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.”

young boy scared with hands cupping his mouth

The Growing Need for Special Needs Dental Care

A trip to the dentist can be an extremely traumatic experience for children with developmental disabilities and special needs.

According to the CDC, recent estimates in the United States show that about one in six children aged 3 – 17 have one or more developmental disabilities. Additionally, many studies have noted that those who suffer with developmental disabilities also struggle with various stages of dental decay.

What You Can Do for Your Special Needs Child

Teaching your special needs child the fundamentals of dental hygiene can be hard — having a successful dental appointment can be even harder.

Once you find a dentist who can provide both the care and environment your child needs, there are steps you can take to minimize the stress your child feels by going to the dentist.

  1. Schedule familiarization appointments.

Scheduling your child’s appointment ahead of time can help them adjust to their new surroundings. This will allow them to become more accustomed to the lights, sounds, and smells associated with a trip to the dentist’s office.

During these visits you can also meet with the dentist and their staff to help your child become more comfortable and less scared or nervous.

  1. Tell stories leading up to the appointment.

Telling your child positive stories about visits to the dentist’s office in the weeks leading up to the appointment will help give them an idea of what to expect. It’s important that these stories emphasize a happy environment and not something associated with scary tools or pain.

  1. Come prepared.

Does your child have a favorite movie or TV show? Bring it along on a tablet or phone so they can watch while they’re in the dentist’s chair. The distraction will help to focus their attention on the screen and not what is going on in their mouth.

  1. Work with the office staff.

The staff at the dentist’s office is there to make sure your visit goes as quickly and smoothly as possible. Before the appointment, call the dentist’s office to see if the appointments are running behind and if you can sign in a little later. This will help you to minimize the amount of time spent in the waiting room.

The Right Choice for Your Family

Finding a dentist who can provide specialized care for special needs children can be very difficult. Depending on the severity of your child’s developmental disability, general anesthesia may be the only way to provide treatment — something that not all dentists are qualified (or equipped) to provide.

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.

 

middle aged couple discussing health insurance options at home table

4 Myths About the Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment Period

We’ve heard a lot of Open Enrollment myths over the years and want to set the record straight.

Myth #1 “There are fewer insurers to choose from.”

Many carriers who initially fled the federal exchange have returned and now offer plans alongside others who have entered the marketplace. This increase in the number of plans being offered has allowed many individuals and families to re-examine their needs and adjust their coverage amounts accordingly.

Myth #2 “The premiums are too expensive.”

Now that the federal exchange marketplace has stabilized, there may be lower-cost options for ACA-compliant health plans than past Open Enrollment periods. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield has filed for a 2.03% decrease in premiums in Texas.

Even if your coverage needs remain the same, you may be able to find a lower premium being offered by a different insurer. We recommend always reviewing the health insurance options available to you during the annual Open Enrollment period.

Myth #3 “You’ll be penalized at tax time for not having insurance.”

In previous years, if an individual did not have health insurance for more than 2 months of the year and did not qualify for an exemption they would face a tax penalty of $695 or 2.5% of their taxable income (whichever amount was greater). As of January 1, 2019, the tax penalty known as the individual mandate has been repealed, though some states may still enforce penalties on individuals who don’t have health insurance.

Myth #4 “Applications are processed instantly.”

On average, our team will process an enrollment application within 24 business hours and submit it to the carrier. Once the application is with the carrier, their team will take over and require an additional 10-15 business days to process the application.

The carriers often get overwhelmed with applications during the Open Enrollment period, so we recommend enrollees submit their health insurance applications as early as possible.

Securing ACA-Complaint Coverage for 2020

This year, Open Enrollment runs from November 1 through December 15 with a coverage effective date of January 1, 2020. This is the one time of year where individuals and families can enroll in ACA-compliant health insurance plans.

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.

happy family on couch browsing health insurance options on tablet

Getting the Most out of Open Enrollment

With 2020 Open Enrollment period in full swing, families across the country are reviewing their current insurance coverages and seeing what other options may be available to them. Below are a few tips to help you navigate the process.

  1. Learn the Language

Insurance jargon may be enough to make some people’s heads spin but learning just a few key terms could help you pick the best health coverage for you and your family. To make it easy, here are a few words we feel you should know:

  • ACA-compliant” refers to plans that follow all the guidelines and regulations in the Affordable Care Act. These plans are only available during the annual Open Enrollment period or through a Special enrollment period, if you have a qualifying event.
  • Non-ACA plans” also known as short term health plans do not adhere to all of the Affordable Care Act’s guidelines and regulations.
  • Deductible” the amount of money you must pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in
  • Premium” the amount you pay to your insurance company every month
  • In-network” refers to a provider that has a contract with your insurance provider
  • Out-of-network” refers to a provider that does not have a contract with your insurance provider
  1. Think of the Future

No one can predict the future, but you may be able to take an educated guess as to what the next 12 months could hold. Thinking about the coming year could help you determine how much coverage is right for you and your family. Have you had any health issues in the past year? Are you taking any medications? By examining your current health status and concerns you may be able to narrow down your health insurance plan options.

  1. Know Your Deadlines

Like last year, the annual individual health insurance Open Enrollment period began on November 1 and will run until December 15. For those who enroll in one of these ACA-compliant plans, you can expect an effective date of January 1.

Non-ACA plans typically do not follow the ACA open enrollment period dates and are available in most states year-round

stressed young man at work

How Chronic Stress Can Lead to a Long-Term Disability

According to Smithsonian, Gallup’s 2019 Global Emotions Report illustrated that “More than half of United States respondents—around 55 percent—reported feelings of high stress the day prior to being polled…while 45 percent said they felt worried ‘a lot of the day’”. With the global stress levels at approximately 35%, this left the United States in a four-way tie with Albania, Iran, and Sri Lanka for the fourth-most stressed country in the world.

And while a certain amount of stress is normal, chronic stress can cause more than just a few restless nights.

What stresses you out?

In November of 2017, the American Psychological Association released the findings of their annual Stress in America survey and found that roughly 61% of Americans feel stressed about their work lives. But some jobs can be more stressful than others.

It’s also worth noting that some of these types of jobs are known to attract specific personality traits. Occupations in the legal and medical field rank as some of the most stressful jobs in the country, which is something both the ABA and AMA are aware of.

In recent years, both associations have taken steps to improve access to mental health services for their members, and to destigmatize mental health conditions.

The Effects of Stress on Mental Health

According to Psychology Today, “Some researchers have suggested that exposure to a moderate level of stress that you can master, can actually make you stronger and better able to manage stress, just like a vaccine, which contains a tiny amount of the bug, can immunize you against getting the disease.”

While this approach may work for some, no two people are the same. Everyone has their own unique body chemistry and may respond to stress stimuli in different ways. In short, what stresses one person out could have little to no effect on someone else.

Knowing When to Get Help

Chronic stress can often lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

If you’re reluctant to seek professional treatment for these issues, there are several things you can try to help overcome the symptoms. One of those ways is by carefully examining your diet: cut down on sugar, limit highly processed foods, and add fruits, veggies, and whole grains to your daily intake. Exercise is another way to boost serotonin levels and keep stress levels down.

However, if you’ve been experiencing any lingering or worsening depression and anxiety symptoms for two weeks or more, it may be best to visit your doctor.

If left untreated, it’s possible for your symptoms to become so severe that you find yourself unable to live your life as normal. They can actually develop into a long-term disability — and prevent you from working.

Protecting Your Income

In many cases, mental health problems are not something that can be predicted. As is the case with most disabilities, there is only so much a person can do to protect themselves. One of the best ways to do this is to protect your income.

If you are experiencing mental health issues and are forced to take a leave of absence from work, the last thing you want to do is worry about money. Since most of your expenses will continue during a time of disability, it is vitally important that you have a plan that covers those commitments.

1 2 3 4 14