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Life and Health

Understand Critical Illness Insurance

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Medical advances keep us healthier. However, debilitating illnesses still affect thousands of people, and the costs of treating those illnesses cause many medical bankruptcies. With critical illness insurance, you may get the treatment you need, keep your home and other assets, and spend time with your family.

Critical Illness Insurance Coverage

Dozens of medical conditions, including injuries, disease and surgeries, are covered under critical illness insurance. Several examples include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancers
  • Coma
  • Heart attack
  • Heart valve surgery
  • Kidney failure
  • Loss of sight/speech/hearing
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Organ transplant
  • Paraplegia
  • Severe burns
  • Stroke

Many critical illness insurance companies offer critical illness categories such as cancer and related conditions, organ transplants and heart-related conditions. You may purchase coverage for one category or may more to purchase a policy that covers all the categories.

Policies usually range from $10,000 to $1 million. When you do file a claim, the insurance company will pay it in a lump sum. You may then use the money for any expense you wish, including:

  • Medical bills, deductibles, co-payments or diagnostic testing
  • Experimental treatment
  • Out-of-network doctors and hospitals
  • Transportation to treatment
  • Wheelchair or other medical equipment and supplies
  • Home health care
  • Home improvements or retrofitting
  • Household living expenses
  • Income replacement
  • Family vacation
  • Childcare

Keep in mind that critical illness insurance typically provides coverage for two to 25 years. While the insurance remains in effect as long as you pay the premiums, critical illness insurance policies include a waiting period, also known as an elimination period, during which you cannot receive benefits.

Critical Illness Insurance Costs

Your age, height, weight, family health history, nicotine use and current medical conditions affect the cost of your critical illness insurance policy. Premiums may increase when these factors change.

Also, your costs depend on the amount of coverage you buy. Choose the right amount of coverage for you when you add two years worth of mortgage or rent payments and the amount of your outstanding credit card debt.

How to Purchase Critical Illness Insurance

When you decide critical illness insurance is right for you, purchase it in several ways.

    1. Purchase an individual policy, which includes a medical exam.
    1. Add the benefit through your employee benefits package and pay the premiums through payroll deduction. You’ll either receive a certificate under your employer’s group plan or an individual workplace policy.
    1. Add as a supplement to your major medical health insurance policy.
    1. Purchase as a supplement to your life insurance policy.

With critical illness insurance, you can afford medical treatment and provide for your family. It gives you peace of mind and may be a wise investment.

Health Insurance for the Self-Employed

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The self-employed tackle challenges that those employed by others rarely face: doing budgets, growing their business – and, of course, Health insurance.

The cost of individual Health coverage has skyrocketed during the past decade, with average monthly premiums growing more than 500%. What’s more, co-pays and deductibles keep going up, while covered services are shrinking.

However, there are options that can help the self-employed enjoy significant savings on Health insurance:

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

      COBRA is a federal law that guarantees workers who lose their jobs – and thus the Group Health benefits provided by their employers,- he opportunity to retain coverage on themselves and their families for up to 18 months, as long as they pay the policy premium (plus a surcharge of up to 2%). COBRA gives the self-employed a short-term ‘time cushion” during which they can make other health care choices.

Online Providers

      The Internet has given rise to a number of smaller, increasingly flexible, more price-conscious, and highly competitive companies that offer the self-employed a variety of options for affordable Health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

    Everything that we know about Health insurance for the self-employed (as well as employees in small and medium -sized businesses) is in a state of flux as more provisions of the ACA take effect over the next few months. The government, in partnership with Health insurance providers, will offer a variety of options – and require every adult to carry some type of coverage, or face a tax penalty.

For more information on how to get the best value on your Health insurance, at an affordable price, feel free to get in touch with our agency at any time.

What is Cancer Insurance?

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Treatment for cancer can cost over $1 million. With most insurance plans, cancer patients max out their policy limits and face financial hardship as they get treatment. Cancer insurance reduces the financial burden and allows you to receive the treatment you need and want.

What Cancer Insurance Covers

With cancer insurance, you receive supplemental coverage that bridges the gap between the cost of your treatment and the amount your primary health insurance covers. It reduces your out-of-pocket expenses and allows you to receive the lifesaving treatment you need, and it can cover non-medical expenses. Consider this list of expenses cancer insurance can pay.

  • Co-pays and deductibles
  • Extended hospital stays
  • Medical tests
  • Procedures such as stem cell transplants
  • Other disease-specific treatments
  • Home health care
  • Wage replacement
  • Child care
  • Dietary restriction aids
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Family vacation

As with any insurance, read your specific policy carefully to find exactly what it covers.

Types of Cancer Insurance

Primary health insurance often covers cancer treatments, including diagnostic tests, doctor visits and medicine. However, cancer insurance serves as an important supplement. There are two main types.

    1. The most popular cancer insurance policies pay benefits in a lump sum when the policy holder is diagnosed with cancer. You have the freedom to use the money to pay whatever expenses you wish.
    1. Less common cancer insurance policies pay for cancer-related expenses not covered by the primary health insurance policy. Coverage with this type of policy varies and may exclude the same expenses traditional health insurance excludes, so you must read the policy carefully to be sure your needs is met.

Six Important Considerations

Before you purchase cancer insurance, understand six important considerations.

    1. No matter which type of policy you choose, you may not have a pre-existing cancerous condition, including cancer treatment, to qualify for coverage.
    1. There is a waiting period after you purchase the policy and before benefits are paid. If you are diagnosed with cancer during that time, you will not receive a payout.
    1. Compare your primary health insurance and cancer insurance policies to ensure benefits do not overlap.
    1. Non-melanoma skin cancer is not covered by cancer insurance.
    1. You may receive a reduced benefit if you have an early cancer rather than an invasive cancer.
    1. Be prepared to provide documentation of your cancer diagnosis from your health care provider before you will receive the policy benefits.

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you need all your energy to fight the disease and take care of yourself, not worry about how to pay for treatment. Cancer insurance gives you p

Short-Term Care Insurance Can Make a BIG Difference

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Short-Term Care Insurance (STCI) can help pay for your medical care in an assisted-living facility or nursing home for a relatively short period (90 to 360 days) during recovery, convalescence, or recuperation when you can’t take care of yourself – unlike Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI), which provides coverage for two years to a lifetime.

Compared to LTC coverage, Short-Term Care policies are:

  • Up to 70% less costly – because of the shorter benefit period.
  • Easier to obtain – with only a limited list of medical exclusions.
  • Far more likely to be used; one study found that 90% of nursing home stays last less than a year.
  • Much quicker to go into effect; the STCI “elimination period” – the time from diagnosis until coverage begins – is usually 0 to 30 days, compared to the standard LTCI period of 90 days (According to one study, only one in four nursing home residents remain this long).

The STCI eligibility “triggers” are usually the same as those for Long-Term Care. The policy pays for care when you can’t perform at least two of six “activities of daily living” without help – eating, bathing, transferring in and out of a chair or bed, dressing, toileting and continence – or suffers from a cognitive impairment.

Choosing STCI makes sense if you: 1) have around $20,000 to $60,000 in assets and need reimbursement for the cost of care during a relatively short recovery; or 2) can’t meet the medical qualifications for LTCI or have waited so long to apply that you can no longer afford the premiums.

As insurance professionals, we’d be happy to help tailor a Short-Term Care policy that provides the protection you need at a price you can afford. Just give us a call.

Download the Info on Permanant Life Insurance

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Child with her grandfather

Is Permanent Life insurance for you? This type of coverage, unlike Term Life, does not expire and provides a tax-deferred investment or savings component (“cash benefit”), as well as a death benefit. As a rule, Permanent Life makes sense as a savings vehicle for high-income families, or those – such as small business owners – with illiquid estates, who want to pass along cash to their heirs.

If you’re considering Permanent Life, here’s what you should know:

  1. Types of policies.
    1. Whole Life charges a fixed premium to fund a guaranteed cash benefit and death benefit; the shorter the pay period, the higher the premium.
    2. Universal Life offers a flexible premium that combines a Term Life policy with a bank account. You pay as much as you want, with the leftover funds earning a variable interest rate.
    3. Variable Universal Life works the same way, except that you can choose mutual fund-type options for investing your cash value.
  2. Medical exam: As with Term Life, the insurance company will require you to take a physical examination. If you have a medical problem, you’ll probably pay higher premiums,
  3. Investment benefits: You won’t owe state or federal taxes while the policy’s cash value grows until you make a withdrawal (at which time your tax rate will probably be lower). What’s more the “forced savings feature – requiring you to pay premiums – creates a financial safety net.
  4. Costs: Because Permanent Life funds the policy’s cash benefit, as well as a death benefit, you’ll pay significantly higher premiums than for the same amount of Term coverage. Permanent Life also sets sales, administrative, and fund-management fees, as well as a mortality risk charge. In addition, if you cash in the policy during a certain period (usually 10 or 20 years) you might have to pay a surrender fee.

For more information on Permanent Life insurance, please feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

Don’t Make Quick Decisions on your Disability Insurance

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LH_1302-01 (1)In tough times, we’re all looking for ways to save money. When you’re healthy and working, it’s hard to imagine being disabled by illness or injury. But be careful about disabling your Disability insurance. When you need it, it’s often too late. Bear in mind that:

  • One in three working Americans will suffer a disability that keeps them from work for at least 90 days before retirement (age 65).
  • The average disability absence lasts 2½ years.
  • More than 80% of working Americans don’t have enough Disability insurance.

There are ways to reduce the cost of your premiums. For example, you can choose a longer waiting period before your benefits begin, or elect a shorter benefit period.

If you have enough resources to cover all your expenses during the first three months of a disability, a longer waiting period might be appropriate. Your premiums will probably be lower for coverage that starts after you’ve been disabled three months than for a policy that pays benefits after just 30 days.

Often, choosing a policy with benefits with a shorter benefit period — say to age 65 instead of for a lifetime — will lower your premiums. However, bear in mind that choosing a benefit period of two to five years to reduce your premiums, ending before normal retirement age, could be tragic. The longer the disability, the more likely that it will pose financial hardship.

If you’re considering making changes to your Long-Term Disability policy, call us today!

Sick and Abroad!

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Boeing 747 Aircraft Taking Off ca. 1990s

Boeing 747 Aircraft Taking Off ca. 1990s

You’re soon to be off on an exciting trip out of the country. Your plans are made, your flight is booked, your passport is current – and now all you can do is count down to the day of your flight. Before you pack your bags and board your plane, make sure that you have insurance to cover any unforeseen medical expenses while traveling.

Bear in mind that most Health policies provide only partial, or no, coverage outside the U.S. (Neither do Medicare and Medicaid). If an accident or medical emergency struck during your trip, you’d be left far from home – and uninsured. The solution: Travel Health Insurance, which can provide a number of benefits, including:

  • Emergency medical treatment
  • Hospitalization
  • Coverage for pre-existing condition
  • Prescription drugs
  • Accidental death
  • Hazardous sports coverage (optional)
  • If necessary, medical evacuation back to the U.S. – this alone could cost $50,000

If you’re a frequent traveler, you can purchase multi-trip coverage (for up to a year) at a significant discount. People who plan to be abroad for an extended period might be able to buy a Major Medical policy that picks up the cost of prescription drugs and wellness programs.

As with most Health policies, Travel Health plans feature both in-and out-of-network coverage, deductibles, and co-payments.

You can choose from among a wide variety of plans, with differing options, and rates. For example, some policies also include such non-medical coverages as Trip Interruption and Travel Baggage.

We can advise you on selecting the Travel Health plan that’s best for you. Feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

Sleep is one of THE most important things to your health

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LH_1108-03Today’s society carries an unrealistic expectation, if not demand, for individuals to fit more and more into their lives. The often teetering balancing act between work and everyday life causes many to defer sleep to get everything that’s expected of them done. Late nights and early mornings can be a recipe for a health disaster.

The problem is that sleep isn’t something that can be brokered and traded for supposedly more important tasks. Most people are fully aware that getting enough sleep is something that’s beneficial to their mind and body, but did you know that getting too little sleep could actually increase your risk of an early death from cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attack?

A new study published in the European Heart Journal analyzed data from fifteen different sleep studies that involved adults from various countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, and Japan. The research followed almost 475,000 adults for up to 25 years and found that having sleep disrupted or sleeping less than six hours a night resulted in a 48% chance of dying from or developing cardiovascular disease. The chance of dying from or having a stroke was 15%.

The researchers recommend that six to eight hours of regular nightly sleep is optimum to protect one’s health and reduce their risk of developing chronic illnesses. They also warn that people get into trouble when their sleep is less than five hours per night since this causes problems the next day from being tired and steadily increases the risk of developing a chronic illness in the future.

According the study, chronic sleep deprivation can cause an array of changes to the human body, such as the production of chemicals and hormones that increase the risk of developing strokes and heart disease. For example, cytokines, which are chemical inflammation markers for hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), can be activated by chronic sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation also increases the risk of developing hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity, which are ironically also known risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, hormone changes can lead to certain markers for type 2 diabetes, such as insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.

On the other hand, the study’s authors also caution against getting too much sleep. Over nine hours of sleep could have negative implications and be an indicator of a number of underlying illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease or depression.

Although the study does indicate that sleep deprivation should be considered a lifestyle risk akin to sedentary lifestyles, alcohol abuse, and tobacco use, some experts caution that there’s still a lot unknown about the mechanism and causation when it comes to the association between sleep disorders and the increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

In the meantime, those that would like to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke might consider integrating the American Heart Association’s key health factors into their daily lives – reducing blood sugar, controlling cholesterol, managing blood pressure, smoking cessation, weight loss, eating better, and being more active.

Over 50? Life Insurance?

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Fifty might seem old – unless you plan on living past 100, it means that your life is more than half over. However, people at this age today are far younger than they used to be. Think about how your grandparents looked in their 50s and 60s and beyond compared to today’s grandparents.

Although growing older isn’t what it used to be, you might still think that people over 50, who tend to be less healthy than their younger counterparts, can’t afford to buy Life insurance. Not so.

Increased competition in today’s market means that insurance companies are seeking customers of all ages– and that rates are lower than ever. More and more insurers are designing and marketing policies to people 50 and older, which means that they have a far better chance of getting Life coverage.

To help protect your loved ones with Life insurance, at a cost you can afford, we’d recommend these guidelines to a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Watch your weight. Having a normal Body Mass Index (generally less than 25) will improve your chances of living longer.
  2. Deal with any health issues. For example, if you have a condition such as high cholesterol, get it under control, whether by medication or changing your diet.
  3. Exercise regularly, for obvious reasons.
  4. If you’re a smoker, kick the habit. Quitting will not only improve your health, but save you money – which you can invest in helping pay your premium.

Of course, these recommendations apply to Life insurance applicants at any age.

We’d be happy to help you find the policy that can best meet your needs – feel free to give us a call at any time.

Take Control of Your Health

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lh-1701-2You’re not alone if you shy away from the doctor’s office, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by avoiding the doctor. Working with a trustworthy doctor can help you follow better health behaviors. It can also help you detect and treat health conditions early instead of suffering serious consequences later.

Why You Should Find a Good Doctor When You’re Healthy

You may think that you don’t need to worry about finding a good primary doctor if you don’t have any current health concerns now. In reality, that’s the best time to find a doctor because you’re not in a rush. Make an appointment with a primary care physician.

When you meet your doctor, think about whether you feel comfortable talking to him or her. Developing a communicative relationship with your doctor when you’re healthy can make the process easier for both of you should you get sick. It’s also a good time to ask whether you can make any lifestyle changes to improve your health.

Regular Physical Exams Can Prevent Major Problems

Your age, gender, and health history affect recommendations for how often you should have a physical and get routine tests done. These health screenings can identify minor concerns so you can treat them before they turn into serious medical conditions.

For example, changes in your diet and exercise patterns may be able to treat unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar if you catch them early. If you wait, you might be stuck with medications and progression to diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. Regular cancer screenings, such as prostate for men and breast for women, are another example.

Positive Effects on Life Insurance

Life insurance premium depend on your risk of dying before the policy term is over. When you stay healthy, your rates are lower. Simple steps such as keeping your cholesterol levels and blood pressure in check help you stay in the lower-risk, lower-rate categories. You can do this by going to your doctor and following orders. Not everyone goes to the doctor as often as recommended, but it’s a good idea.

Finding a doctor that you trust and getting a regular physical can go a long way towards staying healthy and fighting disease if it comes.