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Debunking the Most Common Long-Term Disability Insurance Myths

When was the last time you thought about what would happen to your family if you suddenly couldn’t work? If you have to think about it, then chances are, it’s been a while.

The simple truth is that one out of every four workers will be diagnosed with a long-term disability before they reach the age of retirement. But despite this startling statistic, many still feel like long-term disability insurance is a coverage they can live without.

Myth #1:  “I have enough protection through Workers’ Comp and Social Security.”

According to the Council for Disability Awareness, only approximately five percent of accidents or illnesses are workplace-related meaning that the other ninety-five percent will not be covered under workers’ comp.

When seeking to collect social security disability benefits, you may be in for a wait of anywhere from three to five months for an initial decision to be made regarding your case. If, like 66 percent of applicants, your application is denied, you have the option to appeal, but in 2017 the backlog of appeals cases hit over one million with an average processing time of over eighteen months, according to research conducted by Allsup.

Can your family really afford to wait for benefits when you need help?

Myth #2:  “I’ll still have to fight for a payout in the event of a long-term disability diagnosis.”

We’ve all heard stories about people struggling to receive payout benefits from their insurance company. However, not all of these cases are related to long-term disability insurance and those that are, are very rare.

Upon enrolling, all of your benefits and circumstances surrounding a potential payout are laid out in front of you. If you aren’t going to receive the amount of coverage you are looking for, then it may be worth looking into other options.

Myth #3:  “I can’t receive long-term disability insurance because I’m a government employee.”

If you are a government employee enrolled in a Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) plan, you are still able to apply for long-term disability benefits. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, “While you can buy private supplemental long-term disability insurance in addition to having FERS benefits, you may not get as much coverage as you expected.”

elderly couple weighing their long term care options at a dining room table

Dispelling 3 Myths of Long-term care

How much of our lives do we spend thinking about the future? When we’re kids, we think about what we’re going to be when we grow up, what our first car will be, whether or not we’ll get married or if we’ll have children of our own.

At some point, we stop thinking about the future—usually when it stops being fun to imagine. But this is when thinking about the future becomes the most important.

Common Misconceptions Regarding Long-term Care

Myth #1: Medicare will pay for it.

No. Medicare will not pay for your long-term care needs. While Medicare is designed to help those over the age of 65 keep on top of their healthcare needs, long-term care is not one of them according to the federal government. And while Medicare Supplemental plans are often touted to cover things that Medicare leaves behind, long-term care is still not one of them.

Myth #2: I won’t need long-term care.

While this may be true for some, according to Longtermcare.gov, if you were to turn 65 today, you would have almost a 70 percent chance of needing some form of long-term care service during your remaining years.

The generation currently facing the greatest growing need for long-term care services are the Baby Boomers. Born between 1946 and 1964, the Baby Boomer generation accounts for roughly 78 million Americans, and according to Medicare.gov, it is estimated that 12 million of them will require long-term care services by 2020.

Myth #3: My spouse or kids will take care of me.

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, it is estimated that 25 to 30 percent of the baby boomer generation “will become divorced or widowed by the time they reach ages 55 to 64,” increasing the likelihood of needing to depend on one’s children to provide care.

However, studies have shown that rates of childlessness continue to rise. According to the Center for Disease Control, new data has shown that the birthrate has hit an all-time low. This statistic may not have as large of an impact on older generations who have more children than it will eventually for younger generations that do not.

Taking Control Of Your Future

According to an article from Forbes, “A private room in a nursing home now costs consumers more than $8,000 per month, or $97,455 per year… That’s an increase of 5.5 from just one year ago and a nearly 50% increase since 2004. A semi-private room is less expensive, but still carries a hefty price tag: $85,775 per year.”

Assisted living facilities are more affordable but the national average for a private room will still run approximately $45k a year — which is actually proving to be more affordable than in-home health aids ($49,192) and standard homemaker-type services ($47,934), according to the Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Study.

With the yearly cost of long-term care only continuing to rise, long-term care insurance can help both you and your family cover the cost of your care should you need it in the future.

happy family smiling in front of house

Two Ways That Life Insurance Helps Our Communities

What would your family do if you were no longer there to help support them? For many families throughout the country, this is a question that is sometimes asked too late. Maintaining a way of life can become extremely difficult after the death of a spouse or partner — not just emotionally, but financially as well.

But did you know that life insurance also plays a role in our communities and national economy?

Reduces Poverty Levels

Losing a loved one is hard enough without the added stress of associated financial hardship. Life insurance can help ease that burden. Payouts from life insurance policies can provide essential financial resources to help lift a family out of poverty or prevent them from entering into poverty altogether after the death of a loved one.

In 2018, the life insurance industry paid out more than $120 billion to beneficiaries. These payouts are designed to help families maintain their current way of life while they adjust to their new reality — helping to pay for everything from mortgages and estate taxes to child care.

Increases Home and Neighborhood Value

No one should be forced into making life-changing decisions while grieving the loss of a family member. In many households, this sudden loss may mean uprooting a family altogether to somewhere more easily supported by a single income.

With the help of life insurance payouts, families can take their time when deciding whether to relocate due to loss of income – while still being able to make necessary repairs and keep up with maintenance. Homes that have been properly maintained and cared for over the years not only result in higher property values, they also increase desirability of the overall neighborhood.

According to Prudential’s The Socioeconomic Impact of Life Insurance 2017-2018 report, “a $1 permanent increase in payouts results in a 47-cent reduction in federal spending on poverty and unemployment programs — plus a $22 increase in the aggregate value of home prices.”

happy family smiling in front of house

The Role of Life Insurance in Our Society

Life insurance has long served as a crucial financial safety net for families and households experiencing the loss of a loved one. In 2016, the life insurance industry paid out over $100 billion to beneficiaries—more than twice as much as in 2001. These death benefit payments to beneficiaries often provide a vital lifeline at a difficult time: helping make up for lost income so rent/mortgages and child-care costs can continue to be paid; protecting savings from being depleted; paying off debts; or covering the estate taxes that arise when someone dies. This is important given that 63% of workers say it would be very or somewhat difficult to meet their current financial obligations if their next paycheck were delayed for a week.2

But beyond this, life insurance plays a wider role—helping to protect and boost the health of the U.S. economy by:

Lowering poverty levels

Life insurance payouts help protect household incomes. When a primary income earner passes away, payouts may provide enough of a cushion to help lift a family out of poverty or prevent them from entering into poverty altogether.

Reducing unemployment rates

Life insurance acts to stabilize businesses and minimize disruptions in the face of the unexpected, allowing them to continue to operate and safeguard jobs.

Increasing house prices

Life insurance payouts — especially in the event of a primary income earner’s death — can help homeowners maintain their homes and take their time making decisions, rather than selling their homes quickly under economic duress or being forced into foreclosure. This ultimately boosts both home and neighborhood desirability, since houses in well-kept neighborhoods generally demand higher prices, and also reduces the availability of housing stock in the U.S. — further boosting house prices. In fact, for every $1 in life insurance payouts, the sum of all national home values increases approximately $22.

 

How to Handle Rising Group Health Costs

When was the last time you thought about your group health insurance and benefits offerings?

Maybe it’s not something you think about every quarter (or even every year) but in today’s economy, employer-based health insurance and benefit packages have never been more important.

The Growing Cost of Group Health Insurance

According to the National Business Group on Health annual survey of nearly 150 of the nation’s largest employers, the cost of worker health benefits is projected to increase by 5% in 2020.

To offset the rising cost of group health insurance premiums, you may be tempted to cut your employee benefit offerings. Don’t.

Providing your employees with a comprehensive benefits package may be pricey, but it could help you to avoid costly turnover in the future. Research shows that there may be a correlation between job satisfaction and good benefits packages.

So, how can you lower your business’s costs without sacrificing coverage?

  1. Level Funding

Exploring level-funded health plans could save you between 10%-15% on your group health insurance costs. The plans are offered by industry-leading providers and boast a nation-wide network of hospitals and doctors that your employees will have access to. The best part of level-funded plans? A return of premium option if your claims costs are lower than expected.

  1. Reference-Based Pricing 

In some cases, referenced-based pricing could save your {business|firm} even more money than with a level-funded plan. These plans bypass the traditional provider network, giving you access to any doctor or hospital in the country, and offer an advocacy team to help you pay the lowest out-of-pocket costs. Typically, medical providers are reimbursed, saving you and your employees thousands of dollars annually. Reference-based pricing puts the control in the hands of the business owners, not the insurance companies.

  1. Health Savings Accounts

When paired with a high-deductible plan, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are a great way to help your employees save for unexpected medical costs. Since becoming available, these plans have expanded in popularity and surpassed 25 million accounts. Furthermore, according to Denevir’s 2019 Year-End HSA Research Report, the number of HSA accounts continues to grow 13% each year.

employee benefits book on a wooden desk with glasses succulent coffee and notebooks

Trending Employee Benefits That Companies Should Be Aware Of

The U.S. unemployment rate is now at its lowest levels since 1969. This strengthening of the American job market has given many workers the confidence to reassess their employment situations in a way that they may not have felt comfortable doing ten years ago.

Employers are realizing that it is becoming harder to attract top talent and keep them. Previous benefits packages such as PTO and 401(k) offerings don’t seem to be enough anymore. So many businesses are now tasked with developing new ways to find and retain good staff.

While a comfortable salary is nice, a growing number of workers are placing a higher value on voluntary benefits. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks 7th in the world for Countries With the Worst Work-Life Balance. So the more companies do to make their employees’ lives easier outside of the workplace, the more appealing and valuable those jobs become.

These are some of the most sought-after benefits right now:

Identity Theft Protection

According to Javelin’s 2019 Identity Fraud Study, over 14.4 million people fell victim to identity fraud in 2018 and over 23 percent of victims were not reimbursed for personal expenses. As technology continues to evolve, protecting your identity has never been more important. With new reports of data hacks every month, it’s at the forefront of many minds. Offering identity-theft protection could give employees an invaluable benefit: peace of mind.

Student Loan Refinancing

At the start of 2019, over 44 million U.S. citizens owed more than $1.56 trillion in student loan debt – signaling the highest amount ever recorded. According to Forbes, “Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt – and higher than both credit cards and auto loans.” For the majority, this level of debt will continue to weigh them down for decades making this a crisis that impacts more than just recent college graduates.

This has led many businesses to begin offering student loan benefits to their employees in the form of refinancing options – or even help to pay down some of their debt (usually a set amount over a period of years). Some businesses who have implemented this approach have seen increased employee retention rates.

Wellness

Providing your employees with the tools they need to maintain their overall physical health can benefit not only them but your business as well. As a result, many employers are choosing to invest in everything from gym memberships to telemedicine options for their employees.

While exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve overall cognitive abilities such as learning and concentration, sometimes that isn’t enough to fight off common depression and anxiety symptoms.

Roughly 1 million workers are absent from their jobs every day because of stress. According to The American Institute of Stress, “Unanticipated absenteeism is estimated to cost American companies $602.00/worker/year and the price tag for large employers could approach $3.5 million annually.”

Improving the access and affordability of mental health services is something that could greatly benefit businesses and employees alike. Many telemedicine services, such as Teladoc, have ventured into the realm of mental health counseling. This gives employees an additional benefit while allowing them to access crucial mental and physical health services wherever and whenever they need.

professional woman on phone outside smiling

Knowing Your Options Outside of Open Enrollment

While the annual Open Enrollment period focuses on ACA-compliant individual major medical insurance, there are still other forms of insurance available for potential enrollees.

Knowing Your Options

According to healthinsurance.org, “ACA-compliant coverage refers to a major medical health insurance policy that conforms to the regulations set forth in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)…This means they must include coverage for the ten essential benefits with no lifetime or annual benefit maximums, and must adhere to the consumer protections built into the law.”

Unless you qualify for a special enrollment period, you cannot receive ACA-compliant individual health insurance coverage outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period, which typically runs from November 1st until December 15th of each year.

If you missed out on Open Enrollment but still need individual health insurance, you still have a few options available:

  1. COBRA

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.”

  1. Qualifying Life Event (QLE)

There are certain life circumstances called Qualifying Life Events (QLEs) that can qualify you for a special enrollment period. Special enrollment periods allow you to obtain ACA-compliant health coverage outside of the annual Open Enrollment period for you and your eligible dependents. The most common QLEs pertain to:

  • Loss of health coverage
  • Changes in household
  • Changes in residence
  1. Non-ACA Compliant plans

Non-ACA compliant plans, also referred to as short-term medical plans, have recently become more appealing to a growing number of people due to their lower rates. According to the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, “Late last year (2017), President Trump issued an executive order directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take steps to expand the availability of short-term health insurance policies, and a proposed regulation to increase the maximum coverage term under such policies was published in February.”

So, what separates the ACA-compliant health plans from the ones that are not? One of the biggest factors being the ACA’s ten essential health benefits. Non-ACA compliant plans do not need to adhere to the numerous rules and regulations laid out in the Affordable Care Act.

business leaders discuss group health insurance options

Making the Most of Your Group Health Care Benefits

Have you recently enrolled or been offered enrollment in a group health care plan through your employer? If so, this can be a great way to enjoy benefits for yourself and your loved ones. Of course, when enrolling in group healthcare (or any health care plan, for that matter), making sure you’re making the most of your benefits is a must. By following a few steps, you can make that happen.

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young african american woman on the couch wearing blue blocking eye glasses looking at her laptop

Blue Blocker Lenses: Are They Worth The Hype?

As our bodies continue to age, it is understandable that we begin to experience more changes. And whether we like it or not, doctors and other medical specialists are here to help us make sure that our bodies are operating at the very best levels that they can and when they are not, doctors are the people we visit to find out why.

For example, declining eyesight is one of the most common and most easily diagnosable issues our bodies may encounter throughout our lives. Worsening eyesight is often associated with getting older and while there are a variety of reasons and levels of severity, ultimately poor eyesight is typically very treatable except in certain circumstances.

As a general rule of thumb, it is suggested that you should visit the eye doctor once every one to two years. Even if you don’t feel your eyesight has changed, an optometrist will be able to know for sure and make any adjustments to your eye prescription as necessary.

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Is An HSA Right For You?

Over the past ten years, Health Insurance has been a hot-topic issue in political arenas and dinner tables alike all throughout the country. From navigating the Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations and compliance details to researching the available insurance offerings themselves, individuals all over are trying to find the best plan benefits for their budget.

Could an HSA be just the thing?

What Is An HSA?

A Health Savings Account is more commonly referred to as an HSA.  An HSA is designed to act as a tax-deferred savings account to help you cover out-of-pocket expenses.  It can even be used for non-covered insurance expenses provided they fall under the IRS Qualified Medical Expense (QME) list.  This list includes elective procedures, such as Lasik eye surgery.

The general idea is that every month you contribute a set amount into your account and as your HSA grows you receive added financial protection for future healthcare needs, while also tax-sheltering more money.  This is a win-win.  Many banks will also allow you to invest the money you save into Mutual Funds for higher returns.

In order to take advantage of an HSA, you must first participate in an HAS-compatible plan, better known as a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).

Adding Additional Benefits To Your Health Plan

Unlike a traditional savings account HSA’s have a triple tax benefit:

  1. The contributions that go into your HSA are not taxed.
  2. Any interest your HSA earns is tax-free
  3. If you make a withdrawal on your HSA to help cover the cost of a qualified medical expense, you can rest easy knowing that that money will also be tax-free.

Another benefit of an HSA is the fact that there is no deadline on when you need to use the money in your account. Because of this, many are reaping the benefits of their HSA’s well into retirement.

Making The Decision

Ultimately, the only person who can decide if an HSA is right for you, is you. In some cases, your employer might even offer a contribution match to your HSA account up to a certain dollar amount per year, which could help your savings out if you are already putting in the maximum as indicated by the IRS.

 

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