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  • Wait – Are health care costs going down? Well yes, since no one can use any facilities | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    January 12, 2021

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    A recent carrier survey shows that the amount of medical claims will be 5% lower than what was originally projected for 2020.  Dental and vision claims are also down roughly 15% and 8% respectively.

    This could continue into 2021 depending on how quickly the pandemic sees relief.

  • Exploring Disability Insurance

    January 11, 2021

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    Disability insurance is a type of insurance coverage that replaces a portion of your monthly income in the event you are unable to perform your work functions due to illness or injury. This insurance gives both yourself, and those who are dependent on you and your paycheck, a sense of financial security while you are out of work. Let’s explore disability insurance.

    Who Qualifies for Disability Insurance and Why?

    According to the Social Security Administration, about 1 in 4 adults, who are currently in their 20’s, will have some sort of disabling event in their life that will cause them to be out of work for at least 3 months before they hit retirement age. And, while most people think that disability insurance is most used by those with an injury due to an accident, the majority of claims (90%) come from medical illnesses. In fact, the most common claims are related to cancer, back pain, cardiovascular disease, injury, pregnancy, and digestive disorders.

    Types of Disability Insurance

    There are two types of disability insurance than an individual can enroll in and one that is administrated by the government through the Social Security Administration. First, there is short-term disability insurance. This type pays paycheck benefits for, as the name suggests, a short-term disability due to injury or illness.  The time frame for these benefits is between 3-6 months and can cover between 40-60% of the participant’s income. Purchasing this type of insurance tends to be expensive and benefits usually begin about 14 days after the qualifying incident.

    Long-term disability insurance pays between 60-80% of the participant’s income and typically lasts until they recover from the injury or illness or until a pre-determined number of years, for instance, until they are 65.  Benefits for long-term disability insurance usually begin after a 90-day waiting time.

    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). To be eligible for these benefits, the person must be approved through a strict list of qualifications from the SSA, which can be found here. It is difficult to qualify for SSDI benefits and the average monthly benefit in 2019 was $1,234.

    How to Enroll in Disability Insurance

    When looking to buy disability insurance, first, look to see if your employer offers employer-sponsored coverage at work. Many times, employers pay for all or a portion of the premiums. Some employers offer disability insurance for employees to buy at a discounted rate as a voluntary benefit as part of their benefits package.  If you are part of a professional organization like a labor union or one for a specific profession, they may offer the ability to purchase disability insurance at a group rate. Also, you may purchase insurance through an insurance broker or directly from an insurance company.

    COVID-19 and Disability Insurance

    In some instances, disability insurance may cover the participant who is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some benefits will cover if you are medically quarantined because of a positive COVID test or exposure to the coronavirus and you cannot complete your work function. This does not include state mandated “work from home orders.” Also, some COVID-19 survivors have lingering symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and pain and these symptoms prevent them from being able to work. In these cases, short-term disability insurance may kick in. Check with your HR team or insurance broker to verify your coverage and eligibility.

    Disability insurance provides the financial security needed by yourself and those who depend on you. In these uncertain times, having a backup plan in place will give you the confidence that an unforeseen illness or injury will not deplete your bank accounts while you get back on your feet. Check into disability insurance plans at your workplace, professional organization, or through a local broker. You and your family will be glad you did.

    The information and content provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement.

     

  • Summary of Legislative Changes in 2020 | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    January 7, 2021

    • Repeal
      Health Insurance Tax – may be revisited under Biden presidency

     

    • Repeal
      Cadillac Tax – may be revisited under Biden presidency

     

    • Reinstated
      Patient Centered Outcome Research Tax – self-funded plans only

     

    • New
      Price Transparency rules
      Individual Health Care Reimbursement Arrangement
      New SBC Template required
      Carriers may decide whether to count drug coupons to out of pocket allowance
      Cost of Living Increases apply across the board to retirement and other programs

     

    • New Under
      Over the counter medications are covered under FSA or HSA

     

    • CARES Act
      Telehealth is a covered program under health plans, FSA and HSA
      COVID testing is covered at 100% under plans and also under FSA and HSA
      COVID immunizations
      Flexible Spending Account rollovers allowed up to $550

  • 3 Tips for Effective Goal Setting

    January 6, 2021

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    There is never a better time to look towards the future than right now. Goal setting does not need to be constrained to the start of a new year. So, let’s look at three helpful tips for effective goal setting.

    First, what is a goal? A goal is defined as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” Goals can be for the short-term or long-term. And, many times, short-term goals can be used to achieve your long-term ones. Goals are not a one-and-done activity, too. They are an active undertaking that require dedication and work.

    TIPS FOR GOALS

    1. Set goals with high value.

    We all dream big dreams for our life. In order to make those dreams a reality, you have to put in some work. This is where goals come in. Make a list of the dreams you have and rank them by priority and feasibility. When you have made your ranked dream list, you can now set goals that relate to the things that have the highest priority in your life. When you do so, you give the goals high value. High-value goals motivate you to put in the hard work to achieve them.

    2. Follow the SMART method of goal setting.

    When you work on your goal setting, make sure you follow the SMART method. By doing so, you ensure that your goals are ones that are clear and well thought out. Here’s the breakdown of the SMART method:

    • Specific—Make sure your goals are clear and well-defined. Don’t be vague and say “I’d like to learn how to play the guitar.” Instead, say “I will take a weekly guitar lesson.”
    • Measurable—Use specific amounts, dates, etc. As you craft your goals, assign specifics to them that can be measured like “I will take weekly guitar lessons for three months.”
    • Attainable—Create goals that are possible to achieve. Don’t set goals for yourself that you have no way to accomplish or you will feel defeated and reluctant to set goals in the future.
    • Relevant—Set goals that line up with your life and career. In other words, set goals that align with the things that matter in your life.
    • Time-bound—Your goals must have a deadline. Open-ended goals lead to unachieved goals because there is no urgency to them. Give your goals an end date so you have something to work towards.

    3. Be accountable.

    Find an accountability partner to keep you on track. When you have someone that is regularly checking in on you to see how you are doing with accomplishing your goals, you will work harder to stay on pace to achieve them!

    BONUS TIP!

    You can track your progress on accomplishing your goals through goal tracker apps. Check out these three: Strides, Repeat Habit Tracker, and Way of Life.

    Setting goals not only gives you focus for the future, but it also allows you to see just how much you are capable of.  When you look at where you are now compared to where you were at the initial time of your goal setting, you’ll be amazed at what you have achieved. Take the time to set SMART goals and, as Success.com says, “Make sure that the greatest pull in your life is the pull of the future.”

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