1,332 counties will only have one health insurer option under Obamacare in 2018, and 49 counties will have none
According to recent data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in 2018, 1,332 counties in the United States will have only one health insurer operating on the Obamacare exchanges and 49 will have none.
The data comes from the Health Insurance Exchanges Issuer County Map, which shows projected issuer participation on the Health Insurance Exchanges in 2018 based on the issuer public announcements made prior to late July of 2017.
"The map currently shows that nationwide 49 counties are projected to have no issuers, meaning that Americans in these counties could be without coverage on the Exchanges in 2018," a press release for the agency states. "It's also projected that 1,332 counties—over 40 percent of counties nationwide—could only have one issuer in 2018."
The data also show that at least 27,660 Americans currently enrolled for health coverage on the Exchanges live in the counties projected to be without any coverage in 2018 – but, because of the Obamacare individual mandate, those who live in areas with no insurers offering health coverage will still be forced to buy coverage.
Read more at CNS....
Year after year, the Federal Government has continued to incentivize those who invest in Commercial Property. The IRS has established guidelines that, if ignored, cause commercial real estate investors to pay more in taxes than they should.
What guidelines are being ignored by Commercial Property Investors?
Very few commercial property owners are aware of IRS Guidelines revolving around Accelerated Depreciation, known in the taxation world as Property Cost Segregation.
Ramifications of Improper Depreciation Allocation
Most commercial property investors do not truly understand the substantial benefits of accelerated depreciation. This is evidenced by our analysis of thousands of depreciation schedules over the years. We have found less than 10% of investors are properly depreciating their properties. The most common misconception is, “I am going to get this money anyway.” Is this a true or false statement?
• Capital Gains vs Ordinary Income Rates – Although the mechanics of these calculations are not always as simplistic as we will be making it for this example, the short response is – increased depreciation leads to paying taxes at the capital gains rate as opposed to the ordinary income rate. Since capital gains rates are likely much lower than the Investor’s income tax rate, they would benefit from accelerated depreciation.
• Time Value of Money – Simply put, your dollar is worth more today than it will be in the future. A tax dollar saved today therefore is worth more than a tax dollar saved in the future. Why lock up a tax savings in your property for 27-39 years when you can receive it today?
• Catch-Up Depreciation – If you have not completed a Cost Segregation study on your property that you have held for a period of time, did you know that you can capture your entire missed benefit immediately? The IRS allows you to complete a 481 adjustment thus enabling you to catch up all the missed accelerated depreciation into the current tax year. This provision alone could save you hundreds of thousands immediately!
• The Power of Cash in Hand – You are a real estate “investor.” This means you understand the investing power of having funds in your hand today. Cash today [in the form of tax savings] enables you to invest in additional properties. The benefits of this are exponential and allow continued growth of your investment portfolio.
Correct allocation of real estate depreciation is essential for Commercial Property Investors to effectively manage their tax situation. Are you one of the 90% who are missing out on opportunities that 10% of your competitors are capturing?
For a free analysis of your Depreciation Schedules, call or email David Ross & Associates.
David Ross & Associates, Business Advisors
Phone 678-654-9500 • Web davidrossandassociates.com • Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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....
The Hotel Industry is unique in that like a commercial product, a Hotel follows a definite life cycle. If a Hotel Owner does not keep this in mind, their facility can quickly become worn out and dated in comparison to their competition. To stay competitive, Owners must acknowledge that there will be constant new brand competition. A newer, swankier hotel that offers the latest amenities to its guests will quickly put an outdated hotel out of business. This fact leaves few options of staying competitive for a Hotel Owner. The most prominent option would be to rebrand. What does “rebranding” entail?
Rebranding can be a broad term ranging from a simple revamping of a logo but more often is a much larger undertaking with the ultimate goal of retaining guest loyalty and awareness. Rebranding is especially important today because of major social, environmental and technological changes that have taken place over the past five to ten years. For example, just a few years ago wifi throughout a hotel was rare, flat screen televisions were a novelty, the expectation of a hot breakfast almost unheard of, and eco-friendly was a word most people were unfamiliar with. All of those ideals have changed, and are now an expectation for most travelers. This new expectation has forced hotel brands to insist their franchises undertake multi-million dollar rebranding to live up to their flag.
What does this mean for Hotel Owners?
There is a little known opportunity for Hotel Owners that would directly affect the rebranding of their organization. The opportunity is Specialized Tax Incentives, specifically Engineering-based Property Cost Allocation, aka Cost Segregation; Property Tax Reductions; Bonus Depreciation; as well as various Energy-based Tax Credits.
Specialized tax credits are an essential fiduciary component when building, purchasing or renovating a hotel or motel. These credits affect rebranding and the constant renovation of non-structural components of their building such as:
• Carpeting and flooring
• Wifi and Internet cabling
• Decorative lighting
• Parking lots
• Curbs and sidewalks
• Electrical and plumbing systems
• Power generators
• Security systems
• And many more....
A Cost Segregation Study is an engineering-based tax analysis in which these types of components are broken out and allocated to a shorter life class, depreciating them at an accelerated rate. This means a building purchased, constructed or renovated since January 1, 1987 and costing in excess of $500,000 should have all improvements and renovations qualifying based on their individual completion dates. So, every Hotel having performed renovations through rebranding within that time frame have a potential benefit sitting on the take just waiting to be captured.
To determine if your facility could capture a benefit, simply contact David Ross & Associates at 678-654-9500 and ask for a basic calculation, performed at no charge.
David Ross & Associates, Business Advisors
Phone 678-654-9500 • Web davidrossandassociates.com • Email email@example.com
This article is available as a printable PDF here.
An advanced hacking and cyberespionage campaign against high-value targets has returned.
The so-called 'DarkHotel' group has been active for over a decade, with a signature brand of cybercrime that targets business travellers with malware attacks, using the Wi-Fi in luxury hotels across the globe.
Hotel Wi-Fi hotspots are compromised in order to help deliver the payload to the selected pool of victims. The exact methods of compromise remain uncertain, but cybersecurity experts believe it involves attackers remotely exploiting vulnerabilities in server software or infiltrating the hotel and gaining physical access to the machines.
Those behind the campaign have continually evolved their tactics and malware payloads, blending phishing and social engineering with a complex Trojan, in order to conduct espionage on corporate research and development personnel, CEOs, and other high-ranking corporate officials.
But now the actors behind DarkHotel have changed tactics again, using a new form of malware known as Inexsmar to attack political targets. Researchers at Bitdefender -- who've analysed the malware strain -- have linked the Inexsmar campaign to DarkHotel because of similarities with payloads delivered by previous campaigns.
Read more at ZDNet....
By Michael F. Cannon
I receive lots of daily health-policy newsletters. This morning, one of them exhibited an all-too-common misunderstanding and bias about how health-insurance markets work.
The setting is the “Consumer Freedom Amendment” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has offered to the Senate GOP’s bill to rewrite ObamaCare. Contrary to what the Republican Party has pledged for seven years — a pledge that presidential candidate Donald Trump even put in writing — the Senate bill would not repeal the health-insurance regulations that are behind ObamaCare’s rising premiums, race-to-the-bottom coverage, and collapsing insurance markets. The Cruz amendment would keep those regulations on the books, but allow consumers to purchase insurance that does not include all of ObamaCare’s hidden taxes and coverage mandates. In effect, it would separate the market. Currently healthy enrollees would opt for the lower-cost “Freedom Option” coverage, which would stay with them once they developed expensive illnesses. Currently sick enrollees would opt for ObamaCare-compliant plans. Premiums for ObamaCare-compliant plans would rise even more than they already have, essentially turning ObamaCare’s Exchanges into high-risk pools that would require lots of government subsidies to keep afloat.
Enter one of my daily newsletters, which matter-of-factly reported:
Of course, everyone paying into the system for those who most need care is the way insurance is fundamentally supposed to work.
Of course! I hear this sort of thing all the time. Now, there is a charitable interpretation that would render this particular phrasing just barely true, but I am fairly sure that interpretation is not what the author intended to convey. Instead, the sentence glosses over a distinction so crucial that entire insurance markets hang in the balance. And it does so in a way that presents the (legitimately disputed and controversial) pro-ObamaCare ideology as an of-course-this-is-fundamentally-true fact.
Fundamentally, insurance markets are a system of subsidies. People with the same ex ante (i.e., before-the-fact) risk of needing medical care pay into the system to subsidize the few in that group who will develop expensive medical needs. We know insurance is supposed to work this way, because of what happens when you try to pool together people with different ex ante health risks at the same premium: the system of subsidies collapses. (See: state-level experiments with community rating, ObamaCare’s CLASS Act, the child-only market under ObamaCare, U.S. territoriesunder ObamaCare, and Exchanges in dozens of counties). Risk-based premiums, exclusions for preexisting conditions, and other measures that ObamaCare supporters hate are actually consumer protections. They exist to keep that system of subsidies stable, so it can keep doing the most good possible by subsidizing people who become sick.
The idea that everyone should pay the same premium regardless of risk arises because left-of-center folks want to cram additional, hidden subsidies into the insurance system. They want to do this rather than create explicit taxes and transfers because, as Jonathan Gruber taught us, there is not sufficient political support for explicit taxes and transfers. But again, when you force insurers to cover unlike risks at the same premium, insurance markets collapse. So ObamaCare throws tons of money at insurers — with everything from the individual mandate to risk-adjustment — in the hope of preventing a collapse. Sometimes it prevents a collapse. Sometimes, not so much.
The above sentence therefore amounts to saying, “Insurance is fundamentally supposed to work exactly like ObamaCare supporters want, with mandates and lots of government subsidies, not like its opponents say.”
That’s what the news tells me, anyway.
Reprinted from the Cato Institute, July 10, 2017
We all know that it's important to have health insurance. And if it were free, we'd all sign up and get some. But health insurance is the opposite of free -- it's expensive. And that means that inevitably, a large number of us get priced out.
So just how bad is the problem? According to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, 11.7% of Americans were uninsured as of the second quarter of this year. That's a 0.8-percentage-point increase from the end of 2016, at which point 10.9% of the population was without insurance. All told, an estimated 2 million Americans seem to have dropped their coverage between then and now.
Why the change? For one thing, premiums rose significantly across the board this year for those who don't qualify for federal subsidies, and many folks just couldn't afford them. Furthermore, a large number of insurers pulled out of the open exchange, leaving consumers with a narrower range of choices for coverage. And let's not discount the role the Trump administration's healthcare bill may have played in all of this. With uncertainty about the future of healthcare abounding, many folks have probably just given up, figuring they're better off saving their money for medical emergencies than struggling to pay the premiums they can barely afford to keep up with.
Still, pricey as today's health plans might be, going without health insurance could wind up being a very costly mistake. And if you're not careful, you might end up spending far more money on healthcare than you ever expected.
Pay now, or pay later
It's easy to see why so many Americans would rather go without health insurance than cough up those monthly premiums. Though insurance costs vary based on a number of factors, including age and geographic location, according to eHealth, the country's largest private online health insurance exchange, the average cost of an unsubsidized individual monthly premium this year is $393, which is 22% higher than the average $321 premium during 2016's open enrollment. The average unsubsidized monthly cost for a family plan, meanwhile, is $1,021, which represents a 23% increase since 2016's open enrollment.
Clearly, that's a lot of money to spend. But there's a reason many of us pay an arm and a leg for insurance, and it's to protect ourselves from the unknown. According to Healthcare.gov, the average cost of a three-day hospital stay is around $30,000. Now imagine you're currently forking over $393 a month for health coverage, or $4,716 a year, and you never use that insurance once -- until you suddenly get injured and are rushed to the hospital, where you're forced to camp out for several days. Suddenly, that insurance more than pays for itself. Even once we factor in a deductible, which this year is $4,328 on average, and a copay, you're still coming out a good $15,000 to $20,000 ahead.
Read more at Madison.com....
The man running Sweden’s biggest security firm was declared bankrupt this week after his identity was hacked.
Though the sub-optimal branding implications were hard to miss, Securitas AB was able to put the whole awkward incident behind it by the end of the day.
Alf Goransson, the company’s 59-year-old chief executive officer since 2007, won an appeal of the July 10 bankruptcy decision by the Stockholm District Court, according to a statement late Wednesday. The perpetrator used the CEO’s identity to seek a loan of an undisclosed amount, after which a bankruptcy application was filed in his name. The identity theft took place in March. Goransson didn’t know he’d been hacked until this week, the company said.
The hack attack “has no effect on the company, other than that our CEO has been declared bankrupt,” spokeswoman Gisela Lindstrand said. “And that will hopefully only last until later today, depending on how soon they can remove the decision.”
Continue reading at MarketWatch.com....
Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos alongside Loews Hotels have warned customers that a security failure may have resulted in the theft of their information.
Both incidents appear to have been linked to a third-party reservation platform, SynXis, which only begun informing client hotels of the security breach in June, months after the attacks took place.
Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos issued a statement informing customers of the data breach last week, which took place due to the Sabre Hospitality Solutions SynXis third-party reservation system.
The hotel chain, which operates 176 cafes, 24 hotels and 11 casinos in 75 countries, said SynXis, the backbone infrastructure for reservations made through hotels and travel agencies, provided the avenue for data theft and the exposure of customer information.
"The unauthorized party first obtained access to payment card and other reservation information on August 10, 2016," the hotel chain said. "The last access to payment card information was on March 9, 2017."
More at ZDNet....
As a human being, I'm saddened when I read of a tragic death, especially when the deceased was young. Today a friend posted on Facebook about the death of a young woman, age 28, who was in a car crash. She left behind two young children. The post directed readers to a gofundme page, requesting donations.
As a life insurance agent, I cringe and sigh when I see this sort of thing. If this woman was reasonably healthy and a non-smoker, she could have left behind $100,000 for her funeral and for her children for less than NINE dollars a month. She could have provided them with $500,000 -- half a million bucks -- for less than $18 a month. These rates would have remained steady for 20 years, providing protection into her children's young adult years.
Life insurance is relatively cheap, especially for younger people. Certainly cheaper than a cell phone or cable TV, both of which are luxuries, not necessities. In her case, life insurance would have been cheaper than one trip to McDonald's.
Where are our priorities?
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