HSA http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/9367/all en-US 4 Ways Couples Are Shortchanging Their Retirement Savings http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_retired_happy_62784562.jpg" alt="Retired couple shortchanging their retirement savings" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whether retirement is decades away or if it is knocking on your door, there are some key mistakes that couples sometimes make when planning for their retirement. It's not too late to fix them, and addressing these problems now can potentially stave off issues in the future.</p> <p>Are you and your spouse making these retirement mistakes?</p> <h2>Relying on One's Spouse's Retirement</h2> <p>One common mistake that couples make is that they only rely on <em>one </em>spouse's income and retirement savings. While you might be able to live comfortably off one spouse's income now, when you are healthy, you have to calculate just how much you and your spouse will both need in retirement. Hopefully you will both be healthy well into your last years, but plan for the &quot;what ifs.&quot; Have both partners contribute to separate retirement accounts, if you both are working. If one spouse is self-employed or a freelancer, there are still retirement options for them.</p> <p>Even if one spouse does not work, they can still contribute to an IRA account. Carol Berger, CFP&reg;, of Berger Wealth Management, says that spousal IRA accounts are available for married couples who file taxes jointly. Berger says, &quot;This allows a contribution to be made for the nonworking spouse and helps his or her retirement nest egg grow. For example, in 2016, a nonworking spouse can contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA in their name ($6,500 if age 50 or older).&quot;</p> <h2>Putting Your Kids First</h2> <p>There is no doubt that you love your children and that it is easy to put their needs above retirement needs. However, don't delay on saving for retirement for your kids' sake. Saving for retirement should always trump saving for college education. Furthermore, retirement savings should not be dipped into to pay for college.</p> <p>The simple reason is that your children will have access to scholarships, loans, and work to help support them through college. Even if they graduate with a heavy load of debt, they have a long time to pay it off. There are no scholarships for retirement, and I am guessing the last thing you want to do is return to work.</p> <p>&quot;Time does not favor waiting because you lose the benefits of compounding,&quot; says Good Life Wealth Management president, Scott Stratton, CFP&reg;, CFA. &quot;If you put $5,000 into an IRA and earn 8% for 25 years, you'd have $34,242. Invest the same $5,000 10 years before retirement, and you'd only have $10,794. Or to put it another way, if you waited until 10 years before retirement, you'd have to invest $15,860 &mdash; instead of $5,000 &mdash; to reach $34,242.&quot;</p> <h2>Avoiding the Issue</h2> <p>Money is not always the easiest thing to talk about, however, if you avoid the issue, then you will only cause the problem to grow. Sit down with your spouse and talk about your present financial situation. Talk about where you want to be financially in the next year, in five years, and in retirement.</p> <p>If you both agree that you want to spend your retirement traveling and not tied to credit card debt or a mortgage payment, then you need to put in place the right money habits now.</p> <p>You should develop realistic action steps that will help you reach your financial goals a year from now, five years from now, and most importantly, in retirement. That means you might have to tighten your budget and pay more toward debt. Having clear financial goals will also help you stand firm as a couple when it is tempting to refinance the house to redo the backyard. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-retirement-planning-steps-late-starters-must-make?ref=seealso">7 Retirement Planning Steps Late Starters Must Make</a>)</p> <h2>Not Planning for Medical Costs</h2> <p>As discussed briefly above, many couples forget to financially plan for medical costs. It is easy to think, &quot;We won't need that much money in retirement because we won't buy anything or have to care for kids.&quot; However, medical expenses can add up quickly, especially in the last years of life. The cost of caretakers, regular doctor's visits, special medications, and even residency at a hospice can drain retirement savings in a matter of a few years.</p> <p>The worst thing is that many adult children are stuck with the financial burden of their parents' medical costs. Nearly one in 10 people over 40 are considered in the &quot;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-the-sandwich-generation-can-get-ahead">sandwich generation</a>.&quot; This means they are caring for their own children while also caring for aging parents. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reports that Medicare doesn't cover the most common types of long-term care and that a nursing home can cost as much as <a href="http://www.apnorc.org/news-media/Pages/News+Media/Poll-Sandwich-generation-worried-about-own-long-term-care-.aspx">$90,000 per year</a>. If retirement funds don't cover the necessary care for aging parents, their children will either have to foot the bill or try to take care of their parents themselves.</p> <p>Jody Dietel, Chief Compliance Officer at WageWorks says that there is a retirement tool that is often overlooked. A <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money">health savings account</a> (HSA) can help cover medical costs. Dietel says, &quot;It's important to understand that there's a place for both a 401K and an HSA. Establishing an HSA gives you the ability to amass savings to be used exclusively for health care expenses and preventing the need to dip into 401K funds for medical-related costs in retirement.&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-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/dont-despair-over-small-retirement-savings">Don&#039;t Despair Over Small Retirement Savings</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-important-things-to-know-about-your-401k-and-ira-in-2016">5 Important Things to Know About Your 401K and IRA in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-signs-you-arent-saving-enough-for-retirement">10 Signs You Aren&#039;t Saving Enough for Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-retirement-terms-every-new-investor-needs-to-know">15 Retirement Terms Every New Investor Needs to Know</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> Retirement 401k couples expenses health care health savings accounts HSA income IRA marriages medical costs Mon, 14 Nov 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1830892 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Surprising Things Your HSA Will Cover http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_sunglasses_happy_91229393.jpg" alt="Woman finding surprising things her HSA covers" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money">Health Savings Accounts</a> (HSAs) are medical bank accounts that are paired with low premium, high deductible health insurance policies. The high deductible/low premium insurance policy is counterbalanced by the ability for the individual to save income that is not subject to federal or state taxes. The money in the HSA can then be spent on IRS approved medical expenses.</p> <p>If you have an HSA and you have only used it to pay doctor's bills, you might be missing out on some real tax savings. Why spend taxed money on IRS approved medical expenses, when you can utilize pretax dollars? Check out 11 items you can purchase with your HSA.</p> <h2>1. Allergy Medication</h2> <p>If you have allergies (either food or environmental) that you need medication for, you can purchase prescription medication with your HSA. Over the counter medication cannot be purchased with your HSA, unless prescribed by a doctor.</p> <h2>2. Arch Supports</h2> <p>Purchasing arch supports are sometimes necessary for a pain-free life, and they can cost anywhere from $5 to $150. Custom or mass produced arch supports can be an HSA-approved medical expense if you receive a prescription from your doctor.</p> <h2>3. Bandages and Band-Aids</h2> <p>Over the counter bandages and Band-Aids can be purchased with your HSA.</p> <h2>4. Birth Control</h2> <p>Both over-the-counter and prescription birth control are HSA-approved medical expenses. Here are just a few of the items you can purchase with your health savings account: IUD, Norplant, condoms, spermicide, and pregnancy test kits.</p> <h2>5. Braille Books or Magazines</h2> <p>If you are vision-impaired, you can utilize your HSA to reimburse yourself part of the money from purchasing Braille books or magazines. In order to calculate how much you can reimburse yourself, you should utilize this formula: cost of Braille book less cost of the traditional book equals HSA approved reimbursement.</p> <h2>6. Contact Lens Solution</h2> <p>If you wear contact lenses, you can purchase the solution necessary to clean the lenses with your health savings account.</p> <h2>7. Guide Animals</h2> <p>The costs of purchasing, training, and caring for guide animals are an IRS-approved HSA expense. You will need to register your service animal in your state in order to utilize this HSA-approved expense. (If you try to say that a non-qualified animal you own is a service animal, the likelihood of being fined will be high.)</p> <h2>8. Lead Paint Removal</h2> <p>If you live in a home with lead paint, and your child has or has had lead paint poisoning, you can pay for the paint to be removed with your HSA.</p> <h2>9. Mouth Guards</h2> <p>Mouth guards that have been prescribed by a dentist due to teeth grinding can be paid for with your health savings account.</p> <h2>10. Prescription Sunglasses</h2> <p>Prescription sunglasses can be an expensive necessity for the vision-challenged. If you either cannot or will not switch to contact lenses, you're stuck with purchasing prescription sunglasses or going without. You can, if you want, pay for the prescription sunglasses with your HSA. If you want to save money on the second pair, you might consider asking for the prescription and shopping around at various chain eyeglass stores.</p> <h2>11. Prescription Goggles</h2> <p>If you spend a lot of time swimming or diving, you need to ditch your glasses for long periods of time. This can make your adventure (or job) harder and less enjoyable. Like sunglasses, goggles can be purchased with your HSA. (You might need to check online to determine if anyone in your areas sells prescription goggles).</p> <p>A Health Savings Account can be a great way for the relatively healthy individuals to save money on medical expenses. Just remember that as you make purchases with your HSA to file copies of your prescriptions and receipts with your tax returns. You'll need them if the IRS decides to audit you. If you can't prove the expenses were HSA approved expenses, you might end up paying a fine (even if you followed the rules).</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/samantha-stauf">Samantha Stauf</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-surprising-things-your-hsa-will-cover">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-without-health-insurance-in-2015-heres-what-itll-cost-you">Going Without Health Insurance in 2015? Here&#039;s What It&#039;ll Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/the-types-of-health-insurance-plans">The Types of Health Insurance Plans</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/wait-are-you-about-to-lose-more-money-in-your-fsahsa">Wait! Are You About to Lose More Money in Your FSA/HSA?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-spend-your-last-minute-health-care-fsa-funds">8 Ways to Spend Your Last-Minute Health Care FSA Funds</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance 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 How an HSA Saves You Money http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/doctor_money_calculator_000041327204.jpg" alt="Learning ways an HSA can save you money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Health insurance is expensive and confusing. There are many different types of plans to choose from, each with different monthly premium costs, co-pays, deductibles, and more. To a great degree, though, the choice comes down to a high-premium/low-deductible policy or a <em>lower</em>-premium/high-deductible policy.</p> <p>Especially for those who don't tend to use a lot of medical care, high-deductible health plans (HDHP) are increasingly popular. Not only are the premiums relatively low, but the policies usually require little or no out-of-pocket costs for preventative services, and qualifying plans can be paired with a uniquely tax-advantaged health savings account (HSA).</p> <p>Let's take a closer look at that last benefit: health savings accounts.</p> <h2>HSA Rules of the Road</h2> <p>Only certain health insurance policies enable policyholders to open a health savings account. In 2016, individual plans must have an annual deductible of at least $1,300; family plans must have a deductible of at least $2,600. Holders of such individual policies may use an HSA to set aside a tax-deductible $3,350; family plan holders may save $6,750. Those age 55 or older can add another $1,000.</p> <p>Of course, opting for an even higher deductible than those minimum thresholds will lead to lower premiums. The money you save on insurance can be used to fund a health savings account.</p> <h3>What Expenses Can Be Paid With HSA Money?</h3> <p>HSA dollars may be used to cover deductibles, co-pays, prescription drugs, eye care, dental care (including braces), chiropractic treatments, counseling, and more.</p> <p>HSA money can even be used to pay your health insurance premiums if you are unemployed, including continuation coverage (COBRA) through a former employer, and a portion of the premiums for long-term care insurance.</p> <p>For a complete list qualified medical expenses, read <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf">IRS Publication 502</a>.</p> <h3>Where Can You Open an HSA?</h3> <p>A number of banks, credit unions, health insurance companies, and even some investment brokers and individual mutual funds offer health savings accounts. Your employer may have a relationship with an HSA provider, but you are not obligated to use that one.</p> <p>Look for an HSA &quot;custodian&quot; that charges minimal or no fees, has a low minimum balance requirement, provides a debit card to make it easy to tap your HSA funds, and pays a generous interest rate. Depending on your balance, you should be able to find a provider paying <em>at least 1%</em>. Some also allow you to <em>invest</em> your HSA money.</p> <p>You can shop for a provider via <a href="http://www.hsarates.com/">HSARates.com</a> and <a href="https://www.hsasearch.com/">HSA Search</a>.</p> <p>Typically, you'll find the best rates at online and out-of-state financial institutions, including credit unions &mdash; many of which make it easy to become a member via a small charitable donation.</p> <h2>Extra Advantages of an HSA</h2> <p>One significant benefit of a health savings account is that unused balances can be carried over from year to year. This differs from flexible spending accounts (FSAs). While the IRS now allows FSA holders to use up unspent funds a couple of months into a new year and even continue to carry $500 forward, HSA rules are much more lenient.</p> <p>Any HSA money left unused at the end of one year can be carried into the next. If you still have a balance after turning 65 and want to use the money for non-medical expenses, your HSA will work just like a traditional IRA. The money you contributed was tax-deductible, earnings grew on a tax-deferred basis, and now the withdrawals are taxable. On the other hand, if you continue to use your HSA funds for qualified medical expenses, the account will become something of a <em>super IRA</em>. The money went in on a tax-deductible basis, grew on a tax-free basis, and now the withdrawals are tax-free as well. It doesn't get any better than that!</p> <h2>Are You a Good Candidate for a Health Savings Account?</h2> <p>In a perfect world, you would be able to predict your family's future medical needs and choose the most cost-effective health insurance plan accordingly. Absent that, the best you can do is to use history as your guide. Does your family tend to spend a lot on health care, or a little?</p> <p>If have a track record of fairly light medical expenses, a high-deductible health plan paired with a health savings account may be right for you. An HDHP policy will keep your premiums relatively low. An HSA will enable you to build tax-advantaged savings for out-of-pocket medical expenses &mdash; whether you incur those costs this year or many years down the road.</p> <p><em>Are you taking advantage of an HSA?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/matt-bell">Matt Bell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-an-hsa-saves-you-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/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/4-ways-couples-are-shortchanging-their-retirement-savings">4 Ways Couples Are Shortchanging Their Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-simple-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-medical-records-theft">7 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself From Medical Records Theft</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-places-to-check-out-medical-care-for-the-uninsured">5 Places to Check out Medical Care for the Uninsured</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance health care health savings account high deductibles HSA medical bills Mon, 28 Mar 2016 09:30:25 +0000 Matt Bell 1678005 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Things Every Frugal Person Should Have In Their Wallet http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-things-every-frugal-person-should-have-in-their-wallet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-things-every-frugal-person-should-have-in-their-wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shopping_purse_000078780735.jpg" alt="Woman learning things every frugal person should have in their wallet" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I use my wallet not only for spending money, but for <em>saving </em>money as well. Having the right resources in your wallet makes it much more likely that you'll take advantage of money-saving opportunities that come along every day.</p> <p>What should you have in your wallet to help you be a savvy saver?</p> <h2>1. Cash</h2> <p>Carrying cash has several advantages. If you keep a supply of cash on hand, you'll never pay ATM fees. Also, cash is psychologically more painful to spend than using credit cards, so you're likely to be more frugal when having to part with paper.</p> <p>I get even more benefit from carrying cash by using a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">money envelope system</a> to control spending. In my household, we pay for all food expenses using cash from our envelope, so if I have cash in my wallet, I know I can buy food and still be within budget.</p> <h2>2. Coupons</h2> <p>You can save a lot of money with coupons, but you need to have them with you when you are buying something. I put the best coupons for my favorite stores in my wallet. That way, I am always prepared to take advantage of savings.</p> <h2>3. Store Loyalty Cards</h2> <p>Some grocery stores offer cash discounts and points toward free items if you swipe your loyalty card at checkout. On a recent shopping trip, I was able to get a couple bags of food items for free by cashing in my points. The people in line behind me were amazed!</p> <h2>4. Credit Cards With Rewards and Discounts</h2> <p>If you pay off your credit card balance every month, you might as well take advantage of the rewards. I get <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-store-credit-card-target-redcard">5% off every purchase</a> at some of my favorite stores. I use the rewards points I get from other purchases to score free items on Amazon. The credit card companies are betting that you will carry a balance and end up generating profit for them. Pay off your balance every month, and you'll get the rewards for free. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards?ref=seealso">Best Cash Back Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>Another reason to carry at least one credit card is to handle emergency situations. If your vehicle breaks down, you may need to pay for towing and repairs at the shop. If you have a medical emergency, you may need to pay at the time of treatment.</p> <h2>5. Health Savings Account Card</h2> <p>I signed up for a program that allows me to contribute on a pre-tax basis to a health savings account (HSA). With the health savings credit card I carry in my wallet, I can use pre-tax dollars to pay for prescription medicine and cover the co-pay for medical services. I save about 35% every time I use my HSA card since I am using money that was not subject to taxes.</p> <p>Your employer may offer an HSA program, but if not, you can start your own account at your bank or credit union and take advantage of big savings on healthcare expenses.</p> <h2>6. Consignment Store Account Numbers</h2> <p>I carry my consignment store account numbers in my wallet to make it as easy as possible to drop things off. You'll also need your account number to pick up your money after your items sell.</p> <h2>7. Insurance Cards</h2> <p>I carry cards in my wallet for medical insurance, prescription medicine insurance, and auto insurance. Make it as easy as possible to quickly access your coverage information.</p> <p><em>What do you carry in your wallet to help you save money?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dr-penny-pincher">Dr Penny Pincher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-things-every-frugal-person-should-have-in-their-wallet">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/6-old-school-tools-to-help-you-stay-on-budget">6 Old School Tools to Help You Stay on Budget</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/everything-you-need-to-know-about-switching-to-the-cash-only-lifestyle">Everything You Need to Know About Switching to the Cash Only Lifestyle</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-simple-holiday-budget-anyone-can-follow">The Simple Holiday Budget Anyone Can Follow</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/these-5-apps-will-help-you-finally-organize-your-money">These 5 Apps Will Help You Finally Organize Your Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-simple-journal-may-be-the-fix-for-your-finances">This Simple Journal May be the Fix for Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Organization carrying a wallet cash coupons Envelope system HSA insurance Mon, 11 Jan 2016 10:00:03 +0000 Dr Penny Pincher 1634857 at http://www.wisebread.com Follow These 5 Steps to Full Health Care Coverage in Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/follow-these-5-steps-to-full-health-care-coverage-in-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/follow-these-5-steps-to-full-health-care-coverage-in-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/money_medicine_000044118320.jpg" alt="How to avoid healthcare shortage in retirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you sure you'll be able to afford healthcare in retirement? Positive?</p> <p>Consider this: A recent report analyzing the rising <a href="http://www.hvsfinancial.com/PublicFiles/Data_Release.pdf">out-of-pocket Medicare costs</a> estimated that people retiring 10 years from now will spend $9 of every $10 they receive from Social Security on health care, in the form of copays, supplemental insurance premiums, prescription drugs, and things not covered by Medicare such as visits to the dentist.</p> <p>This means that the cost of medical care is something everyone should factor into their <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-surprising-things-women-should-know-about-retirement-planning">retirement saving plan</a>. But this is no ordinary expense &mdash; there are specific strategies for saving for health care that can put you in a much better position in your golden years.</p> <h2>1. Maximize Your Social Security Benefits</h2> <p>&quot;The number one thing people should do &mdash; most people aren't aware of this &mdash; is optimize Social Security,&quot; says Ron Mastrogiovanni, founder of HealthView Services, which issued the alarming report.</p> <p>The main way to maximize benefits is to wait as long as possible to start receiving Social Security. A couple retiring 10 years from now at age 65 will receive $142,000 less in lifetime benefits than they would if they worked until age 67, he said.</p> <p>&quot;If you're capable of working, why would you throw away $142,000?&quot; Mastrogiovanni says.</p> <h2>2. Start a Roth IRA</h2> <p>&quot;Under Medicare, they have something called means testing; the more you earn, the more you pay,&quot; Mastrogiovanni says. &quot;Here's the kicker: Those income brackets are not indexed to inflation.&quot; That means that if the government doesn't adjust the income at which retirees are considered affluent, many middle earners of today will end up paying more once they retire.</p> <p>But not all retirement income is counted in this calculation. Money drawn from a traditional 401(k) counts, but money drawn from a Roth IRA or a Roth 401(k) doesn't. So if your regular 401(k) is building up towards a high income in retirement, you might want to divert some of your contributions to a Roth, or convert the account to a Roth, to keep your income below the level where you'll be considered an affluent retiree.</p> <h2>3. Consider a Health Savings Account</h2> <p>Health savings accounts are not generally considered a retirement savings vehicle &mdash; they are meant to help people pay high medical care deductibles with certain insurance plans. But Medicare expert Katy Votava advocates saving excess contributions to HSAs for retirement health care needs.</p> <p>&quot;You can put in significant money and it grows tax free. Most people don't need to spend their full health savings account every year to meet their full health insurance needs,&quot; Votava says.</p> <h2>4. Consider Long-Term Care Insurance</h2> <p>The high out-of-pocket costs outlined in the HealthView report do not include the cost of nursing homes or other long-term care, but those are obviously a major concern when looking at lifetime health care costs. Some advisors recommend purchasing insurance that would protect your savings if you go to a nursing home, while others warn against it. This Wall Street Journal report explores both sides of the <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303425504577352031401783756">long-term care insurance issue</a>.</p> <h2>5. Purchase the Right Supplemental Plan</h2> <p>Your parents or grandparents may not have had to pay anything out of pocket once they qualified for Medicare, but people retiring now and in the future need <a href="http://www.medicare.gov/supplement-other-insurance/medigap/whats-medigap.html">supplemental insurance</a> to cover the copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles that Medicare doesn't cover. You'll also have to pay for a <a href="http://www.medicare.gov/supplement-other-insurance/medigap/medigap-and-part-d/medigap-plans-and-part-d.html">prescription drug plan</a>. Choosing the right plan can be so complicated that many people turn to consultants like Votava to help them figure out which to pick. Before signing up for a plan, make sure it covers your doctors and your medications, because not all plans cover everything, Votava warns.</p> <p><em>What are you doing to ensure sufficient health care coverage in retirement?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/follow-these-5-steps-to-full-health-care-coverage-in-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-states-with-the-lowest-taxes-for-retirees">7 States With the Lowest Taxes for Retirees</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/12-things-you-didnt-know-about-retirement">12 Things You Didn&#039;t Know About Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-about-a-price-list-at-the-hospital-or-doctor-s-office">How About a Price List at the Hospital or Doctor’s Office?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-enjoy-retirement-if-you-havent-saved-enough">How to Enjoy Retirement If You Haven&#039;t Saved 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/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Insurance Retirement 401(k) healthcare HSA medical social security Thu, 14 May 2015 15:00:09 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1416618 at http://www.wisebread.com Start 2012 Off Right With 5 Tax-Wise To-Dos http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tax_wise_to_dos.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="157" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As the new year is about to begin, make it your <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/18-year-end-financial-must-dos">resolution to start the year off right</a> from a tax perspective. This includes doing the following:</p> <p><b>1. Read Your Odometer.</b></p> <p>If you use your personal car, truck, or van for business, be sure to jot down your odometer reading on January 1. This will help you track your business mileage throughout the year, so you can claim a deduction for this driving. You&rsquo;ll also need to keep a record of all your business driving; without this record, your deduction may be disallowed.</p> <p><b>2. Decide Whether to Become an S Corporation.</b></p> <p>If your business is already incorporated, you generally have until March 15, 2012, to elect to be taxed as an S corporation. This means the owners, rather than the corporation, pay tax on the business&rsquo; profits. Electing by this date lets you be treated as an S corporation for the entire year. The election is made by filing <a target="_blank" href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2553.pdf">IRS Form 2553</a>.</p> <p>If you incorporate a business in 2012, you have two months and 15 days from the start of the corporation to make the election. For example, if you incorporate on January 7, 2012, you have until March 21, 2012, to file the election form with the IRS.</p> <p>Talk with your tax advisor about whether an S election makes sense for your company.</p> <p><b>3. Determine Contributions to Your FSA.</b></p> <p>If your company has a flexible spending arrangement (FSA), you usually have to decide how much to contribute for the new year before the year begins. For 2012, it is up to the company to set limits on how much an employee can contribute from salary to the FSA. (Starting in 2013, the tax law sets the limit at $2,500 per year.)</p> <p>If your company does not yet have an FSA, discuss with your tax advisor the feasibility of adding one now. Even if you start mid-year, you and your staff can benefit from it.</p> <p><b>4. Decide on contributions to your 401(k).</b></p> <p>If your company has a 401(k) plan, just like the FSA, you usually have to decide how much to contribute for the new year before the new year begins. The elective deferral limit for contributions from an employee&rsquo;s salary is higher in 2012 than it was in 2011 ($17,000 in 2012 versus $16,500 in 2011). Those who are at least 50 years old by the end of 2012 can add another $5,500 to the account. Contributions, however, cannot exceed wages.</p> <p>If your company does not have such a plan, you might want to start one. You can use a 401(k) plan even if you are the only one who works for the business. A solo 401(k) can enable you to maximize your annual retirement plan contributions for yourself because you can use the maximum employer contribution permitted in addition to the employee elective deferrals. These contributions are allowed whether you are an employee of your corporation or you are a self-employed person.</p> <p><b>5. Decide Whether to Use an HSA for 2012.</b></p> <p>If you do not yet have health insurance in place for your company, you might want to use a high-deductible health plan combined with a savings account called a Health Savings Account (HSA). This can be an affordable way to provide health coverage.</p> <p>You can decide whether you, your employees, or a combination will pay the health insurance premiums and/or make the HSA contributions. If you pay the premiums, you may even qualify for the smaller employer health insurance credit of up to 35 percent of these premiums!</p> <p><b>Bottom Line</b></p> <p>Hopefully 2012 will be a very good year from a revenue perspective. This is all the more reason to get your tax ducks in a row so you can minimize the portion of your profits that you&rsquo;ll have to share with Uncle Sam.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/barbara-weltman">Barbara Weltman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/start-2012-off-right-with-5-tax-wise-to-dos">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/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</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/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-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-states-with-the-lowest-taxes-for-retirees">7 States With the Lowest Taxes for Retirees</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/got-a-new-job-heres-your-financial-to-do-list">Got a New Job? Here&#039;s Your Financial To-Do List</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center 401(k) FSA HSA small business tax deductions taxes year end taxes Mon, 26 Dec 2011 22:04:44 +0000 Barbara Weltman 835743 at http://www.wisebread.com What You Need to Know About Your FSA http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-fsa <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-fsa" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/497584_90680332.jpg" alt="pills" title="pills" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most readers of this blog understand the basics of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and why they are an important employee benefit. If you are employed and obtain your health insurance from your employer like 62% of Americans in the work force, then you probably use an <a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/flexible-spending-accounts">FSA</a> as part of your own benefits plan. As with many provisions in healthcare, though, you may not be up-to-date on all of the finer points of an FSA. Even if you are, it never hurts to brush up on the basics.</p> <h3>FSAs Cover More Than Just Medical Expenses</h3> <p>Federal law, not your employer's HR department or benefits administrator, dictates how an FSA may be used. While most consumers associate FSAs with covering coverage premiums and medical copays and deductibles, it is useful to know that FSAs go much further than that.</p> <p>An FSA can be used to cover a variety of expenses outside of the doctor's office. Many employer-based health plans, for example do not offer dental or vision coverage. With an FSA, an employee can use his or her pre-tax income to pay for dental or vision coverage and services that may not be provided, especially by smaller employers.</p> <p>Many are surprised to find that their FSA will not only cover services provided in the setting of a medical, dental, or vision professional office, but they also cover things that can positively affect your well-being but are not exactly medical services. A few include:</p> <ul> <li>Birth control pills and other contraceptive devices</li> <li>Over-the-counter drugs and medications, although the health reform bill will limit the FSA coverage of many of these items</li> <li>Membership in a gym (if specified by a physician)</li> <li>Massage therapy (also if specified by a physician)</li> <li>Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above</li> <li>Hand sanitizer</li> </ul> <p>Under the vein of dependent care expenses, also covered by an FSA, one can pay for a variety of services for his or her dependents, such as day camp for a child under the age of 13. You can even use a flexible spending account to remove lead paint from your home if the afflicted areas are in the reach of children, in addition to other home improvements that will have a demonstrable health benefit for your family.</p> <h3>Strategies for Saving Money with FSAs</h3> <p>Ultimately, it all comes back to saving money. Saving money on healthcare expenses is the main attraction for consumers to save with an FSA and approximately 90% of all employers who provided health insurance in 2008 offered a FSA option for their employees. Money saved through FSAs is done so pre-tax, creating a major tax benefit for those who consume medical services or require dependent care.</p> <p>The broad application of FSAs create an opportunity for nearly anyone to save pre-tax money on healthcare, since an employee can save in an FSA no matter what kind of healthcare plan they elect to receive. A health savings account (HSA), on the other hand, is restricted to be used only with high deductible health plans. Many consumers interchange HSA and FSA terminology, but in reality they are quite different and the proliferation of HSA use is a fraction of what FSAs have become.</p> <p>To get the most from your FSA, it is a no-brainer to maximize your benefits by paying for your premiums and deductibles with FSA-approved funds. Nowadays, we see many employers automatically applying FSA dollars to cover insurance premiums, leaving the employee with relatively simple decisions, such as how much of the deductible or other care expenses to set aside in the FSA.</p> <p>While most people are aware of the FSA's &quot;use-it-or-use-it&quot; characteristic, it always bears repeating. Unlike a HSA, FSA's must be used by the end of each plan year. Forecast carefully to make sure you get the maximum FSA benefit but don't overshoot the target.</p> <h3>FSAs Changed Under Health Reform</h3> <p>Nearly every aspect of healthcare was impacted by the recent Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and FSAs are no exception. With the passage of the PPACA, FSAs are now fitted with a contribution cap. Prior to this law, there was no cap on contributions from an employee. Starting January 1, 2011, FSA contributions from employees will be limited to $2,500 a year. While statistics show that very few participants ever saved that kind of money in an FSA, the cap may be relevant to families or others who are heavier consumers of healthcare services.</p> <p>Also important to note is that after January 1, 2011, most over-the-counter medicines will no longer be covered by FSAs. Why would they be targeted by health reform? The expected additional tax revenue from not being able to run these things through a pre-tax account will help pay for the bill.</p> <h3>Always Changing</h3> <p>In short, while the concept of FSAs remains relatively stable from year-to-year, the finer point of what is covered and how much you can save is continually changing. Do your homework a couple times a year and stay current on how to get the most out of this vehicle.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Heather Johnson, Director with <a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/" title="HealthHarbor.com">HealthHarbor.com</a>. Find more tips on HealthHarbor:</p> <ul type="disc"> <li><a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/saving-at-the-doctors-office" title="Saving Money at the Doctor's Office">Saving Money at the Doctor's Office</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/health-insurance-101/bad-health-plans" title="Dealing With a Bad Health Insurance Company">Dealing With a Bad Health Insurance Company</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.healthharbor.com/tools" title="Interactive Tool for Finding Discounted Generic Drugs">Interactive Tool for Finding Discounted Generic Drugs </a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heather-johnson">Heather Johnson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-fsa">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/wait-are-you-about-to-lose-more-money-in-your-fsahsa">Wait! Are You About to Lose More Money in Your FSA/HSA?</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/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-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-free-medical-supplies-with-flex-spending">Medical Supplies You Can Still Score With Flex Spending</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/50-ways-to-squeeze-value-from-your-healthcare-dollar-without-killing-yourself">50 Ways To Squeeze Value From Your Healthcare Dollar Without Killing Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Insurance FSA healthcare healthcare reform HSA medical expenses Wed, 02 Jun 2010 13:00:03 +0000 Heather Johnson 110353 at http://www.wisebread.com 50 Ways To Squeeze Value From Your Healthcare Dollar Without Killing Yourself http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-squeeze-value-from-your-healthcare-dollar-without-killing-yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/50-ways-to-squeeze-value-from-your-healthcare-dollar-without-killing-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/stethoscope.jpg" alt="stethoscope" title="stethoscope" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="250" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Healthcare will most likely be my family&#39;s largest expense in a couple of years, when we&#39;ve finished paying our home mortgage. We&#39;re not heavy users of the healthcare system: to take care of my own needs, for example, I have seen my family physician for a non-routine visit just 3 times in the last 15 years. Just one family member takes a prescription medicine on a regular basis. What have we done to incur such high costs? We&#39;re Americans who want to protect our family from a medically-induced financial disaster. We&#39;re not alone. </p> <p>According to Davis Liu, M.D. and author of &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0979351200/ref=nosim/?tag=wwwwisebreadc-20" title="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0979351200/ref=nosim/?tag=wwwwisebreadc-20">Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely: Making Intelligent Choices in America&#39;s Healthcare System</a>&quot; health insurance premiums grew 73% compared to wage increases of 15% from 2000 to 2005. Dr. Liu doesn&#39;t have a well-crafted plan to solve the national healthcare crisis but he does offer practical ideas for getting the most out of your healthcare dollar. Here are 50-plus ways to save money without compromising your well-being, drawn mostly from Dr. Liu&#39;s book but supplemented by my experience, research, and wisdom of the Wise Bread community.  </p> <ol> <li>Skip the annual physical but get <a href="http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/USpstfix.htm#Recommendations" title="http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/USpstfix.htm#Recommendations">specific screening tests recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)</a>.</li> <li>Save on prescription medications if you meet certain eligibility guidelines found at <a href="http://www.togetherrxaccess.com/Tx/jsp/about.jsp" title="http://www.togetherrxaccess.com/Tx/jsp/about.jsp">Together Rx Access</a>.</li> <li>Review all medical bills and question anything that doesn&#39;t seem right, especially services that should be covered under your insurance plan; talk to your insurance agent, employee benefits counselor, and/or insurance company representative to make sure that covered items are paid correctly.  </li> <li>Call your physician’s office to ask about a non-urgent problem (or to see if a symptom requires immediate treatment) rather than scheduling an appointment.</li> <li>Ask your pharmacist about medications including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and behind-the-counter remedies; you&#39;ll get free, valuable advice from a healthcare professional who has spent many years studying medicines. </li> <li>Compare your physician’s recommendations with clinical guidelines (e.g., <a href="http://www.aap.org/" title="http://www.aap.org/">pediatrics</a>, <a href="http://www.acog.org/" title="http://www.acog.org/">obstetrics/gynecology</a>, <a href="http://www.auanet.org/" title="http://www.auanet.org/">urology</a>); ask about anything that you don&#39;t understand or seems to be unusual care. </li> <li>Do self exams (see techniques for <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/self_exam/bse_steps.jsp" title="http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/self_exam/bse_steps.jsp">women</a> and <a href="http://www.acor.org/TCRC/tcexam.html" title="http://www.acor.org/TCRC/tcexam.html">men</a>).</li> <li>Get high-deductible healthcare insurance rather than forgoing insurance because the uninsured have higher death rates from <a href="http://www.kff.org/uninsured/upload/7451.pdf" title="http://www.kff.org/uninsured/upload/7451.pdf">chronic disease</a> and <a href="http://mitsloan.mit.edu/newsroom/2003-doyle.php" title="http://mitsloan.mit.edu/newsroom/2003-doyle.php">accidents</a>. </li> <li>Carry continuous coverage so that <a href="http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_hipaa.html" title="http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_hipaa.html">exclusions for preexisting conditions will be limited</a> according to federal law associated with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).</li> <li>If you may lose your job or already have lost your job, compare the cost of <a href="http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/cobraemployee.pdf" title="http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/cobraemployee.pdf">COBRA coverage</a> (extended to displaced employees but includes the employer’s <em>and</em> employee’s cost) to other options such as purchasing insurance on your own (either a comprehensive or high-deductible plan) or getting coverage on a spouse’s plan. </li> <li>Open a <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/index.html" title="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/index.html">HSA (Health Savings Account</a>) linked to a high-deductible insurance plan and take a tax deduction for your contributions, subject to limitations as stated in the federal tax law.   </li> <li>If your insurance company doesn’t cover USPSTF-recommended tests, question why it doesn’t cover expenses proven to prevent disease and start a letter-writing campaign asking for coverage; write your insurance company and your <a href="http://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm" title="http://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm">state’s insurance commissioner</a>. </li> <li>Take a<a href="http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502.html" title="http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502.html"> tax deduction for medical expenses</a> that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).</li> <li>Go to a provider (physician, physician extender, or hospital) that is in your insurance company’s network so that you can take advantage of discounted rates already negotiated by your insurance company. </li> <li>If the provider that you prefer is not in your insurance company’s network, ask the provider to join so that you can get discounted rates. </li> <li>Choose a high-performing healthcare plan by checking out plan ratings by the <a href="http://www.ncqa.org/" title="http://www.ncqa.org/">National Commission on Quality Assurance</a>.</li> <li>Select a physician who follows standards of care according to evidence-based medicine; find those who meet the NCQA criteria in its <a href="http://recognition.ncqa.org/" title="http://recognition.ncqa.org/">searchable physician directory</a>. </li> <li>Get free blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checks at health fairs. Take the results to your physician for discussion and further testing if needed. </li> <li>Wait at least 24 hours after the onset of a fever (with no other worrisome symptoms) before making a doctor’s appointment.</li> <li>Take free or nominal-fee health classes on topics such as childbirth preparation and diabetes prevention; beware that some of these classes are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. </li> <li>Find <a href="/love-your-skin-with-free-health-screenings" title="http://www.wisebread.com/love-your-skin-with-free-health-screenings">free skin cancer screenings</a> but don’t wait to find a free check if you think you may have a problem.</li> <li>If there is a competitive market for healthcare services (e.g., more than one maternity hospital in your town), <a href="http://www.stretcher.com/stories/980923c.cfm" title="http://www.stretcher.com/stories/980923c.cfm">negotiate prices</a>, preferably before you receive services.</li> <li>Check out the safety, effectiveness, and clinical soundness of home remedies, herbs, and supplements at <a href="http://peoplespharmacy.com/index.asp" title="http://peoplespharmacy.com/index.asp">The People’s Pharmacy</a> and <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/health/natural-health.htm" title="http://www.consumerreports.org/health/natural-health.htm">Consumer Reports-Health</a>.  </li> <li>Evaluate hospitals using <a href="http://www.leapfroggroup.org/home" title="http://www.leapfroggroup.org/home">The Leapfrog Group&#39;s ratings</a>.  </li> <li>Donate blood and receive free blood pressure, iron-level, and temperature checks. </li> <li>Establish a relationship with a primary care physician through an “establish visit.”</li> <li>Get better, more informed, and quicker medical advice by preparing a written summary of your medical history (should include surgeries, medical conditions, medications, allergies, family history, and social history).</li> <li>Communicate priorities during the initial part of the physician visit, rather than waiting until the very end of the visit to express your concerns about an important matter.</li> <li>Help your physician arrive at a diagnosis with a minimum of tests by discussing your symptoms in terms of <strong><em>when</em></strong> you first noticed the problem and <strong><em>when</em></strong> it occurs; <strong><em>what</em></strong> it feels like (sharp or dull, constant or intermittent) and <strong><em>what</em></strong> seems to make the problem better or worse; <strong><em>where</em></strong> in the body it occurs; and <strong><em>why</em></strong> you are concerned. </li> <li>Make sure you understand any diagnosis, additional testing requirements, treatment plan, and further assessments recommended by your physician before you leave the office.</li> <li>Before allowing medical treatment (giving informed consent), determine the benefits, risks or complications, and alternatives to treatment plans. </li> <li>Don&#39;t hesitate to get a second opinion not only on the diagnosis but also for the treatment plan, if you feel uncomfortable with your physician&#39;s plan and especially if you have a rare disease. </li> <li>If you are waiting on test results, “Never accept the phrase, ‘we’ll only contact you if the results are bad.’” Ask for a call back or, preferably, written documentation of your test results.</li> <li>Get immunizations to prevent certain diseases (see <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/default.htm" title="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/default.htm">Center for Disease Control’s recommendations</a>).</li> <li>Ask your primary care physician what type of specialist treats the problems you are concerned about to avoid paying for a visit to the wrong type of specialist.</li> <li>Make sure your physician is <a href="http://www.fsmb.org/directory_smb.html" title="http://www.fsmb.org/directory_smb.html">licensed</a> by checking with state boards. </li> <li>Don’t be overly influenced by ads for prescription medicine: ask about symptoms mentioned in commercials or ads rather than requesting specific medications; stick with your current regimen if it is working without complications. Heavily advertised medications are almost always more expensive than non-promoted ones. </li> <li>Consider generic drugs to replace name-brand drugs; for a list of generic drugs with their equivalents, check out the <a href="http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/default.htm" title="http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/default.htm">Electronic Orange Book</a>.  </li> <li>Compare drugs in the same class by price using <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/health/best-buy-drugs/index.htm" title="http://www.consumerreports.org/health/best-buy-drugs/index.htm">Consumer Reports-Health</a> website.</li> <li>Cut costs on prescriptions through patient assistance programs; learn more at <a href="http://www.rxassist.org/" title="http://www.rxassist.org/">Rx Assist</a> or <a href="https://www.pparx.org/Intro.php" title="https://www.pparx.org/Intro.php">Partnership for Prescription Assistance</a>. </li> <li>Ask for free samples of medication from your physician. </li> <li>Tell your physician about cost concerns and see if there is a less expensive but just as effective alternative treatment. </li> <li>Read the <a href="http://www.fda.gov/CDER/drug/default.htm" title="http://www.fda.gov/CDER/drug/default.htm">labels and ingredient lists of over-the-counter medicines</a> to make sure that you are not overdosing on certain active ingredients. </li> <li>To get more face time with your physician, schedule multiple visits rather than signing up for <a href="http://www.physiciansnews.com/business/204.kalogredis.html" title="http://www.physiciansnews.com/business/204.kalogredis.html">concierge care</a> (flat fee for dedicated service).</li> <li>Say &quot;no&quot; to <a href="http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/ct/" title="http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/ct/">body scans</a> that are more likely to lead to unnecessary testing and cause harm via radiation rather than detect deadly disease. </li> <li>Take part in group visits with your physician or support groups for those with similar diseases.</li> <li>Exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and don’t smoke.</li> <li>Research medical issues using reliable sources such as the <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/" title="http://www.mayoclinic.com/">Mayo Clinic</a>. </li> <li>Sign up for discount programs with non-insurance companies such as <a href="http://www.merck.com/merckhelps/uninsured/about.html" title="http://www.merck.com/merckhelps/uninsured/about.html">Merck’s Prescription Discount Program</a> (available to those who do not have prescription coverage) and <a href="http://www.pfizerhelpfulanswers.com/pages/Find/findall.aspx" title="http://www.pfizerhelpfulanswers.com/pages/Find/findall.aspx">Pfizer&#39;s program</a>.</li> <li>Visit a dental clinic associated with a dental or dental hygiene training program to save on fees (see health reasons for <a href="http://www.perio.org/consumer/exams.htm" title="http://www.perio.org/consumer/exams.htm">proper dental care</a>).</li> <li>Tap into hospital <a href="/how-to-erase-your-medical-debt" title="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-erase-your-medical-debt">programs that offer aid for low-income, low-resource patients</a>.</li> <li>Take a <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/rx-stressed-workers-take-two/story.aspx?guid=%7B6C508B2E-D695-4AEC-8C0E-5DA10A802657%7D" title="http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/rx-stressed-workers-take-two/story.aspx?guid=%7B6C508B2E-D695-4AEC-8C0E-5DA10A802657%7D">vacation</a>.</li> <li>Leave the country to receive quality healthcare often at heavily discounted prices (see <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2007/09/medtravel.html" title="http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2007/09/medtravel.html">Adventures in Medical Travel</a> article from Kiplinger and read about <a href="http://healthcarehacks.com/" title="http://healthcarehacks.com/ ">Amy&#39;s journey to wellness in India</a>).</li> </ol> <p>If you&#39;ve saved money on healthcare <em><strong>and</strong></em> improved your health, tell me about it. </p> <p><em>Note: I received a copy of</em> Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely <em>in exchange for a book review. Disclaimer: This book and my post are intended to provide readers with a general understanding of healthcare issues rather than provide personalized medical, financial, or legal advice. Please consult your physician, CPA, attorney or other advisors for help with specific situations.</em> </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-squeeze-value-from-your-healthcare-dollar-without-killing-yourself">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/stay-healthy-live-longer-spend-wisely-making-intelligent-choices-in-americas-healthcare-system">Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely: Making Intelligent Choices in America&#039;s Healthcare System</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-about-a-price-list-at-the-hospital-or-doctor-s-office">How About a Price List at the Hospital or Doctor’s Office?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-gasoline-so-cheap-a-cost-comparison-of-40-common-household-liquids">Why is Gasoline So Cheap? A Cost Comparison of 40 Common Household Liquids</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/medical-tourism-101-listen-live-for-big-savings">Medical Tourism 101: Listen Live for Big Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-big-dental-bills-with-safe-and-inexpensive-products">Avoid Big Dental Bills with Safe and Inexpensive Products</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living General Tips Health and Beauty Davis Liu healthcare high-deductible healthcare plans HSA Live Longer M.D. prescription savings Spend Wisely Stay Healthy Thu, 26 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000 Julie Rains 2197 at http://www.wisebread.com