March 3, 2021
Tags: Financially fit
About half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Along with exercising more and eating better, many people aim to get a better handle on their finances.
If you’re in that camp, we’re here to help. Here are some surefire steps to create a more financially secure future for you and your loved ones.
- Create a budget.
The first step toward getting financially fit is to create a budget. Everyone needs an understanding of how much they’re earning, how much they’re spending, and how they’re going to meet their current and future financial goals. The Federal Trade Commission has information on how to create a budget. Once you outline your budget, make sure to stick to it. Also make sure to regularly revisit it and adjust it as needed.
- Control and minimize debt.
Your budget will help you keep track of where your money is going. It will also help you identify areas where you’re overspending. It’s critical to cut out any excess spending. Also work to minimize your debt load. So long as you have debt, you’ll be responsible for paying interest. (So definitely make an effort to pay more than the minimum on your credit card each month!) Set goals to pay off your debt and track your progress.
3. Automate an emergency fund.
An emergency fund is money you set aside for unforeseen expenses. They could be an unexpected home or car repair or a job loss. Most financial professionals recommend having three to six months of basic living expenses in an emergency fund. However, it takes time to build those funds. Automate the process by having part of your paycheck deposited into a special emergency fund account. You can also have your bank automatically transfer funds to a savings account earmarked for emergency expenses. Even a small amount each week can help you get there.
- Get life insurance to protect your loved ones and review it annually.
Life insurance provides your loved ones with money to maintain their lifestyle if you die. This money is known as the death benefit and it can replace your income, pay off debts like a mortgage, and cover funeral costs. It can also help with future expenses like college tuition, retirement, and much more. Experts recommend having life insurance that equals between 10 to 15 times your gross income. For a working idea of how much you need, use an online calculator like the Life Insurance Needs Calculator. Then work with an insurance professional to explore your options and get the right coverage. Make sure to review your life insurance annually or after a big life change like buying a new house, having a baby, or changing jobs.
- Protect your paycheck with disability insurance and review it annually.
Disability insurance is one of the best ways to protect your most important asset: your paycheck. Disability insurance typically replaces 50% to 70% of your earnings if you’re unable to work due to a disabling illness or injury. An easy way to calculate how much you might need is to use an online calculator like the Disability Insurance Needs Calculator. Make sure to review your coverage with your HR department or insurance professional as your salary increases.
- Keep beneficiaries up to date.
It’s important to update the beneficiaries on your financial accounts like your life insurance or 401(k). This is especially true after major life events such as a marriage, divorce, birth, or death. Not having the right beneficiary can lead to money going to the wrong person or delays in disbursing money.
- Put a will in place.
A will is a document that allows you to specify certain things after you die. They can include how your assets will be distributed, who will make sure your wishes are carried out, and who will take care of any minor children. Without a will, the state could decide who gets your children and more. Fortunately, the process of creating a will is not as complicated as many people believe. And it’s well worth it since it spares your loved ones from all kinds of headaches. A lawyer can help you create a will and discuss other issues like power of attorney.
8. Save for retirement.
Tap into any available resources to help grow your retirement nest egg. That includes enrolling in your company’s 401(k) plan or looking into other retirement savings options like an IRA. Definitely take advantage of any “matching funds” your company makes to your 401(k) contributions. Matching funds are like “free money.” What’s more, the contributions you make to your 401(k) reduce your taxable income.
Make 2021 the year you become financially fit by following these steps. Each one will create a better, more protected future for you and your loved ones.
By Marvin Feldman
Originally posted on lifehappens.org
February 24, 2021
An Opinion (a good start) on Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements | by Jordan Shields, Partner
February 19, 2021
An Opinion is something that can be cited to see how the governmental body (in this case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) feels about an issue – at least you get a sense of direction. Here, the EEOC said, on January 7, that where an employer-paid a flat amount or a percentage of premium toward individual health plans purchased under the aegis of an ICHRA, it would not violate the discrimination rules set up under the ADEA:
- Flat amount is fine because it is the same for everyone, and not contingent on the age of the employee (even though an individual plan is more expensive for older applicants), especially since enrollment through an ICHRA is voluntary on the part of the employee.
- Percentage of premium is fine so long as the percentage is the same for everyone, even though the actual dollar amount will end up different
Overall – the contributions are not a condition of employment, but only an offer made at that time. Therefore, the involuntary nature of the participation renders it outside the scope of EEOC regulations pertaining to age discrimination under the ADEA.
February 16, 2021
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are company-sponsored programs that provide assistance to employees for a variety of personal issues that may be hindering or adversely affecting their work performance. Typically offered through third-party administrators, EAPs can provide their services online or via telephone and can sometimes be a part of the employee’s healthcare plan, however it is not a replacement to the healthcare plan.
Examples of EAP Services
There is an assortment of services that EAPs offer to employees. All these services have a central purpose: aid the employee so that their personal problems are resolved, and their work performance is unaffected. For example, Karen has been struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic with depression. To sooth her anxiety, she has begun drinking every day. It’s gradually escalated to the point where she is late to work, has frequent absences, and is missing deadlines. She knows she needs to talk with someone who can offer her alcohol abuse resources. She accesses her company sponsored EAP.
Here are some other common services included in EAPs:
- Alcohol and substance abuse counseling
- Health and wellness counseling
- Child or elder care resources
- Legal aid
- Marital and family counseling
- Financial counseling
Benefits of EAP Services
There are a number of benefits to the employee and the employer when the EAP is utilized in the workplace. First, utilizing the EAP service is completely voluntary. Second, the services are provided free of charge to the employee. Third, the counselor that speaks with the employee is entirely confidential. This allows the employee to be completely honest without feeling a threat that the employer would retaliate on anything said in a session.
Utilizing your company’s EAP not only provides services and care to you and your family, but it also benefits your company. No longer carrying the burden of your personal problems solo, an EAP counselor can give you sound advice and steps to follow to achieve success when tackling a problem. Employers will benefit by there being no disruption in the workflow of their employee due to overwhelming personal issues. Access your EAP and attack those personal problems today!
Plan Sponsor Reporting in California – the rules are different than federal | by Jordan Shields, Partner
February 12, 2021
For fully insured plans, the carriers are responsible for sending Form 1094-C and 1095-C.
For self-insured plans, the plan sponsor is responsible for sending these forms to the State of California as furtherance of ACA compliance. The forms are the same (in design) as the federal forms, and an employer may submit the federal form for state reporting purposes.
However, while federal forms are due March 2, 2021, the state forms are due February 1.
February 9, 2021
By Kyle Cupp
Originally posted on thinkhr.com.
Well it almost worked until it didn’t – Haven finds no haven in health care | by Jordan Shields, Partner
February 5, 2021
Tags: Haven Healthcare
The highly touted project combining the resources of Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway has folded its tent following the departure of their CEO several months ago (who now has an advisory position in the Biden administration). Haven was looking to change how health care was delivered in the United States, starting with the thousands of employees that worked for the three founding companies. Trouble began when the ideas spawned at Haven were independently used by each of the founders…without unanimity, how could they expand?
February 1, 2021
The COVID-19 crisis has not only stolen the health and well-being of people all over the world, but now, it seems, it has opened the door to criminals who want to steal your money and your identity. Historically, when there are times of crisis, the crime rate increases. We see this with natural disasters when stores are looted or when the economy is tanking and theft increases. Now, we are seeing this scenario play out in real time as thieves use the pandemic and fear to their benefit.
SCAMS TO WATCH OUT FOR
According to Forbes, Americans have lost more than $106 million to fraud related to COVID-19. These losses originate from all types of scams ranging from seeking donations for non-existent charities to price gauging for personal protective equipment. Dishonest individuals call victims and impersonate health organizations with a cure for COVID or products that can prevent infection if you just give them a credit card number. False bank accounts have been opened for the sole purpose of depositing unemployment benefit checks for non-existent persons. With crime so rampant, how can you tell what’s true and what’s false pertaining to this crisis? Here’s some big scams that you can look out for:
- Phishing/SMishing—Emails or text messages that appear to be from your bank or from an online retailer ask you to click a link or call a number so that you can verify personal information.
- Work-from-home scams—Posing as a company or even one of your co-workers, criminals email about fake opportunities to work from home and ask you to apply for a job by giving out personal information.
- Medical fraud—Fake websites are launched with virus testing kits or medical supplies for sale and collect credit card information.
- COVID contact tracing—In an attempt to steal personal information such as social security numbers, fraudsters claim to be contact tracers and have identified you as a possible close contact of a COVID patient. Now they ask you for your info to verify and log your exposure to the virus.
- Vaccine scheme—Calling individuals to sign them up to receive the COVID vaccine, the imposter asks for your personal information.
WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FRAUD
- The number one way to protect yourself from possible fraud related to the COVID-19 crisis is to never give out your personal information in response to an unsolicited email or phone call. If you haven’t called the company/bank/organization directly, and someone contacts you asking for your birthdate, maiden name, social security number, etc, don’t give it out. You have the right to decline their request so that you can feel secure in releasing your information. Simply tell the solicitor that you want to call them back and then look on your bill/website/known contact information and call that number to affirm that the person who contacted you is indeed who they say they are.
- If you suspect that your identity has been stolen, contact one of the three big credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. When you contact one of these agencies, you can request a freeze be put on your credit so that scammers cannot open any new accounts in your name.
- “Report financial identity theft fraud attempts to the FBI. The toll-free number is easy to remember: 1-800-CALL-FBI. Or you can go online to FBI.gov” reports Terry Savage, Next Avenue podcast co-host. Forbes has a great transcript of a recent episode online with lots of fantastic tips for protecting yourself against fraud and you can access it HERE.
In the midst of this pandemic crisis, the most important thing to focus on is the health and welfare of yourself and those you care most about. You shouldn’t have to waste time and effort chasing down scammers who have preyed on you when you are the most vulnerable. By following these easy (and always applicable) tips for protecting your identity and your finances, you can keep your focus on what really matters.
January 27, 2021
Many people falsely believe that life insurance for diabetics doesn’t exist. In reality, there are quite a few life insurance options for the 34.2 million Americans who have diabetes.
While diabetes remains a health challenge for many, it is still very possible to secure good life insurance as a diabetic. Here are some key things to know about getting life insurance if you have diabetes.
Insurance companies consider many factors.
In addition to knowing whether you have diabetes, a life insurer may also want to know:
- Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
- The age you were diagnosed with diabetes
- What medications you’re taking
- Your height and weight
- How well you’re controlling your diabetes
- Your glucose levels
- If you have other health conditions like heart disease and/or high blood pressure
- If you smoke
- Your overall medical history
- Your family history
Some life insurers offer something known as “clinical underwriting.” (Underwriting is when an insurance company evaluates you for coverage.) This type of underwriting takes a more holistic view of your health instead of zeroing in on certain risk factors. An insurance professional will know more about companies that offer clinical underwriting.
Life insurance for diabetics underwriting varies by insurer.
One person who knows a lot about life insurance for diabetics is Jake Irving. He’s is a licensed insurance agent and owner of Willamette Life Insurance in Beaverton, Oregon. Irving specializes in helping people with diabetes get life insurance. He says that every insurer has different underwriting guidelines when it comes to life insurance for diabetics.
Even still, Irving says that most insurers care about your age at the diagnosis. “Being diagnosed earlier in life means there’s more time for related complications to develop,” he explains. That may make it harder to get coverage.
Most insurers will also care about any severe diabetic complications. “Having a diabetic coma, an amputation, or a hospitalization are the big three they care about,” says Irving. “But having any one doesn’t mean you can’t get coverage.”
Finally, people with Type 2 diabetes typically have an easier time securing life insurance than people with Type 1 diabetes.
Life insurance for diabetics is often (but not always!) more expensive.
People in good health who don’t smoke generally get better life insurance rates than people with health conditions and smokers. That said, Jake says he’s had diabetics qualify for preferred insurance rates. Preferred is the best rate category available for life insurance.
Nontraditional plans are an option.
One nontraditional option is graded life insurance. With this option, your beneficiaries only receive a percentage of the full life insurance payout if you pass away before a set waiting period. A typical waiting period is two years.
Another option is guaranteed issue life insurance. With this option, you get a limited amount of coverage on the spot. You are not required to have a medical exam or even answer any medical questions. Just know that you may only get a limited amount of coverage and that the rate may be high. There’s also often a waiting period as well.
Controlling your diabetes can help you get better coverage.
Life insurers look more favorably on diabetics who are working on managing their condition. This could mean regularly visiting your doctor, taking your prescribed medication, maintaining a healthy weight, and having lower A1C and glucose levels.
Jake says that it may even be possible to secure a better rate once you control your diabetes. This is especially true if a good amount of time has passed since a hospitalization from diabetes. (Just know that the incident may remain on your health record and affect your rate.)
Working with a licensed insurance agent is your best bet.
Ideally, you want an independent agent who has relationships with many different life insurance companies. This means they can shop around for the best possible coverage for you. It also means they can turn to other carriers if your application is rejected.
You might even consider an agent like Jake who works with high-risk applicants. These kinds of agents are especially knowledgeable about which carriers are most likely to offer you the best policy.
By Amanda Austin
Originally posted on LifeHappens.org
January 20, 2021
Tags: Work from home
Originally posted on ThinkHR