Serving over 200 companies and more than 2000 families since 1988

2882 Sand Hill Rd. Ste. 119 - Menlo Park, CA 94025 - (650) 854-8963 - (800) 564-4476
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Posts made in June, 2016


Medicare, the government-provided health insurance program for people aged 65 and older – will be an important part of your retirement planning. With the cost of health care outpacing inflation each year, planning for your future medical expenses is more important than ever. And yet, many retirees don’t fully understand how the Medicare program works. Hopefully, we can clear up a few of your misconceptions and provide you with some basic information to get started in your planning process. Medicare Parts A and B are also known as Original Medicare. Part A covers hospital bills, and is covered by the payroll taxes you paid while working. Part B pays for doctor visits and other medical services, such as screenings for chronic diseases. If you want Part B coverage, you will elect to pay an extra monthly premium for it. Medicare Part C plans are also known as Medicare Advantage plans. These are Medicare-approved plans that are offered by private insurance companies as an alternative to Original Medicare. These plans cover hospital and doctor visits, and often include prescription coverage as well. Medicare Part D plans are Medicare-approved private plans that help to cover prescription drug expenses. Typically, people who are covered by Original Medicare might elect to enroll in Part D as well. The most common misconception about Medicare is that it covers all medical expenses needed by seniors age 65 and older. As you can see, coverage actually varies according to which plan you choose. And many services, such as dental and vision care, are not covered by Medicare at all. You might elect to enroll in a separate dental or vision insurance plan, or cover those expenses on your own. Even if you have one or more Medicare plans, you will be paying some premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. This is why planning for medical expenses is such an important part of retirement planning. Remember to leave room in your budget for out-of-pocket costs, and call us if you have any questions about supplemental coverage. We can help you weigh your options and choose a plan that helps you control your medical...

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Under the Affordable Care Act, small businesses have gained the ability to offer health insurance coverage to employees, while enjoying potential tax breaks for doing so. Meanwhile, larger businesses are required to offer health insurance, and are penalized with fines for failing to comply with the law. It might seem as though the law draws a clear distinction between large and small businesses, but what about those in the middle? If your employment numbers skate on the edge of throwing you into a new category, you might wonder how hiring decisions will impact your health insurance requirements. For the sake of clarity, the ACA describes four different business sizes: Self employed with no employees Fewer than 25 employees Between 25 and 50 employees More than 50 employees When we talk about employees, we’re referring to “full time equivalent” employees. Under the ACA, FTEs are described as workers who perform at least 30 hours of work per week. However, if you have part time workers, this could complicate the picture somewhat. In that case, you will calculate your FTEs by adding your number of full-time employees to the number of part-time weekly hours, divided by 30. The formula looks like this: Number of full-time employees + (part-time hours per week/30) = Your total FTEs You already know if you’re self-employed without employees, so we’ll just focus on the other three categories. Businesses with 25 or fewer FTEs can enroll in a health care program through the Small Business Health Care Options Program (or SHOP), and you could receive a tax credit (between 25 and 50 percent of premium costs) for doing so. However, you are not required by the ACA to offer insurance. Note: If you want to receive the tax credit, you can only do so by using SHOP. Businesses with 25 to 50 FTEs are also eligible, though not required, to purchase a health insurance plan through SHOP. However, businesses in this size range are not eligible for a tax credit. Finally, if you have 50 or more FTEs, you must offer health insurance coverage to 95 percent of your full-time employees and their dependents. If you fail to comply with the law, you will be taxed with a penalty. Most large businesses in California are already complying with the ACA, but if you own a business with 50 or fewer full-time employees, you should still consider adding health insurance coverage. Your tax break could be larger than you think, so give us a call and we can show you all of the options available to...

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According to a recent report in Health Affairs, Covered California has successfully kept rising premium costs to a minimum. This is great news in the wake of serious worries about rising premiums over the years immediately following the creation of the program. How did they do it? Covered California is one of the few health insurance marketplaces (established after passage of the Affordable Care Act) that directly negotiates premiums with insurance companies. Richard Sheffler, a professor of health economics and public policy at UC Berkeley, conducted a study measuring the growth of Covered California alongside the state of New York’s exchange from 2014 to 2015. While the New York exchange allows all insurers to join the marketplace, California selected 12 insurers to participate. Meanwhile, 20 insurers were rejected from Covered California. These participation decisions were based largely on rates, encouraging to offer competitive premiums. Both states saw premium increases in areas with low hospital competition. However, in New York premiums grew faster in areas with less competition among insurance companies. In California, areas with lower insurer competition saw slower premium growth than in areas with more competition. The ability of Covered California to exclude insurers appears to give the program leverage, forcing insurers in concentrated markets to pass on savings to consumers. The bottom line is that the increased regulation within Covered California allows the program to negotiate better health care prices for all of us. As the cost of health care (particularly insurance premiums) rises across the country, we’re expecting only a slight rise in health insurance premiums during the next year. That’s great news for Californians, whether or not you already participate in the Covered California marketplace. Remember, Open Enrollment is closed for now, and will reopen in the fall. But if you experience a qualifying life event – such as a change in your household structure, income, or living situation – you might be eligible for a special enrollment period. If you have questions about health care coverage, or need to find out whether you can enroll in a plan now, give us a call. We can explain your options and help you choose a health care plan that fits your lifestyle and...

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