NEWSROOM

What a WOW! Recapping W&B’s Summertime CE Extravaganza

compliance-june-2024-banner.jpg

Word & Brown recently concluded its seventh annual Week of Webinars (WOW) CE program for 2024. Each summer, this live, online educational event is proudly hosted by Word & Brown and is offered free to all licensed health insurance agents and professionals in California.
 
This year’s WOW featured 12 CE courses spread over seven business days, delivering a comprehensive array of valuable insights and updates to participants. Topics ranged from compliance tips, the latest on Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in health insurance, ERISA evolution, the new vision for our industry with NABIP, legislative updates, ethics, and wellness/movement, among others. With hours of content and thousands of participants, the program offered a wealth of information.
 
Here are highlights from each of our 12 WOW 2024 classes:
 
Compliance Compass 2024 – hosted by Paul Roberts
Our first session of WOW 2024 kicked off with a comprehensive snapshot of compliance, focusing on the theme of transparency. We delved into the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021, exploring new transparency requirements in health care and health insurance. Participants learned about the annual reporting mandates for plans and issuers under CAA’s Rx DC requirements, including the submission of detailed reports on prescription drug costs and overall plan spending to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The session also covered important topics such as the prohibition of contracts that restrict payment or de-identified claims data between plans and providers, broker commission disclosure requirements, Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage changes, and protections against surprise billing. As highlighted throughout the class, our compliance compass for 2024 clearly points to “transparency!”
 
Celebrating 50 Years of ERISA – hosted by Paul Roberts
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), signed into law in September 1974, marks its fiftieth anniversary this year. Over the past five decades, health care, health plans, and health insurance administration have evolved significantly. Throughout this time, the core of ERISA has remained the same: employers sponsoring plans have legal ERISA responsibilities and are required to create and distribute disclosures and file plan documents with the government. Employers must summarize the operation of their plans in "Summary Plan Description" (SPD) documents and distribute them to employees, among other major requirements. However, as plans and health care generally evolve faster than ERISA, lawmakers are considering updates to the law as it turns 50. The National Association of Benefits and Insurance Professionals (NABIP) has provided valuable insights to lawmakers, drawing from our extensive experience as health insurance professionals, on how ERISA could be modernized.
 
Understanding ERISA Fiduciary Responsibility – hosted by Marilyn Monahan, esq.
In this enlightening session, health insurance brokers learned about their employer clients’ legal fiduciary responsibilities to act solely in the interest of plan participants, with the exclusive purpose of providing benefits and covering plan expenses. ERISA fiduciaries must act prudently, adhere to the terms of plan documents, and comply with other extensive legal requirements. Typically, fiduciaries include the plan sponsor and/or Plan Administrator, who must comply with the standards established by federal ERISA law. By adhering to ERISA's requirements, all employer plans across the country operate under a uniform set of rules, ensuring consistency. This course was hosted by guest speaker Marilyn Monahan, an ERISA attorney and friend of Word & Brown, returning to the WOW stage for her fifth consecutive year. Marilyn is a celebrated presenter and WOW fan favorite, known for her engaging and insightful sessions – and her deep expertise on ERISA and plan administration.
 
The Future of Health Care with NABIP – hosted by Jessica Brooks-Woods
In our NABIP-led course by its CEO Jessica Brooks-Woods, health insurance brokers were given the knowledge and tools to navigate policy changes and advocate effectively for their clients. Participants examined current federal priorities, industry trends, and emerging challenges, gaining a comprehensive understanding of their roles in shaping a more accessible, equitable, and client-centered health care system. The National Association of Benefits and Insurance Professionals (NABIP), the largest health insurance professional trade association in the United States, plays a significant role in legislative matters, actively engaging with legislators and regulators to influence the future of the industry. Through professional development opportunities, networking events, and a wealth of resources, insurance brokers greatly benefit from NABIP’s efforts in navigating the evolving insurance landscape. NABIP is dedicated to being an essential voice in all critical national health care conversations and is at the forefront of industry changes, preparing brokers to thrive in this new era. The course provided invaluable insights into how NABIP is spearheading these changes and reinforced the importance of brokers in advocating for a more inclusive and effective health care system.
 
The Future of A.I. in Health Insurance – hosted by Scott Diehl
Hosted by Word & Brown’s Vice President of Technology and Innovation Scott Diehl, health insurance brokers gained a comprehensive understanding of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and its potential to revolutionize customer service and automate the insurance experience. Participants explored both current and future applications of A.I., receiving valuable insights and practical strategies for integrating A.I. into daily operations. The course also addressed ethical and regulatory considerations, equipping attendees with the knowledge to implement A.I. responsibly and compliantly.
 
Two New Ethics Classes for WOW 2024 – hosted by Paul Roberts
This year, we introduced new Ethics classes to our WOW program, offering California brokers the opportunity to earn up to two hours of their Ethics CE training. These sessions were designed to enhance agents' understandings of ethical principles in their professional practices. The classes focused on unpacking the core principles of health insurance professional ethics, exploring what they are, why they matter, and how they impact daily interactions. Participants learned how ethical choices shape conversations with clients, influence decision-making, and define the way agents conduct their business. Agents gained valuable insights into making better-informed decisions that prioritize their clients' well-being, ultimately elevating their reputation as trusted health insurance professionals. Collectively, these Ethics classes offered invaluable insights into the significance of ethics in the health insurance industry, encouraging agents to integrate ethical practices into every aspect of their professional lives.
 
California Legislative Update 2024 with CAHIP – hosted by Faith Borges
Our class hosted by California Agents and Health Insurance Professionals (CAHIP) lobbyist, Faith Borges, provided WOW fans with essential information and tools to navigate California’s ever-changing legislative landscape, with a particular focus on health insurance and health care. Participants engaged in an in-depth analysis of current legislative proposals, gaining valuable insights into the key players and the legislative process in Sacramento. We discussed several significant bills, including a failed Single Payer bill, a failed bill that sought to place Medical Loss Ratio requirements on California dental plans, and a failed proposal that would have introduced problematic changes to Medicare Supplement coverage and enrollment. We also talked about existing and enrolled bills that support access to care, provide consumer protections for surprise billing, and enable potential tax changes for California HSA plans. The state association beneath NABIP is California’s largest health insurance trade association. Word & Brown’s Paul Roberts serves as its Vice President of Legislation, recently elected to his second term for 2024-2025.
 
Single Payer in California – hosted by Paul Roberts
In this insightful class, we took an in-depth look at California’s most recent Single Payer Proposal, AB 2200, which recently died in May 2024 in the legislative process. Participants gained a comprehensive understanding of the differences between various “Universal Health Care” proposals, including Single Payer, Socialized Health Care, Medicare for All, and Medicare Expansion, along with an analysis of potential funding mechanisms for these programs. We also examined previous iterations of failed Single Payer legislation in California, tracing the history of these efforts over more than two decades. Additionally, the class covered SB 770, a law passed in October 2023, which requires the California Legislature to develop a Medicare/Medicaid waiver to request the diversion of federal funding for these programs to California, to be used to fund a portion of its Single Payer proposal. This session enabled health insurance agents to differentiate between major health care proposals and understand the complex legislative history and challenges associated with implementing a universal health care solution like a Single Payer system in California.
 
ACA Turbocharged – hosted by Rene Gonzalez
Hosted by our Broker Solutions Supervisor Rene Gonzalez, this class provided a comprehensive overview of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), from its establishment to its current operation. Participants explored the industry's landscape before the ACA, the significant changes the ACA brought about, and how we continue to comply with its evolving regulations more than 14 years later. The session highlighted the problems the ACA aimed to solve, the mechanisms it used to address these issues, and the ongoing adjustments to maintain compliance. Attendees gained essential knowledge to navigate employer obligations and valuable health insurance solutions in today’s market.
 
Thriving Agents, Thriving Clients: Optimizing Health – hosted by Zack Fenderson
Hosted by guest speaker Zack Fenderson, this WOW session delved into the modern health challenges that health insurance brokers and their clients face. Attendees explored strategies to discuss and promote healthy lifestyles, gaining practical well-being tips. The class left participants feeling inspired, energized, and motivated to prioritize their own health while better serving their clients. This session empowered brokers to become trusted advisors, guiding clients through wellness challenges with informed, empathetic health conversations – while being grounded in their own health knowledge.
 
Legislation 101 for Insurance Agents – hosted by Paul Roberts
We wrapped up our WOW program with a forward-looking class focused on the interplay between compliance, laws, regulations, changes, and health. Recognizing that the governance of health insurance and health care originates from government, this session covered the structure of both federal and California governments. Participants learned about the makeup of these bodies to become more informed and engaged in the legislative process, especially with the upcoming election in November. This class empowered insurance agents with the knowledge to be informed advocates for the industry and their clients, equipping them with the skills and confidence to influence discussions with policymakers and legislators.
 
Already thinking about WOW 2025!
Word & Brown is proud to provide such applauded education to California's thousands of health insurance brokers and professionals in our WOW program each June. We are already starting to think about how to make WOW even better for 2025.
 
WOW is known for its fun vibes, and this year was no exception. As always, we curated a special playlist on Spotify to queue up our classes, amp up our attendees, and close each session. Check out our WOW 2024 playlist on Spotify and turn it up this summer!
 
We look forward to continuing this tradition and providing valuable, engaging content in the years to come. Thank you to all who attended and contributed to the success of WOW 2024. We cannot wait to see you next year!
 

Most Recent Articles
Carrier Updates
Carrier Updates
Compliance
Technology