health care http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1472/all en-US How to Handle a Massive Medical Bill http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-466332486.jpg" alt="Learning how to handle a surprise medical bill" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;Have you noticed that your neck appears swollen?&quot; That's what the nurse practitioner asked about halfway through what I had assumed was a routine office visit.</p> <p>Soon after, I was swiftly catapulted into a long series of office visits that were anything but routine. There were ultrasounds, biopsies, consults with specialists, an invasive surgery, an overnight stay in the hospital, and eventually, the ok from my docs to go about living a normal life.</p> <p>That's when the medical bills started rolling in.</p> <p>Turns out I could kick thyroid cancer to the curb, but it wouldn't be cheap. Medical care is expensive, not just for me, but also for the one in four American adults under age 65 who have past-due medical bills, according to a recent study released by the Urban Institute.</p> <p>Still, knowledge is power. At least, it is according to the same Urban Institute study, which reported, &quot;Adults with greater financial knowledge are less likely to have <a href="http://www.urban.org/urban-wire/why-do-larger-share-millennials-and-gen-x-have-past-due-medical-debt-older-americans?utm_source=twitter&amp;amp;utm_campaign=organic&amp;amp;utm_medium=social&amp;amp;utm_term=millennial_genx_medical_debt&amp;amp;utm_content=urban_" target="_blank">past-due medical debt</a>.&quot;</p> <p>That's good news for Wise Bread readers, who are keenly interested in the fate of their financial futures. Even so, a surprise bill, particularly a large one, can take even the most educated saver by surprise. The silver lining here is that there are several specific steps you can take to help minimize the pain that often comes with the arrival of an unexpected medical expense. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-youre-hit-with-a-huge-medical-bill?ref=seealso" target="_blank">What to Do If You're Hit With a Huge Medical Bill</a>)</p> <h2>1. Scrutinize your bill</h2> <p>According to various sources, as many as eight in 10 medical bills contain some sort of error &mdash; sometimes even multiple errors. I'm not surprised. Mine sure did.</p> <p>When that first hospital bill arrived, it was for more than my annual deductible. A lot more. After suffering what felt like a small panic attack, I called my insurance company. As it turned out, they hadn't received a bill from the hospital. Instead, the hospital had billed me directly.</p> <p>It took a few frustrating phone calls, but the hospital ultimately fixed the mistake. Still, had the bill been for a less egregious amount, I may have overlooked the error and just paid it. I mean, how many of us scour the line items of those bills?</p> <p>Turns out, we should.</p> <p>&quot;Sometimes, insurance companies or doctors' offices make mistakes that they don't realize,&quot; says financial coach Maggie Germano. &quot;They may have simply miscoded something. It's up to you to follow up and make sure they aren't charging you when they shouldn't be.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Negotiate with your health care provider</h2> <p>Looking over an itemized hospital bill is not for the weak of heart. Mine included shocking over-the-top expenses, like $27,000 for three hours in the operating room, $15,000 for an overnight stay in a recovery room, and $108 for a single dose of calcium.</p> <p>Those inflated fees are all part of an elaborate dance between health care providers and insurance giants. Insurance companies don't often pay the amount that gets printed on those statements. Instead, they use it as a jumping off point for reimbursement negotiations. Sadly, it's those without health care coverage who often get stuck in this line of medical bill crossfire.</p> <p>&quot;Hospitals are always complaining that they're not reimbursed enough money from the health insurance companies, and therefore increase fees as high as possible,&quot; says Adria Gross, founder of MedWise Insurance Advocacy.</p> <p>Uninsured or underinsured patients typically don't have anyone behind the scenes who can negotiate those fees on their behalf. Instead, they have to advocate for themselves.</p> <p>According to money-saving expert Andrea Woroch, health care providers are not likely to negotiate costs if you have health insurance. But if you're uninsured, you may be able to talk your bill down by 10 to 20 percent. That's why it never hurts to get connected with the customer service department &mdash; no matter how long the wait or arduous the phone tree &mdash; and ask for a break. Woroch notes that some centers will even give a discount if you offer to pay in cash. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-negotiate-medical-bills?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Ways to Negotiate Medical Bills</a>)</p> <h2>3. Get smart about the actual cost of your procedure</h2> <p>Still, negotiating a medical bill isn't as easy as &quot;ask and ye shall receive.&quot; It helps to come to the table prepared with &quot;the usual, reasonable, and customary charges&quot; for your particular medical procedure, says Gross. The first step is to track down the procedure code for the service you've been billed for. A quick internet search should do the trick. Then, check out an online database to start searching for the fair fee associated with your procedure. (Gross recommends <a href="https://fairhealthconsumer.org/" target="_blank">Fair Health Consumer</a> and <a href="https://healthcarebluebook.com/" target="_blank">Healthcare Bluebook</a>.)</p> <p>Gross says that finding that number &mdash; before you call &mdash; can help you determine whether you've been overbilled so you can fight to correct the charges.</p> <h2>4. Request a payment plan</h2> <p>If you still can't afford the bill, Germano suggests asking your doctor to set up a payment plan. &quot;Most medical centers just want to get paid eventually, so they should work with you to make it easier for you to pay,&quot; she says.</p> <p>The key to this strategy is figuring out how much of the bill you can afford to pay each month. You'll likely be paying it for a while, so make sure you can commit to this amount for the long-term.</p> <p>&quot;Get the agreement in writing, and make sure they send you a confirmation email or letter whenever you make a payment,&quot; warns Germano. Then, keep careful track of your payments along the way. &quot;That will prevent them from accusing you of not paying what you owe,&quot; she adds.</p> <p>It will also ensure that the bill doesn't get sent to collections, which will damage your credit score.</p> <h2>5. Plan for the future</h2> <p>Medical surprises happen, no matter how healthy you think you are. (Trust me on this one. No one was more surprised by my diagnosis than me.) Keeping a stash of cash on reserve in your Health Savings Account (HSA) or emergency savings may just save your future self from a couple of missed mortgage payments. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How an HSA Saves You Money</a>)</p> <p>As Ben Franklin once wisely said, &quot;An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.&quot; That adage applies to your health, but also to what's in your pocketbook.</p> <p>Start planning now, so you'll be prepared when the unexpected strikes. And if it doesn't? Well, it never hurts to have a few extra bucks in the bank.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alaina-tweddale">Alaina Tweddale</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-heart-my-high-deductible-health-insurance-plan">Why I (Heart) My High Deductible Health Insurance Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft">7 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself From Medical Records Theft</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/women-pay-more-for-health-care-heres-how-to-pay-less">Women Pay More for Health Care — Here&#039;s How to Pay Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Health and Beauty doctors health care health insurance medical bills negotiating payment plans surprise bills unexpected costs Fri, 05 May 2017 08:30:12 +0000 Alaina Tweddale 1938309 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Ways Travel in Retirement Keeps You Young http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-travel-in-retirement-keeps-you-young <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-ways-travel-in-retirement-keeps-you-young" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-487618753.jpg" alt="Couple traveling during retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Traveling and retirement is a great combination, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Read on for how travel can lead to a healthier, more enjoyable time after you leave the workforce.</p> <h2>1. More excitement</h2> <p>Being bored is a valid concern for those considering retirement. People wonder: How will I fill up the long hours that I used to spend in the office, where I was valued and useful?</p> <p>Incorporating travel into your retirement is a foolproof way of keeping things fresh and new. In fact, the routine of going to the office every day is arguably much less interesting than being able to experience new places, cultures, and people, as you can do when you're on the road.</p> <p>To really get to know a place and its people, you may want to stay several weeks. In that case, you may be more comfortable in accommodations you can find through short-term home rental websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway. Or, you could list your own place on Home Exchange and swap with someone who has a home in another country that you're interested in visiting. Signing up for Home Exchange costs around $100 but then you can find free accommodations around the globe. Any of these options allow you to experience the excitement of being in a new place with the comfort of living in a home. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-woman-retired-at-60-and-traveled-the-world?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How One Woman Retired at 60 and Traveled the World</a>)</p> <h2>2. Constant learning</h2> <p>Traveling during retirement is a wonderful opportunity to learn new things. Reading up on the history and natural environment of the place you're visiting, spending time in museums and at other points of interest, and talking with locals are all learning opportunities.</p> <p>Visiting a foreign country can be the perfect opportunity to pick up a new language that you've always wanted to learn, too. Learning languages is not only fun, it helps keep your mind sharp. You can take up a language through any number of immersion courses, some aimed specifically at seniors and retirees. Or, you could polish your language skills simply by engaging in conversations with locals you meet.</p> <p>Cooking classes can be another great way to learn about a new place. Often, cooking classes abroad are very affordable, and they're a fun way to experience a new culture and meet new people. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/one-surprising-skill-that-can-save-you-money-when-you-travel?ref=seealso" target="_blank">One Surprising Skill That Will Save You Money When You Travel</a>)</p> <h2>3. Better climates<strong> </strong></h2> <p>With the freedom to travel whenever you want, you can hop from place to place to chase your ideal climate. Leave behind cold, snowy winters and travel to a warm, sunny place. Find a tropical paradise any time of year. You might even fall in love with one particular city and decide to stay there. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-incredible-places-to-retire-abroad-that-anyone-can-afford?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Incredible Places to Retire Abroad That Anyone Can Afford</a>)</p> <h2>4. Money-saving opportunities</h2> <p>Those willing to stay overseas for extended periods of time, or indefinitely, may be able to save big on living costs. Often you can make your retirement savings go much further abroad. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-for-half-the-cost-in-these-5-countries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Retire for Half the Cost in These 5 Countries</a>)</p> <p>This can be helpful in lessening anxiety about having enough money saved for retirement, and it may even allow you a large enough margin to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-keys-to-an-early-retirement?ref=internal" target="_blank">retire sooner than you thought</a>. You may choose to rent out your U.S. home, or sell it if you're moving permanently. Either option could help you feather your nest egg while you're staying in cheaper accommodations elsewhere.</p> <p>What's more, senior citizens are eligible for discounts on many travel expenses. All of the major U.S. airlines offer senior discounts on at least some routes, but usually you need to call the airline's reservations department, as the fares are not visible online. Most major American hotel chains also offer discounts for seniors or AARP members.</p> <h2>5. Volunteer opportunities</h2> <p>Volunteering can be the perfect way to create meaningful connections with people wherever you go and find fulfillment in giving back to the communities you are visiting. You can teach English, or offer health, law, or other professional services that you may have expertise in. Often, international volunteer organizations will place you with a host family while you are in the country, giving you an excellent opportunity to get to know locals and see the way they live.</p> <p>A working holiday is another great way to save on accommodations while getting to meet people and spend time in another culture. Websites such as <a href="http://www.helpx.net/" target="_blank">HelpX.net</a> list farms, ranches, lodges, and even sailboats that invite volunteers to help them in exchange for room and board.</p> <h2>6. Health</h2> <p>Traveling can promote a healthy retirement as well as it can facilitate an active lifestyle, with plenty of new physical and mental stimulus in the places you will be visiting.</p> <p>Not to mention that some foreign countries have both more affordable <em>and </em>more accessible health care. In Colombia for instance, even with prices that have been rising, a visit to a doctor will cost you around $25 and you may be able to get in for a visit much faster than you would in the United States.</p> <h2>Live the retirement of your dreams</h2> <p>Often people have worked hard their entire lives with hopes of being able to travel, experience other cultures, and take in the natural beauty of exotic locales. Now is the time to make those dreams a reality and cross destinations off your bucket list.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F6-ways-travel-in-retirement-keeps-you-young&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F6%2520Ways%2520Travel%2520in%2520Retirement%2520Keeps%2520You%2520Young_0.jpg&amp;description=6%20Ways%20Travel%20in%20Retirement%20Keeps%20You%20Young"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/6%20Ways%20Travel%20in%20Retirement%20Keeps%20You%20Young_0.jpg" alt="6 Ways Travel in Retirement Keeps You Young" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-gokee">Amanda Gokee</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-travel-in-retirement-keeps-you-young">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-best-vacation-deal-websites">The 6 Best Vacation Deal Websites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-almost-anyone-can-afford-to-retire-in-mexico">How Almost Anyone Can Afford to Retire in Mexico</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-unexpected-benefits-of-solo-travel">6 Unexpected Benefits of Solo Travel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-fun-ways-the-sharing-economy-helps-you-save-on-vacation">5 Fun Ways the Sharing Economy Helps You Save on Vacation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-fool-proof-ways-to-stay-within-your-travel-budget">7 Fool-Proof Ways to Stay Within Your Travel Budget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Travel expats health care learning language saving money seeing the world tourism trips vacation volunteering Tue, 04 Apr 2017 08:30:21 +0000 Amanda Gokee 1917661 at http://www.wisebread.com A Simple Guide to Planning For a Loved One's Long-Term Care http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-planning-for-a-loved-ones-long-term-care <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-simple-guide-to-planning-for-a-loved-ones-long-term-care" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-179165125.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As we get older, so do our parents and other loved ones. In some cases, that may mean they'll require long-term care, especially if they fall ill. When this happens, families are faced with a tough decision: hand over the reins to a nursing facility, or manage their care from the comfort of their homes. There's no shame in either decision. But there are several important things to consider when planning for long-term care.</p> <h2>Weigh Your Options Well Ahead of Time</h2> <p>Perhaps the most vital part of planning for long-term care is that you're well prepared. Making hasty decisions on how to provide your loved one with the care they'll need when they're no longer able to care for themselves will not only be stressful for you, but also for them. You'll want to make sure your loved one is provided with the quality of life they deserve. Certainly, ailments can befall your loved one unexpectedly that will require quick decision making, but if you can help it at all, it's best to investigate your options before you're faced with a crisis. That way, you can enter the situation with a clear head, prepared to make the right choices.</p> <h2>Discuss Insurance Options With Your Loved One<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Talking about long-term care with your loved one, especially a parent, is not an easy conversation. But as difficult as it may be, it's necessary. There are financial implications to consider, which will be somewhat lessened (hopefully) with insurance.</p> <p>Jeff Salter is the CEO and founder of Caring Senior Service, a national in-home care service, and he suggests planning a discussion about insurance options, including what your loved one may already have, and what you both may need moving forward.</p> <p>Long-term care insurance can still be expensive in and of itself, and costs only increase with age. Many advise that people purchase a plan in their 50s before any major medical issues arise &mdash; and even then, it's not cheap. For example, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance estimates an insurance policy offering $164,000 in immediate coverage would cost a healthy, 55-year-old male approximately $1,060 a year. A healthy female of the same age could expect to pay approximately $1,390 a year for the same coverage. The sooner you can lock into one of these policies, the better. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-long-term-care-insurance-worth-it?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Is Long Term Care Insurance Worth It?</a>)</p> <h2>Find Alternative Ways to Pay Without Insurance<strong> </strong></h2> <p>In the worst-case scenario, you don't have the option of long-term care insurance. This can be a daunting prospect, but it's not the end of the world. Salter suggests two solutions that will provide monthly income that can go toward the cost of care.</p> <p>The first is cash value for life insurance, which is essentially the cash amount offered to the policy owner by the issuing life carrier upon cancellation of the contract.</p> <p>The second is taking out a reverse mortgage on the elderly family member's house.</p> <p>&quot;With [the second] option, seniors can remain at home while receiving monthly income that goes toward all of the healthcare-related expenses,&quot; he says. &quot;There are no ongoing costs, and seniors cannot be forced to leave their homes should they outlive the payments from the loan.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-getting-scammed-with-a-reverse-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Avoid Getting Scammed With a Reverse Mortgage</a>)</p> <h2>4. Consider the Cost of Home Modification<strong> </strong></h2> <p>When your loved one falls ill, it may limit their ability to function as they once did. This could mean that they're confined to a single floor in the home. Third-party care facilities take these safety measures into account for limited-mobility patients, but if you're providing long-term care in your own residence, you may need to outfit the home so it's more elderly-friendly.</p> <p>&quot;If the decision is to have the long-term care in the current residence, the family might need to plan for modifications to the home for either specialized medical equipment or for access issues around bathrooms, kitchens, and getting in and out of the house,&quot; explains John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, which specializes in digital home management. &quot;These could be things like ramps for wheelchairs, bathtubs with access doors, nonslip flooring, and other modifications, depending on the occupant's specific needs.&quot;</p> <h2>5. Factor in Home Maintenance<strong> </strong></h2> <p>If the care of your loved one takes place in their own residence &mdash; whether by you, another loved one, or hired help &mdash; it's keen to remember that someone will be tasked with maintaining the property for hygiene, safety, and resale value reasons.</p> <p>&quot;Things like cleaning leaves from gutters, replacing smoke detector batteries, and changing air filters are simple tasks, but usually require ladders. It's not suitable for people with long-term medical issues to handle these tasks,&quot; Bodrozic says.</p> <p>You may be able to handle these tasks on your own, but if these are projects that you plan to farm out to hired help, you'll need to include the costs in your monthly care budget.</p> <h2>6. Let a Professional Help You<strong> </strong></h2> <p>If you don't know what you're doing with regards to long-term care, don't freak out &mdash; you're not alone. Most people who are faced with this situation are first-timers are who overwhelmed with not only accepting the fate of a loved one, but trying to accommodate them as best as possible so they can live out their days in comfort.</p> <p>Daniel Sagal is a senior living adviser at Los Angeles-based Total Senior, which focuses on health care planning and services for seniors. If you don't think you're equipped to make the best decision, or you're having trouble coming to grips with it all, he suggests consulting someone who can help you through it, like a senior care adviser or care manager. Some services are free while others require fees, he says, but both will typically help families navigate the options for senior care.</p> <h2>7. Beware of Scams<strong> </strong></h2> <p>Like a lot of industries, there are people out there gunning to take advantage of you, and it's not terribly hard to become a victim of a scam when your emotions are already on the fritz.</p> <p>Sagal explains.</p> <p>&quot;...Before providing your information or allowing someone to guide you to senior care options, be sure to do your research. Look at their online reviews, make sure they have a credible website with real information/content, ask for references, and check around with health care professionals.&quot;</p> <p>Doing your due diligence now can ensure a more comfortable situation for everyone later.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-planning-for-a-loved-ones-long-term-care">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-ease-your-parents-into-assisted-living">6 Ways to Ease Your Parents Into Assisted Living</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-manage-your-money-during-a-spousal-separation">How to Manage Your Money During a Spousal Separation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-support-your-broke-parents">How to Support Your Broke Parents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fair-way-to-split-up-your-familys-estate">The Fair Way to Split Up Your Family&#039;s Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-should-your-kids-know-about-your-finances">How Much Should Your Kids Know About Your Finances?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Family advisers caregivers elderly health care home care life insurance long-term care nursing homes parents relatives seniors Tue, 14 Feb 2017 10:30:32 +0000 Mikey Rox 1889845 at http://www.wisebread.com How Almost Anyone Can Afford to Retire in Mexico http://www.wisebread.com/how-almost-anyone-can-afford-to-retire-in-mexico <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-almost-anyone-can-afford-to-retire-in-mexico" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_chairs_beach_154894068.jpg" alt="Couple learning how to retire in Mexico for less" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're thinking about retirement, you're not alone. However, out of 100 Americans who start working at age 25, only 4% are <a href="http://www.statisticbrain.com/retirement-statistics/" target="_blank">expected to have saved enough</a> for retirement at age 65.</p> <p>While this number may seem surprisingly low, retiring doesn't have to be as expensive as you may think. If you can lower your monthly income requirement, you can also greatly reduce the total capital that you need to save to retire.</p> <p>One easy way to do this: retire abroad. For many Americans, Mexico is a top choice. It's not only geographically close, it's also very affordable. Adventure seekers love its bustling cities full of colonial architecture and rich culture, as well as the natural beauty found along its coastlines and highlands. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-for-half-the-cost-in-these-5-countries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Retire for Half the Cost in These 5 Countries</a>)</p> <p>If you're worried you might be among the 96% of people who haven't saved enough for retirement, moving to Mexico may be an effective way to make your nest egg go further.</p> <h2>Cost of Living in Mexico</h2> <p>The cost of living is drastically lower than in the U.S. or in Canada. According to Numbeo, the cost of living in Mexico is <a href="https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Mexico" target="_blank">nearly 60% lower</a> than the United States, with rent costing 79% less.</p> <p>However, keep in mind that those are costs averaged over the entire country. Expenses are higher in bigger cities such as the capital, and in places that attract a lot of foreigners, such as Playa del Carmen.</p> <h2>Rental Costs</h2> <p>Based on my experience living in Mexico City and traveling extensively through the country during 2015 and 2016, I have found rents to be far lower than the U.S. You can find a place for as low as $100 a month in off-the-beaten-track destinations, such as the small beach town of Mazunte. However, a great deal like this often means sacrificing on some of the comforts of home such as air conditioning and hot water.</p> <p>On the upper end of the budget, if you're willing to spend $600&ndash;$1,000, you can rent a luxury apartment, even in the more expensive and cosmopolitan destinations.</p> <h2>Health Insurance Costs</h2> <p>Private health insurance is significantly cheaper in Mexico than in the states. It can cost you <a href="http://rollybrook.com/health.htm" target="_blank">as little as 20%</a> of what it would cost in the U.S.</p> <p>Because the cost of routine visits and minor incidents is so small, you may also choose to self-insure, which means simply paying for these costs out-of-pocket as opposed to purchasing an insurance plan.</p> <h2>Doctor Costs</h2> <p>As with rental prices, the cost of going to the doctor also varies to some extent, so these numbers should only serve as a rough guideline.</p> <p>From my experience, a routine teeth cleaning from a dentist costs $15&ndash;$20. A regular doctor's visit costs as little as $25 to $50, while a specialist normally costs $35&ndash;$50 and up per visit.</p> <h2>Food Costs: Restaurants and Grocery Shopping</h2> <p>Groceries in Mexico are about a third of the price of food in the U.S., depending on the season and availability. You can even sometimes find American chains like Wal-Mart, where you can buy cheap groceries.</p> <p>Restaurant prices vary, too, based on type. On the lower end, you can visit food stands to get snacks, which Mexicans call antojitos for as little as 50 cents to a dollar. These include tacos, quesadillas, and burritos. Freshly pressed juice and prepared fruit is also in this price range.</p> <p>One step up from the food stands are restaurants called fondas. These are small, family-owned establishments that serve two- or three-course meals, including soup or salad, a full entree, and a drink. Sometimes they also come with dessert. Expect to pay $3&ndash;$10 dollars.</p> <p>A truly gourmet, upscale dining experience should set you back $10&ndash;$30.</p> <h3>Alcohol Costs</h3> <p>Alcohol in Mexico is widely available, and enjoying tequila or mezcal is a common cultural practice. There are no taboos on drinking, and alcohol is accessible at the local corner store for very affordable prices.</p> <p>For a bottle of tequila or mezcal you can expect to pay $10 for a low-quality bottle and up to $40 for an artisanally produced bottle of very good quality alcohol.</p> <p>A six-pack of beer starts at $4&ndash;$6. There are not as many microbrew options available as in the U.S., but some bars do offer local, small-batch beer, usually priced around $4 a bottle.</p> <p>Mexico is an attractive place to retire, not only because it is an affordable option, but because of all that it has to offer, from interesting cultural experiences to the hospitable locals who often go out of their way to make you feel at home.</p> <h2>Transport Costs</h2> <p>If you're traveling by plane, prices start around $250 for round-trip tickets to or from the U.S., and $40&ndash;$100 for trips within country. Long-distance coaches are an even cheaper alternative to internal flights. An eight-hour basic bus trip costs about $25, varying a bit depending on your destination. You also have the option of paying more for a first-class bus that includes drinks, snacks, entertainment (TV and music), and seats that are designed to be comfortable to sleep in.</p> <p>Local transportation options include the bus (on average 50 cents) and, in Mexico City, the Metro (25 cents).</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this post? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-almost-anyone-can-afford-to-retire-in-mexico&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%20Almost%20Anyone%20Can%20Afford%20to%20Retire%20in%20Mexico.jpg&amp;description=How%20Almost%20Anyone%20Can%20Afford%20to%20Retire%20in%20Mexico" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20Almost%20Anyone%20Can%20Afford%20to%20Retire%20in%20Mexico.jpg" alt="How Almost Anyone Can Afford to Retire in Mexico" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-gokee">Amanda Gokee</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-almost-anyone-can-afford-to-retire-in-mexico">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-for-half-the-cost-in-these-5-countries">Retire for Half the Cost in These 5 Countries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-travel-in-retirement-keeps-you-young">6 Ways Travel in Retirement Keeps You Young</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-expenses-spoil-your-retirement-abroad">Don&#039;t Let These Expenses Spoil Your Retirement Abroad</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-lessons-i-learned-about-money-after-living-in-mexico">7 Lessons I Learned About Money After Living in Mexico</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-saved-enough-for-a-down-payment-while-working-in-china">How I Saved Enough for a Down Payment While Working in China</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Travel cost of living expats expenses food costs foreign countries health care mexico Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:30:38 +0000 Amanda Gokee 1871128 at http://www.wisebread.com Women Pay More for Health Care — Here's How to Pay Less http://www.wisebread.com/women-pay-more-for-health-care-heres-how-to-pay-less <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/women-pay-more-for-health-care-heres-how-to-pay-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_glases_hat_495205748.jpg" alt="Woman learning she plays more for health care than men" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's no secret that a variety of factors can affect your health care costs. For example, people who smoke usually pay more for health insurance, and an unhealthy lifestyle can increase the risk of chronic illnesses and lead to more trips to see the doctor. But among the many factors triggering higher health care costs, it's being a woman that's perhaps the most obnoxious.</p> <p>Before the Affordable Care Act, women buying health insurance on the individual market paid premiums as much as <a href="http://www.healthline.com/health-news/should-women-pay-more-healthcare-services" target="_blank">50% higher than men</a> due to gender rating, a practice where health insurance providers charged women more because they were considered a higher risk. Gender rating is now illegal, but this doesn't mean women are saving big bucks on health care costs.</p> <p>According to data provided by the health care company Vitals, women spend on average <a href="http://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/women-pay-more-healthcare" target="_blank">69% more out-of-pocket</a> than their male counterparts for health care. That's a huge difference &mdash; even from the now-abolished gender rating system. Considering how women statistically earn less than men in just about every occupation, many women feel the pinch. But the question remains, why do women pay more, and what can they do about it?</p> <h2>Women Use More health Care Services</h2> <p>Compared to men, women typically <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10718692" target="_blank">use more health care services</a>, which could explain higher health care costs. Go figure. They're more likely to ask questions about their health, get routine screenings, and schedule appointments when sick. Being proactive helps women maintain their health, but it comes at a cost.</p> <p>Additionally, some women experience higher health care costs because of certain procedures, including gynecologic surgeries. Women are also six times more likely to have knee replacement surgery &mdash; a cost that can soar up to $65,000 &mdash; and women are two times more likely to develop cataracts, which can cost up to $5,000 per eye to correct.</p> <p>And let's not forget the cost of labor and delivery for women. That's big business with the average national cost for a routine delivery at $8,775, and the average for a C-section at $11,525. (Worse, this number doesn't include prenatal care or post-delivery care.) And even if women have health insurance, high deductibles typically mean paying a large percentage of services out-of-pocket.</p> <h2>Women Live Longer Than Men</h2> <p>Women also pay more for health care because they live on average two years longer than men. That's an extra two years of paying health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for health care services. Even if a woman is healthy during her younger years, she may develop at least one ailment later in life that requires regular doctor visits, especially as she moves closer to retirement age. Studies suggest that a 55-year-old healthy woman retiring today would spend about $79,000 more than a similar man on health care costs during her final years.</p> <h2>How Can Women Protect Themselves From Higher Costs?</h2> <p>When it comes to the cost of health care, it is what it is &mdash; but there are plenty of ways for women to prepare and possibly reduce their expense.</p> <h3>Don't Ignore Health Screenings</h3> <p>Preventive care reduces risk factors that trigger many chronic illnesses and can thus lower overall health care costs. Under the Affordable Care Act, you don't have to pay for many preventive care services delivered by a doctor or medical facility within your insurance company's network. These include immunizations, annual physical examinations, colonoscopies, mammograms, and other screenings.</p> <h3>Make Healthy Choices</h3> <p>A healthy lifestyle can also reduce your number of trips to the doctor. Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, low-fat foods, and lean meats. Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week. Apply sunscreen when outdoors to reduce your risk of skin cancer and stay physically fit during your retirement years.</p> <h3>Compare the Cost of Services</h3> <p>To lower your health care costs, compare the cost of services at different facilities. You'll find that some facilities within your insurer's network charge significantly different prices for the same services. For example, an in-network hospital may charge $1,500 for an overnight sleep study whereas an in-network sleep clinic may only charge $600 for the same study.</p> <h3>Don't Underestimate Health Care Costs</h3> <p>Prepare for health care costs now and in the future. This includes having adequate health care coverage to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses &mdash; as much coverage as you can afford based on your present health care needs. And while you're saving for retirement, don't forget to plan for future health care costs. Women who live longer than their spouses are left to manage health care costs on their own. Therefore, look into purchasing long-term care insurance. Don't wait until you are ready to retire to buy a policy; it's more expensive once you're at that stage of your life. If you lock in a price while you're young and relatively healthy, however, you'll pay lower premiums over the long-term.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/women-pay-more-for-health-care-heres-how-to-pay-less">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill">How to Handle a Massive Medical Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-health-insurance-benefits-youre-probably-not-using">6 Health Insurance Benefits You&#039;re Probably Not Using</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-about-a-price-list-at-the-hospital-or-doctor-s-office">How About a Price List at the Hospital or Doctor’s Office?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance doctors gender cap gender rating health care life span medical preventive care women Thu, 12 Jan 2017 10:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1871076 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Things Your Financial Planner Isn't Telling You About Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-your-financial-planner-isnt-telling-you-about-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-your-financial-planner-isnt-telling-you-about-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_financial_planner_485026010.jpg" alt="Couple learning what their financial planner isn&#039;t telling them about retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Personal finances can get complicated fast, which is why many people seek the assistance of a financial adviser. Especially when considering your retirement, it can give you extra confidence to know that a professional is helping ensure you make the best decisions for your future.</p> <p>It may therefore come as a surprise to know that historically, financial advisers haven't been required to put your best interests first. But in April 2016, the Labor Department finalized a new rule that requires financial advisers who deal with retirement accounts to respect what's known as the fiduciary standard, meaning they <em>have</em> to put the client's interests first.</p> <p>Before, financial advisers just had to follow the suitability standard, which meant they were only required by law to provide clients a &quot;suitable&quot; plan, which might satisfy your basic requirements but isn't necessarily the best plan for you.</p> <p>When they're doing their job well, a financial adviser can help you invest your money wisely and plan for retirement. But it's always important to do your own research and stay informed. When it comes to retirement, here are some things your financial planner may not have brought to the table.</p> <h2>1. Fees May Grow With Your Assets</h2> <p>Financial advisers often charge based on a percentage of the assets they are managing for you. Unfortunately, the fees compound over time, just as your returns do. By the time you're ready to retire, that could mean you're paying thousands of dollars a year in fees.</p> <p>As your nest egg grows, keep an eye on your fees and renegotiate your rates, so you don't end up paying too much for their services.</p> <h2>2. Retiring Abroad Can Halve Living Costs</h2> <p>If you're feeling tight on funds for retirement and you're not sure how to make your money go further, there's an important alternative that you should be considering. Retiring abroad can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-for-half-the-cost-in-these-5-countries?ref=internal">cut your retirement costs in half</a>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/x-exciting-world-cities-you-can-afford-to-retire-in?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Exciting World Cities You Can Afford to Retire In</a>)</p> <p>However, many U.S.-based financial advisers are entirely focused on domestic retirement and that's what they'll help you plan for. Plus, it may be in their interest to keep you close so you don't decide to move your funds elsewhere.</p> <p>If retiring abroad is something you want to truly consider, seek an expert who brings that specialty expertise to the table. You should also do your own research, including finding online forums for expatriates to answer your questions about retiring abroad. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-incredible-places-to-retire-abroad-that-anyone-can-afford?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Incredible Places to Retire</a>)</p> <h2>3. Travel and Retirement Go Hand in Hand</h2> <p>If you've written off the idea of traveling as being too expensive, and these views are being reaffirmed by a conservative financial planner, it's time to re-evaluate. Retirement affords you great flexibility and the price of travel may be within closer reach than you realize.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-woman-retired-at-60-and-traveled-the-world?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">How One Woman Retired at 60 and Traveled the World</a></p> <p>Costs in many countries are often much lower than at home, and if you plan carefully &mdash; especially if you're able to start socking away money early in your career &mdash; your monthly budget may be able to absorb the extra expense of plane tickets, accommodations abroad, food, and entertainment. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">Rewards credit cards</a> can help you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips" target="_blank">earn free travel</a>, too.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-full-time-for-17000-a-year-or-less?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (or Less!)</a></p> <h2>4. An HSA Could Lower Your Health Care Costs</h2> <p>If you have a high-deductible health insurance plan, you may be eligible for a Health Savings Account. As with an IRA, HSA contributions are tax-free and they grow tax-free. You can leave money in the account for years and if you withdraw the funds to pay for qualified health care costs, you will still not pay taxes on the money. If you have a balance at age 65 and want to use it for nonmedical expenses, you can, but the withdrawals will be taxable. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How an HSA Saves You Money</a>.)</p> <p>Keep in mind that only people enrolled in qualifying high-deductible health care plans are eligible. But if you're one of them, an HSA could be an important part in reducing your health expenses during retirement.</p> <h2>5. You May Be Able to Ditch Your Life Insurance</h2> <p>Having a life insurance policy is useful if someone else will be financially hurt when you die. However, depending on your particular situation, you may no longer have dependents after you retire. Or you may have investments and pensions that pay 100% to the surviving spouse. In that case, your spouse won't suffer financially from your death and you probably don't need life insurance.</p> <p>There are a lot of variables to consider when planning for retirement, and a financial planner can clarify your options. But while a financial planner can be a helpful resource, they aren't the ultimate authority on what's best for you. Stay informed and choose what's best for you and your family.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-your-financial-planner-isnt-telling-you-about-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retire-for-half-the-cost-in-these-5-countries">Retire for Half the Cost in These 5 Countries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-youre-lucky-enough-to-receive-a-pension-here-are-6-things-you-need-to-do">If You&#039;re Lucky Enough to Receive a Pension, Here Are 6 Things You Need to Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-travel-in-retirement-keeps-you-young">6 Ways Travel in Retirement Keeps You Young</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-almost-anyone-can-afford-to-retire-in-mexico">How Almost Anyone Can Afford to Retire in Mexico</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-incredible-places-to-retire-abroad-that-anyone-can-afford">5 Incredible Places to Retire Abroad That Anyone Can Afford</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement expats fees fiduciary financial advisers financial planners health care life insurance living abroad retiring overseas travel Tue, 10 Jan 2017 11:00:09 +0000 Nick Wharton 1870053 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways You Can Save Money On Prescription Medications http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-you-can-save-money-on-prescription-medications <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-you-can-save-money-on-prescription-medications" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-491364946.jpg" alt="save money on prescription medications" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When Kyle Willis walked into the emergency room in 2011, he was diagnosed with a severe tooth infection. Doctors gave him prescriptions for both antibiotics and painkillers and sent him home. But on a tight budget and with no insurance, he could only afford to get one prescription. In excruciating pain, he opted for the painkillers.</p> <p>Days later, the infection spread to his brain, and Willis <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/health/insurance-24-year-dies-toothache/story?id=14438171" target="_blank">died from the infection</a>.</p> <p>Willis' case highlighted a major problem millions of people face each day. Medications can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you are uninsured or underinsured, you sometimes have to make the choice between filling a prescription or skipping rent or other necessary bills.</p> <p>But there are programs in place that can help. Below are free resources that can help you save money on your medicines. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-save-on-prescriptions?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Ways to Save on Prescriptions</a>)</p> <h2>Discount Prescription Programs</h2> <p>There are several nationwide discount prescription savings programs available to the public, regardless of your income.</p> <h3>1. FamilyWize</h3> <p><a href="https://familywize.org/" target="_blank">FamilyWize</a> is a free program where you can download or print off a discount card and use it at any major pharmacy. Use the card if you do not have insurance, or if your insurance will not cover a particular medicine. Just ask the pharmacist to run the card's information. On average, you can <a href="https://familywize.org/prescription-savings-card/how-it-works" target="_blank">save 43% on your prescriptions</a>.</p> <h3>2. WebMDRX</h3> <p>Like FamilyWize, the <a href="http://www.webmd.com/rx/card/" target="_blank">WebMDRX discount savings card</a> is free for anyone to use. It can be used at 60,000 pharmacies nationwide and can be shared with friends and family. Just show the card to the pharmacist when you drop off your prescription to get the discount.</p> <h2>Pharmaceutical Programs</h2> <p>Major pharmaceutical companies offer special programs for people who cannot afford their brand name medications. Millions of people qualify each year to receive free medicines directly from the manufacturer. Below are just a few programs available from major companies. Check out the manufacturer of your medications to see if they offer similar programs.</p> <h3>3. AZ&amp;Me</h3> <p>AstraZeneca, the maker of major drugs like Nexium, Crestor, Symbicort, and more, offers the <a href="https://www.astrazeneca-us.com/medicines/Affordability.html" target="_blank">AZ&amp;Me program</a> for people who cannot afford their medications. Last year, the program helped 286,000 people get access to medicine they otherwise couldn't afford.</p> <p>The program is designed to help people who do not have insurance, those in Medicare Part D, and those who have recently undergone a financial crisis, such as a job loss. To find out more about the program or to find out if you're eligible, call 1-800-AZandME (292-6363).</p> <h3>4. Merck Helps</h3> <p>Merck, the creator of drugs like Dulera, Gardasil, and Singulair, helps people get the medications they need through the <a href="http://www.merckhelps.com/" target="_blank">Merck Helps</a> program.</p> <p>To qualify for the program, you must be a United States resident and have a valid prescription. You must not have any insurance coverage and be unable to afford your medications. According to their site, you may qualify for assistance if you make less than $47,520 as an individual, under $64,080 for couples, or $97,200 or less for a family of four.</p> <h3>5. Pfizer</h3> <p>As one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the country, Pfizer is known as the creator of major drugs like Lipitor and Zoloft. But it also runs a <a href="http://www.pfizer.com/health/financial_assistance_programs/patient_assistance_programs" target="_blank">Patient and Prescription Assistance Program</a> that helps people receive medicine for free or at a significant discount. If you need help getting a specific Pfizer medication, their website <a href="http://www.pfizerrxpathways.com/" target="_blank">Pfizer RxPathways</a> can help you find different options and navigate the process.</p> <h2>6. Drug Coupons</h2> <p>When your doctor prescribed you a new medicine, she may have handed you a manufacturer coupon along with the prescription. But what you may not have known is that those coupons are not just for doctors to hand out; customers can access them, too.</p> <p>If you are on any brand name drug, rather than a generic medication, check out the drug's website. Many times the manufacturer will offer a special discount card or savings program that will drop the cost.</p> <p>For example, Fetzima is a relatively new drug for depression. And even with insurance, it can be pricey. But if you go on the Fetzima website, you can get a savings card where eligible patients can buy the drug for as little as <a href="https://www.fetzima.com/depression-resources/savings-card?icid=fetzima_savings_header">$10 a month</a>. Just print the card and bring it to the pharmacy when you pick up the prescription to get the discount.</p> <h2>7. Comparison Shop</h2> <p>Not all pharmacies are created equal. One pharmacy may charge much more for the same drug than another pharmacy, even if they're within just a few blocks of each other. <a href="https://www.goodrx.com/" target="_blank">GoodRX</a> is a resource you can use to comparison shop for the best deal before you leave your home. It will tell you what each drug will cost at different pharmacies and if there are any coupons available.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-you-can-save-money-on-prescription-medications">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-about-prescription-drug-coupons">Don&#039;t Use Your Prescription Drug Coupons Until You Read This</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill">How to Handle a Massive Medical Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-shopping-apps-thatll-actually-save-you-money-in-2016">The 8 Shopping Apps That&#039;ll Actually Save You Money in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-get-the-best-deals-on-groupon">7 Ways to Get the Best Deals on Groupon</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Shopping coupons discount programs drug stores health care health insurance medications pharmacies prescriptions price comparisons Wed, 21 Dec 2016 10:01:03 +0000 Kat Tretina 1858983 at http://www.wisebread.com Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/xbxvbc.jpg" alt="repeal these common health insurance claim denials" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Denials of medical claims are all too frequent. Roughly 14% of all claims are <a href="https://billadvocates.com/8-common-claim-denials-appeal/" target="_blank">denied every year</a>, according to Department of Labor records. Not only that, but almost 10% of claims processed by insurance companies contain errors. Your claim could have been denied because it was coded as a different procedure than what you received from the doctor!</p> <p>There is a silver lining in the clouds of denial or error, however. You can always appeal a health care claim denial. Patients who appeal win about 50% of the time. Not only that, but the more familiar with health care claims you become, the more you will learn about what's covered &mdash; and what is not.</p> <p>The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) increased rights to appeal, whether you are covered under ACA or not. Think of it this way: You or your employer, or both, are already paying a hefty price for health care. Appealing your denial and knowing how to determine errors is part of getting what you and your company have already paid for.</p> <h2>Before You Appeal: Know the Codes and How to Appeal</h2> <p>Any appeal to a health insurance company has to contain some basic knowledge of the information they provide you, as well as your rights.</p> <p>After a visit to a physician's office or a procedure, you will receive a form called an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from the insurance company. An EOB arrives for all claims, approved or denied. It details what was charged, what the insurance company paid, and sometimes a remainder of what the patient is responsible for.</p> <p>If a claim was denied, it will receive a code. Most insurance companies provide a key to the code. (Check the back of the form.) If it does not, call and ask the insurance company what the code means.</p> <h2>The Four Most Commonly Denied Claims</h2> <p>At times, knowing the code will immediately help you appeal a denial. Sometimes the denial is the result of sheer error. Here are the four most commonly denied claims.</p> <h3>1. Your Plan Does Not Cover the Procedure</h3> <p>If the code indicates that the denial occurred because the plan did not cover the procedure, check your plan to see if it is, in fact, covered. If you received a vaccination, for example, double check what kinds of services your plan covers. Many plans cover preventive care (care received to prevent disease before it begins, rather than to treat a condition that exists). Vaccinations and flu shots are both examples of preventive care. This type of denial is surprisingly common.</p> <p>A similar situation can occur with vision claims. You may receive a denial stating that vision care is not covered. However, many policies cover eye care if it is needed medically. People with diabetes, for example, are covered for annual exams because the condition can affect vision, while regular eye exams are not. Plans can cover surgery for cataracts, but not eyeglasses.</p> <p>Errors of this kind can be appealed fairly easily. If you were denied because of lack of coverage and the procedure was in fact covered, call the health insurance company. Be sure to make note of the name of the person you spoke to, their title, and the date.</p> <h3>2. Errors in Coding</h3> <p>Knowing the code can also help you discover a coding error. You may find that the code for the service doesn't actually match what you visited the doctor for. The procedure or diagnosis code could have been entered incorrectly. You should also check every piece of information, including your name, date of service, place of service, and provider number. If any of these are erroneous, it can result in a denial.</p> <p>If you find a coding error, call the billing office of the doctor or hospital involved and ask them to resubmit the bill with the correct code. Again, it's vital to get the name of the person, their title, and the date.</p> <h3>3. Payment for a Procedure Was Included in the Allowance for a Related Procedure Performed the Same Day<strong> </strong></h3> <p>Patients are not responsible for a charge like this. Call your provider's office and ask for an adjustment to the bill.</p> <h3>4. You've Reached the Maximum Amount of Times a Service Is Covered</h3> <p>Again, the best action is to double check your policy. Is it true that it is only covered a maximum amount of times? If there is a dollar limit, check it against what you received. Contact your insurance company in the case of any errors.</p> <p>For a denial of this type, check what the provider's discount is as well. Many doctor's offices and suppliers contact an insurance company to set a price for goods and services that is less than the market rate. You could be charged the market rate unless you specifically follow up about the discount. Even if you are denied legitimately for the maximum number of times a service is covered, you are still eligible for the discount the provider offers.</p> <p>Given the frequency of denials and related errors, it's wise to be on your guard every time a denial is issued. Don't assume the denial is correct! Appeal and follow up on your appeals as needed.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/women-pay-more-for-health-care-heres-how-to-pay-less">Women Pay More for Health Care — Here&#039;s How to Pay Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill">How to Handle a Massive Medical Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-about-a-price-list-at-the-hospital-or-doctor-s-office">How About a Price List at the Hospital or Doctor’s Office?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds">8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance affordable care act appeals denials doctors explanation of benefits health care health insurance insurance claims medical Tue, 20 Dec 2016 11:00:15 +0000 Anum Yoon 1858109 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways Couples Are Shortchanging Their Retirement Savings http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_retired_happy_62784562.jpg" alt="Retired couple shortchanging their retirement savings" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether retirement is decades away or if it is knocking on your door, there are some key mistakes that couples sometimes make when planning for their retirement. It's not too late to fix them, and addressing these problems now can potentially stave off issues in the future.</p> <p>Are you and your spouse making these retirement mistakes?</p> <h2>Relying on One's Spouse's Retirement</h2> <p>One common mistake that couples make is that they only rely on <em>one </em>spouse's income and retirement savings. While you might be able to live comfortably off one spouse's income now, when you are healthy, you have to calculate just how much you and your spouse will both need in retirement. Hopefully you will both be healthy well into your last years, but plan for the &quot;what ifs.&quot; Have both partners contribute to separate retirement accounts, if you both are working. If one spouse is self-employed or a freelancer, there are still retirement options for them.</p> <p>Even if one spouse does not work, they can still contribute to an IRA account. Carol Berger, CFP&reg;, of Berger Wealth Management, says that spousal IRA accounts are available for married couples who file taxes jointly. Berger says, &quot;This allows a contribution to be made for the nonworking spouse and helps his or her retirement nest egg grow. For example, in 2016, a nonworking spouse can contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA in their name ($6,500 if age 50 or older).&quot;</p> <h2>Putting Your Kids First</h2> <p>There is no doubt that you love your children and that it is easy to put their needs above retirement needs. However, don't delay on saving for retirement for your kids' sake. Saving for retirement should always trump saving for college education. Furthermore, retirement savings should not be dipped into to pay for college.</p> <p>The simple reason is that your children will have access to scholarships, loans, and work to help support them through college. Even if they graduate with a heavy load of debt, they have a long time to pay it off. There are no scholarships for retirement, and I am guessing the last thing you want to do is return to work.</p> <p>&quot;Time does not favor waiting because you lose the benefits of compounding,&quot; says Good Life Wealth Management president, Scott Stratton, CFP&reg;, CFA. &quot;If you put $5,000 into an IRA and earn 8% for 25 years, you'd have $34,242. Invest the same $5,000 10 years before retirement, and you'd only have $10,794. Or to put it another way, if you waited until 10 years before retirement, you'd have to invest $15,860 &mdash; instead of $5,000 &mdash; to reach $34,242.&quot;</p> <h2>Avoiding the Issue</h2> <p>Money is not always the easiest thing to talk about, however, if you avoid the issue, then you will only cause the problem to grow. Sit down with your spouse and talk about your present financial situation. Talk about where you want to be financially in the next year, in five years, and in retirement.</p> <p>If you both agree that you want to spend your retirement traveling and not tied to credit card debt or a mortgage payment, then you need to put in place the right money habits now.</p> <p>You should develop realistic action steps that will help you reach your financial goals a year from now, five years from now, and most importantly, in retirement. That means you might have to tighten your budget and pay more toward debt. Having clear financial goals will also help you stand firm as a couple when it is tempting to refinance the house to redo the backyard. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-retirement-planning-steps-late-starters-must-make?ref=seealso">7 Retirement Planning Steps Late Starters Must Make</a>)</p> <h2>Not Planning for Medical Costs</h2> <p>As discussed briefly above, many couples forget to financially plan for medical costs. It is easy to think, &quot;We won't need that much money in retirement because we won't buy anything or have to care for kids.&quot; However, medical expenses can add up quickly, especially in the last years of life. The cost of caretakers, regular doctor's visits, special medications, and even residency at a hospice can drain retirement savings in a matter of a few years.</p> <p>The worst thing is that many adult children are stuck with the financial burden of their parents' medical costs. Nearly one in 10 people over 40 are considered in the &quot;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-the-sandwich-generation-can-get-ahead">sandwich generation</a>.&quot; This means they are caring for their own children while also caring for aging parents. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reports that Medicare doesn't cover the most common types of long-term care and that a nursing home can cost as much as <a href="http://www.apnorc.org/news-media/Pages/News+Media/Poll-Sandwich-generation-worried-about-own-long-term-care-.aspx">$90,000 per year</a>. If retirement funds don't cover the necessary care for aging parents, their children will either have to foot the bill or try to take care of their parents themselves.</p> <p>Jody Dietel, Chief Compliance Officer at WageWorks says that there is a retirement tool that is often overlooked. A <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money">health savings account</a> (HSA) can help cover medical costs. Dietel says, &quot;It's important to understand that there's a place for both a 401K and an HSA. Establishing an HSA gives you the ability to amass savings to be used exclusively for health care expenses and preventing the need to dip into 401K funds for medical-related costs in retirement.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-more-money-in-retirement-might-cost-you">3 Ways More Money in Retirement Might Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-despair-over-small-retirement-savings">Don&#039;t Despair Over Small Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement">10 Signs You Aren&#039;t Saving Enough for Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account">7 Penalty-Free Ways to Withdraw Money From Your Retirement Account</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-your-taxes-will-change-when-you-retire">Here&#039;s How Your Taxes Will Change When You Retire</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement 401k couples expenses health care health savings accounts HSA income IRA marriages medical costs Mon, 14 Nov 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1830892 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_sunglasses_happy_91229393.jpg" alt="Woman finding surprising things her HSA covers" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money">Health Savings Accounts</a> (HSAs) are medical bank accounts that are paired with low premium, high deductible health insurance policies. The high deductible/low premium insurance policy is counterbalanced by the ability for the individual to save income that is not subject to federal or state taxes. The money in the HSA can then be spent on IRS approved medical expenses.</p> <p>If you have an HSA and you have only used it to pay doctor's bills, you might be missing out on some real tax savings. Why spend taxed money on IRS approved medical expenses, when you can utilize pretax dollars? Check out 11 items you can purchase with your HSA.</p> <h2>1. Allergy Medication</h2> <p>If you have allergies (either food or environmental) that you need medication for, you can purchase prescription medication with your HSA. Over the counter medication cannot be purchased with your HSA, unless prescribed by a doctor.</p> <h2>2. Arch Supports</h2> <p>Purchasing arch supports are sometimes necessary for a pain-free life, and they can cost anywhere from $5 to $150. Custom or mass produced arch supports can be an HSA-approved medical expense if you receive a prescription from your doctor.</p> <h2>3. Bandages and Band-Aids</h2> <p>Over the counter bandages and Band-Aids can be purchased with your HSA.</p> <h2>4. Birth Control</h2> <p>Both over-the-counter and prescription birth control are HSA-approved medical expenses. Here are just a few of the items you can purchase with your health savings account: IUD, Norplant, condoms, spermicide, and pregnancy test kits.</p> <h2>5. Braille Books or Magazines</h2> <p>If you are vision-impaired, you can utilize your HSA to reimburse yourself part of the money from purchasing Braille books or magazines. In order to calculate how much you can reimburse yourself, you should utilize this formula: cost of Braille book less cost of the traditional book equals HSA approved reimbursement.</p> <h2>6. Contact Lens Solution</h2> <p>If you wear contact lenses, you can purchase the solution necessary to clean the lenses with your health savings account.</p> <h2>7. Guide Animals</h2> <p>The costs of purchasing, training, and caring for guide animals are an IRS-approved HSA expense. You will need to register your service animal in your state in order to utilize this HSA-approved expense. (If you try to say that a non-qualified animal you own is a service animal, the likelihood of being fined will be high.)</p> <h2>8. Lead Paint Removal</h2> <p>If you live in a home with lead paint, and your child has or has had lead paint poisoning, you can pay for the paint to be removed with your HSA.</p> <h2>9. Mouth Guards</h2> <p>Mouth guards that have been prescribed by a dentist due to teeth grinding can be paid for with your health savings account.</p> <h2>10. Prescription Sunglasses</h2> <p>Prescription sunglasses can be an expensive necessity for the vision-challenged. If you either cannot or will not switch to contact lenses, you're stuck with purchasing prescription sunglasses or going without. You can, if you want, pay for the prescription sunglasses with your HSA. If you want to save money on the second pair, you might consider asking for the prescription and shopping around at various chain eyeglass stores.</p> <h2>11. Prescription Goggles</h2> <p>If you spend a lot of time swimming or diving, you need to ditch your glasses for long periods of time. This can make your adventure (or job) harder and less enjoyable. Like sunglasses, goggles can be purchased with your HSA. (You might need to check online to determine if anyone in your areas sells prescription goggles).</p> <p>A Health Savings Account can be a great way for the relatively healthy individuals to save money on medical expenses. Just remember that as you make purchases with your HSA to file copies of your prescriptions and receipts with your tax returns. You'll need them if the IRS decides to audit you. If you can't prove the expenses were HSA approved expenses, you might end up paying a fine (even if you followed the rules).</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/samantha-stauf">Samantha Stauf</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-you-can-save-money-on-prescription-medications">7 Ways You Can Save Money On Prescription Medications</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds">8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/signing-up-for-obamacare-in-2015-heres-whats-new">Signing Up for Obamacare in 2015? Here&#039;s What&#039;s New</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance health care health insurance health savings account HSA IRS medicine prescriptions Thu, 10 Nov 2016 09:30:13 +0000 Samantha Stauf 1828889 at http://www.wisebread.com New Job? Don't Make These 7 Mistakes With Your Benefits http://www.wisebread.com/new-job-dont-make-these-7-mistakes-with-your-benefits <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/new-job-dont-make-these-7-mistakes-with-your-benefits" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shaking_hands_77096849.jpg" alt="Woman making mistakes with new job benefits" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In September 2016, total nonfarm payroll employment in the U.S. <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm">rose by 156,000</a>. If you were among those Americans who recently landed a new gig &mdash; or plan on landing one within the near future &mdash; congratulations! But as you get your benefits and retirement planning set up at your new workplace, don't make these seven mistakes.</p> <h2>1. Not Setting Up Your New Retirement Account Before December 31st</h2> <p>Make to sure to set up your new employer-sponsored retirement account before December 31st. Otherwise, you won't be able to reduce your 2016 taxable income by making contributions before Tax Day (April 17th, 2017) or the day you file your federal tax return, whichever is earlier. If you wait until the new year to set up your retirement account, any contributions made before Tax Day will reduce your 2017 taxable income &mdash; and you'll lose the opportunity to reduce your 2016 AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) by any contributed amount.</p> <h2>2. Not Completing a 401K or IRA Indirect Rollover</h2> <p>If you had a balance of less than $5,000 in your previous job's 401K or IRA plan, there is a good chance that you received an automatic cashout with a 20% withholding from your employer for applicable taxes. From the last day of your employment, you have 60 days to put the entire balance of the previous retirement account (including the mentioned 20% withholding!) into a new employer-sponsored retirement account that accepts rollovers. This process is known as an indirect rollover.</p> <p>You'll get that 20% withholding money back from the IRS in next year's tax return. In the event that your new employer's retirement account doesn't accept a rollover from your previous account, consider opening an IRA with a local financial institution before the 60-day deadline. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-rolling-over-all-of-your-401ks-and-iras?ref=seealso">A Simple Guide to Rolling Over All of Your 401Ks and IRAs</a>)</p> <h2>3. Leaving W-4 Forms Alone</h2> <p>Depending on a variety of factors, your old W-4 tax withholdings may not cut it at your new gig. To figure out whether you're withholding too much (or too little), grab all of your latest pay stubs, find a copy of last year's tax return, and visit the online <a href="https://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator">IRS Withholding Calculator</a>.</p> <p>After punching in your data, this tool will provide recommendations on how to adjust your W-4 with your new employer to make sure that you meet your tax liability and minimize your refund. There's no sense in over-withholding and expecting a large refund, since the IRS doesn't pay interest while it sits on excess withholdings. That's money better kept in a savings or retirement account, where it can gain interest and compound over time.</p> <h2>4. Missing the Deadline to Make an Additional Estimated Tax Payment</h2> <p>If the IRS Withholding Calculator were to tell you that you're seriously behind your tax liability, you'll probably need to make amends <em>pronto, </em>lest you end up owing Uncle Sam at tax time. It's to your benefit to make an additional estimated tax payment to reduce or eliminate such a liability. For example, in the event that you know that there is an end-of-year bonus or commission check arriving before January 17, 2017, you have the option to use part of that check to make an estimated tax payment with <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040es.pdf">Form 1040-ES</a>.</p> <p>Make sure to use the IRS Withholding Calculator to estimate the right amount to mail to the IRS with Form 1040-ES and keep a photocopy of both the form and check for your own records.</p> <h2>5. Not Enrolling in a New FSA Plan Within 30 Days</h2> <p>You have up to 30 days from your hire date to enroll in an employer's flexible spending account (FSA). If you miss that deadline, you'll have to wait until your company renews its FSA plan, your plan administrator announces an open enrollment period, or you have a qualifying life event, such as changing marital status or having a baby.</p> <h2>6. Forgetting About Balances in Previous FSA Accounts</h2> <p>You may be so busy training at your new job and completing paperwork that you forget about remaining benefits at your previous employer. Check the rules from your previous FSA account regarding the expiration date of available money once you separate from your old employer. Most FSA plans provide a grace period to use the money, but some of those deadlines may be as early as the end of the month in which you separate from your employer. Unless you use your FSA funds in full by the applicable deadline, you'll lose them all.</p> <h2>7. Going More Than Two Months Without Health Coverage</h2> <p>As you're transitioning from one job to the other, keep an eye on the start and end dates of previous and current health plans. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, you owe a fee for any period greater than two months in which you, your spouse, or your tax dependents don't have qualifying health coverage. In most cases, the penalty fee is 1/12 per month of <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/fees/fee-for-not-being-covered/">2.5% of your household income</a> or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.</p> <p>Being uncovered for only one to two months, qualifies you for a <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/results/2015/details/short-gap">short gap exemption</a> and you're not liable for the fee. Find out whether or not you're able to claim a health coverage exemption with <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/">HealthCare.gov's Exemption Screener</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-job-dont-make-these-7-mistakes-with-your-benefits">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-health-insurance-benefits-youre-probably-not-using">6 Health Insurance Benefits You&#039;re Probably Not Using</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/still-without-health-insurance-here-s-how-much-the-penalties-will-cost-you">Still Without Health Insurance? Here’s How Much the Penalties Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/left-a-job-do-a-rollover">Left a job? Do a rollover.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-vital-things-to-remember-when-buying-health-insurance">5 Vital Things to Remember When Buying Health Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building Insurance Retirement 401 k affordable care act benefits employers flexible spending health care IRA medical insurance new job obamacare rollovers taxes Mon, 31 Oct 2016 10:00:07 +0000 Damian Davila 1822947 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself From Medical Records Theft http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/medical_records_theft_4391261.jpg" alt="Finding ways to protect yourself from medical records theft" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hacker attacks on medical records are exploding, with more than 113 million health files stolen in 2015. Criminals are using health records to commit medical identity theft, a crime that causes even more suffering than financial identity theft.</p> <p>Think having credit cards or a mortgage opened in your name is a nightmare? Maybe, but it's nothing compared to what victims of medical identity theft have suffered. Victims of this crime often suffer from financial fraud, just like those who have their credit cards compromised, says Ann Patterson, program director of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance.</p> <p>Resolving medical identity fraud is much more difficult than cleaning up a case of financial ID theft. The majority of medical ID theft victims reported spending an average of <a href="http://medidfraud.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2014_Medical_ID_Theft_Study1.pdf">$13,500 on lawyer fees</a> or medical bills in their names, compared to an average of just $55 to clean up financial ID theft, according to a 2015 Ponemon Institute survey. And with no centralized source to consult like a credit report, and no real-time alerts like banks and credit monitoring services, it may take a long time to even realize you're a victim of medical identity theft, Patterson warns.</p> <p>Whether you have just received a discomfiting letter from your health care provider that a data breach has occurred, or you simply want to head off this kind of life disruption before it happens, here are seven steps you can take to protect yourself from medical ID theft.</p> <h2>1. Read Your Mail</h2> <p>Those explanation of benefits statements from doctors' offices and hospitals may not be light reading, but you should look at them, at the least to verify that you saw the provider named on the date listed. Also, if you get mail from an unfamiliar doctor's office, don't toss it out without reading it &mdash; what you might think is junk mail could actually be a bill taken out in your name by an identity thief.</p> <h2>2. Review Your Medical Records</h2> <p>One positive thing about medical records going online is that it makes it easier for patients to periodically check that all the procedures listed there were actually performed on you, and that the details listed match your identity. If your records aren't online, you can ask to check your file when you're at the doctor's office.</p> <p>Reviewing medical records could be a matter of life and death, because &quot;information, such as an allergy to penicillin, is often <a href="http://icitech.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ICIT-Brief-Deep-Web-Exploitation-of-Health-Sector-Breach-Victims2.pdf">deleted from a patient's medical record</a> when it is stolen by a hacker or used by a buyer,&quot; warns the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology in a report that was presented to the US Senate in September.</p> <h2>3. Ask About Safeguards</h2> <p>Whether it's your doctor's office or your kids' school collecting data about your family, ask what happens to the paperwork you fill out. Is it shredded after being entered into a database, or tossed into the recycling? What kind of security protects those databases?</p> <h2>4. Don't Always Do as You're Told</h2> <p>Medical forms frequently ask for the patient's social security number. Patterson leaves that line blank, and if challenged, she explains that the omission is for privacy reasons. &quot;I have yet to be refused medical care because I refused to provide my Social Security number,&quot; she says.</p> <h2>5. Treat Health Information Like Financial Information</h2> <p>Just as you should shred your tax documents and bank statements before tossing them, you should shred your doctor's office visit receipts, prescription labels, and even destroy prescription bottles with information stickers on them, Patterson says.</p> <p>And if you wouldn't post your bank account balance on social media, don't be so quick to divulge upcoming medical treatments either. While it might be hard to imagine the harm in asking for thoughts and prayers for an upcoming surgery, Patterson urges patients to look at their profile from a criminal's point of view.</p> <p>&quot;You're putting out free information to give a detailed profile of you,&quot; she says, such as what region you live in, what doctors you frequent, and what ailments you have. If a criminal knows you have cancer, for instance, they may be able to &quot;buy painkillers in your name and not raise a red flag immediately, because it fits your profile,&quot; she says.</p> <p>If you think it's okay to share such information because your posts are only seen by friends and family, consider that, according to the Ponemon Institute, about half of medical ID fraud is committed by people who know the legitimate account holder.</p> <h2>6. Use Monitoring Services When Offered</h2> <p>It's now common for health insurers and other providers who have been hacked to offer members free fraud monitoring services. Take advantage of the offer! Patterson says that less than half of consumers offered free subscriptions actually sign up. Although they monitor for financial fraud &mdash; they won't tell you that someone checked in as you at a hospital &mdash; the services can provide valuable red flags. For instance, if a fraudulent medical bill goes into collections, it will show up on your credit report, and therefore trigger a fraud monitoring alert.</p> <h2>7. Be Careful What You Tell Your App</h2> <p>There are lots of fitness and health monitoring apps and websites nowadays, and while it's fine to sign up for one, look into the company that made the product, and think carefully about how much personal health data you share with them.</p> <p>&quot;Most of these companies are not regulated in the same way as your health care provider or health plan to protect your personal health information,&quot; MIFA warns.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill">How to Handle a Massive Medical Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/epipens-and-other-ways-companies-have-profited-from-your-pain">EpiPens and Other Ways Companies Have Profited From Your Pain</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/women-pay-more-for-health-care-heres-how-to-pay-less">Women Pay More for Health Care — Here&#039;s How to Pay Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-do-this-if-your-identity-gets-stolen">Don&#039;t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Health and Beauty credit monitoring doctors fraud health care medical identity theft medical records privacy safeguards social media thieves Fri, 28 Oct 2016 09:30:25 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1821821 at http://www.wisebread.com EpiPens and Other Ways Companies Have Profited From Your Pain http://www.wisebread.com/epipens-and-other-ways-companies-have-profited-from-your-pain <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/epipens-and-other-ways-companies-have-profited-from-your-pain" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/medication_pills_money_88647685.jpg" alt="Learning how epipens and other companies profit from pain" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The EpiPen literally saves lives. So naturally, the makers of the lifesaving product decided to cash in on that, <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/mylans-epipen-price-increases-are-valeant-like-in-size-shkreli-like-in-approach-2016-07-20">raising the cost</a> from $100 for a package of two, to over $600! (And that's with a coupon, by the way).</p> <p>The reason behind the dramatic increase is awful. According to Tech Times, five top Mylan NV executives had to hit some <a href="http://www.techtimes.com/articles/175921/20160901/whats-the-reason-behind-the-outrageous-epipen-price-increase-executive-pay-of-course.htm">pretty incredible sales figures</a> to achieve their combined $82 million in bonuses. Knowing the EpiPen is essential to many people, they simply jacked the price up and hit their goals. But, as you'll soon discover, this isn't the first time companies like Mylan NV have stuck it to people in need of medications.</p> <h2>Daraprim, One Pill &mdash; $13.50 to $750</h2> <p>If the drug doesn't sound familiar, the awful person behind its price hike will. His name is Martin Shkreli, often described in news stories and social media outlets as a man with a face you'd love to slap. His company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, acquired Daraprim in 2015 for $55 million. The drug is used to fight AIDS, malaria, and is also an antiparasitic. On September 17th, 2015, it was reported that the price of the drug had spiked from <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/business/a-huge-overnight-increase-in-a-drugs-price-raises-protests.html?_r=0">$13.50 per pill to $750 per pill</a>, an increase of 5,456%!</p> <p>Shkreli defended the massive increase, saying &quot;If there was a company that was selling an Aston Martin at the price of a bicycle, and we buy that company and we ask to charge Toyota prices, I don't think that that should be a crime.&quot; It was poetic justice to see <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/06/accused-fraudster-martin-shkreli-pleads-not-guilty-to-indictment-filed-last-week.html">Shkreli in court this year</a>.</p> <h2>Cycloserine, 30 Capsules &mdash; $500 to $10,800</h2> <p>Used to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis, Cycloserine was already costly at $500 for 30 capsules. So when Rodelis acquired the drug and <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/tuberculosis-drug-cycloserines-massive-price-hike-rodelis-therapeutics-rolled-back-2107884">raised the price</a> in September 2015, overnight, to $10,800 for the same number of pills, there was outrage. In fact, so much was said about it that biotechnology stocks suffered losses, with investors worried about the backlash. Rodelis caved to pressure and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/22/business/big-price-increase-for-tb-drug-is-rescinded.html?hpw&amp;rref=health&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=well-region&amp;region=bottom-well&amp;WT.nav=bottom-well&amp;_r=1">gave the drug back</a> to its previous owners, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Purdue University. However, the drug did not go back to its regular price. The cost was doubled from $500 to $1,050 for 30 capsules.</p> <h2>Isuprel, One Vial &mdash; $180 to $1,472</h2> <p>A drug used to treat abnormal heart rhythms is, as you can imagine, vital to many people in the U.S. and around the world. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International didn't see that as a good enough reason to keep the drug at its already steep price, and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/12/business/valeant-promised-price-breaks-on-drugs-heart-hospitals-are-still-waiting.html">jacked the cost up by 718%</a> in February last year. Valeant were called before Congress to explain their actions, and agreed to set up discounts of as much as 40% on the drug. As of May 11th, many heart hospitals were still <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/12/business/valeant-promised-price-breaks-on-drugs-heart-hospitals-are-still-waiting.html">waiting for those discounts</a> to appear.</p> <h2>Nitropress, One Vial &mdash; $215 to $881</h2> <p>The same company responsible for the Isuprel price hike were also behind the massive cost increase of Nitropress last year, a drug used to keep blood pressure low during heart surgeries. However, it wasn't quite as steep as the Isuprel rise, costing hospitals, and therefore patients, 312% more. The then CEO of Valeant, J. Michael Pearson (who has a net worth of $175 million) issued a statement saying the price increases were mistakes, saying &quot;The company was too aggressive &mdash; and I, as its leader, was too aggressive &mdash; in pursuing price increases on certain drugs.&quot; That probably comes as little comfort to the people who receive their hospital bills.</p> <h2>Vimovo, One Tablet &mdash; $1.88 to $23.86</h2> <p>There are over 100 types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. If you are diagnosed with it, you will be suffering from joint pain that can be crippling and debilitating. So, a drug that helps ease this pain should not be just as painful to buy.</p> <p>Horizon Pharma acquired the rights to the drug Vimovo, which helps to fight arthritis, in 2013. It then <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/20/investing/drug-price-hikes-martin-shkreli-valeant/">hiked the price by 597%</a>, taking one tablet from $1.88 to $23.86. Considering a vast number of people suffering from this condition are in retirement and on a fixed income, this is a disgrace. But the company hiked the price again recently, with a pack of 60 tablets <a href="http://www.goodrx.com/vimovo">now costing over $2,000</a> (with a coupon). Ironically, the drug is simply a mixture of two very cheap drugs, esomeprazole and naproxen. Many doctors are encouraged (that means kickbacks) by big pharma companies to write &quot;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/business/drug-makers-sidestep-barriers-on-pricing.html">prescriptions made easy</a>&quot; for these combination drugs. Always ask your doctor if there is a cheaper alternative that works just as well.</p> <h2>Dutoprol, One Pill &mdash; $0.52 to $5.26</h2> <p>This drug is used to treat high blood pressure, and up until 2013, the price was fairly reasonable &mdash; around $15 for a bottle of 30 pills. Clearly, the company the manufactures Dutoprol, Covis Pharma, was not happy with a reasonable price. So, they <a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/stunning-increases-drug-prices-that-have-shot-400-1200-percent/">hiked the price by 1,013%</a> to $5.26 per pill, or $157.80 for a bottle of 30 pills.</p> <h2>Sprix Nasal Spray, One Bottle &mdash; $32.07 to $183.97</h2> <p>If you have severe nasal pain, you will require a good pain reliever. Sprix is the only nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) on the market, and is preferred by people who do not want to use opioids or controlled substances. That preference will now cost a lot more. In February of 2015, Egalet Corp <a href="http://hedgeclippers.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NDC-Description.png">raised the price of one bottle</a> from $32.07 to $183.97, an increase of 574%. And as the spray is often sold in packs of five, you will be paying over $900 for that much-needed pain relief.</p> <h2>Tasmar, One Tablet &mdash; $15.70 to $105.98</h2> <p>Perhaps the most famous person you'll know of that may need Tasmar is Michael J. Fox. It's a drug used to treat the effects of Parkinson's disease. And once again, Valeant Pharmaceuticals is behind the massive price hike. In April last year, the company decided to raise the price of one tablet from $15.70 to $105.98, an increase of 675%. While a movie star may not have issues paying that bill, most people will get serious sticker shock when they have to pay over $6,300 for their bottle of 60 tablets.</p> <h2>Edecrin, One Vial &mdash; $470 to $4,600</h2> <p>Used in the treatment of edema and heart failure, Edecrin is a diuretic that helps your body get rid of excess salt and water. When Valeant acquired the rights to this drug, it started raising prices. Not once. Not twice. Not three times. The price has been increased <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/05/business/valeants-drug-price-strategy-enriches-it-but-infuriates-patients-and-lawmakers.html">an astonishing nine times </a>since 2014, and is now $4,600 per vial.</p> <h2>Targretin Gel, One Tube &mdash; $1,687 to $30,320</h2> <p>Those are not typos. You did read that correctly. There is clearly something going wrong somewhere when a company can charge more than the price of a Dodge Charger for a tube of topical gel. And, of course, it's used to address the symptoms of a form of cancer, which is one of the most expensive diseases to treat. Once again, those wonderful people at Valeant are behind the rise, and at over $1,600 a tube to begin with, it was hardly in desperate need of a price hike. But, they did it, making the small tube of gel <a href="http://www.fiercepharma.com/financials/jama-valeant-s-18-fold-price-hikes-top-widespread-increases-dermatology-prices">18 times more expensive</a> after they bought the rights to the drug in 2013.</p> <p>Valeant has defended the rise, saying full retail prices &quot;rarely represent the prices that patients and insurers are paying or what the pharmaceutical company receives.&quot; If you don't have good insurance, or any insurance, you likely won't have the money needed for this drug. Incidentally, at the same time, <a href="https://healthfinder.gov/News/Article.aspx?id=705625">Valeant raised the price of Carac cream</a>, another topical treatment dealing with skin cancer, from $159 to $2,705. The message this company is sending is clear&hellip;you get sick, we get rich.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/epipens-and-other-ways-companies-have-profited-from-your-pain">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft">7 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself From Medical Records Theft</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/healthcare-20-websites-to-help-you-save-on-doctors-dentists-and-more">Healthcare 2.0: Websites to Help You Save on Doctors, Dentists, and More</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/don-t-waste-your-money-on-homeopathic-remedies">Don’t Waste Your Money on Homeopathic “Remedies”</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-gadget-that-can-save-you-thousands-of-dollars">The $5 Gadget That Can Save You Thousands of Dollars</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-handle-a-massive-medical-bill">How to Handle a Massive Medical Bill</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Financial News Health and Beauty big pharma companies drugs health care illness medication pharmaceuticals price hikes Thu, 22 Sep 2016 10:00:05 +0000 Paul Michael 1796989 at http://www.wisebread.com Live a Longer and Happier Life With These 8 Frugal Buys http://www.wisebread.com/live-a-longer-and-happier-life-with-these-8-frugal-buys <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/live-a-longer-and-happier-life-with-these-8-frugal-buys" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_74523869_MEDIUM.jpg" alt="these items help you live longer" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Life has its ups and downs. Despite the problems we face, most of us would give anything to maximize longevity. Fortunately, there's plenty you can do to have a long, fulfilling life. Some things are fairly obvious, such as quitting a bad habit like smoking, and avoiding life-threatening behaviors. What you might not realize, however, is that certain purchases also have a hand in extending your lifespan. Here are eight things you can buy to help you live longer.</p> <h2>1. Books</h2> <p>After finishing high school or college, maybe you vowed never to pick up another book again. Reading was no doubt a grueling chore while you were cramming for an exam, but there are benefits to making reading a regular routine. According to a new study, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/08/book-up-for-a-longer-life-readers-die-later-study-finds">reading can boost cognitive function</a>, and people who read for at least 30 minutes a day can extend their lives and live two years longer than those who don't read.</p> <h2>2. A Cat</h2> <p>If you're thinking about getting a pet, don't automatically assume a dog is the better choice. Some cats aren't as social or playful as dogs. Nonetheless, owning a cat can be good for your heart and have a positive effect on your life. The National Health and Nutrition Examination study followed 4,500 men and women over a 20-year period. More than half of the <a href="http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20080221/owning-a-cat-good-for-the-heart">participants owned a cat</a> during their lives. The study found that people who never had a cat were 30% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who had owned a cat.</p> <h2>3. Floss</h2> <p>Brushing your teeth at least two times a day contributes to oral health. But if you're looking to add years to your life, don't forget to <a href="http://amzn.to/2cf5qo2">floss</a>. The American Dental Association recommends daily flossing, and for good reason. Flossing &mdash; which helps remove particles of food from places a toothbrush can't reach &mdash; can add as much as six years to your life. The <a href="http://www.today.com/health/there-s-little-proof-flossing-protects-your-teeth-or-gums-t101389">benefits of flossing</a> have recently been hotly debated, but not flossing increases the risk of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). Gingivitis can lead to heart disease, stroke, and infection.</p> <h2>4. Sunscreen</h2> <p>Whether you're at the beach, an amusement park, driving in the car, or working in your garden, it's important to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays with <a href="http://amzn.to/2cf4K2j">sunscreen</a>. Sunshine is an excellent source of vitamin D, but too much exposure can be deadly. Having more than five sunburns can double your risk for melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Therefore,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sunburn/five-ways-to-treat-a-sunburn">always apply sunscreen</a> before exposing your skin to the sun, and reapply as directed.</p> <h2>5. Coffee</h2> <p>You don't have to feel guilty about starting your morning with a cup of Joe. Coffee can provide a much-needed energy boost to get through the day, and it can help you live longer. Researchers found that <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-your-coffee-habit-help-you-live-longer-201601068938">coffee has antioxidants that protect our bodies</a> from damage. The beverage can reduce the risk of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and type 2 diabetes. But it's important to drink in moderation. Too much caffeine also increases blood pressure and can cause sleep problems.</p> <h2>6. Bike</h2> <p>One or more days a week, ride your bike to work or while running errands. And if you have a regular exercise routine, incorporate cycling a few days a week. Researchers have found a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.uu.nl/en/news/dutch-bikers-live-six-months-longer">link between riding a bike and living longer</a>. For every hour you bike, you can add one hour to your life.</p> <h2>7. Blood Pressure Monitor</h2> <p>You probably don't give your blood pressure a second thought &mdash; but you should. High blood pressure is a silent killer because it increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Rather than wait for a health crisis to learn you have high blood pressure, invest in a <a href="http://amzn.to/2cIGCXS">blood pressure monitor</a> and regularly check your levels to ensure they remain within a healthy range (less than 120/80 mm Hg).</p> <p>Blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day, and you may have higher than normal readings after exercising or eating. If your numbers are consistently high, talk to your doctor. With lifestyle changes or medication you can lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of early death.</p> <h2>8. A Wedding Ring</h2> <p>Maybe you're happy living a bachelor or bachelorette life. Even so, there are benefits to tying the knot. Not only can you enjoy companionship, a study conducted by Duke University Medical Center found that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/marriage-research_n_2450639.html">people who never marry</a> were &quot;more than twice as likely to die early in life than those people in long-term, stable relationships.&quot; The study followed 4,800 people born in the 1940s. These findings support other studies, which found that married people had a lower risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/live-a-longer-and-happier-life-with-these-8-frugal-buys">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-surprising-health-benefits-to-growing-a-garden">6 Surprising Health Benefits of Growing a Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-resistance-bands">The 5 Best Resistance Bands</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pet-flea-shampoos">The 5 Best Pet Flea Shampoos</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-exercise-videos">The 5 Best Exercise Videos</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-you-can-save-money-on-prescription-medications">7 Ways You Can Save Money On Prescription Medications</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Shopping entertainment exercise extend your life green living health care Live Longer longevity marriage pets Mon, 19 Sep 2016 10:30:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1794518 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Money Moves to Make Before the Leaves Change http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-before-the-leaves-change <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-money-moves-to-make-before-the-leaves-change" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_fall_leaves_81399473.jpg" alt="Woman making money moves before the leaves change" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As yet another fun summer season winds down, there's no better time than the start of autumn to take a look at our finances to see where we can make adjustments. Consider these 10 money moves to make before the leaves change.</p> <h2>1. Get Back to Budget Reality</h2> <p>Summer activities can put budgeting on the back burner as we spend more and save less over vacation. A little splurging or a savings vacation isn't the end of the world, as long as it isn't a permanent getaway that drains your accounts. With autumn right around the corner, however, now's the time to get back to basics and rein in spending. Summer can be expensive, but you can regain control of your money by coming up with a spending plan that helps you curb impulse buys and save more of your income for a rainy day.</p> <h2>2. Start a Holiday Fund</h2> <p>The beginning of fall means the holiday season is only three months away. As you revamp your budget, start putting money aside for the end of the year. Whether your plans include taking an end-of-the-year vacation or buying gifts for loved ones, early planning can ensure enough cash so that you don't have to rely on credit cards.</p> <h2>3. Ask About Flat-Rate Billing</h2> <p>If your gas or electric bills trigger heart palpitations, talk to your utility company about flat-rate billing. The company looks at your past electricity or gas usage and uses this information to estimate your expected usage over the next year. Based on this estimation, you're charged a flat rate for the next 12 months. Flat-rate billing protects against higher utility bills during the winter and summer months, and as a result, budgeting is easier because you know exactly what you'll owe each month and there are no surprises.</p> <h2>4. Review Your TV Habits</h2> <p>Fall signifies that start of the new prime time television schedule &mdash; one of my favorite parts of the change of seasons. This is an excellent time to evaluate your TV viewing habits to see if you can do without cable, downgrade your package, or otherwise modify your home-entertainment budget to better suit your needs. With so many options these days, you can likely stream many of your favorite shows at a price that's far less than cable.</p> <h2>5. Pay Off Summer Debt</h2> <p>Carrying credit card debt from month-to-month is expensive. If your credit cards took a beating over the summer, come up with a plan to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">eliminate this debt</a>. Give your credit cards a break and pay for everything with cash, and then cut back on unnecessary spending to free up cash in your budget. Use the savings to double or triple your minimum payments and pay off balances sooner. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">5 Day Debt Reduction Plan</a>)</p> <h2>6. Prepare for Colder Days</h2> <p>Temperatures cool down around September and October, so to trim your heating bill, take steps early in the season to keep the heat in and the cold out. This includes replacing missing insulation in the attic, weatherstripping your doors and windows, sealing any cracks around windows and electrical outlets, installing a storm door, hanging heavy drapes, getting a programmable thermostat, and closing your fireplace flue.</p> <h2>7. Check Your Savings Contributions</h2> <p>If summer fun threw off your savings goals, you can play catch-up by taking advantage of your company's retirement plan, or increasing your contributions if you already have a 401K.</p> <p>&quot;An employer may offer to match a percentage or all of your contributions to a retirement account,&quot; says Jim Poolman, retirement expert and executive director of the lndexed Annuity Leadership Council. &quot;Some employers may even contribute to your retirement account each year whether you save or not.&quot; Any employer retirement contribution is considered &quot;free money&quot; and can maximize your savings at any age.</p> <h2>8. Balance Your Portfolio</h2> <p>In addition to contributing or increasing contributions to your company's retirement plan, you should get serious about balancing your portfolio to protect against market shifts. It isn't enough to have a 401K. Poolman suggests adding more conservative, low-risk products, such as fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) to balance your retirement portfolio.</p> <p>This is important as you become older, because a savings strategy that worked in your 20s might not be the right fit in your 30s or 40s.</p> <p>&quot;Assessing your investment mix at different stages in your life is key,&quot; Poolman warns. &quot;When you're young, a higher-risk investment strategy may be more effective, whereas the closer you are to retirement, the more important a low-risk portfolio may be.&quot;</p> <h2>9. Have a Money Talk With Your Partner</h2> <p>It's also important to sit down with your partner and/or a financial planner to review your overall financial picture and determine where you can improve. For example, when was the last time you reviewed your life insurance policy? If you've recently tied the knot, had a baby, or purchased a home, can you increase your coverage? Or if you're self-employed, could you increase contributions and max out your IRA, which can grow your money and help you save on taxes? A yearly review can ensure a firm financial foundation and help you hit your goals.</p> <h2>10. Make Doctor's Appointments</h2> <p>A flexible spending account (FSA) lets you set aside a percentage of your pretax pay for eligible out-of-pocket medical expenses. These accounts effectively reduce health care costs for doctor appointments, prescription medications, vision care, and dental care. You can withdraw funds to pay for covered expenses. The catch, however, is that funds in a flexible spending account must be used in the plan year. Some employers don't allow funds to carry over into the next year, or they only allow employees to carry over $500. If you don't use the money, you lose it. So with three months left in the year, schedule your doctor, dental, and vision appointments to avoid forfeiting your unused balance.</p> <p><em>What steps are you taking to prep your finances for fall?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-before-the-leaves-change">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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