Archive for August, 2011
According to the Census Bereau, more than 50 million people were uninsured in the United States in 2010. Thatâ€™s almost one in six U.S. residents. There are quite a few reasons why the number was so drastically high: the rising cost of medical care, workers being laid off, companies eliminating or limiting health insurance benefits, families choosing to drop coverage to save money. Itâ€™s commonly accepted to rely on employer for health care and other benefits, but letâ€™s not forget that buying your own individual plan is also an option: more expensive but still better than no insurance at all. As companies shed jobs, laid off workers can rely on Cobra for continuous coverage but they are required to make reasonable contributions. Yet many choose not to.
Cutting costs in declining economy is a natural consumer behavior. Itâ€™s just that health insurance should not be at the top of the list, but rather at the bottom, or even better â€“ take it off the list entirely. Many people of young age especially hope that their good health will â€śprotectâ€ť them from the need to go to the doctorâ€™s office for a few months if not years. Even with an occasional attack of seasonal cold or flu, they can go to the clinic and pay under $100 out-of-pocket for the visit â€“ which is still a better deal than a monthly payment for the health insurance plan. Any thought of emergency is pushed to the back of the mind: we prefer to think that bad stuff happens to others but will spare usâ€¦ at least for the duration of the uninsured period. People choose to keep their cable TV, which is ridiculously overpriced these days even with cable bundles, or continue to dine out twice a week, but drop health insurance coverage because thereâ€™s a need to save money. The phycology of it is somewhat understandable: we enjoy our cable TV every day so itâ€™s something worth paying for, whereas months can go by without a slightest need to see the doctor. Weâ€™d rather pay for something we actually get rather than for something we might need but most likely wonâ€™t.
What people donâ€™t like thinking about is what will happen in case of a serious illness or hospitalization. The cost of hospital stay can range somewhere between 3 to 5 thousand dollars a day depending on the services that a patient is receiving. If you require a serious surgery, the cost will be astronomic. You may spend years paying your medical bills or may even run into bankruptcy, just because the health emergency happened at the wrong time, when you lost your insurance coverage. So when re-evaluating your personal financial situation, think carefully where cutting costs is acceptable and where it can turn out to be disastrous for you.
Historically men were the breadwinners of the family. If something happened to the man, his family was facing extreme economic hardship as it was merely impossible to fully replace his income. No wonder it was mostly men who purchased a life insurance policy to make sure their loved ones were protected if the worst happened.
As the gap between male and female workforce narrowed, more and more women would acquire a life insurance plan through their employer or insurance company directly. Yet many women today are not adequately insured because they erroneously think that itâ€™s the husband who needs to carry life insurance the most.
Make sure you thoroughly review your family budget and financial needs. Women in the following categories (some of them may surprise you) should consider obtaining a life insurance plan to protect financial well-being of their family â€“
Women who are part of a two-income family. If the family relies equally on both the paychecks, losing one income would make it hard to sustain the family. Today more than 60% of married women are employed â€“ putting food on the table is no longer a male-only prerogative. Both the working spouses need to carry life insurance to protect the family against a financial loss should something happen to one of them.
Single women who are head of a house-hold. Itâ€™s crucial to provide financial security for your children if you are a sole breadwinner. Being the only source of income, you make your family financially vulnerable if you fail to obtain life insurance: thereâ€™s simply no other source of income to compensate for the loss of yours.
Stay-at-home wives and mothers. So maybe thereâ€™s no risk of monetary income loss, but the work you put into making your household function well is enormous. If something happens to you, external help will need to get hired to care for the children, do cleaning, cooking and shopping for the family. These services may run a few tens of thousand dollars a year â€“ one income might not be enough to cover them.
Single women with no kids. Thereâ€™s no need to carry a high-amount life insurance policy, but you still need to consider obtaining some coverage. If anything happens to you, the funeral expenses will be the obligation of your parents or other relatives â€“ you want to relieve them of this financial duty as much as you can. Besides, purchasing a term or whole life insurance now that you are young and healthy is beneficial for your future insurability. If you apply for life insurance coverage for the first time 10 or 20 years from now, you might be turned down because of the health condition, or you might be quoted higher premiums associated with older age.
Summer recess is about to end for many students. Itâ€™s time to get back to college planning, which means fresh worries about tuition, books, schedules as well as various expenses that students inevitably incur. For most it also means they need to renew or purchase a health insurance plan for the new school year. According to eHealthInsurance, a leading online provider of health insurance for families, there are five essential tips that incoming 2011-2012 students should remember about getting a health insurance policy:
- Get your health insurance before you get sick â€“ not after. First of all, many colleges might reject your enrollment if you donâ€™t carry a valid health insurance plan. If you apply after you already got sick, your coverage may be turned down due to a pre-existing condition.
- Staying on your parentsâ€™ plan may not be too effective if you are going to school in another state.Â Most health insurance plans provide the best coverage when you use in-network doctors and hospitals, which means they are in the same state where the insurance policy was issued. Using out-of-state health care providers can mean higher copayments and limited coverage and frequently results in increased out-of-pocket expenses.
- Study your school-sponsored plan carefully including the fine print. Plans vary from school to school and some of them cap the coverage on a per-year basis. In case of a serious illness, you might be responsible for a larger portion of your medical bills. Some school-sponsored plans require students to get medical care on campus – find out if yours is the case.
- Getting a non-school student plan can ensure more flexibility, especially if you expect to travel back and forth between two states. Another advantage of such plans is that you get an option to pay for the whole year up-front as opposed to making monthly payments.
- Older students (26 and up) often end up staying without health coverage due to the health care reform law that limits the age at which students can remain on their parentsâ€™ plan. Make sure you shop around for your individual policy before you turn 26.
Good news is on the way for many women who use oral contraceptives â€“ it will soon be mandatory for health insurance plans to cover the full cost of the pills. The Institute of Medicine made a recommendation to change the status of the approved contraceptive methods into preventive services for women and remove the copay requirement. As a rule, preventive benefits such as annual checkup are covered by health plans 100% without patient cost-sharing.
The news is long welcomed by many women who have to pay $10, $25 and even $50 copayment on a monthly basis depending on the brand of the oral contraceptive they are using. Half of all pregnancies in the United States are non-planned: the high cost of prescriptions as well as copays can be partially to blame. Some women simply cannot afford to pay $25 every month so they stop taking the pill and choose alternative less-effective ways of contraception that frequently fail to prevent unintended pregnancies. Changing the status of contraception to preventive care will ensure no disruption in taking the pill as long as a woman is covered by a valid health insurance plan.
Needless to say if the new law is passed, not only it will mean the annual savings of a few hundred dollars for the women who benefit from it: the abortion rate should also go down along with the number of unplanned pregnancies.
Errors and omissions insurance, also known as professional liability or professional indemnity insurance, is a type of insurance for professionals whose work errors or omissions can have great legal and financial consequences. An error is a mistake. An omission is the act of leaving something out. For example, a title searcher is responsible for confirming the present owner of a home and ensuring that the home is free and clear of any form of money owed in the form of leans or judgments. This is done to ensure that a house can be sold with no legal issues. If the title searcher overlooks a lean or doesnâ€™t locate the correct owner of the home, the sale of the home could be rendered void. This makes the title searcher liable to be sued by the real estate agent or company and the new homeowner. Most professionals donâ€™t intend to make a mistake but sometimes it just happens. A mistake in some fields can be financially devastating to the contractor, a client and even a third party.
Obtaining E&O insurance will provide a safety net for you to do your job. This insurance is designed to protect you against the financial losses that could surface in legal fees such as attorney fees, reward costs and anything else associated with a law suit brought on by your mistake. If a client sues you, even if you didnâ€™t make an error, you may still have certain legal fees, which can be minimized with this coverage. This insurance ranges from 800 dollars to 200,000 dollars a year depending on the E&O insurance company, the nature of your work, your state of residence and the makeup of your insurance policy.
Errors and omissions insurance is recommended for some professionals and legally required for others. Professionals such as lawyers, engineers, web designers, real estate agents and brokers, and appraisers carry this type of insurance. Any profession that could incur major financial risks due to a mistake is eligible for this type of coverage. If you own a business, you will need to carry your own E&O. If you are employed by a business, your company may provide you with E&O, which you still might want to supplement with your individual policy to ensure you have adequate coverage.