Individual Life & Health

Losing Credit for Time Served

Posted on February 23, 2012. Filed under: Individual Life & Health | Tags: , , , , , |

My parents taught me a lot of wonderful things. Things like the importance of being kind, respectful, and hard-working. I’m very thankful for those lessons. But, I’m also thankful they took the time to educate me about the importance of practical things, like how to balance my checkbook and to never let my health insurance lapse.

My very first “real” job after college was in a bank. I was always shocked when parents would bring their kids in, just before heading off to college, to open up their FIRST bank account. We would take as much time as possible to explain how to balance a checkbook, to never rely on a balance pulled at the ATM (especially if you might have written checks that haven’t cleared), etc. But we knew the vast majority of these kids would show up on our insufficient funds list within a month or so. And the parents never understood why. Or, they simply refused to admit they had not properly prepared their child for one of the basic realities of adulthood.

The same is often true for health insurance. It tends to be one of the things people take for granted, especially when they are healthy. And many parents simply don’t educate their kids on the importance of maintaining coverage. It should be one of the things that is always worked into a budget. But often ends up being cancelled because it’s considered unaffordable.

The problem with not maintaining health coverage is that once you’re sick, you may not be eligible for it. Like car insurance, you can’t buy it after the accident happens. And even if you are eligible, if you have not maintained your creditable coverage status, you may have to satisfy waiting periods (for up to 12 months) for pre-existing medical conditions.

So, how do you ensure you don’t lose your continuous coverage status?

  • Avoid breaks in coverage of more than 63 days. Even if you’ve had continuous coverage for years, a break in coverage of more than 63 days can negate all of it and put you right back to square one.
  • It’s also good, if you change insurance providers, to make a point of providing the new insurance company with the certificate of coverage your previous provider(s) issues (confirming your last 12 months of coverage, at a minimum).
For more information, visit the Department of Labor’s FAQ.

Contact us for quotes.

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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A Fact of Life . . . Insurance

Posted on December 14, 2010. Filed under: Individual Life & Health | Tags: , , , , , , |

No one likes to think about the worst happening, but it does happen from time to time. And, when the worst does happen, it is indiscriminant in who it may visit. Not preparing for the possibility though, can compound the difficulties caused.

If you are a one income family, do you have a plan in place should the income earner die? If you are a stay at home parent with young children, do you know how your daily contribution would be replaced should you die? Running a simple calculation of what it would cost to hire a nanny, a housekeeper, and a cook, quickly demonstrates the funds that can be necessary to keep a household afloat.

Life insurance policies can ease the complications of a life changing loss, by providing the means necessary to continue life as you know it. Replacing the income of the main bread winner, will allow a stay at home mom to stay at home. Providing the funds necessary to pay for the household and childcare responsibilities previously handled by a stay at home parent, makes it possible to afford those services without needing to increase your current income level.

Even if you are single, life insurance can provide the money necessary to pay for burial costs and outstanding loans you may have. In the absence of insurance, the burden of these things will fall upon your family.

Life insurance can also be used to bequeath money to beloved family members, or to benefit a charitable organization.

Life insurance is like any other policy, you can’t buy it after the fact. And, rates can be extremely affordable depending on your age and health status. It’s never too early to think about, but it can easily be too late.

If you have questions about life insurance, or would like to request free quotes, contact us today.

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Things they don’t teach you in school . . .

Posted on December 10, 2010. Filed under: Individual Life & Health | Tags: , , , |

For individuals who don’t have access to group health coverage, it’s easy to think, “I’m healthy. I don’t need health insurance.” But, health insurance functions very much like auto insurance. We all know you can’t buy collision coverage for an accident that has already happened. The same is true about health insurance. The best time to purchase it is while you are healthy, because even relatively simple illnesses can affect both the cost of coverage and your eligibility for it.

There are health benefits to maintaining coverage, as well. Research shows that people who have health insurance are much more likely to get routine physicals. Because of the recent healthcare reform, most policies now include preventative care benefits that are covered 100% by the insurer, with no annual benefit maximums. For this reason, the cost of an annual physical should not prevent you from getting one. 

Ultimately, the utilization of preventative care benefits everyone with insurance, because it aids in the early detection of diseases and minimizes the cost of treatment. When claims are reduced overall, both you and the insurance company pay less, which can positively impact premiums. There is also a correlation to the level and quality of care you receive. Individuals with coverage are more likely to have a specific doctor they visit, which directly impacts the continuity of care received.

Individual health insurance can be confusing, as there are a lot of companies and a wide variety of plans from which to choose. If you need help navigating through it all, give us a call. We can help you set a healthy course leading to peace of mind. We are located in Austin and licensed in Texas.

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It Only Takes a Second . . .

Posted on December 9, 2010. Filed under: Individual Life & Health | Tags: , , , |

The National Safety Council reported in 2009 that a disabling injury happens every second in America. How would your “rainy day” fund hold out, if you were unable to work for 6 months or longer? Social Security Disability benefits provide some relief to those out of work at least a year. But, it can take months for the benefits to begin paying, and payouts are usually well below pre-disability income amounts.

If you are lucky enough to work for an employer who provides long-term disability coverage, you may still benefit from supplemental coverage provided through an individual policy. Standard group policies will replace up to 60% of your base salary, but generally limit benefit payouts to two years. An individual policy will provide an additional 10-20% of your income. Plus, the coverage continues even if you change jobs.

If you don’t understand how your benefits through your employer work, ask. Some things you may not be aware of:

  1. Short-term and long-term disability are very different in the amount of time they provide benefits and for what types of disability. The waiting period before benefits begin can also vary greatly from policy to policy.
  2. The best time to apply for individual coverage is while you are employed. And, you CAN NOT get coverage once you are disabled.
  3. Disability coverage ends if/when you leave your job (unless you are actually receiving disability payments).
  4. Similarly, life insurance provided through your place of employment is not always portable. And, even if you are able to take it with you, can be cost-prohibitive to maintain.

The MOST important things to know about disability, and life, insurance is that the best time to apply for it is while you are healthy. The time is now!

Contact us for more information, or to obtain quotes. We are located in Austin and licensed in Texas.

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