health care http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1472/all en-US 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. 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-5-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-warren-buffett">The 5 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Warren Buffett</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/5-money-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-50">5 Money Mistakes to Stop Making by 50</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-ways-you-disrespect-your-money">10 Ways You Disrespect Your Money</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/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</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/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance advice autumn budgeting debt fall health care money moves organizing paying bills savings seasons Mon, 22 Aug 2016 09:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1775890 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: 5 Ways You're Overpaying for Health Care http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-5-ways-youre-overpaying-for-health-care <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-5-ways-youre-overpaying-for-health-care" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/doctor_piggy_bank_74424907.jpg" alt="Learning ways you&#039;re overpaying for health care" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found articles on ways you&rsquo;re spending too much on health care, how to optimize your workspace, and why sales tax holidays are not as great as they sound.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.moneyspruce.com/5-ways-spending-much-health-care/">5 Ways You Are Spending too Much on Health Care</a> &mdash; A procedure may cost more because of how you pay. Discuss alternative payment methods and find what works best for your situation. [Money Spruce]</p> <p><a href="http://lifehacker.com/five-ways-to-optimize-your-workspace-for-productivity-1784310012">Five Ways to Optimize Your Workspace for Productivity</a> &mdash; You can get into a better working flow by using different places for different kinds of action. [Lifehacker]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2016/0725/Are-sales-tax-holidays-good-for-anyone">Are sales tax holidays good for anyone?</a> &mdash; Economists say that sales tax holidays don't work the way they were meant to. [The Monitor]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Naps-Good-You-40387042">6 Reasons You Should Nap More</a> &mdash; Feeling agitated, sad, or tense? Napping can help reduce anxiety and depression. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://inexpensively.com/articles/the-hidden-cost-of-disorganization/">The Hidden Cost of Disorganization</a> &mdash; When you're disorganized, it's easy to lose money &mdash; literally! [Inexpensively]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.shebudgets.com/lifestyle/shopping/20-places-that-give-you-free-stuff-on-your-birthday/70248">20 Places That Give You Free Stuff On Your Birthday</a> &mdash; Sign up for the birthday club at Baskin Robbins and get a free ice cream on your special day! [SheBudgets]</p> <p><a href="https://due.com/blog/5-signs-time-hire-virtual-assistant/">3 Signs It&rsquo;s Time to Hire a Virtual Assistant</a> &mdash; Not all business tasks are created equal. The day-to-day stuff that don't make any money can be handed off to a virtual assistant. [Due]</p> <p><a href="https://due.com/blog/5-signs-time-hire-virtual-assistant/">Apartment Hunting: 5 Things You Should Bring With You</a> &mdash; Bring a tape measure to get a better idea of how large the rooms and doorways are&hellip;and whether your furniture will fit. [The Allstate Blog]</p> <p><a href="http://couplemoney.com/cars-and-road-trips/road-trip-ideas-tips/">Road Trip Ideas to Maximize Fun and Not Break Your Budget</a> &mdash; You don't want to worry about your car breaking down in the middle of your road trip. If you aren't renting a car, be sure to check your fluids and tires, and have an emergency kit on hand. [Couple Money]</p> <p><a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2016/0725/Are-sales-tax-holidays-good-for-anyone">6 Perfect Summer Chores for Kids</a> &mdash; Have your kids help you water your plants. They'll see their hard work pay off when the plants grow and flowers bloom! [Parenting Squad]</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-5-ways-youre-overpaying-for-health-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-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/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-health-care-plan">FINANCIAL IQ TEST: How Healthy Is Your Health Care 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/7-ways-to-help-protect-your-financial-future-from-unexpected-medical-expenses">7 Ways to Help Protect Your Financial Future From Unexpected Medical Expenses</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <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> <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/make-these-9-health-moves-now-or-youll-regret-it-in-20-years">Make These 9 Health Moves Now or You&#039;ll Regret It in 20 Years</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty best money tips health care Wed, 27 Jul 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Amy Lu 1759841 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Financial Reasons Paid Parental Leave Is Essential for Moms and Dads http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-reasons-paid-parental-leave-is-essential-for-moms-and-dads <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-financial-reasons-paid-parental-leave-is-essential-for-moms-and-dads" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/parents_new_baby_46762432.jpg" alt="New parents learning why parental leave is essential" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The United States is one of only two countries in the world that does not offer guaranteed family leave for new parents &mdash; the other one being Papua New Guinea.</p> <p>The U.S. isn't completely without family leave policy, of course. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 guarantees that eligible workers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a new baby or adoption (or to care for an ailing family member) without it affecting their employment. But only about 60% of American workers meet FMLA eligibility requirements, and even those who do might not be able to afford to take 12 weeks off without a paycheck.</p> <p>There are a couple of deeply entrenched economic beliefs behind America's lack of paid parental leave: First, that companies cannot afford (and should not have to afford) the cost of paying an employee who is not working, and second, that having children is an individual choice that does not (and should not) affect society financially.</p> <p>But the truth is that both of those economic beliefs are just that &mdash; beliefs. In reality, we are shortchanging ourselves as a country by not offering paid parental leave. Here are the five most important financial reasons why paid parental leave is essential. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-best-jobs-for-working-moms-and-dads?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Best Jobs for Working Moms and Dads</a>)</p> <h2>Paid Parental Leave Costs Companies Less Than Turnover</h2> <p>It seems like a pretty simple economic truth: An employee is only valuable to a company if he or she is producing work for a paycheck. Paying an employee to stay home with a new baby or newly adopted child costs the employer money without getting any benefit in return.</p> <p>The problem with this view of employment is how narrow it is. An employee's usefulness to a company is much greater than any particular 12-week span, particularly when you consider the cost of hiring a new employee to fill the gap. In California, where 12 weeks of paid family leave has been the law of the state for over a decade, researchers have found that mothers who took such leave were 6% more likely to <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w17715">be working a year later</a> than those who did not.</p> <p>The same researchers have also discovered that California women who took leave and returned to their jobs worked 15% to 20% more hours during the second year of their child's life than those who did not take leave.</p> <p>Looking at the situation from a purely financial perspective, companies are going to be better off paying new parents for leave rather than spending money on hiring new employees, particularly considering the fact that employees who have taken advantage of paid parental leave will feel great loyalty toward their employers.</p> <p>The facts from California bear this out. The President's Council of Economic Advisers reported in 2014 that more than 90% of employers affected by California's paid leave initiative saw either a <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/leave_report_final.pdf">positive or no noticeable effect</a> on profitability, turnover, or morale due to implementation of paid family leave.</p> <h2>Paid Parental Leave Saves Money on Health Care</h2> <p>Mothers who have time to stay home with newborns have healthier babies than women who must return to work quickly. According to a study of European paid parental leave policies conducted by the University of North Carolina, more generous paid parental leave is found to <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167629600000473">reduce infant mortality</a> and improve overall health in children. Considering the consistently rising costs of health care in the United States, the cost of paying for parental leave is going to be much cheaper for our government, society, and private sector than the cost of paying for a sick child's health care.</p> <p>But it's not just the children who experience health benefits from paid parental leave. Mothers who have longer paid maternity leave report fewer symptoms of <a href="http://www.nber.org/bah/winter04/w10206.html">postpartum depression</a>, which means they are better able to be fully engaged both at work and with their babies. And the mental health benefits do not stop with baby's first year. According to a study by the Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging, and Retirement in the UK, women who were able to use a more generous maternity leave policy were 14% less likely to <a href="http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=133880">suffer late life depression</a>.</p> <p>Fathers also experience mental health benefits by getting paid time off. Israeli researchers have found fathers who work as primary caregivers for their children will see changes in an area of the brain called the amygdala that help them to become <a href="https://consumer.healthday.com/caregiving-information-6/infant-and-child-care-health-news-410/dad-s-brain-becomes-more-maternal-when-he-s-primary-caregiver-study-688176.html">better suited to parenting</a>. In addition, a father's immersion in parenting duties has also been correlated with both <a href="http://www.fira.ca/cms/documents/29/Effects_of_Father_Involvement.pdf">enhanced child development</a> and improved marital relationships &mdash; all of which can help the entire family's mental and physical health.</p> <h2>Paid Parental Leave vs. Public Assistance</h2> <p>Several states in addition to California have launched statewide paid parental leave initiatives. In New Jersey, a study from the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University, discovered that mothers who had used the state's paid family leave policy were <a href="http://news.rutgers.edu/news-releases/2012/01/rutgers-study-finds-20120118#.V4P6mUYrLIV">more likely to be working</a> nine to 12 months after their baby was born than mothers who had not used the leave.</p> <p>So what were the nonworking mothers doing? In many cases, families who do not have access to paid parental leave are forced to rely on other methods of getting by. In particular, the Rutgers study found that women who took paid parental leave in New Jersey were 39% less likely to be on public assistance and 40% less likely to receive food stamps in their child's first year compared to parents who did not take leave.</p> <p>It can be difficult to tease out the differences between the taxpayer costs of state-mandated parental leave compared to the taxpayer costs of public assistance, but it seems much more financially beneficial for the family to use paid leave and ensure job continuity.</p> <h2>Paternity Leave Increases Maternal Paychecks</h2> <p>Much of the conversations about family leave centers around the mother-child bond, which is certainly understandable. Mom is the one whose body goes through the wringer during pregnancy and childbirth, and more time for her to physically recover and bond with baby is a good thing.</p> <p>But when Dad takes time off to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, the entire family benefits financially. In Sweden, which mandates that fathers must take two months off for the birth of a new child (and that time can be taken anytime in Junior's first eight years), researchers found that the <a href="https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/45782/1/623752174.pdf">mother's annual income increased</a> by nearly 7% for each month that the father took off from work.</p> <h2>The Children Are Our (Financial) Future</h2> <p>As much as parental leave helps parents, it's important to remember how much it benefits the kids. Mothers who used maternity leave will see their children attain higher education, have higher IQs, and <a href="http://ftp.iza.org/dp5793.pdf">earn higher incomes</a> than mothers who didn't, according to research from The Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn. These effects were biggest in families where the parents had less education and were less likely to have jobs that offered paid parental leave.</p> <p>That means making a relatively small sacrifice now by instituting parental leave will lead to smarter, better educated, and more financially secure adults in 30 years or so. Those kids are the ones I want taking care of things once I'm back to drooling again &mdash; not the kids who were treated as a financial burden.</p> <h2>Widening Our Vision</h2> <p>The view that parental leave is too expensive is the societal version of spending a dollar to save a nickel. Parental leave benefits parents, children, and society far more than it costs. If everyone treated the cost of having children the same way many U.S. employers do &mdash; as a cost that is too great to bear &mdash; then the world would get dark and depressing PDQ.</p> <p>Children are a social good, and we reap much more than we sow by paying the cost of parental leave.</p> <p><em>Does your employer offer paid parental leave?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-financial-reasons-paid-parental-leave-is-essential-for-moms-and-dads">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/these-7-companies-have-the-craziest-employee-perks">These 7 Companies Have the Craziest Employee Perks</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/when-should-you-say-no-to-those-who-want-to-borrow-money-from-you">When Should You Say No to Those Who Want to Borrow Money from 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/the-29-companies-with-the-best-maternity-benefits">The 29 Companies With the Best Maternity Benefits</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-best-jobs-for-working-moms-and-dads">6 Best Jobs for Working Moms and Dads</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-miss-out-on-this-easy-way-to-pay-for-child-care">Don&#039;t Miss Out on This Easy Way to Pay for Child Care</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Family benefits child care employers having children health care income maternity parental leave paternity salaries turnover Wed, 20 Jul 2016 09:00:13 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1755638 at http://www.wisebread.com Still Without Health Insurance? Here’s How Much the Penalties Will Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/still-without-health-insurance-here-s-how-much-the-penalties-will-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/still-without-health-insurance-here-s-how-much-the-penalties-will-cost-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/piggy_bank_medical_74187691.jpg" alt="Here&#039;s what it will cost you to live without health insurance" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Health insurance is something we all need. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense at times, not being prepared for a medical disaster can completely devastate your finances. In fact, being plagued by enormous medical bills is the number one cause of bankruptcy filings. There are financial, medical, and psychological costs associated with having no health insurance. Here are just a few:</p> <h2>Steep Penalties</h2> <p>If you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-when-you-should-switch-to-your-partners-health-insurance" target="_blank">don't have health insurance</a>, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) dictates that you pay a fee or penalty called the &quot;individual shared responsibility payment.&quot; Any Americans who fail to have <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/fees/plans-that-count-as-coverage/">minimum essential coverage</a> will be charged this penalty.</p> <p>The penalty is <a href="http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-individual-mandate/">calculated in two ways</a>, and you will pay whichever of the figures is higher: It amounts to either 2.5% of your total household adjusted gross income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, to a maximum of $2,085. This fee has steadily risen since 2014, so it only makes sense to remain covered. For 2017 and beyond, the percentage will remain at 2.5%, but the flat fee will be adjusted for inflation. If you have health coverage for part of the year, you will only need to pay 1/12 of the annual fee for each month you weren't insured.</p> <p>The penalty is equivalent to the national average cost for a bronze-level health plan, so you would be paying the same amount whether you have health insurance or not. Therefore, it likely won't save you any money to avoid getting health insurance.</p> <h2>What If You Don't Pay the Penalty?</h2> <p>If you don't pay the penalty during tax time, you will not be subject to jail time or any additional fines. However, the IRS can withhold money from your tax refund at the end of the year.</p> <h2>Possible Exemptions</h2> <p>There are <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/">certain health coverage exemptions</a> to the individual mandate charged when you file your federal tax return. For instance, certain life events or financial status may qualify you for an exemption.</p> <p>With the <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/results/2015/details/short-gap">short gap exemption</a>, if you have health insurance throughout the year, but neglected to have coverage for only one or two months, you may be exempt from the fee. However, even if you only missed one day of coverage in a month, the government will deem that you did not have coverage for that whole month. For instance, if you are insured all year, but didn't have coverage June 30 through July 1, the government declares that you missed two months of coverage.</p> <h2>The Statistics</h2> <p>According to the NY Times, a person between the ages of 25 and 34 has a 5% chance of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/20/your-money/weighing-the-risks-of-going-without-health-insurance.html?_r=2">incurring medical bills</a> of at least $27,000 and a 10% chance of incurring medical bills that exceed $13,000. For Americans under the age of 65, there is approximately a 10% chance of incurring more than $30,000 in medical bills in only one year. A very unfortunate 1% of the population incurs more than $115,000 in medical bills in a single year.</p> <p>This is a significant risk and can spell financial ruin and a potential bankruptcy filing. According to the Harvard Medical School, &quot;Unless you're a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you're one illness away from financial ruin in this country.&quot; Having health insurance will not necessarily prevent these startling statistics, but they can help protect you from certain catastrophic medical events.</p> <h2>The Psychological Aspect</h2> <p>There is a very defined psychological benefit of having health insurance. Dan Bailey, a consulting health care actuary and a fellow of the Society of Actuaries, found that people who have health insurance are more likely to pursue necessary services than those who don't have health insurance.</p> <p>You are also more likely to take advantage of preventative medical services if you have health insurance. After all, if you're already paying for it, why not take advantage of the free annual physical? In fact, most people don't have health insurance because they can't afford it, not because they think they're invincible.</p> <h2>Cost vs. Value</h2> <p>The <a href="http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/">Kaiser Family Foundation</a> found that a young man between the ages of 28 and 32 can buy a typical silver plan for about $2,800 in annual premiums. While this may end up costing you more than the penalty would, it's not by much. When you consider how much you may end up spending out-of-pocket for something as simple as a back injury, you can clearly see how imperative health insurance really is.</p> <p><em>Do you know of any other monetary or psychological costs of not having health insurance? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/still-without-health-insurance-here-s-how-much-the-penalties-will-cost-you">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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> <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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-time-short-term-health-insurance-makes-sense">The One Time Short-Term Health Insurance Makes Sense</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-fall-for-these-common-obamacare-scams">Don&#039;t Fall for These Common Obamacare Scams</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance affordable care act bankruptcy fees health care health insurance medical bills obamacare Mon, 11 Jul 2016 09:30:35 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1746124 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Let These Expenses Spoil Your Retirement Abroad http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-expenses-spoil-your-retirement-abroad <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-let-these-expenses-spoil-your-retirement-abroad" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/globe_world_coins_80768379.jpg" alt="Learning how to keep expenses from spoiling retirement abroad" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The relatively low cost of living in countries like Mexico, Thailand, and Spain makes them <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-incredible-places-to-retire-abroad-that-anyone-can-afford">popular destinations for retirement</a>. Your fixed retirement income goes further here, affording the possibility of a little luxury, as well as adventure in your later years.</p> <p>Standard of living, climate, and culture are all massive draws, but retiring abroad can also come with unexpected bills. Take, for example, medical costs, taxes, inheritance restrictions, and house buying fees which are completely different to home. While the everyday cost of living might be favorable, these &quot;one off' costs can stack up.</p> <p>Here are some specific (and perhaps unexpected) bills to watch out for.</p> <h2>Assets and Visas</h2> <p>In order to get a visa as a retiree, you will need to demonstrate that you have the income or assets to support your lifestyle. Because it is assumed you will not work (you're retired, after all), the visa type may prohibit you from taking on employment to supplement your income &mdash; making your pension or other assets absolutely crucial.</p> <p>The amount required to get a visa varies from location to location. For example, to retire to Thailand you must prove you have a monthly income of around $2,000. Although this might seem low to those of us living in Western Europe or North America, this income is double that of the average Thai.</p> <p>If retirement in Mexico floats your boat, you will need to prove you can afford it. A temporary visa which lasts for up to four years requires you to have an income of just over $1,500 a month, or just over $25,000 in the bank. A permanent visa, on the other hand, means you need over four times that in the bank, or a monthly income of over $2,500.</p> <h2>Exchange Rate Woes</h2> <p>Wherever you're headed, if you draw income or pension in one currency, and are planning on spending in another, then you need to understand and make allowances for exchange rate fluctuations. If not, you might find yourself with a hefty bill to pay.</p> <p>For example, if you are planning on buying a house in your new retirement location, and will have a mortgage outstanding on it in a local currency, your payment might change significantly because of the exchange rate. Add in the potential fluctuations in mortgage payments due to interest rate changes, and you might struggle to predict exactly what your housing bills will look like on an ongoing basis.</p> <p>If you own property in your home country, one option is to mortgage that property, and use the cash to buy outright in your adopted country. This means that the mortgage you will be paying is in the same currency that you draw income in, removing one source of worry.</p> <h2>The Cost of Good Health</h2> <p>For something that is truly priceless, keeping in great health can be pretty costly. Because a trip to the hospital can be relatively cheap in many popular retirement destinations, many expat retirees prefer to pay out of pocket for their health care as they need it.</p> <p>Paying for health care is a personal decision, and depends largely on your ease of access to funds, and your attitude to risk. Be warned, though, that in some countries such as Thailand, hospitals have been known to turn away people who cannot prove their ability to pay, either with ready cash or valid insurance. Carry a credit card on you if you choose not to invest in an insurance policy here!</p> <h2>Home Sweet Home</h2> <p>Buying a new home is seldom stress free &mdash; and doing it abroad is likely to create some unexpected bills and charges. Make sure you're very clear on the costs involved.</p> <p>Across Europe, for example, house buying comes with a whole range of fees which vary from country to country, and quickly mount up. Throw in the additional costs of having documents checked by a notary, or translated by an official translator, and buying somewhere to live can be especially pricey.</p> <p>It is well worth keeping up with the local news in the country you move to, as your liabilities don't necessarily end once the purchase is complete. Homebuyers in Spain have been pursued for tax the authorities deemed payable on property bought up to a decade ago, because of the high numbers of overseas buyers taking advantage of the massive slump in prices. You might not be able to change unexpected bills like these, but at least you can be forewarned.</p> <p>Part of what makes life overseas exciting is the opportunity to gather new experiences along the way. However, some of these differences can make life that little bit more challenging, too. Many of the costs associated with retiring abroad are unavoidable &mdash; but by being aware in advance, you can better manage the bills as they come in.</p> <p>There's no substitute for your own research. If you're thinking of building a life abroad for your retirement years, then get your finances prepared, so you can enjoy peace of mind.</p> <p><em>Are you planning to retire abroad? What do you think &mdash; does the lower cost of living outweigh the risk of financial surprises?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/claire-millard">Claire Millard</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-let-these-expenses-spoil-your-retirement-abroad">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-5"> <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-ways-to-avoid-bank-fees-while-traveling">11 Ways to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-amazing-honeymoons-that-only-seem-expensive">5 Amazing Honeymoons That Only Seem Expensive</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/dont-get-taken-how-to-evaluate-an-exchange-rate">Don&#039;t Get Taken: How to Evaluate an Exchange Rate</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/follow-these-5-credit-card-rules-when-traveling-abroad">Follow These 5 Credit Card Rules When Traveling Abroad</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Travel abroad exchange rates expats health care overseas retirees second homes unexpected bills visas Wed, 06 Jul 2016 09:00:11 +0000 Claire Millard 1745832 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Money Moves to Make When a Layoff Is Coming http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-when-a-layoff-is-coming <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-when-a-layoff-is-coming" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_suffering_headache_23825868.jpg" alt="Woman making money moves with coming layoff" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The signs are right there:</p> <ul> <li>All departmental budgets are cut way back;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Several key senior managers suddenly resign;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Entire divisions are consolidated, outsourced, or cut; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Many meetings that were previously open to everybody are now held behind closed doors.</li> </ul> <p>You haven't been laid off (or fired!) yet &mdash; but the company isn't doing so hot, and you strongly suspect you'll be on the chopping block soon. What should you do to prepare? Here is your checklist of 10 money moves for when a layoff is coming. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-re-fired-20-signs-that-a-pink-slip-is-coming?ref=seealso">20 Signs That a Pink Slip is Coming</a>)</p> <h2>Health Care Coverage</h2> <p>Whether you're single or have several dependents, you need to plan how to pay for scheduled and unexpected health care related expenses.</p> <h3>1. Inquire About COBRA Continuation Health Coverage</h3> <p>The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires group health plans to provide a temporary continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated. Generally, this legislation applies to all private group health plans from employers with 20 or more employees. Some states have similar laws for employers with less than 20 employees.</p> <p>Inquire through your health plan administrator whether you're eligible for COBRA coverage, what coverage is available for you and your dependents, and how much it costs. If you're entitled to COBRA coverage, you'll have an election period of at least 60 days to choose whether to accept continuation coverage.</p> <h3>2. Gather Quotes From HealthCare.gov</h3> <p>While COBRA may be an option, it's often quite expensive. At <a href="http://www.healthcare.gov">HealthCare.gov</a>, you can shop around for health plans available in your Health Insurance Marketplace, check whether or not you qualify for Medicaid, and determine if your children are eligible for the <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/medicaid-chip/childrens-health-insurance-program/">Children's Health Insurance Program</a> (CHIP).</p> <p>By comparing how much it'd cost to maintain your existing coverage through COBRA vs. alternative options, you can make an informed decision about health plan choices.</p> <h3>3. Update Your Mailing Address With Your Current Health Carrier</h3> <p>This is key so that you receive any plan cards, bills, and forms, such as the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-prior/f1095a--2015.pdf">Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement</a>. The Form 1095-A enables you to take the premium tax credit, reconcile the credit on returns with advance payments of the premium tax credit (advance credit payments), and file an accurate tax return.</p> <h2>Retirement Planning</h2> <p>Times may be tough, but continue building up your nest egg. Your future self will be glad you did.</p> <h3>4. Pay Down Any 401K Loans</h3> <p>If you're part of the <a href="http://www.pensionresearchcouncil.org/publications/document.php?file=1271">20% of 401K holders</a> that took a loan from their plan, plan to pay back as much as you can, as <em>soon</em> as you can. When you're laid off or fired, you have only up to 60 days to pay back outstanding balances &mdash; or those funds become <em>taxable </em>income. Also, you would have to pay a 10% early distribution penalty if you're under age 59 1/2 and may be subject to additional incomes taxes and penalties from your state.</p> <h3>5. Check Vesting Period of Employer Contributions</h3> <p>Your employer may require you to work for a specific timeframe before vesting the employer contributions in your retirement account. Contact your retirement plan administrator to understand your fully vested balance.</p> <h3>6. Update Your Mailing Address With Current Plan Administrator</h3> <p>This is important for everybody, but is critical for individuals with a retirement account balance under $5,000. According to a Plan Sponsor Council of America survey, <a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2015/01/13/how-to-avoid-being-forced-out-of-your-401-k">57% of 401K plans</a> mail a cash-out check to individuals with balances under $1,000 and transfer accounts to an IRA for those with balances between $1,000 and $5,000. If you would like to prevent these events from happening, contact your plan administrator within a period usually of 60 days from the date of termination. Still, having the correct address on file prevents that a check, form, or notice is lost in the mail. (Yes, rolling over a retirement account is still mostly a paper-based process!)</p> <h3>7. Explore All of Your Rollover Options</h3> <p>Besides cashing out and rolling over to an IRA, there are many other options available for you. To find out all of them, review <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-rolling-over-all-of-your-401ks-and-iras">A Simple Guide to Rolling Over All of Your 401Ks and IRAs</a>.</p> <h2>Emergency Fund Planning</h2> <p>Since a rainy day may be coming soon, establish how you'll make ends meet in case it takes longer than expected to find a new job.</p> <h3>8. Strengthen (or Start) an Emergency Fund</h3> <p>Sock away more into your emergency fund than you usually do. One way to strengthen or start your emergency fund is to use the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/individuals/irs-withholding-calculator">IRS Withholding Calculator</a> to estimate your current tax bill (or return) for next year's return. Since about three in every four Americans get a refund every year, chances are that you'll be able to take home more with you for the next couple of paychecks. Follow the recommendations from the IRS Withholding Calculator to adjust your Form W-4 and put the extra monies from your next paychecks into your emergency fund. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund?ref=seealso">Figuring the Size of Your Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h3>9. Shop Around for Financing</h3> <p>Now, while you still have a job, is the time to look for financing, not once you're laid off. Select a financing option that would act as a last resort fund in case your emergency fund or saving account runs out. Besides a credit card, take a look at a personal line of credit, peer-to-peer lending account, and home equity line of credit (HELOC). Remember you're securing financing but you don't have to use it unless you really have to.</p> <h3>10. Learn the Process for Unemployment Benefits</h3> <p>Once you're laid off, you'll be worried about too many things. Buy yourself some time and contact your <a href="http://www.servicelocator.org/OWSLinks.asp">State Unemployment Insurance agency</a> ahead of time to learn how to file a claim by telephone or over the Internet. Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, so find out your state's eligibility requirements, steps to file a claim, and reporting guidelines for continued eligibility.</p> <p>In most states, unemployment benefits (a percentage of an individual's earnings over a recent 52-week period up to a maximum set by the state) are paid up to 26 weeks. Having this support can provide you much need peace of mind during your search for the next job.</p> <p><em>How should you prepare for a layoff?</em></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/10-money-moves-to-make-when-a-layoff-is-coming">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/how-long-can-you-really-live-on-unemployment">How Long Can You Really Live on Unemployment?</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/left-a-job-do-a-rollover">Left a job? Do a rollover.</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-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</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-times-its-okay-to-delay-retirement-savings">5 Times It&#039;s Okay to Delay Retirement Savings</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/11-financial-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-get-fired">11 Financial Moves to Make the Moment You Get Fired</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Career and Income 401k downsizing emergency funds going out of business health care IRA laid off layoffs unemployment Wed, 08 Jun 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Damian Davila 1726484 at http://www.wisebread.com How an HSA Saves You Money http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/doctor_money_calculator_000041327204.jpg" alt="Learning ways an HSA can save you money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Health insurance is expensive and confusing. There are many different types of plans to choose from, each with different monthly premium costs, co-pays, deductibles, and more. To a great degree, though, the choice comes down to a high-premium/low-deductible policy or a <em>lower</em>-premium/high-deductible policy.</p> <p>Especially for those who don't tend to use a lot of medical care, high-deductible health plans (HDHP) are increasingly popular. Not only are the premiums relatively low, but the policies usually require little or no out-of-pocket costs for preventative services, and qualifying plans can be paired with a uniquely tax-advantaged health savings account (HSA).</p> <p>Let's take a closer look at that last benefit: health savings accounts.</p> <h2>HSA Rules of the Road</h2> <p>Only certain health insurance policies enable policyholders to open a health savings account. In 2016, individual plans must have an annual deductible of at least $1,300; family plans must have a deductible of at least $2,600. Holders of such individual policies may use an HSA to set aside a tax-deductible $3,350; family plan holders may save $6,750. Those age 55 or older can add another $1,000.</p> <p>Of course, opting for an even higher deductible than those minimum thresholds will lead to lower premiums. The money you save on insurance can be used to fund a health savings account.</p> <h3>What Expenses Can Be Paid With HSA Money?</h3> <p>HSA dollars may be used to cover deductibles, co-pays, prescription drugs, eye care, dental care (including braces), chiropractic treatments, counseling, and more.</p> <p>HSA money can even be used to pay your health insurance premiums if you are unemployed, including continuation coverage (COBRA) through a former employer, and a portion of the premiums for long-term care insurance.</p> <p>For a complete list qualified medical expenses, read <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf">IRS Publication 502</a>.</p> <h3>Where Can You Open an HSA?</h3> <p>A number of banks, credit unions, health insurance companies, and even some investment brokers and individual mutual funds offer health savings accounts. Your employer may have a relationship with an HSA provider, but you are not obligated to use that one.</p> <p>Look for an HSA &quot;custodian&quot; that charges minimal or no fees, has a low minimum balance requirement, provides a debit card to make it easy to tap your HSA funds, and pays a generous interest rate. Depending on your balance, you should be able to find a provider paying <em>at least 1%</em>. Some also allow you to <em>invest</em> your HSA money.</p> <p>You can shop for a provider via <a href="http://www.hsarates.com/">HSARates.com</a> and <a href="https://www.hsasearch.com/">HSA Search</a>.</p> <p>Typically, you'll find the best rates at online and out-of-state financial institutions, including credit unions &mdash; many of which make it easy to become a member via a small charitable donation.</p> <h2>Extra Advantages of an HSA</h2> <p>One significant benefit of a health savings account is that unused balances can be carried over from year to year. This differs from flexible spending accounts (FSAs). While the IRS now allows FSA holders to use up unspent funds a couple of months into a new year and even continue to carry $500 forward, HSA rules are much more lenient.</p> <p>Any HSA money left unused at the end of one year can be carried into the next. If you still have a balance after turning 65 and want to use the money for non-medical expenses, your HSA will work just like a traditional IRA. The money you contributed was tax-deductible, earnings grew on a tax-deferred basis, and now the withdrawals are taxable. On the other hand, if you continue to use your HSA funds for qualified medical expenses, the account will become something of a <em>super IRA</em>. The money went in on a tax-deductible basis, grew on a tax-free basis, and now the withdrawals are tax-free as well. It doesn't get any better than that!</p> <h2>Are You a Good Candidate for a Health Savings Account?</h2> <p>In a perfect world, you would be able to predict your family's future medical needs and choose the most cost-effective health insurance plan accordingly. Absent that, the best you can do is to use history as your guide. Does your family tend to spend a lot on health care, or a little?</p> <p>If have a track record of fairly light medical expenses, a high-deductible health plan paired with a health savings account may be right for you. An HDHP policy will keep your premiums relatively low. An HSA will enable you to build tax-advantaged savings for out-of-pocket medical expenses &mdash; whether you incur those costs this year or many years down the road.</p> <p><em>Are you taking advantage of an HSA?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money">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/10-money-moves-to-make-before-the-leaves-change">10 Money Moves to Make Before the Leaves Change</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/5-places-to-check-out-medical-care-for-the-uninsured">5 Places to Check out Medical Care for the Uninsured</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-when-a-layoff-is-coming">10 Money Moves to Make When a Layoff Is Coming</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance health care health savings account high deductibles HSA medical bills Mon, 28 Mar 2016 09:30:25 +0000 Matt Bell 1678005 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Things You Must Know About Health Care Open Enrollment http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-must-know-about-health-care-open-enrollment <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-you-must-know-about-health-care-open-enrollment" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/healthcare_costs_000053581848.jpg" alt="Learning things you must know about health care open enrollment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It used to be easy. You got a benefits package at work, selected your health care plan, and your company footed most, if not all, of the monthly premium. But health care reform has brought some changes, and that includes the open enrollment period during which individuals select health plans.</p> <p>Open enrollment for health insurance is November 1 through January 31, 2016, and vanishes just like Cinderella's glass slipper until this time next year. (Some exceptions to the open enrollment period exist, such as marriage, childbirth, or loss of employer-provided insurance.) That means that you've got no time to be lazy when reviewing your health care plan options for 2016 &mdash; and no excuse for not knowing the essentials of picking coverage.</p> <p>Here are the five health insurance basics you <em>must</em> know before selecting a plan during open enrollment season.</p> <h2>1. Name That Plan</h2> <p>Plans change names, and it's common for the plan you had last year to completely disappear and suddenly be replaced by one that you don't recognize. Still, your insurance provider should notify you of any name changes to your existing plan, and provide annual renewal options that'll make the new name (and any other plan changes) clear. Also, keep in mind that a plan's name is less important than its premium, deductible, and benefits; if you can't find the plan you want by name, try searching by benefit levels and price, or contacting the insurer directly to inquire about new options.</p> <h2>2. Three Powerful Letters: HSA</h2> <p>Many employers are now offering what is called a high-deductible health plan. And if you have such a plan, you may be able to take advantage of a powerful addition called the <a href="http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Taxes/Pages/Health-Savings-Accounts.aspx">Health Savings Account</a>. HSAs allow you to sock away money to pay for your out-of-pocket health care costs &mdash; things like contact lens exams, prescriptions, doctor visits, etc. The beauty of the HSA account is that it's tax deductible &mdash; any money you place into this account can be deducted from your taxes the following year. In order to use this benefit, you've got to make sure that your health policy says it's an HSA compliant plan. Check with your HR department for guidance on HSAs.</p> <h2>3. Understand Deductibles</h2> <p>If your deductible is $5,000, then it means that any health care costs you incur during that year up to $5,000 will be your responsibility to pay. Once you hit that $5,000 mark, then your health plan will start covering some or all of your expenses (the percentage also varies by plan).</p> <p>It doesn't matter if you have an HMO or a PPO &mdash; you will most likely have a deductible. Some plans will have a $0 deductible, and others a deductible of many thousands, but nevertheless, it's critical that you know what your deductible is. That is the amount that you'll be responsible for before your insurance kicks in.</p> <p>If you don't have a large emergency fund saved and finances are tight, you might want to consider a lower deductible plan, even if it costs you a bit more per month. It may sound counterintuitive, but paying an extra $50&ndash;$100 a month for a lower deductible plan is probably a lot easier than suddenly coming up with $5,000 to pay the deductible on a hospital bill. In the end, there are no right or wrong choices when it comes to deductibles, but you must know what yours is &mdash; and be comfortable with that amount.</p> <h2>4. You Pay This, They Pay That (AKA Copay)</h2> <p>Your copay and deductible are like peanut butter and jelly &mdash; it's hard to have one without the other. Once you've hit your deductible amount, then your insurance enters the copay zone. This is when your health plan will start to pay a larger percentage of benefits towards your medical expenses.</p> <p>For example, let's say your deductible is $2,000 and you've had a surgery this year, blowing past that deductible amount. You are now in the copay zone, and according to your plan, your copay amount is 20%. That means that you will owe 20% of all future medical costs for the rest of the year, and your health care plan will pick up the remaining 80%.</p> <p>The higher the copay, usually the lower the monthly premium on your health plan, because you'll be picking up more of the bill. The key is picking a plan with a deductible and a copay amount that you and your budget can be happy with.</p> <h2>5. Out-of-Pocket Max</h2> <p>There's one last piece to talk about, and it may be the most important. Your out-of-pocket max is the maximum amount of money that you will have to pay toward your health care in a year. These numbers are usually larger than your deductible amounts. According to the Affordable Care Act, the max out of pocket for 2016 will be $6,850 for an individual and $13,700 for a family plan. These numbers are especially critical to know if you're planning on major surgery or have a serious medical condition requiring ongoing treatment. Purchase coverage and plan your finances accordingly.</p> <p><em>Are you ready for open enrollment?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/shannah-game">Shannah Game</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-you-must-know-about-health-care-open-enrollment">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-big-companies-that-offer-benefits-for-part-time-workers">9 Big Companies That Offer Benefits for Part-Time Workers</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/everything-you-need-to-know-about-buying-travel-insurance">Everything You Need to Know About Buying Travel Insurance</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> Insurance health care medical open enrollment Wed, 18 Nov 2015 14:15:40 +0000 Shannah Game 1614923 at http://www.wisebread.com The One Time Short-Term Health Insurance Makes Sense http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-time-short-term-health-insurance-makes-sense <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-one-time-short-term-health-insurance-makes-sense" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/doctor_healthy_heart_000030579790.jpg" alt="Learning about the one time to get short term health insurance" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sarah O'Leary, founder and chief executive officer of national health care consumer advocacy group Exhale Healthcare Advocates, says that you should only pay for short-term health insurance one time &mdash; when you have no other options.</p> <p>&quot;We call them Swiss-cheese policies,&quot; O'Leary said. &quot;They are less expensive because you get what you are paying for. I don't recommend that anyone stay with a short-term policy for long. And I recommend that people only pay for one if they have absolutely no other choice.&quot;</p> <h2>What Is Short-Term Coverage?</h2> <p>As the name suggests, consumers aren't supposed to take out short-term health policies for a long time. The insurers that market these policies pitch them as insurance that consumers can use to bridge the gaps when, for whatever reason, they are between more traditional, long-term healthcare insurance policies.</p> <p>Insurers say that the policies are right for consumers who are between jobs or for those who missed their employers' open enrollment periods and don't want to go months without health insurance coverage. Consumers who think that COBRA temporary insurance &mdash; which allows former employees to continue their health insurance coverage after leaving their jobs &mdash; is too expensive might consider signing up for short-term health insurance, too.</p> <p>O'Leary, though, said that short-term health insurance should always be treated as a last option for consumers. COBRA insurance, if consumers can afford the higher premiums, is a better choice. And traditional long-term health insurance policies always provide better coverage.</p> <h2>Lack of Coverage</h2> <p>Short-term health insurance policies have become even less appealing under the Affordable Care Act. Since they have so many holes in coverage, they don't even meet the Affordable Care Act requirement that consumers carry adequate health insurance. Those relying on short-term health insurance policies will be subject to the same tax penalties as people who have no insurance.</p> <p>Short-term health insurance policies usually don't cover maternity care, treatment for mental illnesses, routine office visits, or preventative care. Because they don't follow the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, short-term health policies also aren't required to provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.</p> <p>&quot;Maternity care and delivery usually aren't included. That's a big one,&quot; O'Leary said. &quot;That can cost you up to $40,000 if you don't have the right coverage. You don't see much preventative care covered, either. The holes in these policies can add up to a lot of money.&quot;</p> <h2>The Last Resort</h2> <p>When do these policies make sense? O'Leary says that you should consider them only if you really don't have any other choices for insurance.</p> <p>&quot;These policies are better than no coverage at all,&quot; O'Leary said. &quot;And that's about it.&quot;</p> <p>Say you are switching jobs. You might sign up for a short-term health policy if you know that the gap in your insurance coverage will be especially brief. Some consumers would rather pay the lower premium prices that come with short-term insurance than the higher ones that come with COBRA, which provides far more comprehensive coverage.</p> <p>Maybe you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-costly-health-insurance-mistakes">missed the open-enrollment period</a> to sign up for a traditional health insurance policy, and you don't expect a qualifying life event in the near future that would allow you to sign up before the next open enrollment. A short-term health insurance policy will provide at least <em>some </em>coverage before that enrollment period rolls around again.</p> <p>If you have no other choice but to take out a short-term health insurance policy, make sure to ask your provider exactly what coverage you are getting for your money. You don't want to be surprised by a big medical bill when you visit your doctor.</p> <p><em>Have you ever relied on a short-term health insurance policy?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-time-short-term-health-insurance-makes-sense">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/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-2 views-row-even"> <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> <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/9-big-companies-that-offer-benefits-for-part-time-workers">9 Big Companies That Offer Benefits for Part-Time Workers</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-an-hsa-saves-you-money">How an HSA Saves 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/4-ways-to-get-cheaper-health-insurance">4 Ways to Get Cheaper Health Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance affordable care act cobra doctors health care medical bills short-term health insurance Wed, 04 Nov 2015 11:15:30 +0000 Dan Rafter 1605063 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Big Companies That Offer Benefits for Part-Time Workers http://www.wisebread.com/9-big-companies-that-offer-benefits-for-part-time-workers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-big-companies-that-offer-benefits-for-part-time-workers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/lego_coffee_barista_000060407690.jpg" alt="Finding big companies that offer part-time benefits" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As companies compete for qualified part-time workers, many have realized that offering a benefits package is a great way to attract the best employees. Some offer benefit packages that extend far beyond medical coverage and often include dental, vision, tuition reimbursement, and even childcare costs. While many small businesses also offer terrific perks for part-timers, consider these well-known larger companies with excellent part-time benefits.</p> <h2>1. Starbucks</h2> <p>Starbucks offers employees who work at least 20 hours a week something called &quot;<a href="http://globalassets.starbucks.com/assets/1d87edb61e714f5697bbf7dcce50108d.pdf">Your Special Blend</a>,&quot; which is a unique combination of perks, health benefits, and assistance. Eligibility starts after an employee has worked at least 240 hours over a three-month consecutive period. Specific health benefits are determined based on the employee's location and the proximity to health care professionals. With that said, most part-time employees receive coverage for hospitalization, office visits, lab tests and x-rays, emergency care, prescription drugs, and mental health treatment, including chemical dependency.</p> <p>Along with health benefits, part-time employees are also eligible for dental, vision, disability, and life insurance coverage. Starbucks' robust package doesn't stop there; they also offer college tuition reimbursement, adoption assistance, and short-term counseling for stress related issues.</p> <h2>2. Whole Foods</h2> <p>After a predetermined probationary period, Whole Food employees, who work 20+ hours a week, are eligible for <a href="http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers/about-our-benefits">health benefits</a>. While not as robust as full-time benefits, they are still significant, especially when combined with their &quot;Personal Wellness&quot; program where part-time employees can earn up to $1,800 annually to cover health deductibles and other out-of-pocket health expenses.</p> <p>Another nice perk of part-time work at Whole Foods is an employee discount of at least 20%, sometimes more depending on the specific store. Also, it's worth noting that domestic partners are eligible to receive the employee discount, too.</p> <h2>3. United Parcel Service (UPS)</h2> <p>According to the UPS website, they proudly offer all part-time employees the&nbsp;<a href="https://ups.managehr.com/benefits.htm">same benefits package</a> that full-time workers receive. This includes medical, dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage. I've personally known several self-employed dads who took part-time jobs at UPS, loading and unloading trucks, simply to get the amazing benefits for their families. They also have a strong tuition assistance program designed to &quot;assist employees in furthering their educational development&hellip; in an ongoing effort to recruit, retrain and develop qualified individuals.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Costco</h2> <p>Costco also offers generous&nbsp;<a href="http://www.costco.com/benefits.html">part-time benefits</a> after new employees have worked 600 hours or 180 days, whichever comes first. Benefits include health coverage (with bi-weekly payroll contributions), dental, vision, and pharmacy, as well as childcare assistance and life insurance. Part-time <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-6-costco-items-will-easily-cover-your-55-membership">Costco</a> employees have the option of enrolling their spouse and children into the benefits program, too. Also, from the Costco website, &quot;employee-paid premiums are withheld pre-tax, which means you get to keep more of your hard-earned money.&quot; Yet another cool money-saving perk of working for the popular warehouse club.</p> <h2>5. Lowe's Home Improvement</h2> <p>New part-time hires at Lowe's are&nbsp;<a href="http://mylowesbenefits.com/part-time/new-hire/">immediately eligible to enroll</a> in medical, dental, vision, short-term disability, life insurance, critical illness, fixed indemnity, 401K, and an employee stock purchase plan. Unlike other employers listed in this article, employees must apply for benefits within 31 days of hire. It's also important to note that part-time employees benefits don't begin until the date that enrollment is completed.</p> <h2>6. Staples</h2> <p>Staples has a strong benefits package in place for part-time employees. Employees, and their children and spouses, are eligible for enrollment after 60 days of employment. The medical plan is currently via AETNA and costs employees approximately $24 per paycheck. That number rises to $65 if you're also covering dependent children and/or a spouse. Oddly, Staples doesn't offer benefits to part-time employees in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Washington, and North Dakota.</p> <h2>7. Home Depot</h2> <p>The&nbsp;<a href="https://corporate.homedepot.com/Associates/Benefits/Pages/BenefitsOverview.aspx">benefits package at Home Depot</a> is available to both part-time hourly and full-time hourly employees. While only full-time employees are eligible for medical benefits, part-timers can still get dental, vision, short-term disability, and life insurance. In addition, many part-time employees can qualify for tuition reimbursement, the employee stock purchase plan, and an employee discount on items purchased at their store.</p> <h2>8. Trader Joe's</h2> <p>The Affordable Care Act has changed how Trader Joe's deals with benefits for part-time workers. If you work 30+ hours per week, you're now eligible for medical, prescription, and dental coverage. Additionally, if you only work 15 hours per week, you're still eligible for basic dental and vision, which is a nice perk for such little hours worked.</p> <h2>9. REI</h2> <p>In recent years, REI has become the gold-standard when it comes to benefits for part-time employees. If you work at least 20 hours a week, you're eligible for the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rei.com/stewardship/report/workplace/employee-pay-benefits.html">REI Flex Plan</a>, which gives employees core health services like preventative care at no cost. The Flex Plan also pays for 85% of the premium for employee-only medical and dental coverage.</p> <p>If you only work 15 hours per week on average, REI offers the Path Plan which pays for 60% of the premium for employee-only medical coverage. REI understands that a healthy workforce is a strong workforce, and strongly encourages employees to live a healthy lifestyle. They reward employees that complete &quot;health and stewardship activities&quot; by using a &quot;points system&quot; where racked-up points can be redeemed for prizes and exclusive discounts.</p> <p>Whether you're a college student looking for work, or someone who desperately needs health benefits for your family, these companies are worth exploring during your job hunt. This is especially true if you need the health benefits more that you need the hourly salary that most of these part-time gigs provide.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had a part-time job that offered a benefits package? Or perhaps accepted a job specifically for that reason?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kyle-james">Kyle James</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-big-companies-that-offer-benefits-for-part-time-workers">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/things-to-insure-things-not-to-insure">Things to insure, things not to insure</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/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> <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/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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance Job Hunting dental health care hourly workers part-time benefits tuition reimbursement vision Tue, 29 Sep 2015 09:00:29 +0000 Kyle James 1571397 at http://www.wisebread.com Make These 9 Health Moves Now or You'll Regret It in 20 Years http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-9-health-moves-now-or-youll-regret-it-in-20-years <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/make-these-9-health-moves-now-or-youll-regret-it-in-20-years" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000050227950.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and nowhere is it more true than with your health. The health habits you form now will be the foundation of your well-being for the next 20 years. If you start being proactive now, you have much better chances of being healthy as you age. The following nine <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-health-rules-you-should-be-breaking">health moves</a> are things that you can easily do now, for years of benefit later.</p> <h2>1. Stay on Top of Your Dental Health</h2> <p>You only have one set of adult teeth, so take care of them. That means flossing, brushing, and making regular visits to your dentist for exams, cleanings, and repairs. Getting sealants on your teeth can also help prevent future decay. In addition, cut out the soft drinks, which can eat away at your enamel.</p> <h2>2. Live an Active Lifestyle</h2> <p>The longer you wait, the harder it'll be to start, so make a habit of exercising now while you're still in relatively good shape. Regular exercise will help you maintain your flexibility and your weight, reducing the wear and tear on your body and keeping your blood sugar down. Even if you're not an athletic person, a brisk, 30-minute daily walk will do wonders for your energy levels and long-term health.</p> <p>Exercise doesn't have to mean going to the gym, either. Just getting up off your couch, cleaning the house, and taking your kids (or friends' kids) to the park gets you up and moving, so make an active lifestyle the norm, rather than the exception.</p> <p>To illustrate my point: My husband's 92-year old grandmother walks two miles every morning with her walking buddies. She has done this since her forties, and credits it for being one of the reasons she is still in good health at her age.</p> <h2>3. Take Care of Your Joints</h2> <p>Take care of your knees and other joints now, while you still have the possibility of preventing or reversing damage. Knee and joint problems will make you more sedentary as you age, with all of the accompanying negatives.</p> <p>Get orthotics if you have flat feet or misalignments &mdash; your feet are the foundation of your body and can cause more problems than you think. Consult a chiropractor or physiotherapist to fix chronic posture problems that can result in fused vertebrae and other injuries as you age. Do some gentle yoga or pilates (with proper instruction) to strengthen your core, increase flexibility, and prevent putting undue stress on your spine and joints. And make sure you're working in an ergonomic environment to prevent repetitive injuries.</p> <h2>4. Learn to Cook</h2> <p>It goes without saying that cleaning up your diet will have positive repercussions in the long run, but one of the best things you can do for your diet is to learn to cook. Learn to make delicious meals from scratch and you'll be able to avoid the worst of the processed foods. Perhaps you'll also discover a fun hobby that will give you hours of therapeutic enjoyment.</p> <h2>5. Go to Therapy</h2> <p>It can be hard, but if you feel down, anxious, apathetic, or stressed a lot, try to drag yourself to see a therapist. Learning to cope with life's stressors now will serve you well in the long run, and enable you to enjoy the next 20 years. Don't put it off if you can feel better now.</p> <p>In addition, therapy can aid with your relationship and communication skills, helping you to make the most of your relationships now and in the future. Don't neglect your mental and emotional health &mdash; they can have a huge impact on your quality of life and your physical health as well.</p> <h2>6. Get in Control of Your Metabolism</h2> <p>Within the next 20 years, your body's metabolism will likely change drastically. You may even be seeing changes now. Stay ahead of any potential problems by getting your thyroid and blood sugar tested and monitored if there are any small problems that might potentially escalate into large ones several years down the road.</p> <p>Get your exercise and diet on the right track to maintain a healthy weight. Being obese puts you at risk for a plethora of health problems as you age, including diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and more.</p> <h2>7. Wear Sunscreen</h2> <p>Prevent skin cancer from rearing its ugly head by wearing sunscreen consistently. Also, I feel like a broken record because I say this so much, but the sun accounts for <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24101874">80% of visible skin aging</a>, so the best anti-aging treatment you can do is to prevent sun damage.</p> <h2>8. Quit Smoking</h2> <p>Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health; and the sooner you do it, the better. Smokers have over <a href="http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/6-ways-to-live-longer">triple the risk of dying</a> early compared to non-smokers. So quit smoking. You'll be healthier and so will all the other people who live with you.</p> <h2>9. Make Lifelong Learning a Priority</h2> <p>You don't have to become worse at learning as you get older &mdash; it's really a matter of whether you're willing to put in the effort to learn something new. Make learning a habit to keep your brain in shape as you age &mdash; learn a new language, take up a new hobby, or take some professional development courses. Remember, use it or lose it!</p> <p><em>What are you doing to improve your health 20 years from now?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-9-health-moves-now-or-youll-regret-it-in-20-years">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-5-best-mountain-bikes">The 5 Best Mountain Bikes</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/5-fitness-gadgets-actually-worth-the-money">5 Fitness Gadgets Actually Worth the Money</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-resistance-bands">The 5 Best Resistance Bands</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-most-affordable-gym-memberships">5 Most Affordable Gym Memberships</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/20-healthy-habits-that-can-hurt-you">20+ Healthy Habits That Can Hurt You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty dental health fitness health care joints metabolism quit smoking sun damage therapy Tue, 08 Sep 2015 11:00:21 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1548184 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways to Help Protect Your Financial Future From Unexpected Medical Expenses http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-help-protect-your-financial-future-from-unexpected-medical-expenses <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-help-protect-your-financial-future-from-unexpected-medical-expenses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/injured-woman-605.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In life, anything can happen. Injuries and illnesses cannot always be prevented. But there are things you can do now to help protect your financial future from unexpected medical expenses, and keep yourself happy and healthy in the process.</p> <h2>1. Start a Medical Emergency Fund</h2> <p>The time to set money aside for just-in-case scenarios is now. You never know what can happen and having savings set aside will give you comfort and peace of mind. Surprisingly, very few Americans save enough money for emergencies, unexpected job loss or long-term disability. Of the people ages 18 to 29 that <a href="http://www.newsmax.com/Finance/StreetTalk/Bankrate-saving-5income/2015/03/30/id/635308/">Bankrate.com recently surveyed</a>, nearly half said they save 5% or less. Nearly one in five don't save anything at all. In a Cigna&nbsp;<a href="http://newsroom.cigna.com/weathering-unforeseen-financial-storms">survey</a>, individuals were asked how long their finances would last without a paycheck. 59% said they would exhaust their resources in 12 weeks or less. Almost a third (29%) said their finances would only last a month or less.</p> <h2>2. Keep That Emergency Fund for Emergencies Only</h2> <p>Okay, so you've created a cushion in your bank account. That's great! Almost as difficult as creating an emergency fund is keeping the money until you absolutely need it. Do not dip into it for frivolous purchases.</p> <p>Think about what might happen if you come down with a serious illness or an injury. You need enough money in that account to cover your living expenses while you heal and recover, especially if you're unable to work.</p> <h2>3. Consider Disability Benefits</h2> <p>You might think this is an expense you can't afford, but protecting your income when you are sick or hurt and cannot work can be <a href="http://www.disabilitycanhappen.org/diam/CDA_Infographic.pdf">worth the cost</a>. According to the National Safety Council, one in eight Americans seek medical treatment for an accidental injury each year.<sup><a href="#i">[i]</a></sup> And one in four twenty-somethings will become disabled before they retire.<sup><a href="#ii">[ii]</a></sup>&nbsp;These numbers are quite sobering. The median American salary is $53,000,<sup><a href="#iii">[iii]</a></sup>&nbsp;and a disability plan would typically cover 50%-60% of that income. And, don&rsquo;t forget to look for value-added benefits available with many disability plans such as discounts on memberships to a local gym.</p> <h2>4. Understand Your Body's Signals</h2> <p>It's crucial to pay attention to how your body feels and reacts to things. You are the only person who can tell if something is off and when that's the case, call your doctor. Catching something in the early stages can save your life, and your budget. Some health plans offer access to telemedicine services. These services allow you to connect with a doctor remotely at any time of day. Emergency room visits can also cost a lot out of pocket, even with medical coverage. Before you get sick, scout out urgent care offices near you and save yourself a surprise medical expense later on. Of course, if you&rsquo;re in a serious medical situation, don&rsquo;t hesitate to call for an ambulance.</p> <h2>5. Lose the &quot;I'm Invincible&quot; Mentality</h2> <p>Just because you're young doesn't mean you're immune to health problems. A happy, successful future starts with taking care of yourself now. According to <a href="http://www.cigna.com/KnowYourBenefits">a recent study</a>, sacrificing care for other household needs (food, rent, etc.) is especially prevalent among younger consumers. One-third of younger consumers make these types of tradeoff decisions occasionally, while one in four make them at least once per month. Anything can happen, so make your health a priority. Poor health can be more difficult to fix as you get older.</p> <h2>6. Learn More About Preventive Medicine</h2> <p>When it comes to overall health, there are always improvements to be made. And even if you've been diagnosed with a certain condition or disease, there are things you can do to keep your health from worsening. The key is to educate yourself. Talk to your doctor about proactive ways you can improve your health. Check out available resources, professional organizations and support groups through your health plan carrier or in your community. Don't be afraid to reach out. Each group has a vested interest is helping you with your health.</p> <h2>7. Live a Healthier Lifestyle</h2> <p>Good health and bad health are cyclical. A <a href="http://newsroom.cigna.com/knowyourbenefits/good-health-financial-security/">2014 health study</a> indicated that those in very good to excellent health tend to focus on exercise. Those in fair or poor health are more likely to establish bad habits like smoking. Bad habits cost more because they are gateways to other conditions. For example, obesity can lead to back and knee problems and even diabetes. So if you're obese or overweight, losing weight, eating healthy, and exercising consistently will help you stay on a healthy track. Staying healthy makes you happier now and in the future, and can help you keep more money in your wallet.</p> <p><i>What steps have you taken to prevent a life altering illness or injury from harming your financial future?</i></p> <p><i>This article is sponsored by Cigna. Visit <a href="http://newsroom.cigna.com/knowyourbenefits/good-health-financial-security/">Cigna.com</a> for more great information on the <a href="http://newsroom.cigna.com/knowyourbenefits/good-health-financial-security/">link between health and financial security</a>. This article is for educational purposes only and is intended to promote consumer health. It is not intended as financial or medical advice and you should always consult a professional for financial or medical advice.&nbsp;</i></p> <p><sup><a name="i"></a>[i]</sup> National Safety Council, Industry Facts Summary, 2011.<br /> <sup><a name="ii"></a>[ii]&nbsp;</sup>U.S. Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet February 7, 2013.<br /> <sup><a name="iii"></a>[iii]</sup> Household Income: American Community Survey Briefs; United States Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commercial, Economics and Statistics Administrations; September 2014.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chrissa-hardy">Chrissa Hardy</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-help-protect-your-financial-future-from-unexpected-medical-expenses">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/7-money-moves-to-make-as-soon-as-you-conquer-debt">7 Money Moves to Make as Soon as You Conquer Debt</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/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Pay It Off</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/5-times-a-gym-membership-isnt-worth-it">5 Times a Gym Membership Isn&#039;t Worth It</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/the-freedom-of-a-debt-free-life">The Freedom of a Debt-Free Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Debt Management Health and Beauty Cigna disability health care medical expenses Fri, 22 May 2015 18:15:12 +0000 Chrissa Hardy 1432682 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Vital Things to Remember When Buying Health Insurance http://www.wisebread.com/5-vital-things-to-remember-when-buying-health-insurance <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-vital-things-to-remember-when-buying-health-insurance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/doctor_and_patient.jpg" alt="hospital patient" title="hospital patient" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Thanks to the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/signing-up-for-obamacare-in-2015-heres-whats-new">Affordable Care Act</a> (or &quot;Obamacare&quot;), now every individual has access to affordable health insurance. All new health care plans include 10 <a href="http://obamacarefacts.com/essential-health-benefits/">Essential Health Benefits</a>, but there are other important factors to consider when choosing a plan. Here are the top five.</p> <h2>1. HMO or PPO?</h2> <p>There are generally greater limitations when selecting an HMO, but plan premiums are typically lower due to these very restrictions &mdash; such as being required to obtain a referral from your primary care physician (PCP) before receiving any health care services other than emergency.</p> <p>Conversely, PPOs typically carry higher premiums. But, they allow more physicians to participate in the network, offer a larger number of in-network hospitals and clinics, and most likely will not require a PCP referral before you can receive services. Generally speaking, PPO plans are better-suited for people with more regular or intensive medical needs, whole HMOs are best for persons who limit their use of health care services.</p> <h2>2. Networks</h2> <p>Your insurance provider can specify in-network, out-of-network, and preferred networks for the services you receive. You should check to see which services are covered within your network, and if there are any out-of-pocket costs for going outside of it. It can mean a difference of thousands of dollars.</p> <h2>3. Deductibles and Co-Pays</h2> <p>Paying a higher deductible brings down the cost of your monthly premium. But there are other benefits: High-deductible plans can also be combined with health saving accounts (HSAs), which are medical savings accounts that allow you to pay for deductibles, premiums, prescriptions, medical supplies, and other qualifying health expenses using pre-tax dollars.</p> <p>To save on insurance costs, check your plan's copay for routine office visits and prescription drugs. If you think you'll use these services regularly, make sure the plan offers a reasonable copay. Or, consider signing up for an HSA to help defray the cost.</p> <h2>4. Drug Benefits</h2> <p>Most insurance providers retain the right to only cover generic or less expensive prescription drugs when available, and require you to visit a pharmacy within your network. Read through the provider's drug benefits to make sure your desired level of prescriptions are covered.</p> <h2>5. Short-Term Coverage</h2> <p>Short-term plans provide coverage from 30 days up to one year. Use this type of plan only if you are in between plan options. Keep in mind that short-term coverage does not meet the ACA's essential coverage requirement, and as such, is still subject to penalties. In other words, these plans are <em>not </em>protected under ACA. You can be denied coverage, denied due to pre-existing conditions, and cancelled at any time.</p> <p><em>What factors do you consider when shopping for health insurance?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-vital-things-to-remember-when-buying-health-insurance">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/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-2 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-3 views-row-odd"> <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> <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/how-to-examine-your-healthcare-plan-and-save">How to Examine Your Healthcare Plan and Save</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance affordable care act health care HMO obamacare PPO Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:00:03 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1345719 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/doctor_mother_daughter_000027794734.jpg" alt="Doctor with mother and daughter" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Don't lose the money in your <a href="http://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/flexible-spending-account-FSA/">Flexible Spending Account</a>! The initial cut-off was December 31, 2014, but if your employer grants the optional rollover to the next year, your new deadline to use it or lose it is March 15, 2015. (One exception is if your plan's extension includes the $500 carry-over option &mdash; you can use those funds anytime throughout the year.) (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/signing-up-for-obamacare-in-2015-heres-whats-new?ref=seealso">Signing Up for Obamacare in 2015? Here's What's New</a>)</p> <p>Your FSA can be used for several qualified purchases. Here are eight awesome last-minute ways to spend the money in your FSA before you lose it.</p> <h2>1. Baby Supplies</h2> <p>The cost of raising infants is high, but a portion of those costs can be offset using your pre-tax FSA money. Diapers, thermometers, cold medications, and other essential baby care products are FSA eligible. Also see below for dependent care expenses.</p> <h2>2. Household Medical Supplies</h2> <p>Stock up on household medical supplies. Things that you normally would not consider buying with your FSA do qualify as medical supplies, like sunscreen, contact lenses, allergy medications, first-aid kits, and more. The <a href="https://fsastore.com/">FSA Store</a> has a large selection of FSA-eligible products.</p> <h2>3. Annual Exams and Check-Ups</h2> <p>Remember, co-pays and deductibles for those last-minute doctor visits qualify. So, schedule routine eye exams, physicals, and annual check-ups for you and covered members of your family.</p> <h2>4. Prescription Medications and Vitamins</h2> <p>Re-stock any prescription medications now that you will need later in the year. Preventive vitamin supplements and digestive care are also considered medical supplies.</p> <h2>5. Dependent Care</h2> <p>Some FSA plans cover dependent or child care &mdash; and for those with costly childcare and dependent care expenses, this is a great way to spend your FSA in one shot. Daycare, after school programs, nannies, and adult care all are qualified FSA expenses. Check with your plan to determine coverage.</p> <h2>6. Family Planning</h2> <p>Whether you are planning for a child (or just the opposite), many family planning items, like condoms, fertility kits, and fertility treatments are all FSA eligible.</p> <h2>7. Supplies You Might Not Expect</h2> <p>Many medical supplies you might not expect including batteries, Dr. Scholl's foot inserts, nicotine patches, ice packs, and body creams and lotions qualify for FSA eligibility.</p> <h2>8. Commuter Costs</h2> <p>Commuter costs are eligible, so don't forget to submit receipts for transportation and parking to and from health care service providers and pharmacies. The reimbursement also applies to dependent care providers.</p> <p><em>Do you have unused FSA funds? How will you use them before the deadline?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/qiana-chavaia">Qiana Chavaia</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds">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/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> <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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-fall-for-these-common-obamacare-scams">Don&#039;t Fall for These Common Obamacare Scams</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/the-types-of-health-insurance-plans">The Types of Health Insurance Plans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance fsa account health care health insurance obamacare Thu, 05 Mar 2015 18:00:07 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1320723 at http://www.wisebread.com The Alarming Thing I Didn't Know About My Mammogram http://www.wisebread.com/the-alarming-thing-i-didnt-know-about-my-mammogram <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-alarming-thing-i-didnt-know-about-my-mammogram" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000025409462_Double.jpg" alt="woman mammogram doctor" title="woman mammogram doctor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>&quot;On the day my cancer was so large that it could be felt, it was undetectable on a mammogram.&quot;</em></p> <p>(JoAnn Pushkin, on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa5Jq9jXNv8">Mammograms and Dense Breast Tissue with Dr. Andrew Warheit</a>)</p> <p>I want to stop you right now from thinking, &quot;Oh, this is just one of those older-lady things I'll have to deal with.&quot; Wrong. <a href="http://www.mskcc.org/blog/diagnostic-radiologist-carol-lee-discusses-what-women-should-know-about-breast-density">Dense breasts</a> tend to be more common in younger women and in women with smaller breasts, but anyone &mdash; regardless of age or breast size &mdash; can have dense breasts. Here is my experience.</p> <p>As I was leaving the exam room after my mammogram recently, the technician, whom I have now been seeing for nine years, asked, &quot;Can I give you a hug?&quot; It caught me off-guard, but I didn't think much of it and hugged her. It was only after I was getting into my car that I thought about what an odd thing that was to say.</p> <p>And then I wondered: <em>Had she seen something that made her want to hug me?</em></p> <p>Two days later, my phone rang. It was the radiology office. &quot;I need to schedule you for a mammogram,&quot; the receptionist explained. &quot;I was just there last Friday,&quot; I said, thinking there was a mix-up. &quot;No, um, we need to do another mammogram, and an ultrasound.&quot; I drew a breath, my heart pounding.</p> <p>The receptionist went on to explain that there was an &quot;area of concern&quot; on my right breast, and that because I have very &quot;dense breasts,&quot; the radiologist had recommended additional tests. &quot;Dense breasts?&quot; I was completely unfamiliar with this term. She attempted to explain that this meant it was difficult to see exactly what was on the mammogram, but something was suspicious.</p> <h2>Why Should You be Concerned About Dense Breasts?</h2> <p>According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, &quot;Women with high breast density are four to five times more likely to get breast cancer than women with low breast density.&quot; Add to that: The number of women who have breast density? 40% to 50%.</p> <p>Yikes.</p> <p>Like me, you may have been going merrily through your annual mammograms, thinking well, that's done, and I'll check it off for another year. What you may not know is that maybe nothing is being found&hellip; because it has not been <em>seen</em>.</p> <h2>What Does It Mean to Have &quot;Dense Breasts?&quot;</h2> <p>Here was the best description that I found: &quot;It's like finding a polar bear in a snowstorm.&quot; Here are pictures of what you can <a href="http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/HighBreastDensityonMammogram.html">see via a mammogram</a>. As you can tell, it gets extremely difficult to see what's what.</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">Breast density is a measure used to describe the proportion of the different tissues that make up a woman's breasts. Breasts are made up of fat and breast tissue (the milk ducts and lobules, which may be called glandular tissue). Connective tissue helps hold everything place. Breast density is not a measure of how the breasts feel, but rather how the breasts look on a mammogram. It compares the area of breast and connective tissue seen on a mammogram to the area of fat. Breast and connective tissue are denser than fat and this difference shows up on a mammogram.</p> <p>Put another way, &quot;Breast density actually refers to how well a mammogram can 'see' any potential cancers or precancerous conditions within your breasts.&quot;</p> <h2>How Do You Find Out if You Have Dense Breasts?</h2> <p>Ironically, by having a mammogram. That is your starting place.</p> <p>Having been down this road, I would even ask the technician, during your mammogram, if you have dense breasts. My second technician was very open to my questions during both the mammogram and ultrasound, and let me see the screens. I imagine, though, that may not be office policy everywhere.</p> <p>Once you have had a mammogram, what should you do?</p> <p>&quot;Your next step,&quot; advises a breast health advocacy group Are You Dense, &quot;is to request a copy of your mammography report from your referring doctor. Make sure it is the report that is generated from the radiologist and not a form letter. Read the report carefully. Look for descriptions of your breast tissue.&quot;</p> <p>If your results are not clear to you from the report, contact your physician and ask for a further explanation.</p> <p>Unfortunately, you cannot assume that you will be informed if you do have dense breast tissue, as not all states have passed legislation requiring notification. (<a href="http://www.areyoudenseadvocacy.org/dense/">Check your state</a>.)</p> <h2>What if I DO Have Dense Breasts?</h2> <p>Hopefully, by reading this post, you will be armed with information (I wasn't educated about density, which lead me to feel very anxious and upset). What to do:</p> <ul> <li>Obtain a copy of your mammogram report. (I thought this&nbsp;<a href="http://www.breastdensity.info/docs/DENSITY-SCENARIOS-FOR-CLINICIANS.pdf">breast density report</a>, designed for clinicians, was helpful in understanding degrees of density and clinical recommendations.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Speak with your physician, paying special attention to your family history and lifestyle.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Be ready for further testing, including ultrasound and/or MRI, if indicated. In my case, because there was a suspicious area, I had a second mammogram and an ultrasound. Fortunately, my insurance company paid for both tests.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't panic, but do be proactive.</li> </ul> <p>My radiologist's letter stated:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">&quot;Remember that if a woman has an area of the breast that needs further work-up, the vast majority of the time, the findings will not be cancer. Even when a biopsy is needed, the majority of the time, the diagnosis is not cancer.&quot;</p> <p>Although my finding was &quot;likely benign,&quot; my tests will be repeated in six months, which is fine by me.</p> <h2>What Causes Dense Breasts?</h2> <p>Somewhat disturbingly, things get vague, here. Some attribute it to rising estrogen levels, genetics, or postmenopausal hormone therapy, although there isn't much agreement.</p> <h2>Learning More</h2> <p>Read the very compelling story of Nancy Cappello, Ph.D, a Stage 3c breast cancer survivor. She received her diagnosis only two months after her annual mammogram came back as &quot;normal.&quot; Her website, <a href="http://www.areyoudense.org/">Are You Dense?</a>,&nbsp;contains many eye-opening testimonials from women who have dense breasts.</p> <p>There is a fine line between being an alarmist and educating someone when it comes to healthcare. My hope, honestly, is that I frightened you enough to make you be proactive.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-alarming-thing-i-didnt-know-about-my-mammogram">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/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-health-care-plan">FINANCIAL IQ TEST: How Healthy Is Your Health Care 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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-help-protect-your-financial-future-from-unexpected-medical-expenses">7 Ways to Help Protect Your Financial Future From Unexpected Medical Expenses</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/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> <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/make-these-9-health-moves-now-or-youll-regret-it-in-20-years">Make These 9 Health Moves Now or You&#039;ll Regret It in 20 Years</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty breast cancer cancer health care Thu, 05 Feb 2015 12:00:09 +0000 Marla Walters 1285464 at http://www.wisebread.com