health insurance http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7886/all en-US 7 Ways You Can Save Money On Prescription Medications http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-you-can-save-money-on-prescription-medications <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-you-can-save-money-on-prescription-medications" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-491364946.jpg" alt="save money on prescription medications" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When Kyle Willis walked into the emergency room in 2011, he was diagnosed with a severe tooth infection. Doctors gave him prescriptions for both antibiotics and painkillers and sent him home. But on a tight budget and with no insurance, he could only afford to get one prescription. In excruciating pain, he opted for the painkillers.</p> <p>Days later, the infection spread to his brain, and Willis <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/health/insurance-24-year-dies-toothache/story?id=14438171" target="_blank">died from the infection</a>.</p> <p>Willis' case highlighted a major problem millions of people face each day. Medications can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you are uninsured or underinsured, you sometimes have to make the choice between filling a prescription or skipping rent or other necessary bills.</p> <p>But there are programs in place that can help. Below are free resources that can help you save money on your medicines. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-save-on-prescriptions?ref=seealso" target="_blank">9 Ways to Save on Prescriptions</a>)</p> <h2>Discount Prescription Programs</h2> <p>There are several nationwide discount prescription savings programs available to the public, regardless of your income.</p> <h3>1. FamilyWize</h3> <p><a href="https://familywize.org/" target="_blank">FamilyWize</a> is a free program where you can download or print off a discount card and use it at any major pharmacy. Use the card if you do not have insurance, or if your insurance will not cover a particular medicine. Just ask the pharmacist to run the card's information. On average, you can <a href="https://familywize.org/prescription-savings-card/how-it-works" target="_blank">save 43% on your prescriptions</a>.</p> <h3>2. WebMDRX</h3> <p>Like FamilyWize, the <a href="http://www.webmd.com/rx/card/" target="_blank">WebMDRX discount savings card</a> is free for anyone to use. It can be used at 60,000 pharmacies nationwide and can be shared with friends and family. Just show the card to the pharmacist when you drop off your prescription to get the discount.</p> <h2>Pharmaceutical Programs</h2> <p>Major pharmaceutical companies offer special programs for people who cannot afford their brand name medications. Millions of people qualify each year to receive free medicines directly from the manufacturer. Below are just a few programs available from major companies. Check out the manufacturer of your medications to see if they offer similar programs.</p> <h3>3. AZ&amp;Me</h3> <p>AstraZeneca, the maker of major drugs like Nexium, Crestor, Symbicort, and more, offers the <a href="https://www.astrazeneca-us.com/medicines/Affordability.html" target="_blank">AZ&amp;Me program</a> for people who cannot afford their medications. Last year, the program helped 286,000 people get access to medicine they otherwise couldn't afford.</p> <p>The program is designed to help people who do not have insurance, those in Medicare Part D, and those who have recently undergone a financial crisis, such as a job loss. To find out more about the program or to find out if you're eligible, call 1-800-AZandME (292-6363).</p> <h3>4. Merck Helps</h3> <p>Merck, the creator of drugs like Dulera, Gardasil, and Singulair, helps people get the medications they need through the <a href="http://www.merckhelps.com/" target="_blank">Merck Helps</a> program.</p> <p>To qualify for the program, you must be a United States resident and have a valid prescription. You must not have any insurance coverage and be unable to afford your medications. According to their site, you may qualify for assistance if you make less than $47,520 as an individual, under $64,080 for couples, or $97,200 or less for a family of four.</p> <h3>5. Pfizer</h3> <p>As one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the country, Pfizer is known as the creator of major drugs like Lipitor and Zoloft. But it also runs a <a href="http://www.pfizer.com/health/financial_assistance_programs/patient_assistance_programs" target="_blank">Patient and Prescription Assistance Program</a> that helps people receive medicine for free or at a significant discount. If you need help getting a specific Pfizer medication, their website <a href="http://www.pfizerrxpathways.com/" target="_blank">Pfizer RxPathways</a> can help you find different options and navigate the process.</p> <h2>6. Drug Coupons</h2> <p>When your doctor prescribed you a new medicine, she may have handed you a manufacturer coupon along with the prescription. But what you may not have known is that those coupons are not just for doctors to hand out; customers can access them, too.</p> <p>If you are on any brand name drug, rather than a generic medication, check out the drug's website. Many times the manufacturer will offer a special discount card or savings program that will drop the cost.</p> <p>For example, Fetzima is a relatively new drug for depression. And even with insurance, it can be pricey. But if you go on the Fetzima website, you can get a savings card where eligible patients can buy the drug for as little as <a href="https://www.fetzima.com/depression-resources/savings-card?icid=fetzima_savings_header">$10 a month</a>. Just print the card and bring it to the pharmacy when you pick up the prescription to get the discount.</p> <h2>7. Comparison Shop</h2> <p>Not all pharmacies are created equal. One pharmacy may charge much more for the same drug than another pharmacy, even if they're within just a few blocks of each other. <a href="https://www.goodrx.com/" target="_blank">GoodRX</a> is a resource you can use to comparison shop for the best deal before you leave your home. It will tell you what each drug will cost at different pharmacies and if there are any coupons available.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kat-tretina">Kat Tretina</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-you-can-save-money-on-prescription-medications">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-you-need-to-know-about-prescription-drug-coupons">Don&#039;t Use Your Prescription Drug Coupons Until You Read This</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-shopping-apps-thatll-actually-save-you-money-in-2016">The 8 Shopping Apps That&#039;ll Actually Save You Money in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/live-a-longer-and-happier-life-with-these-8-frugal-buys">Live a Longer and Happier Life With These 8 Frugal Buys</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/3-times-to-consider-declining-your-employers-health-coverage">3 Times to Consider Declining Your Employer&#039;s Health Coverage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Shopping coupons discount programs drug stores health care health insurance medications pharmacies prescriptions price comparisons Wed, 21 Dec 2016 10:01:03 +0000 Kat Tretina 1858983 at http://www.wisebread.com Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/xbxvbc.jpg" alt="repeal these common health insurance claim denials" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Denials of medical claims are all too frequent. Roughly 14% of all claims are <a href="https://billadvocates.com/8-common-claim-denials-appeal/" target="_blank">denied every year</a>, according to Department of Labor records. Not only that, but almost 10% of claims processed by insurance companies contain errors. Your claim could have been denied because it was coded as a different procedure than what you received from the doctor!</p> <p>There is a silver lining in the clouds of denial or error, however. You can always appeal a health care claim denial. Patients who appeal win about 50% of the time. Not only that, but the more familiar with health care claims you become, the more you will learn about what's covered &mdash; and what is not.</p> <p>The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) increased rights to appeal, whether you are covered under ACA or not. Think of it this way: You or your employer, or both, are already paying a hefty price for health care. Appealing your denial and knowing how to determine errors is part of getting what you and your company have already paid for.</p> <h2>Before You Appeal: Know the Codes and How to Appeal</h2> <p>Any appeal to a health insurance company has to contain some basic knowledge of the information they provide you, as well as your rights.</p> <p>After a visit to a physician's office or a procedure, you will receive a form called an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from the insurance company. An EOB arrives for all claims, approved or denied. It details what was charged, what the insurance company paid, and sometimes a remainder of what the patient is responsible for.</p> <p>If a claim was denied, it will receive a code. Most insurance companies provide a key to the code. (Check the back of the form.) If it does not, call and ask the insurance company what the code means.</p> <h2>The Four Most Commonly Denied Claims</h2> <p>At times, knowing the code will immediately help you appeal a denial. Sometimes the denial is the result of sheer error. Here are the four most commonly denied claims.</p> <h3>1. Your Plan Does Not Cover the Procedure</h3> <p>If the code indicates that the denial occurred because the plan did not cover the procedure, check your plan to see if it is, in fact, covered. If you received a vaccination, for example, double check what kinds of services your plan covers. Many plans cover preventive care (care received to prevent disease before it begins, rather than to treat a condition that exists). Vaccinations and flu shots are both examples of preventive care. This type of denial is surprisingly common.</p> <p>A similar situation can occur with vision claims. You may receive a denial stating that vision care is not covered. However, many policies cover eye care if it is needed medically. People with diabetes, for example, are covered for annual exams because the condition can affect vision, while regular eye exams are not. Plans can cover surgery for cataracts, but not eyeglasses.</p> <p>Errors of this kind can be appealed fairly easily. If you were denied because of lack of coverage and the procedure was in fact covered, call the health insurance company. Be sure to make note of the name of the person you spoke to, their title, and the date.</p> <h3>2. Errors in Coding</h3> <p>Knowing the code can also help you discover a coding error. You may find that the code for the service doesn't actually match what you visited the doctor for. The procedure or diagnosis code could have been entered incorrectly. You should also check every piece of information, including your name, date of service, place of service, and provider number. If any of these are erroneous, it can result in a denial.</p> <p>If you find a coding error, call the billing office of the doctor or hospital involved and ask them to resubmit the bill with the correct code. Again, it's vital to get the name of the person, their title, and the date.</p> <h3>3. Payment for a Procedure Was Included in the Allowance for a Related Procedure Performed the Same Day<strong> </strong></h3> <p>Patients are not responsible for a charge like this. Call your provider's office and ask for an adjustment to the bill.</p> <h3>4. You've Reached the Maximum Amount of Times a Service Is Covered</h3> <p>Again, the best action is to double check your policy. Is it true that it is only covered a maximum amount of times? If there is a dollar limit, check it against what you received. Contact your insurance company in the case of any errors.</p> <p>For a denial of this type, check what the provider's discount is as well. Many doctor's offices and suppliers contact an insurance company to set a price for goods and services that is less than the market rate. You could be charged the market rate unless you specifically follow up about the discount. Even if you are denied legitimately for the maximum number of times a service is covered, you are still eligible for the discount the provider offers.</p> <p>Given the frequency of denials and related errors, it's wise to be on your guard every time a denial is issued. Don't assume the denial is correct! Appeal and follow up on your appeals as needed.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anum-yoon">Anum Yoon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/women-pay-more-for-health-care-heres-how-to-pay-less">Women Pay More for Health Care — Here&#039;s How to Pay Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</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/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-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-about-a-price-list-at-the-hospital-or-doctor-s-office">How About a Price List at the Hospital or Doctor’s Office?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance affordable care act appeals denials doctors explanation of benefits health care health insurance insurance claims medical Tue, 20 Dec 2016 11:00:15 +0000 Anum Yoon 1858109 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_sunglasses_happy_91229393.jpg" alt="Woman finding surprising things her HSA covers" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money">Health Savings Accounts</a> (HSAs) are medical bank accounts that are paired with low premium, high deductible health insurance policies. The high deductible/low premium insurance policy is counterbalanced by the ability for the individual to save income that is not subject to federal or state taxes. The money in the HSA can then be spent on IRS approved medical expenses.</p> <p>If you have an HSA and you have only used it to pay doctor's bills, you might be missing out on some real tax savings. Why spend taxed money on IRS approved medical expenses, when you can utilize pretax dollars? Check out 11 items you can purchase with your HSA.</p> <h2>1. Allergy Medication</h2> <p>If you have allergies (either food or environmental) that you need medication for, you can purchase prescription medication with your HSA. Over the counter medication cannot be purchased with your HSA, unless prescribed by a doctor.</p> <h2>2. Arch Supports</h2> <p>Purchasing arch supports are sometimes necessary for a pain-free life, and they can cost anywhere from $5 to $150. Custom or mass produced arch supports can be an HSA-approved medical expense if you receive a prescription from your doctor.</p> <h2>3. Bandages and Band-Aids</h2> <p>Over the counter bandages and Band-Aids can be purchased with your HSA.</p> <h2>4. Birth Control</h2> <p>Both over-the-counter and prescription birth control are HSA-approved medical expenses. Here are just a few of the items you can purchase with your health savings account: IUD, Norplant, condoms, spermicide, and pregnancy test kits.</p> <h2>5. Braille Books or Magazines</h2> <p>If you are vision-impaired, you can utilize your HSA to reimburse yourself part of the money from purchasing Braille books or magazines. In order to calculate how much you can reimburse yourself, you should utilize this formula: cost of Braille book less cost of the traditional book equals HSA approved reimbursement.</p> <h2>6. Contact Lens Solution</h2> <p>If you wear contact lenses, you can purchase the solution necessary to clean the lenses with your health savings account.</p> <h2>7. Guide Animals</h2> <p>The costs of purchasing, training, and caring for guide animals are an IRS-approved HSA expense. You will need to register your service animal in your state in order to utilize this HSA-approved expense. (If you try to say that a non-qualified animal you own is a service animal, the likelihood of being fined will be high.)</p> <h2>8. Lead Paint Removal</h2> <p>If you live in a home with lead paint, and your child has or has had lead paint poisoning, you can pay for the paint to be removed with your HSA.</p> <h2>9. Mouth Guards</h2> <p>Mouth guards that have been prescribed by a dentist due to teeth grinding can be paid for with your health savings account.</p> <h2>10. Prescription Sunglasses</h2> <p>Prescription sunglasses can be an expensive necessity for the vision-challenged. If you either cannot or will not switch to contact lenses, you're stuck with purchasing prescription sunglasses or going without. You can, if you want, pay for the prescription sunglasses with your HSA. If you want to save money on the second pair, you might consider asking for the prescription and shopping around at various chain eyeglass stores.</p> <h2>11. Prescription Goggles</h2> <p>If you spend a lot of time swimming or diving, you need to ditch your glasses for long periods of time. This can make your adventure (or job) harder and less enjoyable. Like sunglasses, goggles can be purchased with your HSA. (You might need to check online to determine if anyone in your areas sells prescription goggles).</p> <p>A Health Savings Account can be a great way for the relatively healthy individuals to save money on medical expenses. Just remember that as you make purchases with your HSA to file copies of your prescriptions and receipts with your tax returns. You'll need them if the IRS decides to audit you. If you can't prove the expenses were HSA approved expenses, you might end up paying a fine (even if you followed the rules).</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/samantha-stauf">Samantha Stauf</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-you-can-save-money-on-prescription-medications">7 Ways You Can Save Money On Prescription Medications</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds">8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/signing-up-for-obamacare-in-2015-heres-whats-new">Signing Up for Obamacare in 2015? Here&#039;s What&#039;s New</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance health care health insurance health savings account HSA IRS medicine prescriptions Thu, 10 Nov 2016 09:30:13 +0000 Samantha Stauf 1828889 at http://www.wisebread.com 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-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-job-dont-make-these-7-mistakes-with-your-benefits">New Job? Don&#039;t Make These 7 Mistakes With Your Benefits</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/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-vital-things-to-remember-when-buying-health-insurance">5 Vital Things to Remember When Buying Health Insurance</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> 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 5 Important Tax Changes for 2016 http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000054433640.jpg" alt="Child learning important tax changes for 2016" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What comes with a new year? Changes to the federal tax code, of course. And 2016 is no exception.</p> <p>These changes could mean big financial penalties if you don't have health insurance. Or they could bring you big savings if you happen to own a small business. Overall, the changes to the tax code that Congress enacted last year are beneficial to consumers, according to Dave Du, vice president of consumer advocacy at TaxAudit.com.</p> <p>&quot;With just days to go before the end of the year, Congress finally extended most of the tax breaks which were set to expire,&quot; Du said. &quot;Some of these provisions &mdash; like the definition of racehorse as property &mdash; won't impact too many of us, but there's much good news for taxpayers this year.&quot;</p> <p>One example? You can file later this year. The deadline for filing your income taxes this year is April 18 instead of April 15, thanks to something called Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C.</p> <p>Here are five other big tax changes you should be prepared for this year.</p> <h2>1. A Climbing Health Insurance Penalty</h2> <p>One of the bigger changes to the tax code this year is actually a punitive one: An increase in the penalty for not having health insurance that meets the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.</p> <p>Micah Fraim, a Roanoke, Virginia-based Certified Public Accountant, said that for the 2015 tax year &mdash; those are the taxes you'll be filing by April 18 &mdash; filers will have to pay a penalty of $325 for every uninsured adult and $162.50 for every uninsured dependent child, or 2% of your taxable income &mdash; whichever number is greater.</p> <p>That's a significant increase. For the 2014 tax year, those numbers stood at $95 and $47.50, or 1% of your taxable income. &quot;And in 2016, it gets even worse,&quot; Friedman said.</p> <p>For the 2016 tax year &mdash; the taxes you will file by April of 2017 &mdash; the penalty for not having insurance rises to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, or 2.5% of your income. The message is clear: If you don't have acceptable health insurance, it's time to get it. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-costly-health-insurance-mistakes">Avoid These 5 Costly Health Insurance Mistakes</a>)</p> <h2>2. New Health Insurance Forms</h2> <p>You can also expect to receive a new form or two in the mail relating to health insurance. If you've purchased health insurance through the federal government's Health Insurance Marketplace, you'll receive Form 1095-A. This isn't a change &mdash; the government began mailing this form out for the 2014 tax year.</p> <p>But there are two new health insurance forms for the 2015 tax year. Form 1095-B is a statement from your health insurance company verifying that you and other members of your household have insurance coverage that meets the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. This form is only sent to taxpayers who get their insurance from somewhere other than the Health Insurance Marketplace, such as from their employer. Form 1095-C is a statement from your employer that provides details about your employer-sponsored health benefits.</p> <p>Many taxpayers will receive both 1095-B and 1095-C, of course. The key fact to realize? You probably won't have to do anything with these forms, said Andrew Oswalt, Certified Public Account for Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based TaxACT.</p> <p>&quot;The new forms could be confusing because most people will think they have to do something with them,&quot; Oswalt said. &quot;The reality is, they'll simply need to mark a checkbox on their Form 1040 when filing and keep the forms 1095-B and 1095-C for their records.&quot;</p> <h2>3. A Tax Break for Small Business Owners</h2> <p>Priyanka Prakash, finance specialist at loan-search service FitBiz Loans, said that small business owners need to be aware of Section 179 of the tax code &mdash; a new tax law that lets them deduct up to $500,000 of qualifying equipment on their tax returns.</p> <p>To qualify for this deduction, the equipment must be used primarily for business purposes, Prakash said. The equipment must also have been put into use during the 2015 calendar year.</p> <p>&quot;This covers a wide range of equipment, from computers to furniture to business vehicles,&quot; Prakash said.</p> <p>Prakash gives this example: If a business purchases office equipment worth $100,000, it can then deduct that entire purchase amount on its taxes. If the business has a tax rate of 30%, Section 179 will save it $30,000 in taxes. Previously, business owners could only deduct a small amount every year based on the life of the equipment.</p> <p>&quot;Section 179 saves small businesses a lot of money,&quot; Prakash said.</p> <h2>4. A Break for College Students</h2> <p>Tom Wheelwright, a Certified Public Account and author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1937832058/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=1937832058&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=TFRKWZZ4OXTQ44N2" target="_blank">Tax-Free Wealth</a>, said that the 2015 tax year brought an important break for college students who are filing their own taxes or parents who claim these students as dependents.</p> <p>Congress made permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which gives college students a credit of $2,500 per year for college tuition, fees, and course materials. Parents can claim the exemption for their college-age students as long as they claim these students as dependents on their income taxes.</p> <h2>5. A Boon for Heads of Household</h2> <p>The standard deduction is set to rise &mdash; a bit &mdash; for heads of households. The standard deductions that most taxpayers can claim in 2016 haven't risen for single taxpayers or married couples filing jointly or separately. Blame that on low inflation.</p> <p>But the standard deduction for taxpayers filing as the head of their households is going up a bit, rising $50 for 2016. That brings that standard deduction up to $9,300 in 2016.</p> <p><em>Are you ready for tax time this year?</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/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">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/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</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-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making">5 Common Tax Mistakes We Need to Stop Making</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/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</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/4-tax-deductions-new-homeowners-shouldnt-skip">4 Tax Deductions New Homeowners Shouldn&#039;t Skip</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/get-your-money-sooner-by-starting-2016-tax-prep-now">Get Your Money Sooner by Starting 2016 Tax Prep Now</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes deductions filing health insurance IRS penalties tax breaks Tue, 19 Jan 2016 12:00:03 +0000 Dan Rafter 1639404 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Penalty-Free Ways to Withdraw Money From Your Retirement Account http://www.wisebread.com/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/ira_401k_000006195210.jpg" alt="Learning ways to withdraw from your 401k without penalty" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While it's true that 401Ks have a higher contribution limit ($18,000 in 2015) than traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs ($5,500 for most people or $6,500 if you're age 50 or older in 2015), it would be a mistake to dismiss traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs as part of your retirement strategy.</p> <p>One of the major advantages of having an IRA is that it offers much more flexibility when it comes to taking distributions before age 59 1/2. Under most circumstances, early distributions from a 401K trigger a 10% penalty fee from the IRS on top of applicable income and capital gains taxes. But IRAs are subject to far fewer limitations in many cases &mdash; often, they're free from the 10% penalty for early withdrawals.</p> <p>Here are seven circumstances under which you can withdraw money before age 59 1/2 from an IRA without triggering an IRS penalty.</p> <h2>1. Health Insurance Premiums During Unemployment</h2> <p>If you're unemployed and can't jump on somebody's health plan for coverage, you're probably going to be stressed out about meeting your monthly premiums. Fortunately, once you've been unemployed for at least 12 continuous weeks, the IRS lets you take a penalty-free early distribution from your IRA to cover your health insurance monthly premiums. (To avoid any doubts about how you're using your IRA monies, consider opening a new bank account to handle deposits from your IRA and payments to your health provider.)</p> <p>Some additional points to remember are that the IRA distributions need to take place during either the year you received the unemployment compensation or the following, and that the IRA distributions need to take place no later than 60 days after you have been reemployed.</p> <h2>2. Large Medical Bills</h2> <p>Uncle Sam also gives you a break when you use an IRA withdrawal to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses greater than 10% (or 7.5% if you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1950) of your adjusted gross income for the year of the distribution.</p> <p>While the IRS doesn't require you to itemize your deductions to take advantage of this exception, you should keep a record of all of your medical, dental, and prescription expenses that weren't reimbursed or paid by others. Remember that you can't include the cost of non-prescription drugs (except insulin) or other purchases for general health, such as vitamins, diet foods, or health club dues. Costs of cosmetic procedures aren't eligible, either.</p> <p>However, you can include 23.5 cents per mile that you drove your car for medical reasons. Refer to the Schedule A of Form 1040 to find out the entire list of eligible expenses that you can use to calculate your total unreimbursed medical expenses.</p> <h2>3. First Home Purchases</h2> <p>If the dream property for which you've been waiting so long finally becomes available and you're up to $10,000 short on the down payment, you can tap into your IRA without a penalty.</p> <p>As long as your total IRA withdrawal for first-time home buying is not greater than $10,000, you can even split your withdrawals over more than one year. Not only can you use these monies to buy your own home, but also to pay qualified costs of buying, building, or rebuilding a property. Just make sure that those qualified costs are paid within 120 days after receiving your IRA distribution.</p> <p>Attention couples: If you keep separate IRA plans, each one of you can withdraw up to $10,000 without penalty to pool at total of $20,000 for a first home purchase.</p> <h2>4. Higher Education Expenses</h2> <p>Whether it is for your own education or that of your spouse, children, or grandchildren, you can take a penalty-free withdrawal from your IRA to cover qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for the enrollment or attendance at an eligible educational institution.</p> <p>Other eligible education expenses include the cost of room and board for individuals that are at least half-time students and special needs services in connection with enrollment or attendance. While there is no limit to the amount of your withdrawal free from the 10% penalty tax, keep in mind that your monies may count as income for the student, and may thus impact their eligibility for financial aid.</p> <h2>5. Debts to the IRS</h2> <p>Uncle Sam wants so badly to collect on your unpaid taxes and arrears that he's willing to forego the 10% penalty tax on your IRA withdrawal. However, as in all other scenarios in this list, you do have to pay applicable income taxes, including capital gains.</p> <p>While using part of your IRA balance to pay all or part of your tax debts may not sound that great, it's better than trying to avoid a levy. Under the second scenario, you may have no bargaining power.</p> <h2>6. Rollovers From Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs</h2> <p>Unlike traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars. This means that you don't owe any taxes on withdrawals after age 59 1/2. Plus, once your Roth IRA has been open for at least five years, you can withdraw your contributions at any time without penalty (note that earnings on your contributions <em>are</em> subject to IRS penalties).</p> <p>If you were to transfer funds from your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you would pay applicable income taxes now, but no 10% penalty tax on contributions if you wait five years to withdraw those funds from your Roth IRA. Each transfer has its own five-year waiting period and you can only do one IRA rollover per year.</p> <h2>7. Periodic Income Distributions</h2> <p>Last but not least, you can take penalty-free distributions from your IRA by taking a series of substantially equal periodic payments (SEPP) over your life expectancy or the life expectancies of you and your designated beneficiary. The IRS website offers a useful list of frequently asked questions on <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Retirement-Plans-FAQs-regarding-Substantially-Equal-Periodic-Payments">setting up a SEPP plan</a>.</p> <p>If you're planning to set up a SEPP for early retirement, remember that there maybe some financial risks involved. So, before taking your first periodic income distribution, consult your accountant or financial advisor to check your calculations. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky?ref=seealso">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a>)</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>Taking an early distribution of your IRA may be a last resort to make your financial goals, such as a first home purchase, happen. As you can see from these seven examples, there are ways for you to take an early withdrawal from an IRA without the 10% tax penalty. While these strategies may not be for everybody, some of them can be true game changers. Consult IRS Publication 590-B for more details.</p> <p><em>Have you used your IRA to take early withdrawals without a penalty? Share with us how you did in the comments section.</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/7-penalty-free-ways-to-withdraw-money-from-your-retirement-account">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/the-penalty-free-way-to-withdraw-retirement-money-early">The Penalty-Free Way to Withdraw Retirement Money Early</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/should-you-choose-a-roth-401k-or-a-regular-401k">Should You Choose a Roth 401k or a Regular 401k?</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-questions-to-ask-before-you-borrow-from-your-retirement-account">5 Questions to Ask Before You Borrow From Your Retirement Account</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-inventor-of-the-401k-has-second-thoughts-about-your-retirement-plan-now-what">The Inventor of the 401K Has Second Thoughts About Your Retirement Plan — Now What?</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-reasons-people-dont-retire-early-and-how-you-can">4 Reasons People Don&#039;t Retire Early — and How You Can</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Retirement Taxes 401k borrowing health insurance home buying IRA medical bills penalties sepp Thu, 05 Nov 2015 13:15:18 +0000 Damian Davila 1605093 at http://www.wisebread.com Winter Is Coming: Make These 6 Money Moves Now http://www.wisebread.com/winter-is-coming-make-these-6-money-moves-now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/winter-is-coming-make-these-6-money-moves-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fall_piggy_bank_000027613114.jpg" alt="Learning which money moves to make before winter comes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As we approach the end of the year, it's important to make sure that your money is headed in a good direction. It's all too easy to put your finances on autopilot and not think twice about the money moves you're making. But a completely hands-off approach can be a recipe for disaster. Here are six money items to tackle this fall.</p> <h2>1. Health Insurance Open Enrollment</h2> <p>Having health insurance is no longer an option. In fact, the fine for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-costly-health-insurance-mistakes">not having health insurance</a> goes through the roof in 2016. In 2016, you'll pay the higher of either 2.5% of your yearly household income or $695 per person if you fail to have a health insurance policy that meets the government's definition of <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Affordable-Care-Act/Individuals-and-Families/ACA-Individual-Shared-Responsibility-Provision-Minimum-Essential-Coverage">minimum essential coverage</a>. That's a hefty chunk of change.</p> <p>Open enrollment starts on November 1, 2015 and only runs until January 31, 2016. You only have during that window to make changes to your health care plan unless you fall under a special exception, such as marriage, giving birth, or losing coverage at work. Don't get lazy though; you only have 60 days after one of those events to get insurance coverage. If you don't, you'll need to wait until the next open enrollment.</p> <h2>2. End of Year IRA Contributions</h2> <p>Contributing to your IRA, whether it's a traditional or a Roth plan, can be an important component of your retirement plan. And the sooner you start, the more money you can accumulate over your lifetime. Don't forget that you can make your IRA contributions for 2015 all the way up to the April 15, 2016 tax filing deadline.While traditional IRA contributions may qualify for tax deductions, Roth contributions generally do not. Tax deduction or not, contributing to your IRA is simply a smart financial move.</p> <h2>3. It's Bonus Time</h2> <p>The end of the year means that bonuses are right around the corner. Do you have a plan for your bonus? Maybe a trip somewhere amazing, or buying that new iPhone 6? Why not plan on using all or some of your bonus to help further your financial goals, either by paying off debt or saving and investing? Also, remember that your bonus is often based upon your performance, so now is the time to step up your game and talk with your boss about how you might maximize your check.</p> <h2>4. Create a Money Filing System</h2> <p>Before the end of the year, it's a good idea to get a money filing system in order to keep track of all your important documents, tax information, and all those other loose financial papers that need a home. Keep at least your last two years tax returns, any insurance documents and policies, and if you are self-employed, all those receipts that you will need for tax time. Whether you use a service like Dropbox, a password secured vendor, or even an old school accordion file at home, make sure your filing system is secure and easy to access.</p> <h2>5. Entrepreneur Taxes</h2> <p>When you're an entrepreneur, you've got to think a little differently about the end of the year. For you, the end of the year is a good time to make an inventory&nbsp;of all the tax deductible purchases needed for your business. On your list, you might include things like computers, phones, software, equipment, books, and new marketing systems. Always make sure you save the receipt, and buy the items before December 31, 2015 to count toward this year's deductions.</p> <h2>6. Donate</h2> <p>Donating toward the greater good can be a terrific feeling, but there are a few rules you need to follow if you are going to deduct the expense as part of your 2015 taxes. If you choose to make a monetary donation, you must ensure that you are giving to a proper non-profit 501(c) (3) organization, and you must have some sort of bank record, cancelled check, or receipt for your donation.</p> <p>If you choose to use a credit card to donate, make sure you donate before December 31, 2015. If your credit card bill isn't paid until January 2016, but you made the donation in 2015, it still counts for this year. If you plan to donate clothing or household items, they generally must be in good shape. Organizations like Goodwill will always ask you for the approximate value (known as fair market value) of your donations. Just be aware that if you donate over $500 of goods or clothing, you will need an appraisal of the value regardless of whether the items are in good shape or not.</p> <p><em>What are you doing to prepare your finances for winter?</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/winter-is-coming-make-these-6-money-moves-now">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/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/can-i-write-it-off-as-charity">Can I Write It Off as Charity?</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/101-tax-deductions-for-bloggers-and-freelancers">101 Tax deductions for bloggers and freelancers</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/9-frugal-skills-you-must-have-to-survive-autumn">9 Frugal Skills You Must Have to Survive Autumn</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-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes autumn donating fall health insurance money moves taxes Wed, 04 Nov 2015 13:16:21 +0000 Shannah Game 1605064 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/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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> </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 Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here's What It'll Cost You http://www.wisebread.com/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-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/healthcare-stethoscope-money-Dollarphotoclub_64769213.jpg" alt="stethoscope money" title="stethoscope money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The ACA. Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act. Whatever you call it, your finances will almost certainly be affected by it, especially if you choose <em>not</em> to be covered by an approved plan in 2015. While many taxpayers are just now starting to feel the pinch of opting out in 2014, the penalties for this year are much stiffer.&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's what you need to know</p> <h2>How Much Are the Fines?</h2> <p>Straight from the <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/fees-exemptions/fee-for-not-being-covered/">HealthCare.gov website</a>, the penalty or &quot;tax&quot; for 2015 is either:</p> <ul> <li>2% of your yearly household income over the tax filing threshold (usually anything over $10,000 for an individual); or<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>$235 per adult and $162.50 for each child under 18.</li> </ul> <p>The government wants you to pay the higher of the two amounts, but the maximum for option one can't exceed the &quot;national average premium for a bronze plan.&quot; Just what is that number? For 2014, the average was $204 per person per month or $1020 per month for a family of five or more. The national average for 2015 won't be known until the end of 2015, but the Washington Times states it could&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/18/obamacare-bronze-plan-premiums-expected-jump-14-20/">increase by as much as 14%</a> in some parts of the country.</p> <p>The maximum for option two can't exceed $975.</p> <h2>How Are the Fines Paid?</h2> <p>Since the healthcare law is enforced strictly through the IRS, it's quite simply a &quot;tax&quot; thing. If you don't make enough to file (under $10,000 in most cases), you wouldn't pay a fine, anyway. If you do file, you'll have a place to indicate your penalty on your return, and that amount will come off your refund (or you'll have to pay in, like any other tax owed). All major tax filing software services have been updated accordingly to help you fill out the right forms and make paying the fine just a part of the tax process.</p> <h2>Can I Get Out of the Fine?</h2> <p>In a word: yes. But it may take some work. People covered by an ACA or another plan that is considered &quot;minimum essential coverage&quot; don't have to pay.</p> <p>Others are exempt from fine if they had coverage for more than nine months of the year, are a member of a federally recognized tribe, have coverage through a health care sharing ministry, or have religious objections to insurance (including Medicare and Social Security). You can also avoid fines if you are in jail during most of the year or aren't in the U.S. lawfully or face certain financial hardships.</p> <h2>What If I Can't Afford Insurance or the Fine?</h2> <p>If the lowest-priced coverage would cost more than 8% of your household income, you can get an exemption. Additional <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/fees-exemptions/hardship-exemptions/">examples of hardship</a> that may qualify for an exemption include:</p> <p>1. Being homeless;<br /> 2. Eviction or foreclosure;<br /> 3. Facing shut-off from your utility company;<br /> 4. Experiencing domestic violence;<br /> 5. Experience the death of a family member;<br /> 6. Suffering substantial loss due to a fire, flood, or other natural or human-caused disaster;<br /> 7. Filing for bankruptcy;<br /> 8. Being unable to pay medical expenses that resulted in substantial debt;<br /> 9. Experiencing increases in necessary expenses due to caring for an ill, disabled, or aging family member.</p> <p>There are also exemptions that can be granted due to changes in your state's Medicaid and CHIP programs, cancellation of your individual policy, and your difficulty in getting insurance.</p> <p>Note that all of these require you to fill out an application that can take weeks or months to approve. In the meantime, if you fail to get covered and your application is denied, you will still be held liable for any penalties earned during that time. It's is also suggested that you don't wait until the end of 2015 to apply for the exemption if you have proof of hardship now.</p> <h2>Should I Ever Choose to Pay the Fine?</h2> <p>That's really a personal decision, but I will say that there have been instances where you may owe less by simply paying fines. If you are a healthy adult that can get approved for a traditional pre-ACA plan without pre-existing conditions, you may be eligible for a short-term plan. These plans don't offer some of the benefits required by Obamacare, including maternity coverage or certain free preventative services. They are, however, more in line with pre-ACA pricing for premiums, and many have much lower deductibles and premiums than the subsidized plans offered on the exchange. These plans are good for three to 12 months and make you subject to ACA fines, but may still cost less after fines than better plans on the exchange.</p> <p>All of this will change again in 2016, with another increase in fines, so you'll need to stay abreast of developments. With open enrollment ending soon, however, whatever choice you make should be done without delay.</p> <p><em>Will you get insurance or pay the fine this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-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-9"> <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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/new-job-dont-make-these-7-mistakes-with-your-benefits">New Job? Don&#039;t Make These 7 Mistakes With Your Benefits</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance ACA health care health insurance insurance IRS obamacare taxes Tue, 03 Feb 2015 14:00:07 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1284842 at http://www.wisebread.com Signing Up for Obamacare in 2015? Here's What's New http://www.wisebread.com/signing-up-for-obamacare-in-2015-heres-whats-new <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/signing-up-for-obamacare-in-2015-heres-whats-new" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000040009130_Large.jpg" alt="little girl doctor" title="little girl doctor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed ACA into law, enabling all Americans to obtain health insurance via the online marketplaces. Although Americans have had access to Obamacare for a little over a year now, some provisions of the law will change for 2015.</p> <p>If you're planning on buying health insurance this year, there are a few things that are new.</p> <h2>Here's What You Need to Know for 2015</h2> <h3>Open Enrollment Ends February 15</h3> <p>Anyone without health coverage can sign up during the open enrollment period, which runs November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. If you miss open enrollment, you may qualify under the special circumstances period, which grants individuals and families 60 days from a status change, such as birth, marriage, or loss of insurance to apply for coverage.</p> <h3>New Contribution Limits</h3> <p>FSA contribution limits have been raised by $50 for individuals to $2,550. Also, the &quot;Use It or Lose It&quot; rule has now been amended &mdash; in many cases, you can now carry-over up to $500 of your FSA balance into the following year. However, carry-over funds are only extended for use through March 15th of the following year.</p> <p>HSA contribution limits have been increased by $50 for individuals to $3,350, and up $100 for families to $6,650.</p> <h3>Out of Pocket Cost Caps</h3> <p>Maximum out-of-pocket costs are now $6,600 for individuals and $13,200 for families. This is the most you can be accountable for during a coverage year before your provider must cover 100% of medical expenses. This includes deductibles, co-payments, qualified premiums, and other qualified health related expenses.</p> <h3>Employer Mandate Kicks In</h3> <p>As of 2015, the Employer Mandate kicks in. All employers with 100 or more full-time employees must provide a company health plan. Employers with 50-100 employees have until 2016 to implement these changes.</p> <h2>Understanding the Patient's Bill of Rights</h2> <p>As always, it's important to remember that the benefits of the ACA are for all Americans covered by health insurance &mdash; not just those who purchased theirs via the government-run marketplaces. Under this &quot;Patient's Bill of Rights,&quot; you are entitled to some benefits.</p> <ul> <li>You qualify for health coverage regardless if you have a pre-existing condition.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can no longer be denied coverage for a mistake on your application.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You now have access to out-of-network emergency care (without penalty). <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You now have the power to choose any physician or pediatrician of choice within your network, and you no longer need a referral for OB-GYN services.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Those receiving Medicare get a 50% discount on brand-name drugs.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You can stay on a parent's health plan until the age of 26. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Insurance companies can no longer use annual and lifetime dollar limits of benefits.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Most plans have to provide free preventive care services, including certain immunizations and screenings for things like women's services, blood pressure, diabetes, depression, HIV, and more. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Insurance companies cannot increase your rate in excess of 10% without public disclosure.</li> </ul> <p>But remember: The ACA mandates that every individual must have health insurance, or face a penalty. Those not in compliance with the law will face significant fees. The fee for 2015 increased and is the greater of: $325 per year for individuals and $162.50 a year per child, or 2% of your annual income. So if you don't yet have health insurance, consider taking advantage of the ACA's benefits and sign up before open enrollment ends February 15th.</p> <p><em>Will you be signing up for health insurance this year via an ACA exchange?</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/signing-up-for-obamacare-in-2015-heres-whats-new">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/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-insurance-how-to-fight-back-against-4-common-claim-denials">Health Insurance: How to Fight Back Against 4 Common Claim Denials</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance ACA health care health insurance obamacare Thu, 15 Jan 2015 14:00:08 +0000 Qiana Chavaia 1279973 at http://www.wisebread.com Not Insuring These 6 Things Could Bankrupt You http://www.wisebread.com/not-insuring-these-6-things-could-bankrupt-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/not-insuring-these-6-things-could-bankrupt-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-budget-468144843-small.jpg" alt="couple budget" title="couple budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Getting ahead financially isn't easy. It requires hard work and persistence. So why risk years or even decades of hard work and sacrifice only to lose everything in one unfortunate, very costly event? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marketing-life-insurance-and-behavioral-psychology?ref=seealso">Marketing, Life Insurance, and Behavioral Psychology</a>)</p> <p>&quot;It won't happen to me,&quot; you say? I felt the same way years ago. But life happens. However unfair it may be, over time we all see some of our friends and family members face difficult challenges or even catastrophes. (I'll include a few examples of my own below.) As much as we hope to avoid them, we just can't predict or control all events. But we can at least hedge some of these risks by insuring against them.</p> <h2>What Should I Insure?</h2> <p>Insurance is for the big things. It's to protect you from major events that would cost you more than you can pay for from your short-term financial reserves. In other words, its purpose is to help shield you from serious and potentially devastating financial setbacks.</p> <h2>What Shouldn't I Insure?</h2> <p>As a rule, then, insurance is not for smaller financial risks or expenses you could absorb and pay for in the short term. This is where we often make a mistake &mdash; purchasing insurance or service contracts for goods and services that cost hundreds of dollars or less.</p> <p>Is that to say that you should never consider taking insurance on a cell phone or a computer printer, for example? Maybe not, but be aware of the cumulative opportunity cost of those expenditures. That money could have been used to help you get ahead financially, by paying off an outstanding debt for example. Also, remember that companies that encourage you to buy their service contracts and warranties often make more profit on the warranties than on the actual product or service being insured.</p> <p>So, what are the big things requiring insurance? And what types of insurance can protect you from being wiped out financially? Here are six that cover most if not all of the bases.</p> <h2>1. Health Insurance</h2> <p>By far, the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States is unpaid medical bills. A <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pf_article_109143.html">study done at Harvard University</a> identifies medical expenses as a leading cause of 62% of all personal bankruptcies.</p> <p>Even the shortest of hospital visits now costs thousands of dollars. Just a few months ago one of our sons experienced sudden stomach pains, requiring a trip to the emergency room. After a number of tests (isolating the problem as an intestinal disorder) and some antibiotics he was released four or five hours later. The bill? Over $20,000. Thankfully our insurance covered most of the bill and his subsequent treatments. But it's easy to see how a single serious injury or disease, if not adequately covered by health insurance, could deplete your entire savings.</p> <p>And even if you have health insurance, the ever-rising deductibles (sometimes $5,000 or more) can tip you over a financial cliff if they exhaust your short term funds and force you to delay credit card, vehicle, mortgage, and other payments in an attempt to recover.</p> <h2>2. Life Insurance</h2> <p>This one should be a no-brainer. If you have dependents or any unpaid debts or financial obligations that would need to be paid upon your death (not many people can answer &quot;No&quot; to all of those), then you need life insurance. The question is, how much?</p> <p>There are many ways to estimate how much life insurance you need, but I like the following approach:</p> <ol> <li>Determine your household's current TOTAL annual income needs and SUBTRACT income that's available to your spouse/survivor(s) from other existing sources. This will be their NET annual income need.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Multiply this net annual income need TIMES the estimated number of years your beneficiaries will require it.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>ADD your total current outstanding debts.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>ADD future unfunded expenses (your funeral expense, children's college, etc)</li> </ol> <p>This total should give you a good initial estimate. For a more complete assessment I suggest Tony Steuer's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0984508104/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0984508104&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=ZNPG3SINGOTXRIYR">Questions and Answers on Life Insurance</a> toolbook .</p> <p>My strong preference is term life insurance, not permanent life policies like whole life or universal that include an investment component. As a rough guide, I purchased a $300,000 supplemental term life policy at age 40 for $300 per year, or $25 per month. That premium amount will not change until my mid-60s.</p> <h2>3. Vehicle Insurance</h2> <p>Auto insurance is required by most states. It's actually a collection of policies that protects you from financial loss in three ways:</p> <ol> <li>Property coverage pays for damage to your car, either from a collision or from vandalism, storm damage, or theft (if you have &quot;comprehensive&quot;).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Liability coverage pays legal expenses to others for injury to them or damage to their property in an accident.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating accident injuries, and sometimes for lost wages and funeral expenses.</li> </ol> <p>According to <a href="http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/money-girl">Money Girl podcaster Laura Adams</a>, you ought to have &quot;enough auto insurance to cover the total value of all your assets &mdash; such as your home, vehicles, savings accounts, and non-retirement investments &mdash; [in case you are] involved in a lawsuit.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Homeowners Insurance</h2> <p>Like vehicle insurance, homeowners insurance is required when you have a mortgage. It should cover the replacement value of your home and its contents, and it pays for claims associated with fire and certain natural disasters. A liability portion also covers you if someone gets hurt on your property. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-things-covered-by-homeowners-insurance?ref=seealso">8 Surprising Things Covered by Homeowners Insurance</a>)</p> <p>If you rent, and the loss of your personal belongings would cause a financial hardship, then you should consider renter's insurance.</p> <h2>5. Disability Insurance</h2> <p>As a young girl my grandmother excelled in school. She loved to read and looked forward to attending college. Her father was a successful stone mason and the family lived comfortably, so paying for college was within their means. Then a work-related accident left him disabled. He never recovered, and he didn't have disability insurance, so his daughter had to quit high school and get a minimum wage job to help the family make ends meet. Needless to say, my grandmother never attended college, and she never had an opportunity to achieve her dreams.</p> <p>This is why having disability insurance is so important.</p> <ul> <li>Approximately one out of four workers entering the workforce today will become disabled for some period of time before they retire.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>More than 90% of disabling accidents and illnesses are not work related, which means they aren't covered by worker's compensation insurance.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Social Security is only available after you've been out of work for a year and are completely disabled.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Disability is the leading cause of about 50% of all mortgage foreclosures.</li> </ul> <p>Most employers provide short-term disability insurance to non-contract workers, but they are less likely to offer long-term disability coverage, or if they do it's often less than you need. So look into supplemental disability insurance to make sure your family's needs are covered.</p> <h2>6. General Liability Insurance</h2> <p>Sometimes referred to as umbrella insurance, this is a &quot;miscellaneous&quot; policy. It covers amounts in excess of maximums in other policies, and it provides primary insurance for losses that aren't covered by other policies. Take personal injury lawsuits. However frivolous the claim, defending against a lawsuit can cost thousands. For example, my stepfather works for his local township and he spent over $40,000 clearing himself of an unfounded charge against him by a citizen of the town.</p> <p>Also, have you noticed that insurance companies are narrowing the scope of what they cover in their traditional insurance policies? That same stepfather had storm insurance to cover his primary residence but didn't learn until after last year's Hurricane Sandy that the insurance company wouldn't cover $20,000 in damages to the garage on the same property.</p> <p>Our household has a $1 million umbrella policy that costs about $50 per month. It gives us peace of mind.</p> <h2>Protect What You've Worked Hard For</h2> <p>Joni Mitchell wrote: &quot;Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone.&quot; I think that sums it up nicely. It's hard for us to appreciate the consequences of a serious accident or unforeseen event until after it occurs.</p> <p>But bad things do happen &mdash; we see it all around us. So do what doesn't come naturally: protect yourself against your big risks before they happen. Take stock now of your insurance needs and make sure you're covered.</p> <p><em>Have you covered your big risks? How many of these insurance policies do you have? Can you think of any others?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/keith-whelan">Keith Whelan</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/not-insuring-these-6-things-could-bankrupt-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-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-your-group-life-insurance-is-not-enough">Why Your Group Life Insurance Is Not Enough</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-life-insurance-isnt-just-for-old-people">5 Reasons Why Life Insurance Isn&#039;t Just for Old People</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance bankruptcy health insurance insurance life insurance Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:00:02 +0000 Keith Whelan 1190088 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Fall for These Common Obamacare Scams http://www.wisebread.com/dont-fall-for-these-common-obamacare-scams <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-fall-for-these-common-obamacare-scams" 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-5305450-small.jpg" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, begins to roll out, health insurance scams linked to the law have been proliferating. Consumer advocates fear the scams may become even more common as health insurance exchanges come online. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/understanding-the-affordable-care-acts-health-insurance-exchange">Understanding the ACA's Health Insurance Exchange</a>)</p> <p>The Obamacare scams are many and varied. Con artists are setting up fake websites, posing as government workers or insurance agents, and contacting consumers by phone, email, text messages, and even in person.</p> <p>They are selling fake insurance plans, requesting personal financial information, and seeking personal information to commit identity theft.</p> <p>Government officials and consumer advocates are warning Americans about these most common Obamacare scams.</p> <h2>Fees for Help</h2> <p>Fraudsters contact potential victims by phone, email, or text message and offer to help them access the new health insurance exchanges &mdash; for a fee. Beware: They're out to collect bogus fees. They also collect bank account numbers or other sensitive financial information. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/obamacare-fraud-alert-con-artists-prey-on-worried-health-insurance-consumers">Obamacare Fraud Alert</a>)</p> <p>Official helpers, called navigators, assisters, or counselors, can help you with the health insurance marketplace. But they don't charge fees or push particular plans. To find people who can help you understand your health coverage options and enroll in a plan, visit <a href="https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/">the government's local help site</a>.</p> <h2>Government Imposters</h2> <p>Some scammers claim they're from the government. It's a lie. No one from the government is calling people about their insurance. Government agencies may send you letters but will never ask for money or credit card numbers.</p> <p>Con artists may use high-pressure tactics, saying &quot;It's the law.&quot; They're known to threaten potential victims with penalties or even jail time if they don't sign up or buy a special insurance card.</p> <p>Such penalties are not possible since the law's individual mandate, which levies a financial penalty on those who don't obtain insurance, does not take effect until 2014 and entails no jail penalty.</p> <h2>Bogus Medicare Cards</h2> <p>In this scam, criminals say you need a new Medicare card because you'll lose coverage if you don't buy a new card. They may ask for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers, too.</p> <p>Actually, no one needs a new Medicare card or any other insurance card, and no one will lose insurance coverage.</p> <h2>Discount Plans</h2> <p>Scammers try to sell medical discount plans, calling them insurance policies. They are not. Most discount plans entail club memberships claiming to offer reduced prices from doctors and other medical costs. Many don't deliver any cost savings. Others are just cons designed to collect personal information and commit identity theft. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/identity-theft/prevent-identity-theft">How to Prevent Identity Theft</a>)</p> <h2>Insurance Agent Scams</h2> <p>Scammers may pose as insurance agents. They typically use high-pressure techniques, such as saying you must &quot;act now&quot; to get a discount or that you'll lose access to your current doctors under Medicare if you don't sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan. That's not true.</p> <p>If you have Medicare, you don't have to do anything different because of Obamacare. Some insurance agents can help you with the Health Insurance Marketplace, but don't provide personal information or pay any money to someone who contacts you.</p> <h2>Fake Websites</h2> <p>Scammers set up fake websites to collect sensitive financial information and spread malware. To trick visitors, the sites are designed to look like an official health care exchange, complete with official seal. For instance, as <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/using-obamacare-as-bait-scam-artists-target-consumers-and-business-owners/2013/09/10/27a4ca36-1a1b-11e3-82ef-a059e54c49d0_story.html">The Washington Post reported</a>, the sites washingtonhealthexchange.com and mdhealthexchange.com were reported and taken down.</p> <h2>Steps to Take to Avoid Getting Taken</h2> <p>Consumer confusion about the new law creates opportunities for criminals. A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that as recently as April 2013, <a href="http://kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-april-2013/">4 in 10 Americans did not know that Obamacare was the law</a>. Many thought it had been repealed by Congress or struck down by the Supreme Court.</p> <p><strong>Learn About the Law</strong></p> <p>Read Wise Bread's ongoing coverage of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/aca">ACA</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/health-insurance">health insurance</a> in general to stay informed, or visit <a href="http://healthcare.gov">HealthCare.gov</a>. In addition to learning about the law, you can shop for insurance through that website.</p> <p><strong>Keep Detailed Notes</strong></p> <p>Write down the name of anyone who assists you, who they work for, their telephone number, address, email, and website address.</p> <p><strong>Ignore Solicitors</strong></p> <p>Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal information or someone claiming to be from the government. Better yet, report them by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or visiting <a href="http://ftc.gov/complaint">ftc.gov/complaint</a>.</p> <p><em>Have you been contacted by a health insurance scam artist?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/michael-kling">Michael Kling</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-fall-for-these-common-obamacare-scams">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/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/obamacare-fraud-alert-con-artists-prey-on-worried-health-insurance-consumers">Obamacare Fraud Alert: Con Artists Prey on Worried Health Insurance Consumers</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/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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Insurance ACA fraud health care health insurance insurance obamacare scams Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:26 +0000 Michael Kling 991234 at http://www.wisebread.com Understanding the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Exchange http://www.wisebread.com/understanding-the-affordable-care-acts-health-insurance-exchange <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/understanding-the-affordable-care-acts-health-insurance-exchange" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/healthcare-4884969-small.jpg" alt="couple with doctor" title="couple with doctor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you are currently without health insurance, the Affordable Care Act (ACA, often referred to as Obamacare) offers both good news and bad news. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/health-care-reform-good-for-people-like-me">Health Care Reform: Good for People Like Me</a>)</p> <p>First, the good news: as of October 1, 2013, you will be able to purchase affordable health insurance through the ACA's Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) &mdash; and you will be covered as of January 1, 2014.</p> <p>Unfortunately, as with any government program of this size, the various rules, regulations, policies, and requirements are both complex and potentially confusing.</p> <p>It's important to know just what to expect from the ACA's Health Insurance Exchange, because even those who currently have insurance may someday find themselves needing individual coverage. Here is what you need to know about navigating the maze of HIX, before you need to use it:</p> <h2>Basic Coverage</h2> <p>One of the intentions of the Affordable Care Act is to put the kibosh to some of the shadier practices of the health insurance industry. The practices that the law will deal with include refusal of coverage based on pre-existing conditions; rescission, or the practice of refusing to cover treatment for a current insurance beneficiary based upon supposed pre-existing conditions; yearly and lifetime spending limits; and insurance that lacks a bare minimum of coverage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/healthcare-price-lists-a-short-but-useful-guide">Health Care Price Lists: A Short Guide</a>)</p> <p>While not all of these issues will necessarily be addressed in the insurance industry as a whole, all insurance plans offered through the ACA's Insurance Exchange must meet these standards. So anyone purchasing insurance through HIX will be guaranteed coverage; even if they have a pre-existing condition their claims cannot be denied; and they cannot reach an arbitrary spending cap after which point they are on the hook for additional medical costs.</p> <p>Finally, all insurance offered through the exchange must provide the following services, according to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/what-does-marketplace-health-insurance-cover/">the ACA's website</a> (which is chock full of info and details):</p> <ul> <li>Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Emergency services<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Hospitalization (such as surgery)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Maternity and newborn care (care before and after your baby is born)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Prescription drugs<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Laboratory services<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pediatric services</li> </ul> <p>Insurance without this base level of coverage will not be considered a &quot;qualifying&quot; policy and cannot be sold through the exchange.</p> <h2>How Much Will It Cost?</h2> <p>Leaving aside the political arguments about the global cost of this program, the intention of the ACA in general (and the exchanges in particular) is to make insurance premiums affordable for all Americans.</p> <p>One of the pricing rules put in place to ensure this is a limitation on price variations (also known as ratings) on insurance. Price variations can make the exact same policy a great deal more expensive for older beneficiaries, sick beneficiaries, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/health/policy/women-still-pay-more-for-health-insurance-data-shows.html?_r=0">women</a> (especially those of childbearing age), smokers, etc.</p> <p><strong>No More Price &quot;Ratings&quot;</strong></p> <p>As of 2014, insurers may no longer use most of the criteria the industry uses to vary prices among beneficiaries. The only criteria that may still be used &mdash; for older beneficiaries and smokers &mdash; are limited to a specific price ratio. Insurers may charge older beneficiaries no more than three times what they charge young beneficiaries &mdash; so a 64-year old can expect to pay no more than three times what his 21-year-old grandson is paying for insurance.</p> <p>As for smokers, the ratio is 1.5:1. At worst, an older beneficiary who smokes will pay 4.5 more than a young non-smoker. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-inexpensive-lifestyle-habits-that-can-add-years-to-your-life">7 Inexpensive Lifestyle Changes That Can Add Years to Your Life</a>)</p> <p>This limitation on price variations should theoretically help all insurance beneficiaries, even if they are still receiving their insurance through more traditional means. In addition, there will also be subsidies in place to help those who will be buying insurance through HIX.</p> <h2>The Subsidy Program</h2> <p>The health care law has determined that no lower- to middle-income individual or family should have to pay more than 9.5% of their income toward a base-level of individual health insurance premiums. And the 9.5% is the upper limit &mdash; most people earning modest livings should expect to pay between 3% and 9.5% of their income toward insurance. Those whose income falls below a certain point (133% of the federal poverty level &mdash; more on that below) should be eligible for Medicaid, and therefore will not be expected to pay <em>anything</em> for their insurance premiums.</p> <p>In order to ensure that families and individuals do not have to spend more than the specific, mandated percentage of their income, the government is offering subsidies to any individual or family making between 133% and 400% of the federal poverty level. (That corresponds to incomes between $31,322 and $94,200 for a family of four.) The Kaiser Family Foundation offers a <a href="http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/">subsidy calculator</a> that can help you determine if you'll qualify for a subsidy and how much you can expect from such a subsidy.</p> <p>In order to receive the subsidy, eligible individuals will have to apply for them when enrolling in insurance through the exchange, using their recent tax returns as proof of income.</p> <p>The subsidy will be paid directly to the insurer, so you will not have to worry about having to pay in full and then waiting for reimbursement.</p> <p>In addition to the subsidies for premiums, any HIX shopper who earns less than 250% of the federal poverty level ($58,875 for a family of four) will also be eligible for cost-sharing assistance. In order to explain how the cost-sharing program will work, let's first look at the different levels of insurance that will be available through HIX.</p> <h2>Four Tiers of Coverage</h2> <p>In order to make it easier to comparison shop among different health insurance plans, every plan must fit into one of four available tiers: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.</p> <p>Each of those tiers offers a different actuarial value. This term refers to the percentage of costs that the insurance company will pick up, and the lower the actuarial value, the cheaper the premiums.</p> <p>The lowest tier, bronze, offers a 60% actuarial value, meaning beneficiaries have to pay for 40% of their care.</p> <p>From there, silver offers a 70% actuarial value, gold offers 80%, and platinum offers 90%. You will pay more for premiums for a higher tier, but your out-of-pocket costs will be lower.</p> <p>For all subsidies and cost sharing options, the ACA uses the silver tier as the base level of insurance. Your subsidy does not change if you decide to buy insurance from a different tier. So your subsidy can go farther if you opt for bronze-level insurance, but not as far if you get gold or platinum coverage.</p> <h2>Cost-Sharing Assistance</h2> <p>For those who make less than 250% of the federal poverty level, there is further help in making the out-of-pocket costs for HIX insurance plans more affordable. Basically, if your income is at or below the 250% level, the actuarial value of your silver plan will be increased so that it will be like you are enrolled in a plan with a higher actuarial value.</p> <p>Here is what you can expect to pay for out-of-pocket expenses through the <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&amp;id=3190">cost-sharing assistance</a>:</p> <p><img width="564" height="269" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u784/ACAchart.png" /></p> <h2>Using the Health Insurance Exchange</h2> <p>Whether you are for or against the new health care law, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the logistics of the health insurance exchange. You never know when you may need to purchase individual health insurance because of a gap in employment or other circumstance. Knowing the rules and regulations of the ACA will help you to get the best insurance for your money.</p> <p><em>Are you ready for the introduction of the ACA-mandated health insurance exchanges?</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/understanding-the-affordable-care-acts-health-insurance-exchange">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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-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/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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance ACA health insurance health insurance exchange obamacare Tue, 10 Sep 2013 14:06:36 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 981836 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways to Save Money on Braces http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-money-on-braces <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-save-money-on-braces" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/teeth-1834241-small.jpg" alt="braces" title="braces" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The average cost of standard orthodontic treatment is approximately $5,000. This could be a little less or more depending on where you live and the severity of the case. Whether it's for your child or yourself, this is no small investment. That's why it's important to make sure that you get quality care and understand ways to keep extra costs to a minimum. My mother has worked as an orthodontic assistant for over 30 years, and during that time, she's seen a lot of patients who had to pay more than necessary due to neglecting some simple preventive maintenance and care. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-examine-your-healthcare-plan-and-save">How to Examine Your Healthcare Plan and Save</a>)</p> <p>While there's no way to reduce the overall estimated cost without sacrificing quality, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you aren't paying more than you need to on braces for yourself or your child. Educating yourself as a patient or educating your child about how to properly care for your braces is only part of maintaining the cost-effectiveness of orthodontic treatment.</p> <h2>1. Go for Early Treatment</h2> <p>Even if you think your child may be too young for that first trip to the orthodontist, there may be issues that can be detected and prevented with early care. With a comprehensive plan and early diagnosis, an early visit could help prevent future issues that may be more difficult to treat. As soon as your child starts losing baby teeth, ask your dentist to recommend an orthodontist in the area.</p> <h2>2. Visit a Board Certified Orthodontist</h2> <p>It may be tempting to let a dentist put braces on you or your child because dentists who claim to be certified to do so will typically charge less than orthodontists. However, dentists are not fully trained to provide orthodontic treatment. Make sure you see a board-certified orthodontist. If you get braces put on by an unqualified professional, you may be paying a lot more in the end for more treatment. This also means potentially having to go through round two of braces, which is something most people would not look forward to.</p> <p>For those reasons, it's also important to see a reputable orthodontist. Ask friends, neighbors, and coworkers for recommendations, or go to an online review site, such as Angie's List or Yelp. Read as much as you can about what other people write about orthodontists in your area. It doesn't hurt to visit a few different offices for consultations. Most orthodontists <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-about-a-price-list-at-the-hospital-or-doctor-s-office">will offer free consultations</a>. It may come down to going with someone who has the best personality or a larger staff, which indicates that they are probably a trusted service provider due to having to serve a larger patient base. A well-staffed office also means you will have more flexibility in scheduling appointments.</p> <h2>3. Ask About Payment Plan Details</h2> <p>Once you've chosen an orthodontist you like, be sure to ask for the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-individual-dental-insurance-online-my-experience">details about their payment plans</a> and make sure you understand them. Many orthodontists will offer a no interest plan with a down payment. For instance, if you put down one-fourth of the overall cost, you may get 24 months without interest. Just like with any credit card, there will be larger payments along with interest without a down payment.</p> <p>If your orthodontist doesn't offer a payment plan, there are credit companies that offer financing specifically for orthodontics. <a href="https://secure.springstoneplan.com/">Springstone</a> is one of the major companies, but you can easily find one by searching the web. Also, ask your orthodontist to recommend a credit company that provides financing for braces. Most likely, they probably have a credit company that they work with already.</p> <h2>4. Encourage Brushing and Proper Care</h2> <p>Whether you or your child is the patient, poor brushing habits can lead to cavities and permanent markings. This will cost you more money for dental work and restorations in the end. Be sure to ask your orthodontist for tips on <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/healthy-gums-how-to-prevent-and-treat-gum-disease">how to properly brush your teeth</a> with the challenge of having braces. Also, only eat what is recommended to help prevent damage. This could end up costing a lot of extra money, and not just in labor costs.</p> <p>Some orthodontists will charge for loose or broken brackets and bands, which can be costly if the problem recurs. Don't pay more money in frequent trips to the orthodontist to get something fixed. Avoid eating things like popcorn, ice, and sticky and hard candy, and also avoid chewing on pens and pencils. Also make sure you read your contract carefully and understand all the policies about wearing rubber bands, brushing, keeping your appointment, etc.</p> <p>Keep in mind that broken appliances will cost you a lot more than regular treatment. Most orthodontic treatment will include the first retainer in the overall cost, but it can be $175 or more to replace one that was lost or damaged by misuse. Lost retainers are common. Kids tend to accidentally throw them away in the cafeteria at lunch because they put them in a napkin. Keep the case around to avoid losing a removable retainer.</p> <h2>5. Orthodontics Are Not Just Cosmetic</h2> <p>If you think you are spending a lot of money on a cosmetic treatment, keep in mind that orthodontic treatment is part of prevention for a number of medical concerns, such as jaw joint and muscle disorders (<a target="_blank" href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002207/">TMJ and TMD</a>). Even tooth decay can be caused by teeth that are too close together and do not allow for proper flossing. Another tip during your search for an orthodontist is to ask about ongoing care. Is it included in the overall cost? Do they use permanent retainers as well as removable ones to keep the teeth in place?</p> <p>These are important questions to ask before you sign anything. If there's no ongoing care, then you may end up paying more in the long run to go to another orthodontist for further treatment. Overall, make sure you know what you are getting into and that you are clear on the cost of treatment and what extra costs can be incurred throughout the treatment.</p> <p><em>How have you saved money on orthodontic care?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-watson">Ashley Watson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-money-on-braces">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/ouch-5-ways-to-make-paying-for-the-dentist-less-painful">Ouch! 5 Ways to Make Paying for the Dentist Less Painful</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/generic-drug-price-lists-for-six-major-pharmacies">Generic Drug Price Lists For Six Major Pharmacies - Updated</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paying-for-pregnancy-and-birth-without-health-insurance">Paying for Pregnancy and Birth Without Health Insurance</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/healthy-gums-how-to-prevent-and-treat-gum-disease">Healthy Gums: How to Prevent and Treat Gum Disease</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty braces dentist health insurance orthodontics teeth Thu, 23 May 2013 10:24:31 +0000 Ashley Watson 955449 at http://www.wisebread.com