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Posts made in May, 2016


By now, you have probably heard the news that the cost of healthcare is rapidly rising in the United States. During most years, health care outpaces the general inflation rate. While this impacts young, healthy people to a lesser degree, those who are planning for retirement will see a much larger difference in their budgets. For the average healthy couple who retired in 2015, estimated health care costs throughout their retirement years will total about $366,600. Of course, that is just an average number; your costs could be less than that figure, or far exceed it. As if that’s not alarming enough, consider this: Ten years from now, 98 percent of a retired couple’s Social Security checks will go toward their health care expenses. In twenty years – and many of us can expect to live that long – the cost of health care will exceed the average Social Security payment. It’s no wonder that 63 percent of people older than 50 say that the cost of health care is their number one retirement-related concern. And yet, many people still aren’t adequately factoring the cost of health care into their retirement plans. So what is the average pre-retiree to do? Save as much as you can. This probably goes without saying, but it’s important to save all that you can for retirement. Max out your company-sponsored retirement plan contributions each year, and open a health savings account (HSA) if you’re eligible for one. Your HSA allows you to stash even more pre-tax dollars for retirement, and you can use the money for healthcare costs in the future. Take care of your health now. Quit smoking, cut back on drinking, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and see your physician for preventive care. Fewer health problems means lower bills. Maximize Social Security. Consider working until your full retirement age, or even beyond it to earn a larger benefit. Each year that you work, you can save more for retirement, and that’s one less year that you will live on your retirement income as well. Consider long-term care insurance. The cost of long-term nursing care can be prohibitive for most people, and Medicare covers much less than you probably think. This type of insurance can protect you from enormous bills, and protect your spouse who might still need your retirement income for their own living expenses. Choose the right Medicare plan. Call us for an appointment, and we can review your Medicare options with you. Depending upon your health care needs, one Medicare plan might provide better benefits than...

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A comprehensive group health insurance plan can be one of the most valuable benefits that you can offer to your employees. It will help you attract and retain the best workers, and also keep them healthy. But unfortunately, group health insurance can also comprise a large part of your budget, and you might be feeling the pinch. Throughout the year, keep track of your expenditures and communicate with your employees, so that you can make an informed decision about your group health insurance options this fall during Open Enrollment. Ask for input. There are various ways to go about this, but make sure your employees know that they can talk to you about their benefits. Set up a suggestions box or circulate a poll. Ask employees which health insurance benefits they value the most, if they are happy with their network of providers, and whether any plan features feel unnecessary to them. They will also appreciate your concern, and taking the step to include them in your decisions will help to create a happier workplace. Establish a budget. Is your budget restricted this year? Or are you able to afford better coverage for your employees? Keep an eye on your budget throughout the year, so that you have a good idea of your “spending limit” this fall. You want to go into Open Enrollment with a good idea of your budget, rather than having to scramble and figure out the details while making a difficult decision. Consider letting your employees choose their plan. In the past, you might have simply chosen a group health insurance plan, paid the premiums, and considered the matter solved. But you can actually set a budget for health care spending, offer your employees a variety of options, and they have the option to pay the difference if they desire a more expensive plan. Employees appreciate the options, and you can maintain control of your budget. Keep an eye on your employment numbers. Small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees might qualify for special tax credits to help with the cost of group health insurance. Those with fewer than 50 workers can use the Small Business Health Options Program to purchase insurance. We’re not saying that you should make employment decisions based on these factors, but it is something to keep in mind as the year progresses and Open Enrollment approaches so that you don’t experience any surprises.. As always, we are here to answer your questions throughout the year. If you have questions about group health insurance, give us a call. When it’s time to reevaluate your group health insurance plan, we can...

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Lower Your Health Insurance Costs

Lower Your Health Insurance Costs


Posted By on May 6, 2016

Open Enrollment for health insurance won’t begin again until this fall, so you won’t be able to make changes to your plan until then. But in the meantime, you might be wondering how you can lower your premiums when it’s time to reevaluate your policy. Take these steps to possibly obtain a lower-priced health insurance plan this fall, keeping in mind, of course, that premiums tend to change a bit each year. Choose an HMO over a PPO. A PPO plan is often more expensive because you can see any doctors you want without a referral. It’s convenient, but you’re probably paying for that convenience. If you seldom or never need specialists, you can probably switch to a cheaper HMO plan without feeling too inconvenienced. Choose a higher deductible. As with all forms of insurance, a higher deductible equals a lower premium. Just make sure that you can truly afford your deductible, because it might matter in the event of a serious illness or accident. If you choose a high-deductible plan, you might also be able to open a health savings account, which allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars for your healthcare expenses. Stop smoking. Insurers can’t charge you higher premiums due to health conditions or your gender, but they can charge smokers more. Since prices can be 50 percent higher for the same plan when you smoke, giving it up could really impact your budget. Reassess your health insurance needs. Does your plan include a lot of bells and whistles that you never use? Start tracking your health care expenditures to see what you actually use, and what you probably don’t need. You might be able to switch to a less complicated, and cheaper, plan during Open Enrollment this fall. Compare your plan with your spouse’s plan. If you are both offered health insurance plans through work, compare the policies to see which one is a better deal. One of you might opt to be covered under the other spouse’s policy, rather than maintaining separate plans. Access your full subsidy. Covered California provides subsidies to help you cover the cost of your health insurance premiums. These subsidies are based upon your income and family size – something to keep in mind throughout the year. No one is saying you should adopt a child or quit a job to obtain a larger subsidy, but if those things have happened and you’re feeling a financial pinch, you can apply for a larger subsidy to help with your premiums. In fact, if you add a member to your family through birth or adoption, or lose your job, you can re-apply...

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