by Dr. Sharon Orrange
After practicing medicine for 20 years, I’ve become adept at “clarifying” to insurance companies why patients are taking certain medications. The same medications appear to trigger red flags for both long-term care and life insurance companies.
Their “concern” makes sense for some medications because they are used for serious chronic illnesses, but for others, the insurance companies are worried about your lifestyle. Most on this list are important medications so do not stop taking them because you’re concerned about rejection and do not omit them from your forms. Instead, along with your physician, you can clarify and appeal their decision.
Here are the ten worst medications to be taking that will trigger a “no” or a further review if applying for life insurance or long-term care insurance.
By David Ross
Every American under age 65 has one of three kinds of health insurance. Either you have government health insurance, private health insurance, or you're self-insured.
What does it mean to be self-insured? It means if you have a medical bill, you're expected to pay it. If you don't have cash to pay the bill, or can't get a loan to pay the bill, then your assets – house, car, whatever you own – can be taken from you in a lawsuit. Bankruptcy may be your only means of eliminating your medical bill debt.
The whole point of health insurance is this: To transfer risk from you to an insurance company, in exchange for a certain sum of money, known as the premium. You pay a small amount now so you won't have to pay a large amount later.
If you don't have health insurance, you're liable.
By government insurance, I'm not talking about health insurance provided by a federal or state agency to its employees.
I'm calling “Obamacare” government insurance. Through the misleadingly-named Affordable Care Act, the federal government has mandated certain requirements and coverages by health insurance policies that are offered through the federal or state “exchanges,” now known as “The Marketplace.”
Policies offered through The Marketplace are required to provide certain services, known as the 10 Minimum Essential Benefits. Don't be fooled by the phrase – there's nothing “essential” about some of the benefits. Since the law doesn't allow for any kind of discrimination, maternity coverage, for example, is required for males and post-menopausal women. Pediatric services must be included, even if the policyholder has no children. Coverage is required for substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy... even if you don't want or don't need such services.
Additionally, government insurance – Obamacare – forbids the rejection of any applicant. It's guaranteed-issue health insurance, which means that already-sick people must be accepted. While this may be great for already-sick people, it drives the cost of the policy to astronomical heights. This is why so many insurance companies have abandoned selling through the Marketplace. The “risk pool,” i.e, the group of people being insured, has become heavily weighted with people who are running up high medical bills because of their pre-existing conditions.
Insurance companies must charge higher premiums so they have money to pay the claims of so many sick people. In every year since the ACA went into effect, premiums have risen by double-digit percentages, and each year, fewer and fewer insurance companies are selling their policies in The Marketplace.
Contrary to popular belief, insurance companies aren't “getting rich by jacking up prices.” As part of the ACA law, insurance companies that sell in The Marketplace must return 80% of the premiums they receive in claims benefits. That leaves a 20% gross profit, from which they must pay salaries and other business expenses. Can your business thrive on a 20% gross profit?
Many people get “tax subsidies” which reduce their cost of Obamacare health insurance. When asked what the true cost of an Obamacare policy is, they usually have no real idea. They think that the $75 or whatever they actually pay is what the policy actually costs. In reality, it costs (and taxpayers are paying) five to ten times what the policyholder pays.
Obamacare policies also usually have very high deductibles that people don't figure into their “low-cost” insurance. If you have to pay $5,000 to $7,500 of your medical expenses before the policy begins to pay anything, how much is the insurance really costing you?
Stuck in the Middle
Many Americans feel “stuck in the middle,” wanting health insurance but not being able to afford it. Small business owners, especially, are feeling the pain. Owners earn too much money to qualify for government subsidies to help pay the high price of an Obamacare policy. If you don't qualify for subsidies, the price of insuring yourself and your family with government insurance is truly staggering. A family of four may have a monthly premium of $1,400-$1,800 or more a month for a basic Obamacare plan! That is not “affordable health care” for very many people. Many of these people have said “no more!” and have by default become “self-insured,” risking their assets and their future on the hope they will never get sick or be involved in an accident that requires medical care.
Private Health Insurance
There are at least two alternatives to Obamacare and to being “self-insured” — group health insurance and personal health insurance. Both are referred to as private insurance, to distinguish them from government-mandated Affordable Care Act policies.
Group Health Insurance
If you're employed by a midsize or large company, chances are that you have or have been offered group health insurance. By law, in most cases, if a company offers group health insurance, the employer must pay at least 50% of the premium for the employee. Some employers also help pay for some or all of the coverage for employee's families.
The amount paid per person on a group policy is determined by how healthy or how sick the group is, on average. One person who has had a high claims can raise the rates for the entire group when it's time for a renewal. Already-covered employees can't be bumped from a group plan, but their being in the group does indeed affect rates for everyone.
With group health plans, there is but one policy covering all participating employees. Each member of the group is insured under one policy. New employees can be added to the policy, and retiring or terminated employees are usually dropped from the policy. Coverage is not portable; you can't take it with you, except under COBRA laws, which allow an employee who leaves the company to be covered for up to 18 months. The downside here is that the employee must pay the entire premium without contributions from the employer.
Group plans usually have deductibles, and may or may not allow you to see certain doctors or have certain treatments. The guidelines are spelled out in the policy, and depend on agreements between the insurance carrier and the employer. Some of the requirements are mandated by state or federal laws, but not to the extent that individual Obamacare policies are.
Individual Health Insurance
Personal health insurance has been around a long time. The idea is simple. You pay a certain amount each month to an insurance company in exchange for the company accepting the risk that you will have medical expenses. It's a contract between the customer and the carrier. What is or is not covered is spelled out in the policy, and prices are set based on your age and health status.
The insurance company evaluates the risk of covering you. It can decline to accept you, or charge you more, or “rider out” (not cover certain health conditions), based on your health status. Certain pre-existing conditions may make you uninsurable, because the risk to the company is more than they are willing to accept.
Many people are offended by the above paragraph, or think it's “unfair.” Those people forget that insurance – health insurance, life insurance, homeowners and car insurance – is a business, not a birthright.
Personal, private insurance is much less expensive than insurance policies sold in the ACA-compliant Marketplace. It usually costs 30-50% less. Why? Because the risk pool — people covered by a certain company — are healthier and will have statistically fewer claims, costing the insurance company less money. Why are they healthier? Because unhealthy people weren't accepted as policyholders.
Contrast that with ACA-compliant Obamacare policies that by law must accept anyone who applies. With Obamacare, the insurance companies have a huge risk pool of already-sick people, running up massive healthcare bills. This is why so many insurance companies have pulled out of The Marketplace. Obamacare just isn't a good business model.
If you work for a company that offers group health insurance, take it. Consider yourself one of the fortunate ones. Keep in mind that you may lose coverage if you leave your employer.
If you have pre-existing health conditions that would keep you from being covered under private health insurance, or if you have a low income which qualifies you to get subsidies, then sign up for Obamacare. You may still have to meet a high deductible before you can actually get any useful benefits from the policy, but at least you're covered in the event of a major medical catastrophe. Consider also buying a private supplemental plan, also known as a GAP Plan, to help cover your deductible.
If your income is too high for subsidies, or if you're fundamentally opposed to socialized health care a.k.a. Obamacare, get a private health insurance policy.
Here's the takeaway from your having read this far: Do not let yourself be self-insured. Unless you're a multi-millionaire, an unexpected sickness or accident can bankrupt you.
David Ross is a licensed life and health insurance agent providing both group and individual health insurance policies, as well as supplemental GAP plans, cancer plans, life insurance, and dental insurance. Call 678-654-9500 or email him at email@example.com. Visit his website at http://davidrossandassociates.com.
Being catapulted into the adult world is a shock to the system, regardless of how prepared you think you are. And these days, it’s more complicated than ever, with internet access and mobile devices being must-have utilities and navigating tax forms when they aren’t as “EZ” as they used to be.
Maybe you’re still living with your folks while you get established. Or maybe you’re looking forward to moving out of a rental and into a house or to tie the knot. Life insurance might be the last thing on your list of things to deal with or even think about. (You’re not alone.) But here are five things you might not know about life insurance — that you probably should.
1. Life insurance is a form of protection. If you Google “life insurance” you’ll get a slew of ads telling you how cheap life insurance can be, without nearly enough information about what you need it for. That’s probably because it’s not terribly pleasant to think about: this idea that we could die and someone we care about might suffer financially as a result. Life insurance provides a financial buffer for the people you care about in the event something happens to you. Think just because you’re single, nobody would be left in the lurch? Read the next point.
2. College debt may not go away. Did someone — like your parents — co-sign your student loans through the bank? If so, the bank won’t discharge that debt upon your death the way that the federal government would with federal student loans. That means your parents, or others who signed the paperwork, would be responsible for paying the full balance — sometimes immediately. Don’t saddle them with the bill!
Keep reading at Life Happens....
When you're just starting out, life insurance may not be your first concern. But it's worth planning for the unexpected.
Half of millennials have life insurance — whether their own policy, one through an employer, or both, according to the LIMRA and Life Happens 2016 Insurance Barometer report.
"The reason you have insurance is to provide protection for the people you're going to leave behind," said Carolyn McClanahan, a certified financial planner and the director of financial planning for Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida.
When you're young and single, you might not need a lot of life insurance — if any. But there are a few situations where you might want to secure a policy in your 20s or 30s:
If anybody counts on you for your income, then you want to have life insurance," McClanahan said.
Many people start to think about life insurance when they get married or have a child, she said. But they aren't the only people who might benefit from a policy replacing your lost income. One in five millennials financially supports a parent, with an average outlay of $12,000 a year, according to a 2015 TD Ameritrade analysis.
Read more at CNBC....
MetLife will no longer be using Snoopy, Charlie Brown or any other members of the Peanuts gang in its ad campaigns.
The insurance giant said Thursday it was ditching the beloved Charles Schulz characters in favor of a new image that the company claims will reflect "a clean, modern aesthetic."
So instead of a giant blimp featuring Snoopy in his World War I pilot gear, MetLife said that it will have an M in blue and green colors.
MetLife has always had blue as one of the main colors in its logo. The green apparently "represents life, renewal and energy." Uhh. Okay.
The marketing shift comes as MetLife prepares to spin off a chunk of its consumer life insurance business to shareholders as a new company called Brighthouse Financial. The "old" MetLife will focus more on group life insurance and international operations.
Read more at CNN....
Most people do not like to think about their mortality, but in order to have a secure financial future for your family and loved ones, having a plan in place for the inevitable is essential. According to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey, forty percent of Illinoisans do not have a life insurance policy. In fact, nearly a quarter (24%) of residents does not see the need to have one.
“Life insurance is a crucial part of financial and insurance planning,” said Michael Fletcher, Assistant Vice President of Life Insurance Operations, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Many people either don’t have a policy or not enough coverage and all it would take is one accident or terminal illness to leave your family in financial peril.”
Many people have preconceived notions about life insurance, which are often times incorrect:
1. Myth: Life insurance costs too much.
Truth: Most people tend to overestimate the cost of a policy. Most Illinoisans (62%) believe $250,000 term life policy would cost $200 or more a year. A life insurance policy can be quite affordable. For instance, a 30-year-old, non-smoking woman can get a $250,000 term life policy for under $150 a year. That's less than $3 a day.
2. Myth: I’m a stay-at-home parent; I don’t need life insurance.
Truth: Stay-at-home parents provide a valuable contribution to the household, even if they are not earning a paycheck. A surviving spouse who is employed may need money for child care, housekeeping, and other household tasks that were previously performed without financial compensation.
3. Myth: I don’t need life insurance; I’m single.
Truth: There are many scenarios that make life insurance a good idea for single people. You may have elderly parents who depend on you for their care (or will in the future). You may want to leave funds for a family member, such as a niece or nephew, or even make a financial contribution to an alma mater or a beloved charity. And some life insurance policies can have value other than a death benefit. Universal life insurance, for example, grows cash value over time, and loans can be taken out on the value of the policy at a fixed rate.
4. Myth: I can’t get life insurance because I’m a senior citizen.
Truth: There are policies available to senior citizens that can play an important role in the handling of final expenses, which might otherwise burden a surviving spouse or other family members. The sooner you take action to obtain a policy, the more coverage choices and attractive premiums you will find.
5. Myth: I don’t need to think about life insurance because I have it through my work.
Truth: Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Illinoisans who have life insurance have employer-provided life insurance. While that can certainly be a good starting point, people do need to be aware of what would happen if that company benefit changed or if they left the company. Often times a life insurance policy that isn’t company provided can be a more stable and cost-effective option.
“These are just a few of the common misconceptions some have about life insurance,” said Fletcher. “The best thing you can do is talk with your life insurance agent about the correct coverage for you, such as the AAA Life Insurance specialists at your local AAA branch.”
It is never too late or too early to invest in a life insurance policy. Go to AAA.com/life for more information and AAA Life Insurance products.
AAA Consumer Pulse™ Survey
The AAA Consumer Pulse™ Survey was conducted online among residents living in The Auto Club Group territory from July 13, 2015 to August 1, 2015. Approximately 400 residents in Wisconsin completed the survey. The results have a margin of error of ± 4.9 percentage points. Responses are weighted by gender and age to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Wisconsin.
--from the Chicago office of the American Automobile Association, Sept. 14, 2015
Do you need low-cost health insurance?
Private health insurance is available year-round, with a national network of doctors and nurses. Getting coverage is simple, safe, and secure.
Here are sample monthly rates for a $2,500 deductible policy for a non-smoking metro Atlanta resident:
Male, age 25: $88; Female, age 25: $116
Male, age 35: $104; Female, age 35: $141
Male, age 45: $163; Female, age 45: $202
Male, age 55: $294; Female, age 55: $297
Quote your own plan at http://quoteyourplan.com.
Then contact me via this contact form, and I'll call or email you right back. You could have health insurance coverage within 36 hours.
Apollo astronauts couldn't afford life insurance, so what they did for their families was out-of-this-world rocket-science genius
While the Apollo program may be the greatest achievement in human history, it was also super morbid. Sending people to the moon was an extremely dangerous mission and so there were plenty of contingency plans for if and when people passed away.
Think Richard Nixon’s famous, unread "In Event of Moon Disaster" speech, and many others.
However it wasn’t just Presidential speechwriters who prepared for the event that the Moon-bound astronauts would not return – insurance companies had their doubts as well.
Insurers reportedly wanted to charge as much as US$50,000 (over $300,000 today) for life insurance, which was almost treble Neil Armstrong’s annual salary.
Armstrong was obviously concerned he would not be returning from space – if, indeed, he even made it off the launch pad alive – and wanted a way to provide for his family in the event he did not survive.
So he got creative.
Read more at Techly.com....
Friday's Supreme Court decision to legal same sex marriages nationwide has many implications for people all over South Dakota.
For same sex couples in the state, it is a time to celebrate their right to marry and their new found equality in the eyes of the law. For businesses in South Dakota, Friday's ruling means preparing for some changes in their HR department.
"We're going to be meeting very early next week to go through and review all of our policy positions and take a look at where we need to make modifications in order to comply with the ruling," City of Sioux Falls Human Resource Director Bill O'Toole said.
The City of Sioux Falls -- like many other area employers -- is preparing to add new dependents to their employees benefit plans.
"Obviously some significant implications under health plans for insurance purposes, pension benefits, life insurance, leave--all those kinds of things," O'Toole said. Read more at KSFY-TV....
Australian school teacher Esther Maree Vella had a $700,000 debt on her Strathfield property she was determined to be rid of.
So she concocted a plan in which her long-suffering partner Peter Siskos would increase his life insurance to $1.723 million, name her as the sole beneficiary, and then commit suicide.
But the plan backfired spectacularly when Siskos, a 49-year-old security guard "chickened out" of throwing himself in front of a train at Croydon.
Instead, he disappeared from work and slept rough for a week-and-a-half until he was spotted in a Burwood Park. Continue reading at the Brisbane Times....
Your financial plan needs to keep pace with larger socioeconomic trends. Here are smart ways to manage the five trends that we think are important to you over the next five years.
1. Your cash and bank savings accounts will continue to earn next to nothing. The combination of too much global debt,aging demographics and low energy prices force many countries in the developed world to lower the interest rates they pay on short-term notes. European countries are paying negative interest rates to short-term lenders, meaning the lenders must pay a fee to own debt securities.
Global economic growth remains muted, and there's little reason for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates significantly over the next five years. This means that savers and investors continue to earn very low returns on their savings and fixed income portfolios.
To do: The distinct downside of this trend is an increase of the overall risk and volatility of your investment portfolios. To earn higher returns, you have to modestly increase your allocation to global stocks and real estate. Continue reading at USA Today....
Whether you are a working professional or a passionate enthusiast, keeping your gear up to date can cost a pretty penny. For this reason, you want to ensure that all of your equipment is well-protected against possible damage or theft.
With many different organizations offering customized insurance plans for your gear, we are going to take a look at five options to see which may be best suited to your needs. Read more at Peta Pixel....
A new Swiss Re report shows there was a global gain in the life insurance sector, despite only slight economic improvement. Swiss Re, the global reinsurance company, has recently released a report that has shown that the global life insurance industry had managed to gain momentum in 2014, even though the economic situation saw only the slightest growth.
The total number of direct premiums that were written increased 4.3 percent.
This is particularly notable following the trend in 2013, in which the total number of direct premiums written had fallen by 1.8 percent. Advanced markets were shown, in the Swiss Re report, to have seen a notably stronger level of performance. Read more at Live Insurance News....
If you're having children later in life – a phrase that's impossible to define but let's go with your 40s and beyond – you may wonder what the future will bring. For instance, if your health isn't the greatest, and you're having kids in your 50s, you may worry that by the time you're choosing your kid's college, he or she will be choosing your nursing home.
There are some solid benefits to becoming a parent later than when our parents and grandparents tended to become moms and dads.
"I think as older parents, we're more mature and confident in our parenting, and as a result have been better parents to our boys," says Kathleen Lynch, an intellectual property attorney in Cary, North Carolina. She married at 38 and had twin boys at 41.
Still, even if your income is steady and your career is on track, there are some financial factors to consider. While you're fretting about someday being mistaken for your kid's grandparent, don't forget to worry about the truly important stuff. Continue reading at U.S. News & World Report.....
When we’re thinking logically, we know we should buy life insurance. And yet so many of us don’t.
When asked about it, people say it costs too much, or they don’t have time to sort through its complexities. But those may just be excuses cooked up by the subconscious, according to a new study.
3 reasons we don't buy life insurance:
1. Loss aversion.
2. Present-day bias.
3. Default bias.
Read the full article at NerdWallet.
For info on how we can help you buy life insurance, click here.
Over 37% of Americans with children under age 18 do not have any life insurance, according to a new Bankrate.com study. And about one-third of the parents who do have life insurance have no more than $100,000 of protection.
"These numbers mean that over 20 million households with dependent children either don't have any life insurance or don't have nearly enough," said Doug Whiteman, Bankrate.com's insurance analyst.
Read more at Marketwatch.com....
Find out how affordable life insurance actually is.
Life insurance was the least expensive of all insurance types measured, with an average annual rate of $304, based on quotes for four profiles: 35-year-old men and women and 45-year-old men and women with a standard non-tobacco policy, $250,000 in coverage and a 20-year term. This number held true in all states except New York and Montana, which are subject to different state regulations.
“Yet, only 30 percent of people have life insurance," Chu noted. "Why is that? It might be because they aren’t aware of the price.”
Keep reading to see which 10 states are subject to the highest insurance costs.
Marijuana users, who can now buy the drug without fear of arrest in some U.S. states, can also get life insurance without facing a smoker penalty -- if they shop carefully.
Among insurers with policies in place for marijuana users, 29 percent classify them as nonsmokers, according to a survey by a U.S. unit of Munich Re. One-fifth of life-insurance companies don't have official policies in place, the reinsurer found.
Marijuana has long been treated by authorities as more dangerous than tobacco. That has been changing, with more than 20 U.S. states allowing the drug for medicinal purposes. Voters in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington state approved recreational use. Although the science is conclusive on cigarettes shortening life expectancies, underwriters don't have as much to go on when assessing the risks of covering marijuana users. Read more at the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette....
Five life events should trigger a life insurance review, to make sure you and your family are ready for any eventuality.
1. Births, deaths, marriages and divorces.
2. A change in your finances.
4. Tax-law changes.
5. Every two years.
An excellent article has been built around this concept, written by Neal Frankle, a Certified Financial Planner in Los Angeles. It's short and to-the-point, so there's no need to try to re-create it here. Read it on the LifeHappens.org website.
Georgia residents who would like me to provide you with a free life insurance quote or to review your current life insurance policies and advise you on what changes you may need to make can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on the CONTACT page. I'll respond within 24 hours or less -- probably a lot sooner than 24 hours -- to set up a time for us to talk.
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