Mar 25

Medicare Supplemental Insurance: What You Need To Know Before You Apply

As we age, it is a sad fact of life that the need for surgeries and daily medications rises as well. Fortunately, Medicare is available to help people with disabilities and members of society who are over the age of 65 cover the increased expenses of this additional and necessary healthcare. However, Medicare does come with limitations that can severely restrict your ability to access affordable care.

What many people don’t understand as they near retirement is that Medicare has a copay attached to the policy. It typically covers 80% of incurred medical costs leaving your with the remaining 20% of the bill to pay out-of-pocket. Since the need for extensive medical care often comes as an emergency, it is very difficult to budget enough funds to cover the portion that you are responsible for.

Most retired or disabled people are living on a fixed income. Since this income is relatively low, it can present a significant problem when medical bills arrive in the mail. To off-set this, an additional policy known as Medigap is available for purchase. Medigap is supplemental insurance for people on Medicare.

What does a NY Medigap policy cover? To start, they cover the costs of medications and medical procedures that are not covered under the standard Medicare policy. To qualify for this coverage, policy holders must make regular monthly payments. Even though many people feel that it is an additional insurance expense that they can’t afford, NY Medigap rates are affordable and are a great way to manage your costs over time.

Retirees often look forward to travel during their golden years and a good Medigap plan pays for emergency care in countries all around the world. That extra safety net can really make a world of difference by giving seniors the freedom to travel.

Medigap plans are available from private insurance providers. When shopping for a plan, make sure to check with multiple providers to get the best deal. Keep both your medical needs and your budget in mind when making your purchasing decision.

Oct 02

Life Insurance – A Brief Overview

Life insurance is one of the best financial moves that you can make when it comes to the protection of your family. The range of protection that you can derive can run from the very small to the very large. There are some differences of the policies from which to choose. Here are two very common ways that you can obtain life insurance for your family.

Term life is the first kind, and it is the least expensive in the short run. It will cover you for a stated period of years, say 20 or 30 years, and then it will expire, and cover you no longer than that period of time.  You can get online life insurance quotes from sites like Root Financial who specializes in all sorts of different life insurance policies.

The benefits of a term life policy are that it is usually very inexpensive and you can obtain coverage in very large amounts for a small sum of money. The negative part is that they are not worth any money at the end of their term, as they simply cease to exist. You have paid money all of those years, and unless you die, you have nothing in the way of any money.

The second type of life insurance is called whole life, or straight life, but the difference is that a cash value builds up inside the policy, so that at the end of the 20 or 30 years there is money available in the policy if you don’t die. You will have access to that money then and along the way while you are paying your premiums.

The downside of the whole life policy is that it costs more than the term policy because of its permanency and the fact that it has the buildup of the cash in the policy. The coverage amount will not be as large for the same amount of premium going into the policy, but you do have the advantage of having cash at the other end of the policy that you can take out if you wish.

It is wise to speak with an insurance professional to discuss your needs and goals, and you can get into more details as to how these different types of polices actually work. You should run these ideas by an expert agent, and not attempt to do this on your own.

Aug 30

Life Insurance Should Be a Part of Every Financial Plan

Life insurance is an integral part of every good financial plan and it is an important part of planning for the unexpected. It is necessary in order to provide for dependents so that financial goals can be achieved for the whole family. Life insurance fulfills many different needs but one of the main things it does is make sure any survivors are protected financially. This way they do not have to drastically change the way they live.

How Life Insurance Works

Most life insurance companies offer plans offer lump sum of money that is a tax-free death benefit. This money can then be invested so that it delivers income for the children and spouse of the deceased person. Some of the money can go to pay off bills so that not as much money is needed every month. Life insurance has many financial benefits depending on the type of policy that is chosen. Some policies ensure that the beneficiary is not obligated to pay off any of the bills that the owner of the policy incurred.

The death benefit paid to the beneficiary from a life insurance policy is not considered part of the estate of the deceased. This means that the money from the policy cannot be assessed probate, executor or legal fees. Also, any life insurance money that is paid to the beneficiary goes straight to that person without any delay that is usually involved when an estate is settled.

Determining How Much Life Insurance to Get

A full analysis of one’s financial situation is necessary in order to understand how much life insurance is needed. This is best done by a professional because it can be very complicated. They will need to review all current income sources and living expenses to decide which income will be continued after the policy holder dies. This is important in deciding just how much income will need to be replaced for survivors to continue living at their current standards.

It is important to add in any final expenses in financial review because funeral costs and probate fees can really add up. Of course, these are just a few of the many reasons why life insurance needs to be a part of every financial plan.

Aug 26

How does medicare and medicare supplemental insurace work together

It can be complicated to understand how Medicare and Medicare supplements work. Both have benefits that can be beneficial to members, and it is vital to understand the differences in coverage and use each plan to maximize coverage.

Traditional Medicare
Recipients of Medicare qualify at age 65 or after having received Social Security benefits for a period of 24 months. Medicare is federal health care insurance that provides coverage for hospital stays, doctor’s visits, and prescription drugs. Due to the fact that Medicare is a federal program, it’s coverage and benefits are generally broad and referred to ask “blanket coverage.” It is for this reason that many Medicare beneficiaries use Medicare for base coverage then purchase a Medicare supplemental plan to fill in the gaps of their initial Medicare coverage.

Medicare Supplemental Plans

Medicare supplemental plans, or Medigap policies, as they are often called serve to fill the gaps in coverage that traditional Medicare doesn’t cover. These benefits include doctor visits to a wider network of providers, access to cheaper prescription drugs, and durable medical equipment. Medigap policies are also advantageous for people with special health conditions that would otherwise call for costly procedures and specialist visits. In fact, many Medicare supplement plans offer specialized plans for members with conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.

Advantages To Supplemental Coverage

Supplemental coverage has many advantages and the best Medigap plans will fill all of the gaps the traditional Medicare leaves. Medicare will usually only pay a small percentage of visits to a specialists, so having a Medigap plan will usually pay the rest. In terms of cost, Medicare insurance only costs if recipients opt for part B and D coverage. Knowing this, many recipients choose a Medigap plan with a lower monthly premium and have access to a wider choice of medications and providers.

Things To Consider

Medicare supplement plans are standardized across 47 of the 50 states. The most important thing to consider is personal health and healthcare needs. If you don’t need many prescription medications but need to see a specialist, then it’d be best to look for a plan with the largest provider network.

Complete Coverage

By using careful research and planning, it can be possible to select the most affordable and useful Medicare supplement plan. Plans vary, but the goal is the same; complete healthcare coverage.
Aug 21

Obamacare health insurance penalizes smokers

By Jay MacDonald • Bankrate.com

Smokers could face sticker shock when shopping for individual or small-group health insurance in the new state health marketplaces scheduled to open this fall, due to a controversial clause in the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, that allows insurers to penalize smokers by continuing to charge higher rates to tobacco users.

President Barack Obama’s landmark health insurance reform legislation ends decades of advantageous underwriting practices by barring insurers from, among other things, limiting lifetime benefits and denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

But the law widely known as Obamacare also aims to discourage tobacco use, the nation’s largest preventable health hazard, which kills some 443,000 Americans each year at an annual cost to the nation of $193 billion in medical care and lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How do you combat tobacco use without discriminating against smokers? The ACA attempts this balancing act by allowing insurers to continue their practice of charging tobacco users a so-called “smoker surcharge” but limiting it to 50 percent above the rates they charge nontobacco users, beginning in 2014.

Groups question smoker surcharge

“Smoking and tobacco use are the only pre-existing conditions that the Affordable Care Act still allows insurers to discriminate against,” says Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy at the American Lung Association.

Combine the smoker surcharge with another health reform rule that prohibits low-income applicants from using federal tax subsidies to offset the surcharge, and consumer advocates fear older smokers could be priced out of the market.

“While not all health plans charge higher premiums for smokers, we are concerned that, if they do, people who may really need access to health care could be left uninsured because they can’t afford coverage,” says Gerry Smolka, senior strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute.

The American Lung Association also opposes penalizing smokers for a different reason. “There is absolutely no evidence that surcharges are effective in encouraging smokers to quit,” explains Sward.

Critics say surcharge hits the poor

According to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, the smoker slam would work like this: A 50-year-old, low-income smoker (earning $15,000 for the purposes of this example) would be quoted an annual premium of about $8,100, including a nearly $2,700 tobacco surcharge. The federal low-income subsidy would bring her premium down to about $3,000. But if she didn’t smoke, her premium would be just $300. Subsidies can’t make the surcharge go away.

Advocates fear she would remain uninsured under this scenario and choose to face the tax penalty in 2014 for failing to carry coverage as required under Obamacare’s “individual mandate.” The penalty for individuals will be $95 next year, and it will rise to $695 by 2016.

The larger public policy concern is that the surcharge that penalizes smokers could disproportionately put health insurance out of reach for a key group that health reform aims to help: the millions of poor Americans who currently lack coverage.

“There’s that sense that any variation in premium constitutes a kind of income discrimination because it is lower-income people and nonwhite people who are most likely to smoke,” says Deborah Chollet, a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

Administration says law helps smokers

A representative for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, says that, despite the media kerfuffle, Obamacare actually benefits rather than penalizes smokers.

“Before the ACA, insurance companies could charge far more than 50 percent more for smokers or simply deny them coverage altogether because they smoke. The ACA puts limits on how much more smokers can be charged,” says the representative, who spoke under condition of anonymity.

CMS notes that tobacco users can avoid 50 percent smoker surcharges in two ways: by enrolling in a tobacco-cessation program; or through state-adopted insurance standards that set lower limits on surcharges or prohibit any premium differences between smokers and nonsmokers. As of June, three states have adopted lower limits, and six states plus the District of Columbia have prohibited any price rating based on tobacco use. The latter group includes the nation’s most populous state, California.

“The concern in California was that smoking is so linked to poverty and chronic disease that insurers were going to use it basically as a proxy for rating by disease status,” says Dylan Roby, an assistant professor of health policy and management at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.

Glitch crimps smoker penalty, for now

Some smokers are temporarily getting something of a reprieve from the threat of steep premiums. In June, the Obama administration told insurers that a glitch in health insurance reform would hold down premiums for older smokers.

Chollet says that even when things are working properly, market forces alone will likely keep Obamacare’s smoker surcharges well below the 50 percent cap.

“The average surcharge now is around 15 percent, and for a simple reason: They don’t necessarily want the business to go away,” Chollet says. “I don’t think we’re going to see 50 percent. States allow that now, and you don’t see it happen.”

Rick Curtis, president of the Institute for Health Policy Solutions, a nonpartisan research group, agrees that Obamacare is unlikely to penalize smokers too harshly.

“Long story short, smokers generally will not see a rate increase compared to current or previous years’ individual insurance premiums,” he says. “Individuals who are smokers will … generally have improved access and more affordable premiums under ACA restrictions.”