1986-1988 he served as Special Assistant to the dean of the Harvard Law School.  He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.



Concierge Medicine Helps Physicians But at What Costs to the Patient: A Conversation with Casey Schwarz (March 5th)

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Concierge medicine (also termed membership medicine, direct pay or cash only practice) has become a rapidly-growing care model moreover among primary care physicians.  In concept, physicians charge patients a monthly or annual fee that can vary widely from approximately $50 per month to $25,000 per year (or accept cash only per visit).  In exchange patients are promised greater access, longer appointment times and possibly services not typically reimbursed by payers.  The current number of physicians practicing concierge medicine is today small, approximately 5,500 nationwide, however, concierge practices are expected to continue to grow at a healthy rate, currently estimated at 25% per year.  While these fees enable physicians to reduce patient panel size and presumably improve physician satisfaction, the model by definition posses access problems for the sickest patients, typically those least able to afford a concierge fee.  For example, among Medicare beneficiaries, in 2012 half of all had annual incomes less than $22,500 and for African American and Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries annual income was less than $15,000. 

During this 21 minute discussion Ms. Schwarz explains the intersection between concierge medicine and the Medicare program, related investigative efforts by CMS and the DHHS Office of the Inspector General, whether there is any data showing improved care quality and/or reduced health care system costs, whether the practice of concierge medicine constitutes patient abandonment and what would the Medicare Rights Center tell a beneficiary if they called the Center inquiring about the appropriateness and merits of concierge medicine.    

Ms. Casey Schwarz is currently the Policy and Client Services Counsel at the Medicare Rights Center in Washington, DC.  Among other duties Ms. Schwarz represents individuals in appeals and directly counsels individuals with complicated Medicare questions.  She works closely with the Medicare statute, regulations, and guidance on a daily basis, including drafting responses to proposed regulatory changes.  She also provides trainings for legal and other professionals working with Medicare clients.  Prior to her Rights Center work Ms. Schwarz served as a Court Attorney in the New York County Supreme Court.  Ms. Schwarz is a graduate of Brown University and the New York University School of Law.  She is a member of the New York  and Maine State Bars.