Saturday, December 11, 2010

NC Families Report Receipt of Historic Insurance Refunds: Just in time for Christmas and End-of-Year Bills!

As reported previously here at Wayne's World and around the State, two hundred fifteen thousand families and small businesses over the last two weeks have been receiving their historic $156.8 Million in refunds from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, pursuant to a mutual agreement crafted in part by NC Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.

If you don't believe that the checks have literally been "in the mail" and are now in the hands of individual policyholders, then look at the accompanying picture of a refund check totalling more than $999! (Wayne's World appreciates a reader for emailing the photo.) And, if you need even more proof, check out the myriad comments linked here (go to the bottom of the previous page link) from a very diverse group of individuals representing every portion of the Tar Heel state. The good news has even caused quite the positive flutter on Facebook over the last two weeks.

Counting these most recent refunds, NC Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin has been responsible for more than $900 Million in refunds and insurance rate cuts within his first two years in office alone.
"I'd say the work product of this office and the entire Department of Insurance has provided a tremendous economic stimulus package to North Carolina, in addition to vital consumer protections and a solvent, reasonably-regulated insurance market," said Insurance Commissioner Goodwin.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Heartland Institute Calls NC Insurance Commissioner Goodwin a “true change agent”

Conservative, Free-Market Organization Invites Tar Heel Insurance Regulator to Address Texas Leaders Next Month

Next month The Heartland Institute and other partners will host a forum in Austin, Texas brought about, in part, because the 2011 Texas legislature faces a daunting insurance environment for taxpayers and industry alike.

“Out of the Storm News”, a new web publication of the institute’s Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate launched five months ago, invited NC Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin to be a primary speaker for the estimated 300+ leaders who will gather in the Texas Capitol Auditorium.

Here is the public announcement:

In 2011, the Texas legislature will confront an insurance environment characterized by high rates, serious risks to taxpayers, and inadequate investment in disaster mitigation.

On January 27, The Heartland Institute, in cooperation with its partners, including the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, will present a half-day program to clarify the nature of the state’s insurance environment and offer solutions from similarly situated states. The program – which will include panel discussions, speeches, and the opportunity for questions from attendees – will be held from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm, at the Texas Capitol Auditorium in Austin, Texas.

Wayne Goodwin, commissioner of the North Carolina Department of Insurance will be a special guest at the program, to share his experience with consumer advocacy through fair rate-making, injury prevention efforts, and close regulation of insurance company solvency and industry practices.

“We’re very excited to have Commissioner Goodwin joining us. He’s been a true change agent in North Carolina and we think that his actions offer a lot of lessons for Texas,” says Eli Lehrer, Heartland Institute senior fellow and national director of the Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate.Other panelists include David Marlett, chair of the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance at Appalachian State University, Daniel Sutter, affiliated senior scholar at the Mercatus Center and Associate Professor of economics at the University of Texas – Pan American, Lars Powell, an associate professor who holds the Whitbeck-Beyer Chair of Insurance and Financial Services at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Dennis Burke, the Reinsurance Association of America’s vice president of state relations, Bill Peacock, the vp of research and director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Economic Freedom, Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch, former Texas senator Babe Schwartz, and John Colyandro, executive director of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute.

“Texas has a seriously flawed and troubled property insurance environment,” says Lehrer. “A lot of the problems stem from an inadequate or simply incorrect understanding of the way insurance works. We’re hoping to correct that through a broad, objective overview of the insurance environment.
This is not the first time that free market and conservative thinkers have lauded NC Insurance Commissioner Goodwin, a North Carolina Democrat, for his efforts at reform: In 2009 he addressed a group of southern business leaders, insurance professionals, and fellow insurance regulators in New Orleans on his successful efforts to maintain coastal insurance for Tar Heels. Goodwin received praise from the John Locke Foundation and The Heartland Institute (separate from the above) earlier in 2010. And, Goodwin has also been recognized and endorsed by former Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of the late GOP icon, U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater.

"I'm honored and humbled to have the support and confidence of so many folks from across the ideological spectrum and from members and leaders of both major political parties," said Insurance Commissioner Goodwin.
Goodwin continued, "I believe that fact is the result of keeping an open mind, focusing on common sensical and reasonable regulation, protecting State-based solutions and State-based authority, watching out for consumers always, and being ever mindful of how important a solvent insurance marketplace is for consumer and industry alike
Goodwin was elected to his first term as state Insurance Commissioner in 2008. He is up for re-election in 2012.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Commissioner Goodwin: Reminder that more than 215,000 Health Insurance Refund Checks Totalling $156.8 Million In Mail This Week!

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin wants to remind North Carolinians that starting this week, approximately 215,000 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina individual policyholders will begin receiving refund checks worth a combined $155.8 million. Pursuant to the September agreement reached with Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and the Department of Insurance, BCBSNC mailed the first batch of refund checks on November 29 to approximately 50,000 policyholders, and the remainder will be mailed no later than December 8.
"With folks preparing for the year-end holidays and taking care of expenses, I know these refunds will help families across North Carolina,” said Commissioner Goodwin. “I'm pleased that my staff and I were able to work with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to get this money back into the hands of thousands and thousands of our citizens."
The refunds will be issued to policyholders who had Blue Advantage or Blue Options HSA for Individuals policies in force as of March 23, 2010, the date the federal Affordable Care Act was enacted. Customers may receive lower or higher amounts depending on their specific premium rate, but an average policyholder with a monthly premium of about $380 will receive approximately $690.

The new rating and grandfathering rules in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act create a one-time circumstance enabling these refunds. The funds come from active life reserves, which are portions of the premium set aside in the early years of a policy to pay future claims and keep rates stable as customers' medical expenses rise during the life of the policy. However, policies purchased or substantially modified after March 23 of this year will end in 2014 under the new health care reform law, which is when the new products under health reform will be introduced. Therefore, the reserves held for these products will cover a much shorter period of time, allowing for these funds to be released.

Consumers with questions about the refunds, including whether they are eligible to receive a refund, should call BCBSNC's dedicated customer refund line, 1-877-784-2375.

Other insurance premium refunds that Commissioner Goodwin has announced include more than $50 million stemming from the 2009 auto rate settlement; Commissioner Goodwin has also announced potential rate savings for auto and workers compensation policyholders totaling approximately $673 million since 2009.
"I'm very pleased that consumers - North Carolina families and small businesses - have benefited so much by the insurance refunds and rate cuts of more than $800 Million announced during my first two years in office," said Goodwin.
Whether during the holidays or not, these monies are certainly an economic stimulus package for North Carolina, courtesy of the dedicated work by your Insurance Commissioner's team.