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Life and Health

Why do you need Disability Insurance?

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lh-1701-1Almost everyone needs Disability insurance. Think about it. Your capacity to earn a living is crucial. Your income makes it possible to buy food, make mortgage payments, provide for your children, take a vacation, and countless other things. Many faithfully pay premiums for car, life, homeowner’s insurance, and perhaps even a pet’s medical insurance, but they neglect this extremely important protection, Disability insurance.

There are few things as disruptive to a family’s happiness as having a parent, or maybe both, lose his/her income due to accident or illness. When income is drastically reduced, it creates stress and unmet needs and expectations. It often creates feelings of guilt in a parent. Life is hard without a reliable source of income.

A LIFE Foundation study states that 70% of working Americans could not be without income for more than one month without serious financial difficulty. Surprisingly, the same study states that one of every four Americans couldn’t last a week if they were seriously injured and unable to work. Clearly, the answer to the question, “Does almost everyone need Disability insurance?” is a resounding “Yes!”

It is important for an individual, and especially important for a family, to have a financial plan. Disability insurance should be one of the foundation stones of everyone’s financial plan, because it protects such an important asset – your income.

Other statistics need to be considered. The Senate Finance Committee states that 70% of people between the ages of 35 and 65 will become disabled for three months or longer and that 90% of injuries will occur away from work.

After you make the decision to purchase Disability insurance, there are still important questions to be answered and decisions to be made. “How large a benefit do I need; how much will it cost to purchase a plan with that level of protection?” “Does my spouse need this kind of policy even if he/she doesn’t work or has a small income?” “How long is the waiting period before I start receiving checks?” “Does my employer offer a disability plan that I am not aware of?” “Will I need this kind of insurance after I reach age 65?” All these and many other questions need to be taken to a capable, experienced insurance agent who is a specialist in this type of insurance. This is an important decision with a great number of complicated considerations, such as, “Is the plan guaranteed to be renewable?”, “What is the maximum benefit period?”, and “Which occupation class does my job fall into?”

Once the decision is made and the policy is purchased and in effect, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You have done what is necessary to protect your happiness with Disability insurance. More importantly, you have protected your family by providing for them if your ability to work is interrupted.

Are High-Deductible Health Plans Worth It?

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lh_1211-02More employers are offering high-deductible health care plans as an alternative to traditional health care coverage, which costs employers more.

Under a high-deductible plan, the employee assumes some of the risk for health care expenses by agreeing to pay for a larger chunk of medical treatment. The employee’s benefit comes from the provision of a Health Savings Account (HSA) — a personal account of funds withdrawn from the employee’s paycheck by the employer and dedicated for the sole purpose of reimbursing out-of-pocket medical expenses. The portion deposited into the HSA is tax deductible.

At first, these accounts might seem like a reduction in employee benefits. However, in many cases employers would not be able to offer medical benefits without them. Although costs for small, non-emergency events are transferred to the employee and some other types of care might cost them more than under traditional plans, an HSA covers major health care needs that can quickly become unaffordable.

If your employer offers a high-deductible plan with an HSA or you’re considering switching jobs to an employer who does, consult with the company employee benefits department about the coverage. If you find that the plan doesn’t cover your dependents or if you have questions about private coverage alternatives, one of our Health insurance specialists would be glad to help. Just give us a call.

Premiums Under Affordable Care Act

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mp900442274-1A recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reports that individual health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will cost an average of $2,988 yearly or $24
9 a month. Subsidies, tax credits, and Medicaid payments should reduce these premiums to no more than $100 a month for nearly 30 million people who don’t have insurance.

Although some individuals might pay more for coverage, these averages are still 16% lower than the Congressional Budget Office projected in 2012.

The health care reform act extends coverage to low-income Americans, including the 48 million now uninsured. To help offset the cost of covering older, sicker individuals in this group, the law requires every American to buy insurance or face a fine, under the “individual mandate” provision. The 55% of adults who have health coverage through their jobs are considered in compliance with the mandate.

According to the DHHS report, rates under the ACA’s state-based insurance exchanges, where individuals will shop for health plans, will vary significantly depending on the state and the level of coverage (Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum). For example, in Wyoming, the least expensive Bronze plan will cost $425 a month, compared to only $192 a month for the same coverage in Minnesota.

In Comparison, a recent Government Accountability Office report on the cost of individual health insurance found that people who are young and healthy can buy relatively inexpensive policies. According to the GAO 30-year-old nonsmoker might pay as little as $30 a month in Georgia or $85 a month in Alaska. As always, our agency’s health insurance professionals are stand ready to offer their advice on selecting the health plan that’s best for you.

Sleep is Imperative to Your Health

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sleeping11Get a good night’s sleep, and you’re more likely to wake up alert, energetic, happy and able to function. Since November is National Sleep Comfort Month, implement six tips that help you sleep better and more comfortably.

1. Invest in a Quality Mattress and Comfortable Bedding

Your sleep comfort depends largely on your mattress. If it’s lumpy, hard or scratchy, you’ll toss and turn instead of truly resting. Visit a local mattress store today and invest in the best mattress and bedding you can afford. It will quickly pay for itself as you sleep better and enjoy greater productivity and happiness.

2. Lower the Temperature

Because your body heat rises slightly as you sleep, you’ll be more comfortable when you lower your bedroom temperature by a few degrees. Opening a window or turning on a fan produces the same results.

3. Limit Big Evening Meals

Visiting the buffet for dinner tasted good at the time, but a large evening meal increases overnight discomfort. It will keep you awake and give you indigestion and heartburn. Step away from the kitchen at least two hours before bed. If you need a snack, indulge in a small portion of cereal with milk, fruit or granola.

4. Skip Alcohol and Caffeine

Your late-afternoon coffee affects your sleep 10 to 12 hours after you drink it. Your nightcap might make you drowsy, but the alcohol will wake you in the middle of the night. To boost your afternoon energy level, grab an apple, walnuts or cheese. If you want an alcoholic drink at night, enjoy it at least two hours before bedtime.

5. Relax

When you’re anxious, tense or stressed, your body won’t be able to relax. Practice yoga, deep breathing and visualization. As you relax your mind, your body will follow, and you’ll enjoy more comfortable sleep.

6. See Your Doctor

If you still can’t get comfortable at night, talk to your doctor. Discuss physical or mental issues that might be preventing you from getting adequate rest. Check with your insurance agent, too, about whether chiropractor visits or specialty pillows are covered by your insurance.

With a good night’s sleep, you wake up in a good mood and ready to tackle the day. Use these six tips to get your most comfortable sleep this month.

Long-Term Care – A Consideration for All Ages

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lh-1-1511One in two Americans will need long-term medical care during their lifetime – and this percentage will keep growing, thanks to advances in medicine that keep extending the average lifespan.

The more we age, the more help we need – which means a serious health problem (such as a serious fall, cognitive impairment or heart attack) can make us unable to support ourselves and dependent on others for health care. What’s more, this need is by no means limited to seniors: More than one in three people (37%) receiving long-term care services are younger than 65!

Long-Term Care insurance (LTC) can help pick up the tab for these often pricey services by covering expenses that your Health policy doesn’t include. It can also protect your family’s assets by removing the financial burden on your family and friends of paying for your care, or of caring for you themselves – responsibilities that you wouldn’t want them to assume. As a rule, LTC coverage will pay for care in your home, an adult day care or assisted living facility, or a nursing home. The policy benefits will kick in as soon as you require assistance.

Without LTC, you, or your family, would have to pay for these services – which can create a staggering financial burden that could last for years. It costs more than $70,000 a year to staying in a nursing home, a figure that’s projected to hit $190,600 by 2030. The average wage for home care aides comes to $32.50 an hour, an expense that can add up quickly because more and more people need 24-7 care. Don’t count on other health care programs to foot the bill. Medicare, and almost all Health policies, will provide partial payment for long-term care – and only for 100 days or less. If you’re under the poverty line, such government programs as Medicaid will cover nursing home care.

LTC can provide an affordable alternative. Annual premiums usually range from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the amount of coverage, and your gender, age, and physical condition. (People who have severe health problems might not qualify).

For a free review of your need for long-term care protection, please get in touch with us.

Pros and Cons of Mortgage Life Insurance

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1611-lh-4Life insurance provides financial assistance for your family after your death. With it, your family can pay your final expenses, repay debt or save for college. It’s also beneficial for repaying the mortgage, which allows your family to stay in their home. As an alternative to a term or whole life insurance policy, consider mortgage life insurance that’s designed specifically to pay off your mortgage. Learn the pros and cons of this life insurance option before you buy it.

What is Mortgage Life Insurance?

Mortgage life insurance pays off your mortgage if you die, become disabled or contract a life-altering disease that prohibits you from earning a living. When you fill out your mortgage paperwork, you will be given the option to apply for mortgage life insurance. If you decline it, you’ll have to sign several waivers that verify you are opting out of the coverage.

Advantages of Mortgage Life Insurance

As with all insurance policies, you will find several advantages of mortgage life insurance.

    1. You give your family peace of mind when you purchase mortgage life insurance. With it, they won’t have to struggle to pay for their home.
    1. No medical exam is required. Preexisting medical conditions may prevent you from qualifying for traditional life insurance, but you can buy mortgage life insurance regardless of your health.
    1. This coverage kicks in even if you don’t die. Traditional life insurance policies only mature when the policy holder dies. Mortgage life insurance is activated when you suffer an illness or injury that prevents you from working.

Disadvantages of Mortgage Life Insurance

There are advantages to mortgage life insurance, but weigh the cons, too, as you make an informed decision for you and your family.

    1. A term life insurance policy may be cheaper than mortgage life insurance. Research your life insurance products and options as you make the best choice for you.
    1. Mortgage life insurance covers only the mortgage. Your family cannot decide how to use the money, which they may need repay debt, afford college or cover everyday living expenses.
    1. The benefit decreases over time as you pay off your mortgage. Because mortgage life insurance pays off your mortgage, you won’t need as much coverage as your mortgage principle decreases. A traditional life insurance policy keeps its value for the term of the policy or as long as you pay the premiums.

With this list of pros and cons, you can decide if mortgage life insurance is a wise investment for your family. Talk to your insurance agent about your family’s financial needs as you choose the best life insurance option for you.

Reasons to Buy Life Insurance For Your Kids

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1611-lh-3As a parent, you do everything possible to care for your kids. Life insurance can be one product that provides for their future. Consider several reasons why you should buy life insurance for your children.

Ensure Future Insurability

Many life insurance policies require applicants to take a medical exam. Medical conditions can prevent you from buying a life insurance policy, or they can cause your premiums to rise.

By purchasing life insurance for your kids when they are young and healthy, you give them valuable coverage they may not be eligible for later in life. Even if they develop a medical condition that reduces their eligibility for life insurance when they are older, they will already have a policy in place.

Build a Financial Portfolio

You have a financial portfolio that may include insurance, investments and savings. Help your kids develop a strong financial portfolio, too, with life insurance.

Whole life insurance builds cash value at a predicable rate. When your kids are older, they can access the money to buy a home or fund their retirement. It’s an investment tool that greatly benefits your children in the future and is a valuable part of their financial portfolio.

Save for College

The average public college costs $15,640 per year, and private nonprofit colleges cost $40,614 annually. Life insurance can help your child afford their college education.

A whole life policy grows in cash value. If you purchase a policy when your child is young, it will grow at a predictable rate. Your college-age child can then borrow from the policy’s cash value and use the money for tuition, room or board as they earn a college degree.

Cover Funeral Expenses

No parent wants to plan for a child’s death. However, consider the possibility and how it would affect you. You may not have adequate financial resources to cover a funeral, and you don’t want to worry about raising funds when you are grieving.

Life insurance pays for funeral expenses. It relieves that financial burden, gives you peace of mind and is available whether your child dies young or lives a long life.

Life insurance is a valuable asset for you, and it’s also important for your kids. Be sure you have a life insurance policy and then buy life insurance for your kids, too. Your insurance agent can discuss the various options and provide additional details that help you choose the best coverage for your kids.

3 Insurance Steps to Take When You’re Pregnant

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1611-lh-2Congratulations on your pregnancy! In the midst of the doctor appointments and baby shopping, consider making three insurance moves. They’re important as you protect yourself, your baby and your family.

    1. Reevaluate Your Health Insurance Benefits

      Your current health insurance may cover your pregnancy and childbirth. According to the Affordable Care Act, qualified health plans must include maternity care and childbirth on all qualified health plans.

      There are certain exclusions. They include:

      • Policies in existence before March 23, 2010 often exclude pregnancy or childbirth care.
      • If you are under 26 years of age and covered under your parent’s health insurance policy, you may not have maternity care.
      • Your health insurance that’s provided by a self-insured employer may not cover your pregnancy or childbirth needs.


    1. Buy or Boost Your Life Insurance Coverage

      Whether you plan to work or stay home after your baby’s born, you need life insurance. It replaces lost wages and allows your family to afford childcare and other daily living expenses. The money can even cover your child’s future college expenses.

      To ensure you have enough life insurance coverage, take these steps.

      1. Use a life insurance calculator to determine how much life insurance you need to buy. Ideally, it should replace eight to 10 times your annual salary.
      2. Shop around for an affordable term, whole or universal life insurance policy.
      3. If you already have a policy through your employer or a private insurer, purchase a second, supplementary policy for even more protection and peace of mind.
      4. For the best rates, buy a life insurance policy during your first trimester. Certain medical conditions, including high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, may affect your ability to buy affordable coverage during your second or third trimesters.
    1. Review Your Home and Auto Insurance

      A new family member may mean you need to move to a larger home or buy a bigger car. Review your home and auto insurance policies to ensure you have adequate coverage.

      • Notify your insurance agent of any changes, including home improvements you may make.
      • Calculate the value of all the new baby gear you buy and any valuable heirlooms you or your child may inherit. Include these items in your homeowner’s inventory and coverage.
      • Get quotes on all the vehicles you’re considering buying as you make sure you can afford the auto insurance.
      • Compare quotes from several companies to be sure you get the best deal.

Your family is growing, and that means you need to do your insurance homework. Discuss your needs with your insurance agent to ensure you have the right coverage.

8 Questions to Ask About Medicare and the Marketplace

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1611-lh-1Open enrollment for health benefits is approaching. Be prepared as you decide which coverage options are right for you. Here are eight questions you should ask as you compare Medicare and the Health Insurance Marketplace.

    1. What plans are available?

      As a creature of habit, you may be attached to your health insurance. However, there are at least 19 Medicare plans and dozens of Marketplace options. You could save money and get better health insurance if you shop around. Ask your insurance agent to share all your options as you make an informed decision.

    1. Are my health needs covered?

      The average Medicare beneficiary has two chronic conditions. Be sure whichever insurance you choose will cover your specific health needs, whether you need treatment and medication for a chronic condition or visit the doctor infrequently.

    1. Is my doctor covered?

      Over time, you establish a relationship with your doctor. He or she understands your medical needs and history, and you don’t want to break up this valuable relationship. That’s why you must be sure your doctor, including any specialist you see, is covered by a new insurance plan.

    1. How much will I owe?

      Any change in insurance coverage usually means a premium change. Find out exactly how much you will owe as you compare policies. In addition to the monthly premiums, find out about any deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance costs. You may also owe extra for specialists, therapy or medications.

    1. How will my healthcare needs change?

      You can’t predict your future health, but you can review your family health history. If you think you may face certain health challenges, be sure your insurance plan will cover those needs.

    1. Are additional coverage available?

      You need basic health insurance, but perhaps dental, vision and hearing insurance is also important. Check plan benefits to ensure these additional insurance products are covered.

    1. Are there options for my spouse and dependents?

      Your family’s medical needs might be covered by your health plan. Research different plans to see if they provide benefits for your spouse and dependents.

    1. What if I don’t choose?

      Shopping for life insurance can be daunting, and you may simply decide not to change your coverage from last year. That’s fine, but be sure to read all the information your insurance plan sends you. It will include important information about your coverage, including any plan, coverage or premium changes.

Finding the right health insurance is important, especially during open enrollment. Discuss your needs with your insurance agent or a health benefits coordinator, and ask these eight questions as you choose between Medicare and the Marketplace.

What Does it Cost to Replace Your Spouse?

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1610-lh-4-1Your spouse is priceless to you as a life partner, friend and confidante. Have you ever calculated the actual worth of your spouse? Take time to figure out how much it would cost to replace your spouse as you purchase invaluable life insurance for the person you love the most.

Replace Salary

Most life insurance agents recommend that you purchase enough life insurance to replace eight years of annual salary. You can find the recommended figure by checking your annual W-2s from the last several years.

If your spouse does not work outside the home, you should still purchase life insurance. According to Salary.com, the average stay-at-home parent works at least 94 hours per week for a total salary of approximately $113,600. A working parent’s at-home salary is close to $67,400. Compare these figures to what the average physician earns – $153,000 for a 56-hour work week – and you see that you must find a way to pay for all the services your spouse provided whether or not he or she worked outside of the home.

Provide for Children

Losing a parent is tough for a child. Life insurance isn’t a parental replacement, but it can provide financially for your children’s living expenses. Use the money to pay for child care, before and after school care, shuttle service and meal prep as well as expenses required to care for your child with special needs.

If your kids are older, you may use the money to fund their college education. You could also establish a trust as you provide for your children into the future.

Cover Housekeeping

Because your spouse performed a share of the housework, prepare to cover the jobs he or she did. Those duties could include cooking, cleaning, laundry, landscaping and home maintenance. Life insurance funds could pay someone to do these chores indefinitely.

Repay Debt

Life insurance can be used to repay debt you and your spouse have accumulated. By repaying debts such as your mortgage, vehicles, student loans and credit cards, you gain a bit of wiggle room in your budget and can take time to grieve instead of worrying about working overtime.

Pay Final Expenses

The average funeral can cost as much as $10,000. Pay this expense with your spouse’s life insurance policy. It can cover probate costs, medical bills or other end of life expenses, too. With adequate life insurance, your family budget will not suffer as you pay for your spouse’s final expenses.

As you can see, life insurance for your spouse is a valuable investment. It provides financial resources for you and your family when you need it most. Talk to your insurance agent to ensure you purchase adequate coverage today.