Diabetes & the Law: Health Insurance, Employment & the Costs of Care
TCOYD TV: Diabetes & the Law: Health Insurance, Employment & the Costs of Care
Original Air Date – 4.16.2009
Dr. Steven Edelman talks to Kriss Halpern, JD, about stretching health care dollars in a downturned economy. Mr. Halpern answers questions about COBRA, HIPAA, limited insurance plans, state and federal plans, health savings accounts (HSAs) and patient assistance programs. Examining recent court rulings, Mr. Halpern discusses the protections provided people with diabetes by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Explanation of Health Savings Accounts by Department of Treasury
LA Times Article on Helpful Website to Find Low Cost Health Care Options
“Diabetes & The Law” Podcast
Unemployment: COBRA Coverage Questions
COBRA Premium Assistance Explanation by Department of Labor
ERISA, COBRA and HIPAA Explained by Department of Labor
Partnership for Prescription Assistance Explanation and Application to Obtain Low Cost Prescriptions
Life Insurance Overview
Life insurance is valuable protection for your family. Many people question whether to buy life insurance because it is an added expense they do not feel they can accommodate. However, purchasing life insurance is one of the most important things you can do for your family, and it is more affordable than one may think. Here is an overview of two types of life insurance policies.
One type of life insurance policy is known as a term life insurance policy. Term life insurance covers the policyholder for a set amount of time. For instance, there are 10 year terms, 20 year terms and so on. They also come in many different forms, such as, no medical life insurance, burial insurance, or you can even get a term policy for mortgage protection insurance. Term policies are often the most affordable types of life insurance, but these policies do not have a cash value once the term expires.
Another common form of life insurance is called a whole life insurance policy. Whole life insurance works to protect policyholders in the same manner as term life insurance policies do. However, at the end of the policy’s term, or its maturity date, there is cash value the policyholder can access.
Whole life insurance policies cost more in premiums than term life insurance policies. They also have less coverage to them than term policies have. For many life insurance consumers, the benefit of whole life policies is that there is cash available at the maturity date. If the coverage is not needed, the biggest benefit is for a life insurance holder to realize cash value they can use any way they wish at the end of the policy’s term.
Talk with an insurance agent from GoldsmithInsurance.com or a broker to find out which type of life insurance is best for your particular situation. Life insurance is valuable and care must be taken when choosing a policy. You do not want to make such an important decision without the help of a knowledgeable professional.
Benefits of Life Insurance for People Over 50
Many over 50 years of age are rushing to life insurance companies to set up a policy. With the cost of living soaring one of the main reasons people are doing this is to offset these costs and expenses. With unemployment and inflation as well as poor savings plans, life has taken a toll on the over 50 population. In an effort to relieve the financial burden of funeral expenses as more they are beginning to pre-plan with much more gusto. Life insurance policies help to alleviate the financial burden of family when it comes time to make such decisions. Life insurance policies also help to clear debts so that loved ones won’t have to deal with the creditors. While many people over the age of 50 hope to leave some money for their loved ones, this simply isn’t possible without pre-planning and using a good life insurance policy. Life insurance policies for people over 50 may include:
1. Life insurance premiums that are fixed and guaranteed. This will allow you to plan your budget without worrying about changes in the future.
2. Loved ones won’t need to worry about finances upon your untimely death. They’ll receive the benefits of the life insurance policy and won’t have to face burial decisions and debt resolution without means to do so.
3. Life insurance policy members can often qualify for coverage without having to qualify depending upon a health condition. This is a huge benefit to family members who wish to avoid personal health questions.
4. Family members will receive free advice about financial investment options. Life insurance companies will offer them advice to assure that they are making the best informed decisions regarding the finances.
The decision to buy life insurance can benefit the entire family during a time of crisis so make sure you are covered with an over 50 policy.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance
Keeping with my recent theme of addressing seniors needs, I wanted to discuss Medicare supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap insurance. Medigap insurance is a form of medical insurance that often covers the medical costs that Medicare may not cover. Medigap is provided by private insurance companies and they can help eligible Medicare recipients the ability to pay things like co-pays, deductibles, or co-insurance rates.
Medigap plans work alongside Medicare; for many medical procedure. Medicare will pay its share and then the Medigap insurance will pay what it covers per the individual’s plan. Although it can cover many medical expenses that Medicare cannot completely pay for, there are some medical procedures that Medigap cannot cover. For example, Medigap does not cover long-term hospital care, private nursing, or eye and dental care.State governments licenses private insurance companies to sell Medigap insurance to Medicare recipients. In total, there are 12 basic Medigap models that states will license. The names of the policies are commonly labeled Medigap A, Medigap B, etc. As one goes higher in the alphabet up to the twelfth Medigap model plan, the more medical coverage the Medigap policy will cover. Only Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin offer different Medigap plans to its citizens on Medicare.People who are on Medicare Part A or Part B are eligible to purchase Medigap insurance. Medigap insurance does require premium payments per month. If a person has Medicare Part B, they still must pay their Part B premiums and the Medigap premiums. Medigap insurance is eligible to any healthy or sick Medicare recipient; as long as the premium is paid, Medigap will cover its share of the medical costs. Only one recipient is eligible for Medigap; a spouse covered by one’s Medicare will not be covered by one’s Medigap. Medigap policies sold to Medicare recipients after January 1st, 2006, do not offer prescription drug plans thanks to the creation of Medicare Part D. Medicare Part D is a private insurance program that helps Medicare recipients purchase prescription drugs. Before 2006, many Medigap policies had prescription drug coverage. Medicare recipients who want to a plan to pay for prescription drugs can invest in Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage.Medigap insurance is often confused with the Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, are forms of private health insurance that must meet the quality-level of Medicare Part A or Part B. Medicare Advantage recipients are not eligible under Medigap insurance. Some recipients may accidentally have both plans, but Medigap will not pay out any difference in medical costs or drug costs if the recipient has Medicare Advantage. People with Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSA) are also unable to receive Medigap. It is actually illegal for an insurance company to sell a person Medigap when they have a Medicare MSA.
At Least Consider Burial Insurance
The cost of a typical funeral is far more than what most people expect. Every element from the plot to the casket and even additional services like a procession contribute to the overall cost. Many people who do not hold life insurance are unprepared for these expenses. Loved ones might not have the financial resources necessary to pay for a proper funeral. Burial insurance helps to cover these costs. There are several reasons to at least consider holding burial insurance.
Burial insurance is far easier to acquire and maintain than many other types of policies. Burial policies do not require a medical examination and will cover a person until at least age 100. The premiums do not change for the life of the policy. The majority of insurers do not require an individual to renew or meet other criteria in order to keep the policy active. Additionally, the premiums for burial insurance are lower than most other forms of insurance that would cover the same expenses.
Specify Burial Services
Burial insurance can allow a person to actually assemble the different elements of a funeral so that the task is not left to friends and family members. This can be done formally through certain preneed policies. It could also be done unofficially through documents and an understanding with the family. Choosing specific burial services in advance will relieve a large amount of stress on loved ones who are coping with loss.
Provide Security for Loved Ones
A final reason to consider having burial insurance or holding policies for family members is to provide security for loved ones. Family members and friends will have to deal with strong emotions after a death. Immediate family might also have to adjust to a sudden loss of income especially for an individual without life insurance. Burial insurance will make certain the family can take the time necessary to adjust and grieve without worrying about funeral costs and taking on debt.
Social Security benefits for couples – It’s all about timing
When you and your spouse decide to start looking at approaches to utilize for your Social Security retirement benefits, there are several paths you can take. Unfortunately, some of those options can result in you claiming significantly less than what is ultimately available to you.
To make sure you maximize your Social Security benefits, there are a few tips you and your significant other should consider.
Timing is everything
This one impacts both single and married individuals, but a misstep for a couple compounds the mistake.
You can start receiving Social Security benefits early when you reach age 62 instead of waiting for the official retirement age of 66. If you do so, however, your benefits will be permanently reduced. If you begin taking your benefits at age 62, you will receive about 25% less per month than you would at your full retirement age.
You also have the option of waiting up until age 70. Doing so will see an increase in your benefits of around 8% each year.
I was talking to another financial planner recently that ran an analysis for a client showing them the difference. At age 85, if they had waited until they reached age 66 to start taking benefits, they would have received $150,000 more during that time than if they started taking their benefits at age 62.
Does that mean waiting is the right choice for everyone? No, it does not. Each couple needs to examine their financial situation closely to make a determination. If they do not have a pressing need for the benefits and are in relatively good health, they should wait until at least age 66. On the other hand, if a couple has little in retirement assets, needs the funds to live off of now, or has serious health issues, taking the early retirement benefits is most likely the better solution.
Delay benefits for the higher earner
If one spouse was the major income earner for the couple, it is best to delay their benefits for as long as possible, but not past the age of 70. This can help guarantee that the surviving spouse will collect as large of a benefit as possible when one spouse passes away. The objective here is to maximize the benefit. The higher benefit will be paid to you for life and continue for the life of your surviving spouse.
When it comes to couples making decisions about Social Security benefits, when they choose to start taking those benefits is often the most important decision.
Basic Facts About Replacing FEGLI Whole Life Insurance Vs. Independent Term Life Insurance
The life insurance plan offered by the federal government is called the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance program (FEGLI). When an employee enrolls in a FEGLI whole life insurance plan, he or she may choose a policy that is equal to as much as five times his or her annual income.
Enrollment may take place in the first month of employment or during specified enrollment periods. By enrolling during the first month of employment, the employee may avoid medical underwriting. This means no exam or medical documentation are required.
This is excellent for people who are in a compromised state of health, but it may not be a good idea for someone who is in excellent health because premiums are affected for everyone on the plan.
On the FEGLI program, the cost of premiums goes up fairly steeply as time passes. All enrollees are subject to these increases; however, people who are in good health may be able to get a better deal elsewhere.
Many federal employees are unaware that their premiums are going to increase by more than ten times between the ages of 35 and 55. By the time they reach middle age, they suddenly find themselves paying very high premiums.
Luckily, federal employees who are in good health and are between the ages of 50 and 55 have a few options. By switching from a FEGLI whole life policy to a term life policy, a federal employee may be able to save as much as $200 a month in premiums.
Of course, you do not have to wait until you are 55 to make this choice. You can choose to purchase a term life policy independently rather than participating in a FEGLI whole life policy at any time you wish.
It is important to realize that a whole life policy is in place for your whole life. If you live into your 90s or 100s and pay your premiums, your policy will still be in place. A term life policy is in place for a term – usually 30 years.
You may base your choice on factors such as your current quality of life and typical longevity in your family. If paying very high premiums for a whole life policy very negatively impacts your current quality of life and/or you do not expect to live to be extremely old, a term life policy with lower cost premiums may be a very good choice for you. You can see a brekdown and more details about alternatives to FEGLI policies when you CLICK HERE.
The FEGLI program is very solid and dependable. It is convenient for federal employees, and the insurance comes from Metropolitan Life, a well-known and respected company. Still, if the financial reality of this program is a burden to you, you may very well wish to research your options in either whole life or term life policies from a different company or even term life policies from Met Life. The savings in premiums can be quite significant in the long term.