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Life and Health

Why Healthy Singles Need Health Insurance

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Why Healthy Singles Need Health Insurance

As a single and healthy adult, you may figure that health insurance isn’t a necessity. After all, you don’t have any pressing or chronic medical needs, and insurance is just another expense that will stretch your already thin budget. What you don’t realize is that you actually have several really good reasons to purchase health insurance today.

1. Avoid a Penalty

With the Affordable Care Act in effect, anyone who doesn’t purchase health insurance in 2015 will owe a penalty of $325 or two percent of your income. Avoid the penalty by enrolling in your parents’ insurance if you’re under 26. Otherwise, enroll in your employer-sponsored healthcare plan or apply for an affordable policy through the Healthcare Marketplace or a private insurer and avoid the penalty.

2. Cover Preventative Care

Maybe you only think about doctors when you’re sick, but they’re also important for preventative care. During regular checkups, they can catch the beginnings of heart disease, diabetes or other medical conditions, so put your health insurance to work as you prioritize preventative care.

3. Build a Relationship With a Healthcare Team

What happens if you get pregnant, develop arthritis or suffer from severe headaches? You’ll want a trusted medical team that knows you and your physical health history by your side. Use health insurance to make regular visits to a physician and build a relationship that will benefit you down the road.

4. Enjoy an Active Lifestyle

Do you avoid skiing, traveling or another fun activity because you’re afraid you might get hurt and won’t be able to afford the medical treatment? Purchase health insurance. While it doesn’t give you a license to be reckless, it does help you enjoy life without worrying that an injury will wipe out your savings and land you in the poor house.

5. Maintain a Healthy Reproductive System

Even though you don’t have a family now, you may want one in the future. Go to the doctor for regular checkups and reproductive health advice. Address reproductive problems now and maintain your reproductive health as you look forward to the future.

Health insurance can be expensive and it might seem like a waste of money or a budgetary strain, but it’s a wise investment. Talk to an insurance agent today about which policy is right for your needs and budget. Then use health insurance to take care of yourself today and prepare for a healthy tomorrow.

 

Does Your Newborn Need Life Insurance?

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You’ve recently welcomed a baby into your family, and now you’re ready to plan for your child’s future. You already know that life insurance is a wise financial decision for you, but does your newborn need life insurance?

Lock in Affordable Rates

Compare rates for a newborn life insurance policy and one designed for senior adults, and you’ll see that the newborn policy costs less. Life insurance companies know that young customers typically live longer, which decreases their risk of payout. By purchasing a policy now, you snag affordable rates while your child is young and healthy.

Assure Your Child’s Insurability

Insuring your infant does more than secure the best life insurance policy rates. It also ensures your child’s future insurability. In the future, illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer affect your child’s ability to buy affordable life insurance. That’s why families choose to insure their healthy infants and assure their future insurability.

Provide for End of Life Expenses

It seems a little silly to think about paying for your newborn’s funeral.  However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 4,246 children under the age of four died in 2011 from birth defects, genetic disorders and accidents. Life insurance covers burial and funeral costs, which gives you peace of mind and financial protection.

Give Your Child a Financial Head Start

Life insurance is typically available as term or whole life coverage. Either option provides essential coverage, but term life insurance usually costs less.

*Term insurance covers the policy holder for a set time frame. For example, buy your newborn a 15-year term life insurance policy, and your child is insured until he or she turns 15. In cases, this type of policy can be renewed.

*Whole life insurance provides a lifetime of coverage and builds cash value. As an alternative to an IRA or 529 Plan, whole life insurance gives you a way to save for your child’s future while providing life insurance for him or her.

Life insurance is designed to replace the primary wage earner’s income as it provides for the survivors’ financial needs. Purchasing a policy for your newborn can be a good idea, though, especially after you purchase adequate life insurance for yourself. Then weigh the pros and cons of newborn life insurance and talk to your insurance agent as you make this decision.

HMO, PPO, AND POS — PROS AND CONS

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When choosing a Health insurance program, it’s all too easy to drown in an alphabet soup of acronyms — everything from ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) to WHRN (Whole Health Resources Networks).

However, the three most common types of managed health care plans are Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Plans (PPOs), and POS (Point of Service plans). Here’s an overview of how each type works, together with their advantages and disadvantages.

Health Maintenance Organizations.

An HMO offers a “provider network” of health services professionals (physicians, nurses, therapists, etc.) and facilities (hospitals, clinics, medical offices, and so forth). A primary care physician (PCP) will act as a “gatekeeper” who will evaluate your health and recommend referrals to specialists, as needed.

As a rule, premiums and co-pays are relatively low, saving you money. On the downside, HMOs offer limited, if any, flexibility for services outside the plan. If your current physician isn’t in the HMO, you’ll have to pay for his or her services, or select another PCP who does participate in the plan. Also, if you use a provider outside the network, you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

Preferred Provider Organizations. 

Like HMOs, PPOs operate through a network of health care providers and institutions, and set relatively low co-payments for medical treatment. However, unlike HMOs, they’ll pick up the tab for many (although not all) medical services outside the network. What’s more, you can see specialists who participate in the network without going through your primary care physician.

Of course, you’ll pay a relatively high premium for enjoying this added flexibility. Also, if you get treatment outside the PPO, you’ll have to pick up a deductible or the difference between the charges of the plan provider and those of the out-of -network specialist.

Point of Service Plans. 

This option combines elements of HMOs and PPOs. A POS plan focuses on a primary care physician participating in the plan who monitors your health care at the “point of service” and recommend referrals either inside or outside the network. In the former case, the PPO will file a claim with your Health insurance company, which will pick up the tab for a high percentage of the charges; in the latter, you’ll have to do the paperwork yourself and your reimbursement will be far lower. If you see a specialist without going through your PCP, the insurer will pay even less.

As a rule of thumb, a POS offer more flexibility than an HMO and less than a PPO.

The Bottom Line.

HMO, PPO, or POS — which will provide the best value for your health-care dollar? That depends on your needs and life situation. Our professionals stand ready to offer you their expert advice. Just give us a call.

New Year’s Resolutions That Help You Live Longer

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One in five people resolve to lose weight or get healthier every January. If you choose to adopt this resolution in 2018, you could live longer. Several additional New Year’s resolutions can also prolong your life, so consider adding them to your resolution list this year.

Eat Fewer Calories

Food fuels your body, but when you eat fewer calories, you lose weight and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Choose a smaller plate, chew each bite carefully and stop eating when you start to feel full to eat fewer calories and prolong your life.

Add Brain Foods to Your Diet

Certain foods help your brain and body function properly. Plan to add these brain foods to your diet as you live a healthier lifestyle this year.

  • Avocado
  • Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Whole grains
  • Wild salmon

Meditate Daily

Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, improves your mood and boosts your brain’s grey matter, which helps to regulate your sensory perception, muscle control, decision making and self-control. Listen to a meditative CD or simply sit still and relax as you add this practice to your daily routine and gain its benefits.

Learn Something New

When you learn a new skill, you stretch your brain and improve your memory. Resolve to take a college class, learn to edit photos or watch TED talks that enrich your life and your brain with new thoughts, ideas and lessons.

Move Every Day

Regular movement helps you stay fit, improves your overall body function and reduces stress and depression. As a bonus, moving outdoors in nature could lower your blood pressure and boost your immunity. Whether you take a walk, sign up for a dance class or join a sports team, aim to move at least 10,000 steps per day and live longer.

Start a New Hobby

Hobbies like gardening, cooking and reading improve your quality of life. Many hobbies also reduce your stress levels, improve your focus and boost your brainpower. Start a hobby or two, and you increase your enjoyment of life and life expectancy this year.

Play More

Play helps kids develop properly and learn essential skills, and play gives adults important benefits, too. Relax your body and stimulate your mind when you put together up a jigsaw puzzle, join a bowling league, shoot hoops during work breaks and play more in 2018.

Get a Physical

During your annual physical, you and your doctor review your current health and address any ongoing health issues. Prioritize this visit to stay healthy now and into the future.

Resolve in 2018 to live longer thanks to these resolutions. They improve your life and your health.

LIFE INSURANCE: REDUCE YOUR WEIGHT – AND YOUR PREMIUMS!

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When you’re buying Life insurance, losing a few extra pounds could save you big dollars – money that you could apply to pay for the policy or increase the amount of coverage.

Here’s why: According to two recent nationwide polls, more than 35% of American adults are overweight; another 30% suffer from morbid obesity, based on such measures as the body mass index (BMI), which correlates height and weight with the percentage of body fat. As a rule of thumb, the higher an individual’s BMI, the higher their risk of dying – and thus the higher their Life insurance premium. In fact, those who are morbidly obese might be unable to buy coverage at any price! Conversely, the lower your BMI, the less you’ll pay for a Life policy.

For what it’s worth, obesity is also a major factor in driving up Health insurance premiums: A recent Cornell University study found that the annual medical expenses of an obese person exceed those of their normal weight counterpart by a hefty $2,741 a year – which comes to $190 billion a year (20.6% of the nation’s health care tab).

By reducing their weight, policyholders easily can reduce their premiums hundreds of dollars a year – or thousands over the term of coverage. For example, one sample analysis of a $1 million, 20-year Whole Life policy found that a 200-pound male in his mid-30s would save $730 a year by losing an average of 30 pounds; a 180-pound female in the same age bracket who shed 30 pounds would reduce her annual premium by $527. Savings of that size add up quickly.

If you lose weight during the term of the policy, your insurance company might not necessarily lower the premium – any more than a weight gain would lead to a premium increase. If you’re planning a long-term weight reduction program, it would make sense to switch to another policy after you’ve completed your regimen and kept the pounds from coming back. The insurance company will verify your weight by reviewing the results of your latest physical or having an examiner take a scale to your home.

The professionals at our agency would be happy to discuss this issue, or any other aspect of your Life insurance program at your convenience. Just give us a call.

Factors That Affect Your Long-Term Care Insurance Costs

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Long-term care insurance (LTC) pays for quality nursing home, assisted living or in-home care if you need it. When you consider that the average private nursing home room cost $99,736 in 2015, you see how important an LTC policy is for your peace of mind. Plus, it protects your financial assets that would otherwise pay for your care. Before you purchase this valuable insurance coverage, learn more about the factors that can affect your policy’s premium cost.

Age

Your age at the time you purchase a long-term care insurance policy affects the premium cost. Additionally, your rate can increase by three to five percent every year you wait to purchase coverage. Don’t let your age push you to rush this purchase, though. Take your time and research your options to ensure you buy the right policy for your needs.

Health

Enjoy lower long-term care insurance policy rates when you purchase a policy while you’re healthy. Rates increase if you develop health conditions or take too many prescription medications.

Coverage

An average long-term care insurance policy includes benefits like waiver of premium, alternate care, equipment and home modifications, bed reservation and homemaker and chore service. You may purchase additional riders, too, including:

  • Inflation protection
  • Restoration of benefits
  • Survivorship benefit
  • Waiver of Home Health Care Elimination Period
  • Return of Premium
  • Nonforfeiture benefit

Each of these riders increases your total cost by five to 75 percent, so choose your coverage carefully as you balance your expected needs and budget.

Discounts

You could qualify for preferred health or marriage discounts. Ask your insurance agent about these and other discounts that could save you money on your long-term care insurance policy.

Waiting

You may decide to wait and purchase long-term care insurance right before you need it or after you save money for the premium. While you are wise to consider this purchase carefully, examine an example that illustrates how waiting will affect you.

At age 50, John purchases a long-term Care Insurance policy with a $4500 monthly benefit, four-year benefit period, 90-day elimination period and three percent inflation protection. His premium costs $2,707 per year. When he’s 85, he will have paid $94,745 in premiums. At age 55, John will pay nearly $3,589 per year for the same coverage. His total premiums paid equals nearly $107,670. John could save almost $13,000 by purchasing a policy earlier.

Afford the long-term care insurance that gives you peace of mind when you consider these factors that affect your policy’s cost. Discuss your specific needs and budget with your insurance agent as you choose the right policy for you.

Give The Gift Of Life Insurance This Holiday

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This year’s hottest holiday gifts include technology, travel and aromatherapy. While these items provide temporary enjoyment, why not give a gift that lasts a lifetime and beyond?

Consider the gift of life insurance this holiday as you care for your loved ones.

Provide for Your Family

Life insurance provides financial support for survivors after the policy holder dies. They can use the death benefit to cover daily living expenses, pay for college or repay debt. Purchase a policy for yourself, your spouse or a loved one, and secure your family’s future.

Honor a Loved One

Your loved one may feel especially fond of a specific charity, university or other organization. Name that organization as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, and your loved one’s memory lives on after their death.

Support a Loved One

If a loved one or friend can’t afford life insurance, purchase a policy for them. Or buy a new policy for yourself and name someone you love as your beneficiary. In this way, you support a loved one.

Take Advantage of Lower Rates

When you purchase life insurance while you’re young, you pay lower premiums. Now’s the best time to buy a life insurance policy for you or your loved one.

Plan Your Estate

You can use a life insurance policy as part of your or a loved one’s estate planning strategy. Life insurance payouts are not subject to taxes unless the policy accrues interest, making it an ideal addition to an estate.

Which Type of Life Insurance Should you Give?

Choose from several life insurance options. Examples include:

Whole: Accrue cash value that you can borrow from to pay almost any expense with this permanent policy that’s in effect until you die.

Universal: Change the death benefit or cash value as needed while you own this permanent life insurance policy.

Term: Gain coverage for a certain number of years normally with no annual health exam.

How Much Does Life Insurance Cost?

Analyze the recipient’s age, health and financial needs as you choose the right life insurance policy for your loved one. Healthy adults can pay as little as $10 per month for term life insurance. Whole life insurance policies cost more than term life policies but provide longer coverage.

Also, keep in mind that life insurance premiums must be paid regularly or the policy could lapse. Be sure you or the recipient can maintain payments.

Life insurance provides peace of mind and financial resources after death. Consider giving the gift of life insurance to your loved ones this holiday. For assistance buying the right policy for your needs, talk to your insurance agent.

ENJOY YOUR LIFE: THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING

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Although you might not be aware of it, there are far-reaching benefits to positive thinking that can improve your health and help you with stress management. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that the personality traits of optimism and pessimism can have a direct impact on your well-being.

The good news is that, even if you are a pessimist by nature, you can take steps to improve positive thinking techniques in your life, and reap the resulting health and well-being benefits. Health Benefits of Positive Thinking. Over time, researchers have explored the effects of optimistic thinking on health, and have found many correlations between well being and positive thought processes. These include:

  • Longer life span
  • Better resistance to the common cold
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Reduced rates of cardiovascular disease
  • Improved coping skills during times of stress and hardship
  • Better physical and psychological well-being

Get on the Road to Positive Thought Processes. 

There are some simple steps to take to move away from negative thinking, and create a new habit of positive self-talk. Monitor yourself: During the day, stop and take note of your thoughts. If thoughts are mainly negative, make a conscious effort to put a positive spin on things.

Be open to good humor: Give yourself permission to be happy, to smile, and to laugh, even when the chips are down. Seek humor in everyday events.

Lead a healthy lifestyle: Follow a healthy diet and exercise at least three times per week. Eating right and exercising both have positive effects on mood and stress management.

Surround yourself with people who focus on the positive: Choose to spend time with family and friends who are cheerful, supportive, and offer helpful feedback. Avoid spending time with negative people who have a “glass half empty” attitude.

Practice positive self talk:
 Be gentle and encouraging with yourself, and never tell yourself something that you would not say to another person. If a negative thought enters your mind, try to think about it rationally, and follow up with positive affirmations about yourself and your circumstances.

Practice Every Day! 

If you have had a past tendency to have a negative outlook on life, don’t despair. While you may not become an optimist overnight, with everyday practice, you will begin to replace negativity with productive, positive thoughts.

You may find that you become, not only less critical of yourself, but more accepting of the world around you. As your general attitude improves, you will begin to reap the physical and emotional benefits of a positive outlook on life!

Who Should Get A Flu Vaccine This Fall?

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Every fall, your doctor or pharmacist probably asks you if you want a flu shot. This important vaccination can prevent you from getting the flu. Learn more about who should get a flu shot as you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

What is the Flu Vaccine?

The flu vaccine is an injection that contains inactivated flu virus. Once it’s in your body, it takes two weeks to build antibodies that help you fight the flu virus and stay healthy during the fall and winter flu season.

What Does the Flu Shot Protect Against?

Influenza is a respiratory infection that can cause serious complications, including hospitalization or death. This year’s flu shot protects against the H1N1 flu virus and two additional flu strains. Adults over the age of 65 may also request a vaccine that protects against four additional flu virus strains.

Why do you Need an Annual Vaccination?

You want to protect yourself every year with a new vaccination. Flu viruses change quickly, and this year’s strain may be different than last year’s strain. Plus, flu antibodies decrease over time, leaving you vulnerable to the flu.

Where is the Flu Vaccine Available?

You can get a flu shot in several convenient locations. Schedule an appointment with your physician or visit your pharmacy, a health clinic, an urgent care center or a college health center. You can even ask your employer about getting a flu shot at work. In many cases, the vaccine is covered by your health insurance.

Who Should get a Flu Shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases flu shot recommendations every fall. This year, it recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over the age of six months.

The vaccine is especially important for people who are vulnerable to flu complications.  These people include pregnant women, older adults and young children as well as anyone with the following chronic medical conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Obesity

Also, remember that the flu vaccine protects others. When you protect yourself from getting sick, you don’t share germs with others, and everyone stays healthy.

Should Anyone not get a Flu Shot?

In certain situations, you may choose not to get the flu vaccine. Discuss the flu vaccine with your doctor if you have a severe egg allergy or reacted severely to a previous vaccine.

Now that you know more about who needs a flu vaccine, you’re prepared to make an informative decision when your doctor or pharmacist asks you this year if you want a flu shot.

RETIREES SHARE THEIR WISDOM IN A REVEALING SURVEY

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Many soon-to-be retirees find themselves in an anxious state, uncertain of how to face the imminent new phase of their life known as retirement. Fortunately, the results from a recent survey might offer them some guidance and reassurance. Offering a glimpse into the lives of current and soon-to-be retirees, this enlightening survey reveals a few secrets to an enjoyable and financially sound retirement.

For the study, the Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed 17,877 of their ConsumerReports.org subscribers between the ages of 55 and 75. The survey included participants who were fully retired, semi-retired and others who were still working full-time. However, the results focus primarily on the 6,723 retired participants.

The surprising results. 

This groundbreaking survey reveals a few unexpected insights into the lives of retirees. For one, a whopping 93% of participants said they were satisfied overall with their retirement. Additionally, 32% said they were completely satisfied and 41% said retirement was actually better than they expected. A mere 5% of those surveyed said retirement was worse than expected.

However, many participants said they regret that they didn’t save more for retirement. Approximately 35% said they wished they had started saving earlier and 30% said that they would have put away more money each year had they known what they know now.

But many of the retired survey participants still chose to retire relatively early instead of working longer and building up their retirement savings. The median age of retirement among the surveyed group was 60 years. About a third of the participants retired between the ages of 55 and 59, 38% retired between 60 and 64 and only 18% waited until 65 or later. Those survey participants who were still working said they expected to retire at a later age. Out of this working group, 48% said they planned to retire between 65 and 69 and an unprecedented 14% said they planned to keep working into their 70s. Retiree saving strategies.

The survey also asked current retirees how they saved for retirement. Here are the illuminating results:

  • 67% said they contributed to a 401(k) or 403(b) at work
  • 60% invested in an IRA
  • 59% said they built up equity in their homes
  • 43% invested in stocks that were not part of a retirement account
  • 38% invested in mutual funds not part of a retirement account
  • 37% owned a savings account or CD

These results prove that investing in a wide range of vehicles can lead to a more comfortable retirement. As a matter of fact, the more different ways retirees saved, the more satisfied they were in their retirement years. The survey also revealed that the sooner participants started to stockpile for retirement, the more satisfied they were with retirement. Many of those surveyed started saving a relatively young age.

An impressive 32% said they started saving in their 30s and 34% said they waited until their 40s. An amazing 15% wisely started saving in their 20s, 11% didn’t start saving until their 50s and a mere 7% said they never seriously saved.

The takeaway. 

This Consumer Reports survey offers convincing proof that the earlier you start saving and the more ways in which you save, the happier you’ll be in your retirement years. Of course, if you’re already in your 40s and 50s and are not saving yet, it’s never too late to start. Based on the lessons from this survey, here are a few saving strategies you might want to consider:

Don’t be too conservative or too risky when it comes to investing. An incredible 57% of the retired survey participants described themselves as “moderate risk-takers.” In other words, although they took a few risks, they did not invest wildly in unpredictable, fluctuating funds such as solid stocks.

If you can, save more than you’re currently saving. As the results from this survey show, many retirees wish they would have put away more each month.

Come up with a smart transitional plan. Although 74% of surveyed retirees said they stopped working altogether as soon as they retired, another one in four said they continued to work at reduced hours, took on a part-time job or started their own business. Obviously, the right choice will be determined by your unique situation — but it’s always best to have a clear plan before retirement.