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Life and Health

With the passage of the tax reform bill late last year, you can no longer undo Roth IRA conversions. [May 2018, 305 word article]

Health insurance protects you from financial ruin should you have a serious health issue and makes it more likely you’ll seek treatment when you’re ill. [May 2018, 589 word article]

Rule changes in 2017 caused a decline in annuity sales. Still, annuities remain popular with investors for a number of reasons. [May 2018, 678 word article]

There are many reasons why life insurance can make sense in retirement. [May 2018, 741 word article]

Life insurance companies need honest answers to questions about your health to determine appropriate premiums and coverage levels. Some applicants are tempted to leave out or misstate information they don’t see as important — or think will adversely affect their benefits. [February 2018, 179 word article]

Employer sponsored life insurance may not meet all your needs. [February 2018, 546 word article]

If you aren’t on course to save $1 million by the time you retire, you’ll have to get creative. The Motley Fool, a multimedia financial-services company, says that’s the amount of money a couple will need to live comfortably after they retire. [February 2018, 690 word article]

Reinstating the Health Insurance Act and repealing the individual mandate to purchase insurance could both contribute to a rise in premiums. [February 2018, 641 word article]

The day has come! You’re headed overseas for the trip of your lifetime. But what happens if you get sick on the trip? Really sick? [November 2017, 357 word article]

Most baby boomers have less than half the assets they expect to need in retirement. [November 2017, 600 word article]

If you missed open enrollment or have certain “life events” short-term insurance can keep you covered. [November 2017, 739 word article]

There are many options for helping a child secure his or her financial future. [November 2017, 771 word article]

When you take out a loan, you promise to repay it — no matter what. The problem is that life can throw you some serious curves, such as illness or the loss of a job, that can make it difficult or impossible to honor your agreement. [August 2017, 409 word article]

Life insurance is a wonderful gift to leave your beneficiaries. They can use the proceeds to meet their financial needs, such as paying for housing, or helping them to reach their goals, like going to college. [August 2017, 760 word article]

If you have already started saving for your retirement, congratulations! You’re on the right path. However, just saving money will not be enough to ensure a comfortable retirement if you don’t make the right decisions concerning your plan. [August 2017, 572 word article]

There is good news and bad news on the individual health care front. [August 2017, 788 word article]

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows you to deduct medical expenses on your tax return — potentially saving you a significant amount in taxes. To get these savings, you must keep detailed records. Therefore, it’s never too soon to start planning for the April 17, 2018, tax deadline. [June 2017, 286 word article]

When you purchase a life insurance policy, the amount you’ll pay in premiums is determined by factors you control. [June 2017, 795 word article]

There’s no indication that medical costs will be decreasing anytime soon. PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), the second largest professional service firm in the world, released a study indicating that medical costs could increase more than six percent this year, with larger increases coming in the future. [June 2017, 580 word article]

Many Americans dream of retiring early. If that’s your dream, too, you must do some homework and make preparations. [June 2017, 780 word article]

Experts agree that steps must be taken to make dental care coverage more accessible and affordable for older Americans. Fortunately, there are several solutions available. [May 2017, 305 word article]

Healthcare costs have skyrocketed and experts say the cost of prescription drugs is one of the culprits. Particularly troubling is the fact that some drug companies have increased prices of some medications for no obvious reason. [May 2017, 607 word article]

Long-term care insurance is best known as a way to cover nursing home costs, but most claims are for in-home care. [May 2017, 817 word article]

Many Republicans believe that, even though the new plan is more oriented to the free market, it doesn’t go far enough to fix the ACA’s problems. While Democrats are concerned that millions of Americans will lose access to healthcare coverage. [May 2017, 632 word article]

Those who have reached the contribution limit for their 401(k) plans and other tax-deferred investments often turn to a variable annuity with an income rider as a savings vehicle. [April 2017, 349 word article]

One in two men in the United States have a chance of developing some type of cancer; women one in three, according to the American Cancer Society’s Facts and Figures 2015 report. [April 2017, 660 word article]

Accidents happen, so you need to take precautions to minimize the financial consequences. [April 2017, 719 word article]

With the Trump Administration and Republican-controlled Congress working to replace the controversial Affordable Care Act (ACA) by 2018, there are plenty of opinions as to whether it’s a good thing or not. [April 2017, 751 word article]

Medicare does not cover dental procedures, unless they are part of a medical emergency and you receive care in a hospital. That means Medicare enrollees usually must pay for dental care out-of-pocket. [March 2017, 295 word article]

Once you’ve decided you want to purchase life insurance to protect your family, you have more decisions to make. For example, how much life insurance coverage do you need, and how much will it cost? [March 2017, 767 word article]

Although healthcare costs are expected to grow modestly in 2017, you still can be hit with some high medical bills. [March 2017, 855 word article]

When planning for your retirement, where you’ll live will be one of your biggest and most important decisions. [March 2017, 799 word article]

Original Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors, does not cover prescription drugs. If you want coverage, you can buy a Medicare prescription drug (Medicare Part D) plan through a private insurer. Medicare Advantage policyholders typically have prescription drug benefits. [February 2017, 349 word article]

Many Americans have bought long-term care insurance to pay for nursing home care in later years. Unfortunately, many insurers underestimated the cost of providing long-term care benefits. As a result, many have increased premiums dramatically, and many stopped offering coverage altogether. [February 2017, 753 word article]

Twenty-eight percent of participants in a 2015 LIMRA Insurance Barometer Study have no confidence in their ability to make important financial decisions. If that sounds familiar, a financial wellness program can help. [February 2017, 850 word article]

Unfortunately, having health insurance doesn’t mean you’ll be able to afford the out-of-pocket expenses not covered by your insurer. [February 2017, 689 word article]

The 21st Century Cures Act, an omnibus healthcare measure signed into law in mid-December by President Obama, could help stabilize the individual health insurance market. The law contains a provision that would allow employers of 49 or fewer employees that do not offer group coverage to subsidize employee purchases of individual plans starting January 1, 2017. [January 2017, 252 word article]

When Donald J. Trump ran for president, he promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act “Day One.” Although he has moderated that position, big changes could be coming. [January 2017, 922 word article]

Divorce is a major life change that can affect your finances all the way through retirement. It divides assets and, in some cases, assets may be awarded to only one person — making the other spouse more vulnerable. [January 2017, 797 word article]

What many people don’t realize is that survivors face several types of financial difficulties after a salary earner’s death, besides the loss of income. Here are a few life situations that life insurance can help your heirs handle more easily. [January 2017, 736 word article]

During the holidays, it can be difficult to think of just the right gift for everyone on your list. Wouldn’t it be great if you could give a loved one a present that would provide financial security for years to come? [December 2016, 365 word article]

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a provision that prohibits health insurers from denying anyone coverage based on a pre-existing condition. But that provision does not apply to all types of coverage. [December 2016, 706 word article]

Advances in emergency treatments and medical care make it more likely you will survive a critical illness. The question is whether you can survive the cost of recuperation. [December 2016, 698 word article]

Technically, it is a federal crime to grow, distribute or possess marijuana, or “cannabis,” its botanical name. And that can have implications for your insurance. [December 2016, 652 word article]

It might be tempting to view your 401(k) retirement fund as a savings plan you can borrow from in case of an emergency, but the price you pay for using that money before you turn 59 ½ can be steep. [November 2016, 310 word article]

If you’ve decided you don’t need life insurance, you might want to reconsider. Read on to learn why. [November 2016, 694 word article]

Seeking advice from a good financial planner is investing in your future. It might be tempting to save some money and do your own planning, but hiring an expert can cost a lot less than making a costly mistake.[November 2016, 804 word article]

It’s time to start thinking about your health insurance needs again! [November 2016, 918 word article]

Healthcare is one of the key issues in the upcoming presidential race, according to a recent Pew Research Poll. Here’s how the candidates for the two major parties —Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump — stand on the issue. [October 2016, 306 word article]

In our last issue, we focused on how you can get a portion of your life insurance policy’s death benefits before you pass away. You can use these funds for serious illness, financial difficulties or charitable giving. [October 2016, 759 word article]

If you have only health insurance and life insurance, you might have a serious coverage gap. [October 2016, 630 word article]

When you’re preparing your personal budget for 2017, you might want to factor in extra money for health insurance premiums. [October 2016, 697 word article]

If knowledge is power, most Americans lack power when it comes to choosing healthcare providers. [September 2016, 321 word article]

Most people know that life insurance will pay benefits to your beneficiaries after you pass away. But many don’t know there are other benefits you can get at no extra cost that could make your life easier. [September 2016, 545 word article]

A federal appeals court determined that the Obama administration overstepped its authority by limiting the sales of fixed-indemnity insurance. [September 2016, 557 word article]

You have medical and dental insurance to keep your body and teeth healthy. But do you have vision insurance? [September 2016, 687 word article]

The consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act also apply to student health plans, with several adjustments due to the unique nature of these plans: [August 2016, 316 word article]

Six years after the Democrat-supported Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Republicans submitted their recommendations for changing the law. [August 2016, 649 word article]

Concerned about the effect a volatile stock market could have on your retirement? Consider an annuity. [August 2016, 652 word article]

Did you know your health plan covers a variety of preventive services at no out-of-pocket cost to you? You may be leaving money on the table if you’re not taking advantage! [August 2016, 551 word article]

Did you know your credit rating can affect your ability to get certain types of insurance? When evaluating whether to cover you and how much to charge you, an insurance underwriter might consider your credit rating. Insurers have found a link between a poor credit score and the likelihood of filing a claim. [July 2016, 294 word article]

High net worth individuals and business owners need more life insurance than most people. Definitions vary by insurer, but with most insurers, if you need $50-65 million or more in insurance, chances are your policy will be considered a “jumbo risk,” with special considerations. [July 2016, 531 word article]

Foreign travel checklist: Passport – check. Visa – check. Airline tickets – check. Hotel reservations – check. Health insurance coverage – ? Any foreign travel requires some planning. Since nothing can ruin a trip faster than an accident or unexpected illness, don’t forget to check how your health insurance coverage applies outside the U.S.! [July 2016, 1012 word article]

Telemedicine has the potential to shave $4.28 billion annually from America’s healthcare bill. But there are still more reasons to look for a plan that covers telemedicine services. [July 2016, 595 word article]

Two huge music stars have died in the last several months. David Bowie died in January, and Prince died in April. The difference between how these men’s deaths are being handled is staggering. [June 2016, 312 word article]

You call your credit card issuer, and the customer service representative tells you about a “special offer” for a “payment protection plan.” What do these plans cover, and do you need one? [June 2016, 676 word article]

Ten years ago, the baby boomers were the largest segment of adults in the population. That’s not the case anymore. Recent census data show that the Millennial generation has stepped up to the mike. [June 2016, 626 word article]

Understanding the factors that affect your insurance costs can help you better manage them, and to make cuts, if needed, where they will have the minimum impact on the coverage you need. [June 2016, 854 word article]

Although you have no control over your personal characteristics and certain health factors, you can take steps to make your life insurance application stronger. [May 2016, 343 word article]

And why they should think about it anyway… [May 2016, 735 word article]

Smart consumers have health insurance to protect themselves from catastrophic medical expenses, life insurance to protect their families from the loss of a breadwinner, and disability income coverage to replace income lost due to disability. So which of these policies will cover you if you lose a limb, sight or hearing in an accident? [May 2016, 718 word article]

A provision in the Affordable Care Act aims to improve healthcare by shifting healthcare providers’ focus from volume to value. Will it work? [May 2016, 652 word article]

Because of the Affordable Care Act, you might have received some new forms providing you with information about the health coverage you had or were offered in 2015. If you received individual coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace or through a health insurer, you should have received a Form 1095-A or Form 1095-B, which provide details about your coverage.  [April 2016, 307 word article]

You found Great-Grandpa’s life insurance policy in an old trunk? Don’t throw it out!  [April 2016, 624 word article]

Like financial identity theft, medical identity theft can leave you responsible for bills you did not incur. But unlike other types of identity theft, it can also affect your medical records, jeopardizing your health. It could even jeopardize your health insurance coverage. [April 2016, 636 word article]

Is your April 15 tax bill causing you nightmares? A high-deductible health plan linked to a health savings account (HSA) can give you tax advantages not available with other health plans. [April 2016, 615 word article]

When shopping for long-term care insurance, please remember you are making a long-term investment and consider it as carefully as you would any other investment. Please keep in mind the following points: [March 2016, 329 word article]

Oral health has a strong link to your overall health. Having the right insurance coverage can make getting the treatment you need easier and more affordable. [March 2016, 793 word article]

Does your retirement plan include budgeting for your healthcare costs? [March 2016, 628 word article]

Many people don’t realize that neither health insurance policies nor Medicare cover long-term care services. There is a solution, though. [March 2016, 842 word article]

With the Affordable Care Act in full force, there has been dramatic increase in fraud and abuse related to Medicare. Examples include: [February 2016, 194 word article]

Medicare Advantage plans can take the place of Medicare Part A, Part B and Part D. [February 2016, 641 word article]

Critical illness insurance provides coverage over and beyond what your health insurance policy covers. Do you need it? [February 2016, 752 word article]

You might wonder whether to buy life insurance or not. Do you need death coverage, or is it just an additional expense? [February 2016, 843 word article]

You can buy annuities from a life insurer, but annuities differ from life insurance policies in important ways. In fact, annuities are almost a mirror image of life insurance. [January 2016, 326 word article]

All experts agree that the surest way to have healthy finances your entire life is to create and follow a long-term financial plan. Here’s your step by-step guide to getting yours started. [January 2016, 547 word article]

Seniors aged 65 and above automatically qualify and get signed up for Medicare hospitalization coverage, or Part A. Along with Part B, which covers doctor bills and other medical expenses, Parts A and B comprise Original Medicare. Is this your best option? [January 2016, 882 word article]

When you buy an annuity, you pay premiums to an insurer. In exchange, you’ll receive a steady stream of income for a specified period of time, which could be your entire life. Should you buy an annuity? [January 2016, 987 word article]

It’s open enrollment: time to select your health insurance plan for the coming year. [December 2015, 351 word article]

Long-term care is quite different than traditional medical care. It is a skilled care/personal care service that people may need if they are unable to take care of themselves due to disability, illness or cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease. [December 2015, 577 word article]

Medigap insurance is sold by private firms and helps individuals pay for any costs that their Medicare does not cover, such as deductibles and copayments. This type of supplemental insurance is only available to those people who already have both Parts A and B of Original Medicare. [December 2015, 509 word article]

Life insurance can be confusing, particularly with so many options to choose from. Understanding the top seven myths about life insurance can help you make a sound decision. [December 2015, 857 word article]

Not purchasing disability income insurance is a mistake you can’t afford to make! Here are some reasons why: [November 2015, 206 word article]

Relying on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to cover you if you become disabled could mean financial ruin. Here’s why. [November 2015, 739 word article]

Vision insurance may seem expensive at first glance. However, doctors advise eye exams at least once every year. Secondly, you might need glasses — prescription and sunglasses — every year, and maybe contact lenses. Vision insurance covers all these items and services. [November 2015, 589 word article]

Dental implants and bridges both replace missing teeth. These devices will likely become more common as the baby boomers age. What are they, and will your insurance cover them? [November 2015, 793 word article]

The majority of Americans do not have enough life insurance. Many Americans don’t have any at all. Why is this? [October 2015, 330 word article]

The fixed index annuity market is going strong. Sales increased 24 percent in the last year, reveals a study conducted by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI). Out of the total broker-dealer annuity sales last year, 10 percent were of FIAs. [October 2015, 441 word article]

An estimated three million students have health insurance through student health plans offered by colleges, universities or other institutions of higher education. Plans vary widely in coverage and quality. If you have a student heading off to college, make sure he or she has the right coverage. [October 2015, 704 word article]

The ultimate purpose of health insurance is to offset potentially high medical expenses. Most people get health insurance through their employer, but if you don’t, your independent insurance agent can help you. [October 2015, 911 word article]

When listing financial assets on a balance sheet, you probably list your house, retirement funds, vehicles and financial investments. However, many ignore a crucial asset: their life insurance. [September 2015, 311 word article]

Almost a third of Americans are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity not only affects quality of life, but it also increases your risk of experiencing heart disease and diabetes, along with some types of cancers, and ultimately, early death. [September 2015, 416 word article]

According to the Internal Revenue Service, almost 7.5 million Americans have had to pay a penalty for lacking health insurance in 2014 – and the tax season isn’t over. [September 2015, 633 word article]

Understanding what to look for when buying life insurance can make the buying process easier, and maybe save you money. [September 2015, 1291 word article]

When you’re playing Monopoly and you pull a card saying your life insurance policy has matured, you collect $100. In real life, if your policy matures, you’ll probably get a lot more. [August 2015, 266 word article]

Traditional permanent life insurance policies provide death benefits and a savings feature. Other types of life insurance also do that, and more. [August 2015, 887 word article]

Just because an insurer denies your claim initially doesn’t mean it won’t pay. Here’s how to proceed if your insurer denies a claim. [August 2015, 552 word article]

In late June, the Supreme Court issued its decision in King v. Burwell. The case challenged the legality of subsidies in federally run or federally facilitated health insurance exchanges. The Court ruled the subsidies could stand, a decision that probably saved the exchanges in 34 states from a “death spiral.” [August 2015, 395 word article]

People with high-deductible health plans are half as likely to say their plan was an “excellent” or “good” value, as compared to people with lower-deductible plans.  There could be a fix for that. [July 2015, 282 word article]

Americans are generally more confident in their ability to afford retirement than they were last year. But many aren’t taking steps to achieve that goal. [July 2015, 566 word article]

Maybe you’ve been named executor of the estate of your very wealthy but very disorganized uncle. Or maybe your relative’s valuable papers have been destroyed or lost in a fire, flood or move. In either case, you know a life insurance policy exists somewhere but you can’t find it. What can you do? [July 2015, 736 word article]

As this issue went to press, we were waiting for the Supreme Court to decide the case King v. Burwell. The decision could determine the future of health insurance exchanges in 34 states. [July 2015, 659 word article]

In recent years, both the Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D prescription drug programs have continued to grow, quality of participating plans has continued to increase, and premiums have remained stable. Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMA) announced that:  [June 2015, 252 word article]

The number of visits to California emergency rooms for dental problems jumped significantly after the state eliminated adult dental benefits from its Medicaid program. A study published in the journal Health Affairs reported that the cost of dental ER visits increased an inflation-adjusted 68 percent. [June 2015, 626 word article]

In our last issue, we discussed some of the factors that determine whether a claim is covered. In this article, we’ll discuss plan design features that affect how much your plan will pay toward a covered claim. [June 2015, 925 word article]

Can you be too generous? A recent survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found that providing financial support and/or unpaid care to family or friends can affect your retirement savings. [June 2015, 715 word article]

The average cost of term life insurance has been dropping over the last several years. If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your coverage, consider adding a term life insurance policy to your financial portfolio. [May 2015, 160 word article]

Every year, Americans make 31 million visits to the emergency room for unintentional injuries. Emergency room charges average about $1,200 per visit. Your out-of-pocket expenses could vary wildly depending on the type and severity of injury, where you are treated, and your coverage. [May 2015, 605 word article]

When you’re sick, injured or coping with a family member’s serious health condition, dealing with an insurance company is probably the last thing you want to do. Understanding what your policy covers and how it pays claims can help you avoid unpleasant surprises. [May 2015, 677 word article]

Understanding what certain insurance-related terms mean will help you become a better insurance consumer. [May 2015, 1038 word article]

As this newsletter went to press, the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments in the case King v. Burwell. Their ruling could determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act. [April 2015, 317 word article]

Most life insurance companies sell both life insurance policies and annuities. Both require you to be in good health to get the best rates. And both provide financial security. But they play very different roles in your financial portfolio. [April 2015, 828 word article]

Fourteen percent of people age 65 or over need long-term care. Among those 85 or older, half need some long-term care, according to the Georgetown University Long-Term Care Financing Project. If you don’t like the sound of a nursing home, relax—today’s long-term care insurance policies can cover many other long-term care options. [April 2015, 635 word article]

People who qualify for a tax credit to buy individual health insurance through a health insurance exchange have the option of taking it in advance or claiming it when filing their tax return. [March 2015, 376 word article]

Consumers can experience financial well-being—or a lack of it—regardless of income. How would you rate your financial wellness, and why does it matter? [March 2015, 402 word article]

You may have heard the phrase “Buy term and invest the difference.” That works if you have the discipline for a regular investment program. But for some, a permanent life insurance policy will provide more security and better returns. It also offers tax advantages that other investments lack. [March 2015, 572 word article]

Republicans in the Senate and House have proposed several bills to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In January, several legislators introduced the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act (Patient CARE Act), which would create a new health insurance reform plan, in addition to repealing the ACA. [March 2015, 914 word article]

Before negotiating either a viatical or life settlement or taking accelerated death benefits from a life insurance policy, consider the financial consequences carefully. The passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 made proceeds from viatical settlements or accelerated death benefits fully excludable from income under certain circumstances. [February 2015, 264 word article]

For many people, a chronic condition such as heart disease or cancer starts a downward spiral of declining health and rising bills. A life insurance policy can help you improve end-of-life quality—here’s how. [February 2015, 604 word article]

In 2010, visits to medical specialists (not including pediatricians and obstetricians/gynecologists) accounted for 44.8 of medical visits, up from 33.8 percent in 1980. So despite managed care, we’re using medical specialists more than ever. And that adds to medical costs. [February 2015, 704 word article]

Thirty-six percent of Americans don’t have any savings for retirement. If you have taxable income but your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan, what are your options? [February 2015, 921 word article]

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance recently published an article on some of the ways individuals can save money on their long-term care insurance…and how not asking the right questions can cost them. [January 2015, 286 word article]

A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that retiree health benefits supplement Medicare for approximately 15 million Medicare beneficiaries and provide primary coverage for more than two million pre-65 retirees. However, the portion of employers that offer retiree health benefits is dropping yearly. [January 2015, 831 word article]

What is your most valuable asset? Your home? Its contents? For most working individuals, their ability to earn an income is worth far more than these physical assets. You insure your home; do you also have coverage for your most valuable asset—your ability to earn an income? [January 2015, 930 word article]

Life insurance does more than protect families from the financial costs of a breadwinner’s untimely death. It can also help individuals make a substantial bequest to a favorite charitable organization and possibly enjoy a tax break as well. [January 2015, 704 word article]

Excess weight not only affects your health; it can affect your finances. Researchers have linked overweight and obesity to the following health conditions: [December 2014, 385 word article]

Most major medical plans exclude coverage for vision care, including exams, glasses and contact lenses. Do you need a vision insurance plan? [December 2014, 530 word article]

Single-premium life insurance offers individuals another option for tax-advantaged savings. [December 2014, 663 word article]

If you have an individual health insurance plan—or if you lack health insurance altogether—you have limited time to change your plan or enroll in a new one for 2015. Here’s what you need to know. [December 2014, 919 word article]

Although you have no control over your personal characteristics and certain health factors, you can take steps to make your life insurance application stronger. [November 2014, 342 word article]

Getting life insurance through a group plan is easy. Just being a member of the group qualifies you for at least a minimum limit policy. If you want higher amounts of coverage, though, you will probably need an individual policy. Here’s what to expect when you apply for life insurance on the individual market. [November 2014, 620 word article]

If you don’t have employer-provided vision benefits, here’s how to get coverage in the individual market…and why. [November 2014, 596 word article]

In the past ten years, employers have faced skyrocketing costs for their employee health plans. If you have employer-sponsored health coverage, your share of costs has probably risen as a result. [November 2014, 987 word article]

The Affordable Care Act requires nearly all Americans (including children) to have minimum essential health insurance coverage for each month of the year, beginning in January 2014. [October 2014, 314 word article]

In our last issue, we discussed some of the differences between original Medicare and private Medicare Advantage insurance plans. In this issue, we’ll discuss the cost differences between these plans. [October 2014, 618 word article]

In 1980, 38 percent of private industry workers had a defined benefit pension plan. By 2011, that percentage had dropped to only 14.7 percent. The rest will have to live their retirement on Social Security and their own savings. [October 2014, 595 word article] 

Do you need individual health insurance to avoid penalties in 2015? You can make a better buying decision if you understand the types of plans available. [October 2014, 1479 word article]

Opening a health savings account (HSA) now can help you enjoy a comfortable retirement. How? A health savings account lets you contribute pre-tax dollars into an interest-bearing account. If you let funds accumulate, you can use them to pay for medical expenses during retirement, when your medical costs will likely be higher. [September 2014, 357 word article]

You probably have health insurance to protect yourself from catastrophic medical expenses, life insurance to protect your family from the loss of your salary, and disability income coverage to replace income lost due to disability. So which of these policies will cover you if you lose a limb, sight or hearing in an accident? [September 2014, 698 word article]

If you want to change your Medicare coverage for next year, you must do it during the open enrollment period. [September 2014, 837 word article]

Getting the best value for your insurance dollars requires a bit of research and decision making. Keeping the following deadlines and figures in mind will help. [September 2014, 1012 word article]

If you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, how do you file a claim? [August 2014, 305 word article]

Many people think that when it comes to life insurance, they have only two choices: term or whole life. That’s not entirely true—today’s whole life insurance is a lot more flexible than your father’s life insurance policy. Read on to find out more about the different types of whole life insurance, and how they can enhance your investment portfolio. [August 2014, 576 word article]

The Affordable Care Act requires every non-institutionalized American citizen to have “essential minimum” health insurance, unless you qualify for an exemption. Being a college student does not count as an exemption! Here are things to consider if you have a child going away to college or boarding school. [August 2014, 841 word article]

As with many unpleasant things, people don’t like to think about becoming disabled. But the consequences of ignoring your risks could be serious. Take the following quiz to see how much you know about disability. [August 2014, 956 word article]

If you’ve recently taken out a mortgage, refinance loan or home equity loan, you have probably received a solicitation for mortgage insurance. Do you need it? [July 2014, 255 word article]

If your summer travel plans include a trip overseas, check this list before you check your bags! [July 2014, 351 word article]

Unless you are one of a very small percentage of Americans, the law applies to you. Here’s what you need to know. [July 2014, 1041 word article]

A new study calls 19 million Americans “stuck shoppers” of life insurance, because they believe life insurance is valuable and necessary, but they find shopping for it confusing and overwhelming. [July 2014, 902 word article]

Like financial identity theft, medical identity theft can leave you responsible for bills you did not incur. But unlike other types of identity theft, it can also affect your medical records, jeopardizing your health. It could even jeopardize your health insurance coverage. [June 2014, 635 word article]

It’s almost summer, the busiest time of year for hospital emergency rooms. Unintentional injuries spike, due to increased outdoor activities and sports, vacations, teens spending more time on the road, and kids spending their time outside the relatively safe confines of the classroom. [June 2014, 313 article]

State insurance departments are warning citizens to beware so-called “zero premium” life insurance arrangements. If you receive such an offer and it sounds too good to be true, it could be. [June 2014. 767 word article]

How many people actually read their health insurance policy? Knowing what your policy covers can help you better plan your healthcare expenditures, and help you avoid unpleasant surprises if you file a claim. [June 2014, 1084 word article]

Still reeling from your April 15 tax bill? A high-deductible health plan linked to a health savings account (HSA) can give you tax advantages not available with other health plans. [May 2014, 614 word article]

Lenders, such as credit card companies, mortgage companies and retailers, might encourage you to buy credit insurance to protect your credit rating. [May 2014, 360 word article]

Foreign travel checklist: Passport – check. Visa – check. Airline tickets – check. Hotel reservations – check. Health insurance coverage – ? Any foreign travel requires some planning. Since nothing can ruin a trip faster than an accident or unexpected illness, don’t forget to check how your health insurance coverage applies outside the U.S.! [May 2014, 1013 word article]

Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all health plans offered in the individual and small group markets, both inside and outside of the “affordable insurance exchanges,” to offer coverage for pediatric oral care as an “essential benefit.” What are your options? And will penalties apply if you don’t buy coverage? [May 2014, 532 word article]

The ability to deduct premiums and/or benefits can make certain types of coverage more affordable. [April 2014, 341 word article]

You found Great-Grandpa’s life insurance policy in an old trunk? Don’t throw it out! [April 2014, 624 word article]

An estimated 12.4 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have private LTCI coverage; however, growth in the market has leveled. That could spell trouble for the aging baby boom and millennial generations. Here’s why you should consider buying long-term care insurance now. [April 2014, 894 word article]

The Medicaid expansion brought about by the Affordable Care Act could increase situations that would allow Medicaid to seize property of a deceased recipient to reimburse the cost of his/her care. Is your home vulnerable? Read on for details. [April 2014, 819 word article]

Insurers have been using social media to investigate claims for years, particularly in workers’ compensation claims where fraud is suspected. But they are also looking at social media for other purposes. [March 2014, 339 word article]

Although the name “concierge care” might conjure up images of physicians’ offices with plush, private waiting rooms and on-demand access to physicians for high-income patients, the number of lower-cost practices is growing at about 25 percent per year, estimated the American Academy of Private Physicians. [March 2014, 981 word article]

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are growing in popularity. How will they affect your health…and your insurance coverages? [March 2014, 616 word article]

The Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” went into effect on January 1, 2014. It requires nearly every legal resident of the U.S., including children, to have minimum health insurance or pay a penalty. If you don’t have health coverage yet, it’s time to get moving! [March 2014, 852 word article]

Selecting a health plan can be a daunting process, and most people will need help, found two recent studies. [February 2014, 344 word article]

Annuity sales grew by leaps and bounds during the third quarter of 2013, reports insurance research firm LIMRA. Total fixed annuity sales were up 31 percent over 2012’s third-quarter levels. In third quarter 2013, indexed annuities were up by 15 percent over 2012, a $1 billion increase from second quarter. [February 2014, 623 word article]

Dr. Marius Barnard, brother of pioneering heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard, introduced critical illness insurance in South Africa in 1983 after seeing the financial hardships costly medical treatments caused his patients. He reportedly said that, as a doctor, he could repair man’s body but only an insurer could repair his finances. [February 2014, 830 word article]

Before buying something online, you can check reviews from previous purchasers. But when you buy healthcare services, where do you turn for pricing and quality information? [February 2014, 806 word article]

Americans spent $45 billion out-of-pocket on retail prescription drugs in 2011, found the National Health Survey. Unfortunately, these costs are unlikely to decrease. [January 2014, 345 word article]

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 72 percent of all full-time employees in private industry had access to life insurance through their employer. Group life has its pluses, but most families will need additional coverage. Here’s why. [January 2014, 833 word article]

More than 15 million Americans have their health insurance coverage through private, non-group (non-employer) plans. As of November 30, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had determined that some 2.3 million people were eligible to enroll in a Marketplace plan; however, only 365,000 had done so. [January 2014, 778 word article]

Clinicians have access to an armamentarium of more than 10,000 prescription medications, and nearly one-third of adults in the United States take five or more medications, reports the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ). With that level of complexity, it’s no wonder medication errors occur. [January 2014, 760 word article]

About 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. More than 40 percent will need care in a nursing home. Planning ahead for the care needs of yourself or a family member can reduce stress and ensure funds are available when needed. [December 2012, 743 word article]

Today, more Americans than ever have health plans with high deductibles. While these plans offer lower premiums, they can leave insureds with higher out-of-pocket expenses than other types of plans. A hospital indemnity plan can help pay these expenses. [December 2012, 672 word article]

At year end, you might be thinking of ways to reduce your tax liabilities. You are probably also receiving appeals from many charities. Life insurance can help you make a sizable donation to the charity of your choice. Certain life insurance-funded strategies might also have tax advantages. [December 2012, 831 word article]

Many grandparents today are raising their grandchildren because the parents are unwilling or unable to do so. The 2010 Census found that more than 2.7 million grandparents had responsibility for their grandchildren, up 13 percent from 2000. [October 2012, 433 word article]

Demographic, health and other factors can make building a solid financial base and saving for retirement more challenging for women than for men. A sound financial plan can help you get where you want to be despite these challenges. [October 2012, 652 word article]

It’s a fact that preventive health services save money. Or is it? Before spending hundreds on comprehensive health screenings or other preventive services, read on. [October 2012, 897 word article]

During the recession, interest in fixed annuities increased, as retirees and near-retirees sought guaranteed investment returns. Now that the stock market is picking up, so are sales of indexed and variable annuities. Do annuities belong in your retirement portfolio? The following article points out some of the pros and cons. [October 2012, 864 word article]

The Federal Reserve Board’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances found that in 2010, fewer Americans were saving and fewer had retirement funds than in 2007. “[T]he decrease in ownership in the past three years may represent a setback in retirement preparedness,” said the Fed. It also said that cash value life insurance can promote regular savings. [September 2012, 427 word article]

You have more control over your healthcare costs than you might think. The following pointers will help you become a better consumer, save money and possibly improve your health. [September 2012, 770 word article]

A study conducted by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research reported that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably. Meanwhile, over the next five years, the health and medical insurance industry’s revenue is forecast to increase at an average annualized rate of 5 percent — putting even more pressure on Baby Boomers’ retirement nest eggs. Still, if you are 10-20 years away from your desired retirement age, you can take steps now to make it easier to retire on your terms. [September 2012, 626 word article]

Understanding the factors that affect your insurance costs can help you better manage them, and to make cuts, if needed, where they will have the minimum impact on the coverage you need. [September 2012, 1016 word article]

One in five Americans is in a family having problems paying medical bills; one in four is in a family paying medical bills over time; and one in 10 is in a family that had medical bills they were unable to pay at all. One of the most important ways to prevent medical debt and protect your family’s financial health is to have an appropriate health insurance program and know how to use it. Here are some suggestions. [April 2012, 846 word article]

Most major medical plans exclude coverage for vision care, including exams, glasses and contact lenses. Do you need vision coverage? [August 2012, 493 word article]

Any family financial plan needs accurate documentation. The IRS recommends that taxpayers make and keep duplicate copies of their financial records. [August 2012, 373 word article]

Almost a third of cancer patients have healthcare costs totaling 10 percent or more of their family income, and roughly one in nine have costs that exceed 20 percent of family income. As a result, 11 percent of individuals with cancer report being unable to pay for food or other necessities while paying for cancer treatment. [August 2012, 747 word article]

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of two contentious provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), paving the way for the law’s continued implementation. Here’s a brief overview of what the ACA entails for those with individual health insurance. [August 2012, 1200 word article]

Your credit rating provides an important indicator of your financial health. It helps determine whether you can get a mortgage, loan or credit card and your interest rate, and may affect your ability to get a job. These three simple steps can help you protect your all-important credit rating. [July 2012, 429 word article]

You open your credit card statement and find a “special offer” from your credit card issuer if you sign up for a “payment protection plan.” What do these plans cover, and do you need one? [July 2012, 755 word article]

The Baby Boomer generation numbers some 78 million. Nursing home costs are skyrocketing. Yet only 7 to 8 million individuals, some of them already over age 65, have bought long-term care insurance. Is long-term care insurance as we know it a dying product? [July 2012, 853 word article]

A recent Nationwide Financial survey found that nearly three-fourths of soon-to-be-retired, high-net-worth Americans ranked out-of-control healthcare costs as among their top retirement fears. Nearly one-half reported being “terrified” of what health costs could do to their retirement plans. [July 2012, 902 word article]

Did you know that your insurance plan might not cover you if you are involved in an accident while using alcohol? [June 2012, 402 word article]

Seeing a specialist costs more than seeing a primary care physician. A specialist also does not know your entire medical history like your primary care physician does. Here’s how to make a visit to the specialist worth your time and money. [June 2012, 741 word article]

Thanks to the Tax Relief Act of 2010, for 2012, the lifetime gift tax exclusion increases to $5 million, while the estate tax exemption increases to $5.12 million. Unless Congress extends the Act, next year both the estate tax exemption and gift tax exemption amounts will revert back to $1 million. This creates what could be a one-time opportunity to protect your estate from taxes. [June 2012, 805 word article]

Medicare will be in the news a lot during the coming year, as presidential candidates debate which federal programs to trim and how. How much do you know about this important topic? Test your knowledge with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Medicare quiz, quiz.kff.org/medicare/medicare-quiz.aspxMeanwhile, here are some fast facts about Medicare. [May 2012, 235 word article]

Nobody likes to think of their eventual demise, but having the proper arrangements and finances in place can be a final act of love for your family. [May 2012, 1134 word article]

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly all employees eligible for an employer-provided short-term or long-term disability income program participate. However, if you have group disability insurance, you probably need additional coverage. Read on to find out why. [May 2012, 673 word article]

The IRS has become increasingly concerned about identity theft involving fraudulent tax returns. In this type of fraud, an identity thief will use a stolen Social Security number to file a forged tax return and attempt to get a fraudulent refund. [April 2012, 365 word article]

Most major medical plans exclude coverage for vision care, including exams, glasses and contact lenses. Do you need this coverage? [September 2013, 406 word article]

On January 1, 2014, all individuals, including children, must maintain “minimum essential” health insurance coverage or make a “shared responsibility” payment as required by the Affordable Care Act. [August 2013, 248 word article]

Hagop Kantarjian, MD, a cancer researcher, and more than 100 other experts in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) co-authored a recently published paper that called prices of cancer drugs “unsustainable.” [August 2013, 750 word article]

Owning life insurance has many benefits. Some might surprise you. [August 2013, 598 word article]

An estimated three million students have health insurance through student health plans offered by colleges, universities or other institutions of higher education. Plans vary widely in coverage and quality. If you have a student heading off to college, make sure he or she has the right coverage. [August 2013, 861 word article]

You may have heard the phrase “Buy term and invest the difference.” That works if you have the discipline for a regular investment program. But for some, a permanent life insurance policy will provide more security and better returns. It also offers tax advantages that other investments lack. [July 2013, 540 word article]

About 22 percent of consumers who take out closed-end consumer loans or mortgages buy credit insurance to cover them. When you take out a personal loan or mortgage or open a credit card account, should you take the optional credit insurance? [July 2013, 302 word article]

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known as the “Affordable Care Act,” or ACA) goes into full effect in 2014. If you have medical insurance through an individual or small group plan, here are some dates and facts to be aware of. [July 2013, 913 word article]

Accidents of many kinds increase during the summer. Did you know that the average emergency room visit now costs more—40 percent more—than the average month’s rent? How will you manage these and other accident-related expenses? [July 2013, 950 word articled]

More than one in three American adults (36 percent) has delayed or will delay dental care for financial reasons, found a recent survey. The survey, by ORC International and commissioned by Aspen Dental, also found that more than 80 percent of those who are making that decision know that delaying dental care will cost them more in the long run. [June 2013, 827 word article]

“It’s a joke in the zoo business, a weary joke, that the paperwork involved in trading a shrew weighs more than an elephant, that the paperwork involved in trading an elephant weighs more than a whale, and that you must never try to trade a whale, never.”

Yann Martel, Life of Pi

If trading a shrew involves tons of paperwork, just imagine all the paperwork involved in a serious or prolonged illness and transfer of a complex estate. [June 2013, 534 word article]

In our last issue, we discussed some of the factors that determine whether a claim is covered. In this article, we’ll discuss plan design features that affect how much your plan will pay toward a covered claim. [June 2013, 976 word article]

The number of critical illness policies in force nearly doubled between 2008 and 2011, found the annual Gen Re/National Association for Critical Illness Insurance Market Survey. During that time, total benefits insured by those policies grew from $4.96 billion to $8.7 billion. Why is critical illness coverage growing so rapidly? [May 2013, 344 word article]

Among the many kinds of private health insurance sold today, you may see products that look and sound like health insurance but don’t provide comprehensive health insurance protection. Here are some examples. [May 2013, 872 word article]

When you’re sick, injured or coping with a family member’s serious health condition, dealing with an insurance company is probably the last thing you want to do. Understanding what your policy covers and how it pays claims can help you avoid unpleasant surprises. [May 2013, 738 word article]

Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all non-grandfathered health plans offered to individuals and small groups to include a core package of items and services known as “essential health benefits” (EHBs). What are these EHBs? [March 2013, 341 word article]

Maybe you’ve been named executor of the estate of your very wealthy but very disorganized uncle. Or maybe your relative’s valuable papers have been destroyed or lost in a fire, flood or move. In either case, you know a life insurance policy exists somewhere but you can’t find it. What can you do? [March 2013, 571 word article]

Disability can be more disastrous financially than death. If you are disabled, you lose your earning power, but you still have living expenses and often huge expenses for medical care. Disability insurance can help your family maintain its standard of living while you recover. [March 2013, 719 word article]

Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will require every American to have “minimum essential coverage” or make a “shared responsibility payment” when filing their federal income tax return. The law allows certain exemptions and will not require shared responsibility payments from individuals who cannot find “affordable” coverage. What do all these terms mean? [887 word article, March 2013]

If you plan to send your child(ren) to college, you can estimate your costs by using the Massachusetts Education Financing Authority’s online calculator at www.mefa.org. If you find the results terrifying, it’s time to start saving! [674 words article, February 2013]

According to AARP, American seniors spend an average of 20 percent of their income on healthcare costs per year. The association reported that out-of-pocket healthcare costs averaged about $4,600 for Medicare recipients last year. [408 word article, November 2013]

Although these financial instruments have some things in common, they serve very different purposes in your financial portfolio. [757 word article, November 2013]

Even though the exchanges, or Health Insurance Marketplaces, created by the Affordable Care Act opened in October, misconceptions still abound. If you need health insurance coverage, here are ten things to keep in mind. [880 word article, November 2013]

November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month, a good month to examine—and prevent—the significant gender gap in long-term care preparedness.
[820 word article, November 2013]

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 allows any state to establish a long-term care insurance Partnership Program. The Partnership Program has a goal of encouraging individuals to buy private long-term care to relieve the strain on Medicaid, which pays the majority of long-term care costs in the U.S. [264 word article, September 2013]

Seventy percent of people turning age 65 can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives. And two-thirds of 65-year-olds can expect to use long-term care services for three years or more. [852 word article, September 2013]

The upcoming enrollment period gives Medicare beneficiaries a good reason to review their current coverage and costs. From October 15 to December 7, people enrolled in a Medicare plan can change from an Original Medicare plan to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice versa. You can also add, change or drop your Medicare prescription drug plan. Your coverage changes will become effective on January 1, 2014. [927 word article, September 2013]

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will require nearly all legal residents of the U.S. to obtain “minimal essential” health coverage starting in 2014. To make coverage more affordable, the law makes subsidies available to individuals and families whose incomes are up to 400 percent of the poverty level, or about $46,000 per year for a single person. [October 2013, 287 word article]

If you’re out shopping for individual health insurance for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, you might run into some unfamiliar terms. Here are some common health insurance-related terms and their definitions. [October 2013, 860 word article]

National Estate Planning Awareness Week takes place from October 21-27 this year. The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) uses this time to remind Americans of the importance of having an updated estate plan. Life insurance can play a valuable role in your plan.  [October 2013, 912 word article]

An IRS ruling issued in late August could clear up some of the confusion caused by the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, which overturned parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and have implications for the financial plans of same-sex couples. [October 2013, 787 word article]

In a recent poll by Aflac, an overwhelming majority (76 percent) of workers surveyed admitted they were not knowledgeable about the federal and state health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA also created new insurance programs, incentives and penalties, giving consumers and small businesses a whole new system to learn. [June 2013, 361 word article]

Starting in tax year 2013, you will be able to deduct only the part of your medical expenses that exceeds 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). (Taxpayers who pay the alternative minimum tax bracket must already meet this threshold.) For those age 65 and older, the threshold for deductions stays at 7.5 percent through 2016. You can take deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). [April 2013, 303 word article]

Many people think that when it comes to life insurance, they have only two choices: term or whole life. But insurers offer a wide variety of whole life insurance options—one is bound to meet your needs. [April 2013, 757 word article]

Smart consumers have health insurance to protect themselves from catastrophic medical expenses, life insurance to protect their families from the loss of a breadwinner, and disability income coverage to replace income lost due to disability. So which of these policies will cover you if you lose a limb, sight or hearing in an accident? [April 2013, 801 word article]

Health insurance policies for individuals and small groups often don’t cover (or offer only limited coverage for) mental health and substance use disorders. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will change that. [April 2013, 708 word article]

Illness is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy. Can your family’s finances withstand the costs of a critical illness, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease? --  FREE article!

As medical technologies and treatments improve, more people are surviving once fatal forms of cancer, heart disease and other conditions. But medical and non-medical expenses often fall outside coverage by traditional health or disability insurance...[614 word article, April 2010]

About 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. More than 40 percent will need care in a nursing home. Planning ahead for the care needs of yourself or a family member can reduce stress and ensure funds are available when needed. [December 2012, 743 word article]

Today, more Americans than ever have health plans with high deductibles. While these plans offer lower premiums, they can leave insureds with higher out-of-pocket expenses than other types of plans. A hospital indemnity plan can help pay these expenses. [December 2012, 672 word article]

At year end, you might be thinking of ways to reduce your tax liabilities. You are probably also receiving appeals from many charities. Life insurance can help you make a sizable donation to the charity of your choice. Certain life insurance-funded strategies might also have tax advantages.  [December 2012, 831 word article]

The National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) estimates that almost all (98 percent) of dental insurance plans are “standalone” plans—or plans sold separately from medical coverage. [February 2013, 303 word article]

For many Americans, leaving a bequest to their alma mater or favorite nonprofit is an important part of their estate plan. We can help you find ways to finance charitable bequests in your estate plan.  [February 2013, 594 word article]

Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provisions intended to control the cost of insurance, many people will end up paying more when the ACA goes into full effect. Here’s why.  [February 2013, 1047 word article]

As currently structured, Medicare spending could exceed $1 trillion annually and represent 4.2 percent of the gross domestic product by 2022, predicted the Congressional Budget Office. Leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination and several legislative proposals have promoted premium support to control Medicare cost increases. What does this entail, and how could it affect Medicare coverage? [563 word article, April 2012]

Most Americans need to save more to fund their retirements. But priorities for the best way to handling your retirement finances depends greatly on your age. Read on for details. [825 word article, April 2012]

One in five Americans is in a family having problems paying medical bills; one in four is in a family paying medical bills over time; and one in 10 is in a family that had medical bills they were unable to pay at all. One of the most important ways to prevent medical debt and protect your family?s financial health is to have an appropriate health insurance program and know how to use it. Here are some suggestions. [784 word article, April 2010]

Some politicians blame insurer profits and administrative costs for the increase in health insurance costs. However, in 2009 the percentage of premiums that went towards administrative costs and profits actually declined for the sixth year in a row. A U.S. Center for Medicare Services (CMS) study found that insurer administrative costs accounted for only 11.15 percent of health insurance premiums in 2009. [307 word article, April 2010]

When your family’s circumstances change, so should your insurance safety net. If you’ve experienced any of the following life changes lately, please contact your agent for a review and update of your coverage… [199 word article, March 2012]

Americans’ confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement reached record lows in the 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Although this year’s survey might bring better news, many people are still feeling the effects of the drop in the stock market, housing values and stagnating wages. Does your retirement savings plan need more work?… [762 word article, March 2012]

Does your primary care physician know about all the medications you take? Could your family or doctor access all your medical files in an emergency? Do you track which tests and procedures you have had and when to eliminate unnecessary duplication and cost? Electronic health records (EHRs) could eliminate these problems, but much work needs to be done… [801 word article, March 2012]

Long-term care (LTC) planning is one of the most neglected areas of personal financial planning. Many people do not realize the high chances of needing long-term care. And misconceptions about who will pay for long-term care abound. Which myths are true and which are false? Read on to find out… [965 word article, March 2012]

With any type of non-compulsory insurance, individuals more likely to need covered services are more likely to buy coverage than those who don’t. In individual health plans, this can create a pool of people who use more medical services than the “average person,” driving up insurance costs. Eventually, healthier members find coverage too expensive and drop out, leaving only the least healthy members… [307 word article, February 2012]

Twenty percent of women between the ages of 18 and 64 lack health insurance, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report.

In nearly all measures, women in the U.S. have less health security than men. They are less likely to have access to coverage through their own employer than men (35 percent vs. 44 percent, respectively)… [649 word article, February 2012]

What’s the next worst thing to having no insurance coverage? Having two insurance companies cover the same claim. When policies lack a clear definition of which will pay first, insurers can wrangle for months, even years, while the insured is left holding the bag.

When it comes to health insurance, many people have coverage through more than one plan… [789 word article, February 2012]

Investing always involves some risk. Is your retirement portfolio ready for the greatest risk of them all?

Experienced investors know that markets fluctuate and inflation rises and falls — but never entirely disappears. People saving for retirement also know their retirement plan should include a cushion for unexpected expenses, such as higher-than-anticipated medical costs or major home repairs… [798 word article, February 2012]

The centerpiece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health insurance exchanges, won’t begin until 2014. However, the healthcare reform law will bring some changes to your health plan this year. 

New plan disclosures. Starting on March 23, 2012 health insurers and group health plans must provide two documents designed to help plan members better understand their benefits:… [347 word article, January 2012]

What happens to your money if you put aside significant amounts for retirement in tax-deferred funds but die before you can use most of it? Your account balances will go to your heirs, but taxes can take a significant bite unless you’re careful. Here’s a strategy that can help you avoid this situation… [575 word article, January 2012]

Starting on January 1, accountable care organizations (ACOs) can enter into contracts with Medicare. The Affordable Care Act provides incentives for physicians and hospitals to join together in ACOs, integrated healthcare systems that coordinate patient care to improve quality, prevent disease and illness and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions… [724 word article, January 2012]

A 65-year-old couple retiring in 2011 would need $230,000 to cover medical expenses during retirement, estimated Fidelity. A couple retiring younger would need more, as would those with costly chronic conditions. This does not include any type of long-term care, including nursing homes. Are you prepared?

It’s easy to overlook or underestimate your medical needs when planning for retirement… [928 word article, January 2012]

Before selecting a plan, consider the following:

1. What fees does the plan charge? How much of your investment will go toward commissions and broker compensation? Under what circumstances does the plan waive or reduce certain fees?

Is the plan available directly, either through the state or an institution?… [299 word article, December 2011]
 

Life insurance stems from the benevolent societies of ancient Greece and the trade guilds of the Middle Ages. These groups pooled funds to pay funeral benefits for members, to support widows and orphans of members and to help members who became elderly or infirm. Today, life insurance can do all of this…and a lot more… [640 word article, December 2011]

Have a newborn or expecting a child? By the time he or she is 18, one year at a private college will cost more than $102,000, projects the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA).

Despite its astronomical cost, a college education still has value. Historically, the average college graduate out-earns less-educated peers… [718 word article, December 2011]

If you’re entering the world of individual medical coverage for the first time, you’re not alone. The percentage of firms that offered health benefits to their workers dropped from 69 percent in 2010 to 60 percent in 2011. Individual medical insurance can provide the coverage you need, but finding the right plan for you requires more research and decision-making than simply opting into an employer-paid plan… [684 word article, December 2011]

The number of Americans with dental insurance has dropped since the recession. Among individuals under age 65 with private health insurance, more than one-quarter, or about 45 million, lack dental coverage.

A recent survey by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has found that more Americans are delaying dental care due to cost… [242 word article, November 2011]

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, about half of nursing home residents pay for their care out of pocket. A survey found a private nursing home room cost a median of $77,745 per year in 2011, up from $60,225 in 2005. Can you afford this?… [644 word article, November 2011]

According to LIMRA, an insurance research association, premium for universal life (UL) policies in the U.S. grew 43 percent during the first six months of 2011. The number of policies in force grew by 14 percent during the same quarter. What accounts for the appeal of UL policies?… [930 word article, November 2011]

Many people think they’re most likely to get injured in a car accident or on the job. But home-related injuries cause nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits each year. Unintentional home injuries cost Americans at least $222 billion per year in medical expenses, with an additional $165 billion in medical costs from injuries that possibly occurred in the home… [455 word article, November 2011]

You may have heard about the Medicare Part D coverage gap, or “donut hole.” The donut hole occurs when your covered drug expenses reach the initial coverage limit.  At that point, Medicare stops paying for your prescriptions until you reach the out-of-pocket threshold.   The Affordable Care Act made significant changes to the donut hole… [362 word article, October 2011]

The open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans starts October 15 and ends December 7, 2011. If you’re dissatisfied with your current drug coverage—or if you simply want to comparison-shop—now’s the time to act. Eligible individuals can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa… [598 word article, October 2011]

A 2010 study of U.S. leisure travelers by the Ypartnership/Harrison found that half were familiar with the concept of medical tourism, and one out of six (17 percent) would consider having a medical procedure done outside the U.S., if they perceived it to be of comparable quality. If you’re considering combining your next vacation with a surgical procedure, read on… [636 word article, October 2011]

MetLife’s 8th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends found that married men with minor children have, on average, five times their annual household income in life insurance coverage — if they have coverage. Married women with minor children have, on average, only three times their annual household income in coverage… [620 word article, October 2011]

If want to be eligible for an asset disregard if you apply for Medicaid, you must have a Partnership-qualified long-term care policy. Insurers often offer similar policies that are not qualified, so you will want to verify that your policy is certified by the state? [277 word article, September 2011]

A Roth IRA is an individual retirement plan that can be either an account or an annuity. Many of the rules that apply to “traditional” IRAs apply to Roth IRAs. However, Roth IRAs have some features that could make them preferable to traditional IRAs in certain circumstances. Read on for more information… [419 word article, September 2011]

Many people don’t realize that medical insurance and Medicare do not cover long-term care services. Medicaid will cover long-term care services for qualifying individuals. As a health insurance program for the needy, however, you typically must spend down your assets to qualify.

Buying long-term care (LTC) coverage through a Partnership Program-qualified policy can give you needed private insurance coverage… [508 word article, September 2011]

The link between lifestyle and health are becoming clearer every day. Individuals have more control over their health…and healthcare costs…than many realize.

Researchers have linked obesity and overweight to the following health conditions:

·       Coronary heart disease

·       Type 2 diabetes

·       Cancers, such as endometrial, breast, and colon… [541 word article, September 2011]

People who receive regular periodontal (gum) care have fewer problems with diabetes, strokes and coronary artery disease. Evidence also shows that oral cancer, bulimia and other conditions, such as lung disease and low birth weight, are linked to oral health and are often first detected at the dental office.

Good dental care improves overall health… [688 word article, September 2011]

To qualify you for enrollment in a HSA, your HDHP must meet specific criteria for 2011:

·       It must have a minimum deductible of $1,200 (self-only coverage); $2,400 for family coverage.

·       Annual out-of-pocket maximums (including deductibles and copays) cannot exceed $5,950 (self-only coverage) or $11,900 (family coverage)… [199 word article, August 2011]

A high-deductible health plan linked to a health savings account (HSA) can give you the medical insurance coverage you need, plus tax advantages not available with other health plans.

What Is an HSA?

Qualified individuals can set up a health savings account (HSA) to pay or reimburse certain medical expenses… [647 word article, August 2011]

You open your credit card statement and find a “special offer” from your credit card issuer if you sign up for a “payment protection plan.” What do these plans cover, and do you need one?

“Payment protection plan” is another name for credit insurance. You can buy four types of credit insurance… [727 word article, August 2011]

The Affordable Care Act requires job-related health plans or individual health insurance policies created after March 23, 2010 to cover important preventive services with no copayment, co-insurance or deductible. Taking advantage of these benefits can help you prevent or catch health problems earlier when they are easier to treat… [864 word article, August 2011]

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance gives the following tips for saving money on your long-term care insurance premiums:

Leverage Your Good Health: Buying your coverage when you’re still young and healthy can save you thousands of dollars a year. Insurers will require you to meet certain health qualifications to obtain coverage… [225 word article, July 2011]

Just because an insurer denies your claim initially doesn’t mean it won’t pay. Here’s how to proceed if your insurer denies a claim.

If you’re facing a health problem, the last thing you want to do is deal with a claim denial. Taking these steps will help smooth the process… [553 word article, July 2011]

If you’re like most people, your retirement funds have taken a hit in the past few years. That’s just one more reason to buy long-term care (LTC) insurance!

A majority (79 percent) of middle-income baby boomers are delaying their planned retirement dates by an average of five years. In addition, 14 percent believe they will never be able to retire due to financial conditions… [629 word article, July 2011]

A rider adds a provision to your policy that either restricts or adds coverage. Life insurers have standard riders that can add valuable coverages to the basic life insurance policy at very little additional cost.

When you add coverage to your life insurance policy through a rider, you generally pay very little in additional premiums… [959 word article, July 2011]

Experts expect the number of medical imaging tests performed in the U.S.—currently 95 million per year—to double by 2012. These tests, which include MRIs, x-rays and CAT scans, cost $100 billion annually.  

Although medical imaging can save lives through improved diagnosis, between 20 to 50 percent of these tests are unnecessary… [337 word article, June 2011]

A critical illness policy pays a lump sum benefit if you are diagnosed with a serious health condition, such as cancer, heart attack or stroke. Payouts for critical illness policies typically average around $25,000. Do you need critical illness coverage? Here are some reasons to consider buying this valuable coverage… [484 word article, June 2011]

If you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, how do you file a claim?

If you have an “insurable interest” in a family member or business partner’s life, chances are he or she has bought life insurance to protect your financial security. When the time comes, your family member or partner would want you to receive the benefits of that policy… [415 word article, June 2011]

Longer lifespans, shrinking retirement funds and the poor economy are prompting many Americans to rethink their retirement plans. In 2011, 20 percent of workers responding to the Retirement Confidence Survey said the age at which they planned to retire had increased in the past year. To ease the transition, some workers are planning to phase their way into full retirement… [957 word article, June 2011]

Individual disability income insurance plans offer more features than group plans. Most give you the option of purchasing additional coverages, or riders, for your policy.

Typical riders include:

Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). COLA prevents inflation from eating away at your benefits by automatically increasing your benefits every year (generally starting after the first year of disability)… [292 word article, May 2011]

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly all employees eligible for an employer-provided short-term or long-term disability income program participate. Disability income insurance is a valuable benefit. However, if you have group disability insurance, you probably need more coverage. Read on to find out why… [600 word article, May 2011]

Spending for prescription drugs in the U.S. reached $234.1 billion in 2008, reported the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s more than $760 for every man, woman and child. And between 2006 and 2010, the “usual and customary” price for commonly used brand-name prescription drugs grew by an average of 8.3 percent… [478 word article, May 2011]

Identity theft can drain your bank account and ruin your credit. However, when an impostor steals your medical identity, results can be deadly.

According to a 2010 study by the Ponemon Institute, medical identity theft has affected more than 1.4 million people… [775 word article, May 2011]

A study recently released by the National Center for Health Care Statistics (NCHS) estimated that only 5-15 percent of adults in the U.S. have completed advance directives.

An advance directive (AD) allows a patient to communicate healthcare preferences if he or she can no longer make these decisions. ADs include living wills, treatment directives and do-not-resuscitate orders… [259 word article, April 2011]

In 2007, visits to medical specialists represented 22.2 percent of all physician office visits, while visits to surgical specialists accounted for 19.8 percent. Seeing a specialist costs more than seeing a primary care physician. A specialist also does not know your entire medical history like your primary care physician does. Here’s how to make a visit to the specialist worth your time and money… [683 word article, April 2011]

Life insurance does more than protect families from the financial costs of a breadwinner’s untimely death. It can also help individuals make a substantial bequest to a favorite charitable organization and possibly enjoy a tax break as well.

There are several ways life insurance can help you make a donation to a cause you believe in:… [654 word article, April 2011]

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that individual health insurance premiums for self-only coverage averaged $3,606 in 2010, while premiums for family coverage averaged $7,102. The plan you choose also determines how much you will spend on health care out of pocket. Read on to find out how to make the best investment of your health insurance dollars!… [964 word article, April 2011]

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius warned insurance commissioners last year that, “…scam artists and criminals may be using the passage of [the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act healthcare reform law] as an opportunity to confuse and defraud the public.” What should consumers watch for?

Phony policies

In her statement to insurance commissioners, Sibelius said, “…fraudsters have gone door to door selling phony insurance policies… [782 word article, March 2011]

The type of health insurance plan you choose can make a big difference in your out-of-pocket costs and choice of providers. The following information can help you decide which type of plan best suits your situation.

Health plans fall into two broad categories: fee-for-service and managed care plans… [954 word article, March 2011]

Women generally live longer than men. Many leave work or reduce their working hours while raising children. And women still earn less, on average, than men. All these factors combine to make retirement planning a particular challenge for women.

Here are some questions to help you take charge of your financial future:

1. Does your employer offer a retirement plan?… [787 word article, March 2011]
 

An annuity is a contract that requires one party to make regular payments for more than one full year to another (the annuitant). In exchange, the annuitant pays a premium, as with life insurance.

In fact, annuities are a form of life insurance. If you want to buy an annuity, you will likely have to undergo some sort of underwriting process… [282 word article, February 2011]

What is your most valuable asset? Your home? Its contents? For most working individuals, their ability to earn an income is worth far more than these physical assets.

If you have a high school diploma, your lifetime earnings potential exceeds $1 million. As education increases, so do earnings… [775 word article, February 2011]

If you’ll qualify for Medicare soon, here are some good reasons to consider buying a Medicare Supplement policy, or “Medigap.”

Many Medicare-eligible individuals choose Original Medicare—the traditional, government-run fee-for-service program. Original Medicare includes Part A, hospital coverage, and Part B, medical insurance… [697 word article, February 2011]

The nonprofit National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) says “…all Americans are at risk of receiving poor [medical] care, regardless of where they live, how much money they have, or their race, education or health insurance.” [emphasis added]. Are you getting the medical care you need—when you need it? Following are tips to help ensure that you do.The nonprofit National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) says “…all Americans are at risk of receiving poor [medical] care, regardless of where they live, how much money they have, or their race, education or health insurance.” [emphasis added]. Are you getting the medical care you need—when you need it? Following are tips to help ensure that you do… [718 word article, February 2011]

Before negotiating either a viatical or life settlement or taking accelerated death benefits from a life insurance policy, consider the financial consequences carefully. The passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 made proceeds from viatical settlements or accelerated death benefits fully excludable from income under certain circumstances… [262 word article, January 2011]

For many people, a chronic condition such as heart disease or cancer starts a downward spiral of declining health and rising bills. A life insurance policy can help you improve end-of-life quality—here’s how.

In a viatical settlement, a terminally ill policyholder sells his/her life insurance policy to investors through a viatical broker… [607 word article, January 2011]

No financial plan is complete without considering your medical needs. Having enough medical insurance can make the difference between meeting your medical bills and financial ruin if you or a family member experiences a serious illness or injury. Taking advantage of tax-advantaged savings accounts can provide a further financial cushion… [786 word article, January 2011]

A new year is the perfect time to fine-tune your personal financial plan. Some of the important retirement plan information you’ll need for 2011 follows.

Experts advise planning to have 80 to 90 percent of your annual pre-retirement income available during your retirement years. How much do you really need to save? … [717 word article, January 2011]

If your home office is overflowing with paper, you’re not alone. The following list of essential documents and where experts recommend storing them will help you make sure you and your family members can access important documents when you most need them… [183 word article, December 2010]

Unlike most medical plans, which cover you for only the policy term, a Health Savings Account can pay your medical expenses now and in the future.

No doubt you’ve heard of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). But have you considered whether an HSA, paired with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), might be the best health insurance option for your family?... [644 word article, December 2010] 

Americans have a $6.6 trillion retirement income deficit. Yes, you read that right. That’s trillion, with a “t.” This figure comes from the non-partisan Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, which calculated the gap between what Americans currently have in retirement savings plus the projected value of their pensions versus what they should have to maintain their standard of living in retirement… [743 word article, December 2010]

By 2050, the number of Americans using paid long-term care services will double to 27 million people, estimates the nonprofit Family Caregiver Alliance. Despite the fact that people who reach age 65 will likely have a 40 percent chance of entering a nursing home, only a small fraction of adults over the age of 50 have bought a long-term care insurance (LTCI) policy… [687 word article, December 2010]

You may have heard that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) could affect MA coverage. How will this work?

Every year, MA plans submit a bid, or estimate of how much it will cost to cover their members, to the federal Medicare office. Medicare reimburses MA plans up to a benchmark, or maximum, per enrollee, which varies by county… [355 word article, November 2010]

Some 14 million nonelderly people buy health insurance coverage on the individual market because they either do not have access to or do not qualify for a group plan. Forty-five percent are either business owners or self-employed. Another 16 percent work for an employer that doesn’t offer insurance. The others either can’t afford their employer’s coverage, don’t qualify for it or are not working (between jobs, students or early retirees)… [594 word article, November 2010]

In 2009, Americans spent a total of $234.9 billion on individual annuities, making annuities the largest portion of the life/health insurance product line, when measured in annual premiums. Despite their importance, however, annuities remain little understood by the average American.

What Is an Annuity?

As with life insurance, when you buy an annuity you enter into a contract with an insurance company… [585 word article, November 2010]

Medicare-eligible individuals can join, switch or drop a Medicare Advantage plan between November 15 and December 31 each year. If you have Medicare Advantage or traditional Medicare, now’s a good time to look at your existing coverage and how it’s meeting your needs.

As of March 2010, a record 11.1 million people — nearly one in four of all Medicare beneficiaries… [741 word article, November 2010]

How much does long-term care insurance (LTCI) really cost? Many mistakenly believe that LTCI costs thousands of dollars a year. However, your age at the time of application plays an important role in determining your premiums. According to a study by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, 41.5 percent of buyers under age 61 pay between $500 and $1,499 per year… [311 word article, October 2010]

Fourteen percent of people age 65 or over need long-term care. Among those 85 or older, half need some long-term care, according to the Georgetown University Long-Term Care Financing Project. If you don’t like the sound of a nursing home, relax—today’s long-term care insurance policies can cover many other long-term care options… [640 word article, October 2010]

With advances in medicine come more decisions about the dying process. As hard as it might be to face the idea of your own death, deciding what end-of-life care best suits your needs when you are healthy can help those close to you make the right choices when the time comes and make an already stressful time a little easier… [548 word article, October 2010]

Many people think that when it comes to life insurance, they have only two choices: term or whole life. That’s not entirely true—today’s whole life insurance is a lot more flexible than your father’s life insurance policy. Read on to find out more about the different types of whole life insurance, and how they can enhance your investment portfolio… [676 word article, October 2010]

Let’s say you need a hip replacement. If you get it done in the U.S, expect to pay around $45,000 if you live in a high-cost area. The same surgery in a lower-cost area of the country could cost about $35,000. But the same procedure in Thailand costs only about $9,000. In India, it’s even less, at $6,000, according to the International Medical Travel Association… [1094 word article, September 2010]

Do you have a child starting college in the fall? Here’s a primer on coverage for students.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires group and individual health plans to allow adult children to continue coverage as dependents on their parent’s health plan until they reach age 26… [316 word article, September 2010]

The American Dental Association says more than 90 percent of medical illnesses, including cancer and HIV, show in the mouth. Regular dental visits can lead to an earlier diagnosis and perhaps a decrease in treatment costs. Dental coverage can make regular dental care more affordable.

Good dental care improves overall health… [1025 word article, August 2010]

You can buy accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage as an addition, or rider, to a term life policy or as a standalone policy. It pays benefits to those who have died or lost a limb, vision or hearing as a direct result of an accident, and can cost as little as $60 per year… [506 word article, August 2010]

A survey in April 2010 found that almost 40 percent of uninsured Americans are planning to wait for healthcare reform legislation to become fully implemented before they research and buy coverage. That’s a bad idea, for several reasons.

In addition, 21 percent of all Americans surveyed, including those who already have health coverage, say they would wait for health reform legislation to be fully implemented before researching and buying health insurance if they were uninsured… [877 word article, August 2010]

Treatment of chronic diseases accounts for an estimated 75 percent of healthcare expenditures in the U.S. They are also the leading causes of death and disability. Disease management programs aim to help individuals control their chronic conditions, reducing treatment costs and improving quality of life. 

Consider the following statistics: 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases… [596 word article, July 2010]

You’re in good health, but the insurer rejected your application for individual life or health insurance. What should you do now?

First, ask the insurer for a letter detailing the reason(s) for its denial. Sometimes an insurer will reject an application that contains incomplete or illegible information. In that case, you can resubmit your application… [311 word article, June 2010]

Years ago, a health problem or high-risk occupation or hobby meant an almost certain rejection on your life insurance application. But today, some insurers are willing to cover high-risk individuals. It’s often just a matter of knowing which ones.

When you apply for any type of insurance, your application will undergo the underwriting process… [652 word article, June 2010]

Largely overlooked in the debate about healthcare reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also created a voluntary national long-term care insurance program. This becomes effective in January 2011. What will coverage under this program look like? Should you buy it? 

The healthcare reform law incorporated the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or the CLASS Act… [846 word article, June 2010]

Similarities:

· Maximum contributions: If you will be under 50 at the end of 2011, you can contribute up to $5,000 or your taxable compensation, whichever is lower.

· Catch-up contributions: Those age 50+ at the end of 2011 can make an additional “catch-up” contribution of $1,000, for a total contribution of $6,000 or your taxable compensation, whichever is lower… [311 word article, May 2010]

Most people think of buying life insurance when they have children. If you have none, or they are grown, do you still need life insurance? Maybe — here’s why.

1. If you die prematurely, your spouse may still have financial obligations (e.g., a mortgage) that would be difficult to meet on one income… [396 word article, May 2010]

The year 2010 brought changes to tax rules that made Roth IRAs accessible to more individuals. Should you consider opening, or rolling funds into, a Roth IRA?

A Roth IRA is an individual retirement plan that can be either a bank or mutual fund/investment account or an annuity. Many of the rules that apply to “traditional” IRAs apply to Roth IRAs… [873 word article, May 2010]

When comparing health insurance plans, the first thing most people look at is the monthly premium. But there’s more to the cost of insurance than your premium, even for plans with similar benefits. Here are the numbers to consider when comparing costs among several different plans.

Premium: This is the fee you agree to pay, generally monthly, for your insurance coverage… [868 word article, May 2010]

Americans in their 60s are experiencing more physical disabilities than older generations, found a University of California, Los Angeles study published in the January 2010 American Journal of Public Health.

The study authors looked at data from two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1988–1994 and 1999–2004), evaluating three age groups for disabilities in four areas:... [293 word article, February 2010]

Identity theft can drain your bank account and ruin your credit. However, when an impostor steals your medical identity, results can be deadly.

In an April 2006 report, the World Privacy Forum estimated that approximately a quarter million to a half million individuals have been victims of medical identity theft. At present, these victims do not have the same rights and recourse as the victims of financial identity theft... [407 word article, February 2010]

You've decided you need more life insurance to protect your family. Here’s what you can expect when buying life insurance on the individual market.

If your only previous experience with obtaining life insurance has been through an employer or other group plan, you’ll find buying coverage on the individual market a bit more complex. First, you’ll have to evaluate the many policies available and the insurers that write them... [923 word article, February 2010]

You can find many financial tools online, including calculators that help you plan your retirement savings. How reliable are these calculators, and how much should you rely on them?

Most financial service providers offer their own calculators. A white paper released in late 2009 by the Pension Research Council (PRC) studied five of the most popular free calculators: those from AARP, Fidelity, MetLife, T. Rowe Price, and the U.S. Department of Labor... [288 word article, January 2010]

“Many experts agree reforms are needed to make the U.S. private pension system more effective in protecting workers from risks to accumulating and preserving adequate savings for retirement. If no action is taken, a considerable number of Americans face the prospect of a reduced standard of living in retirement.”—U.S. Government Accountability Office report.

Will you have enough saved for a comfortable retirement?... [747 word article, January 2010]

Buying a fraudulent health plan can cost you more than any promised premium savings—a U.S. government report found that fraudulent health plans left at least $252 million in claims unpaid between 2000 and 2002. That left defrauded “policyholders” responsible for the bills.

As health insurance costs skyrocket and employers drop coverage, the number of fraudulent plans increases. A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released in 2004 revealed some scary statistics:... [706 word article, January 2010]

Are you considering adding an annuity to your retirement portfolio? Single-premium whole life offers many of the advantages of annuities, and more. Depending on your situation, a single-premium whole life policy might be a better option.

Unlike term life insurance, which provides death benefits only, a whole life (or “permanent life”) policy builds cash value that you can use for other purposes... [510 word article, January 2010]

When the AIDS epidemic emerged in the 1980s, many terminally ill life insurance policyholders sought viatical settlements. In a viatical settlement, a terminally ill policyholder sells his/her life insurance policy to investors, generally through a viatical broker, for a lump-sum settlement that’s lower than the policy’s face value. The investor then pays the premiums and receives the death benefit when the insured (now called a “viator”) dies...[363 word article, December 2009]

Terminal illness can cause economic stress in addition to emotional stress. A study published in 2000 in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that nearly 35 percent of terminally ill patients had “substantial care needs,” including transportation, nursing care and personal care. Of that group, 28 percent reported spending more than 10 percent of their household income on medical care and 16 percent reported they or their families had to take out a loan or second mortgage,... [737 words, December 2009]

In our last issue, we provided an overview of the various parts of the Medicare program and what they cover. If you’re about to turn 65 or otherwise qualify for Medicare coverage, you face an important decision: whether to stay in the original federal Medicare program and buy supplemental coverage, or whether to buy a Medicare Advantage plan. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each... [667 word article, December 2009]

In early 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the number of private, single-employer defined benefit (DB) pension plans had fallen from approximately 92,000 in 1990 to just under 29,000 plans. In addition, the recent stock downturn left DB pension plans at the nation’s largest companies underfunded by $409 billion—erasing an estimated $60 billion pension surplus at year-end 2007... [692 word article, November 2009]

Just because an insurer denies your claim initially doesn't mean it won't pay. Here's how to proceed if your insurer denies a medical claim. If you're facing a health problem, the last thing you want to do is deal with a claim denial. Taking these steps will help smooth the process... [553 word article, November 2009]

Medicare's annual open enrollment is from Nov. 15 - Dec. 31. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries may change to Medicare Advantage plans, return to original Medicare or change prescription drug plans. Changes take effect on January 1, 2010. If you enroll in or switch to Medicare Part A and want Medicare Part B coverage, you can enroll between January 1 and March 31, with enrollment effective on July 1... [1013 word article, November 2009]

Life insurance can help your business live on after the retirement or death of an owner or partner—here’s how.

Every business needs a continuation plan that spells out how the business will survive after an owner’s retirement or death. For a sole proprietorship, the plan should name the successor who will run the business... [350 word article, October 2009]

Today, more people find themselves needing short-term medical coverage than ever before. Layoffs, job changes, graduations, divorces and other transitions can make individuals ineligible for group coverage. If you need coverage to take you through life’s transitions, consider short-term medical insurance.

Young adults from ages 19 to 29 now make up the fastest-growing group of uninsured Americans... [623 word article, October 2009]

You open your credit card statement and find a “special offer” from your credit card issuer if you sign up for a “payment protection plan.” What do these plans cover, and do you need one?

“Payment protection plan” is another name for credit insurance. You can buy four types of credit insurance:... [672 word article, October 2009]

Once you submit a claim under a life insurance policy, you must determine how you want to receive the proceeds. Most insurers offer several options. Which is best for you?

Lump sum: You receive the entire death benefit at once, which can allow you to pay any final expenses. Lump-sum benefits are not subject to income tax... [281 word article, September 2009]

If you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, how do you file a claim?

If you have an "insurable interest" in a family member or business partner’s life, chances are he or she has bought life insurance to protect your financial security. When the time comes, your family member or partner would want you to receive the benefits of that policy... [456 word article, September 2009]

Here's a sobering thought: Most active workers will never be eligible for health insurance through a former employer during retirement. A report just released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that only 13 percent of private-sector establishments offered health benefits to early retirees in 2005, down from 22 percent in 1997.

Furthermore, 13 percent of private-sector establishments offered health benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees in 2005, down from 20 percent in 1997... [726 word article, September 2009]

Medicare beneficiaries can buy Medicare Part D coverage through a private insurer to help cover the cost of prescription drugs. Before you buy a Medicare Part D plan, however, you should know the limitations of this coverage.

Everyone with Medicare can obtain Part D coverage. Part D covers both brand-name and generic prescription drugs at participating pharmacies... [891 word article, March 2010]

As April 15 looms, taxes might be on your mind. Although tax deductibility might not be your primary consideration when buying insurance, the ability to deduct premiums and/or benefits can make certain types of coverages more affordable. Here’s a list of the major types of life and health insurance and an overview of their tax implications...[973 word article, March 2010]

Travel insurance has become somewhat of a boom industry since 9/11. The U.S. Travel Insurance Association (USTIA) said that nearly 120 million people were covered by various types of travel insurance in 2008, a growth of more than 35 percent since 2006. Do you need this coverage?

The USTIA survey found that trip cancellation/trip interruption coverage accounted for 90 percent of travel insurance sales... [543 word article, March 2010]

Most major medical plans exclude coverage for vision care, including exams, glasses and contact lenses. Do you need this coverage?

The Vision Council of America (VCA) estimates 11 million Americans have uncorrected vision problems, ranging from refractive errors (near- or far-sightedness) to sight-threatening diseases such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration... [425 word article, April 2010]

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