Blog

  • What to Know About Life Insurance for Diabetics

    January 27, 2021

    Tags:

    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.

    Start the process by learning how to choose a qualified insurance agent. An easy way to find a qualified insurance professional in your area is to use our Agent Locator.

    By Amanda Austin

    Originally posted on LifeHappens.org

  • Compliance Requirements for a Remote Workforce

    January 20, 2021

    Tags:

    According to Gallup, the number of days employees are working remotely has doubled during the pandemic. Some companies are even considering making a remote work arrangement permanent. While there are no laws that exclusively apply to remote workplaces, remote work does come with additional compliance risks. Below is our general guidance for employers.

    Logging Hours and Preparing Paychecks
    Make sure that employees are logging all of their time. Keep in mind that when working from home, the boundaries between work and home life are easy to blur. Employees may be racking up “off the clock” work, and even overtime, that they aren’t being paid for. While this may seem harmless enough in the moment, particularly if the employee isn’t complaining, unpaid wages can come back to bite you once the employee is on their way out the door.

    Minimum Wage
    Employees should be paid at least the minimum wage of the state where they physically work, whether this is a satellite office or their own home. Beyond that, it’s important to be aware that some cities and counties have even higher minimum wages than the state they are located in. In general, with most employment laws, you should follow the law that is most beneficial to the employee.

    Breaks
    Remote employees must take all required break and rest periods required by law, as if they were in the workplace.

    Harassment Prevention Considerations
    You may have employees working in a state that has a lower bar for what’s considered harassment or that requires harassment prevention training. You can find this information on the State Law pages on the HR Support Center.

    Remote work also comes with additional opportunities for harassment (even if it doesn’t rise to the level of illegal harassment) such as employees wearing clothing that crosses the line into inappropriate, roommates in the background unaware that they are on camera, or visible objects that other employees may consider offensive. You can prevent these sorts of incidents by having clear, documented expectations about remote meetings, communicating those expectations to your employees, and holding everyone accountable to them. It also wouldn’t hurt to occasionally remind everyone to be mindful that they and what’s behind them are visible to coworkers when they’re on video. That said, going overboard with standards that you’re applying to employees’ private homes can cause anxiety and morale issues, so make sure your restrictions have some logical business-related explanation.

    Workplace Posters
    Many of the laws related to workplace posters were written decades before the internet, and so their requirements don’t always make sense given today’s technology.

    The safest option to ensure you’re complying will all posting requirements in one fell swoop is to mail hard copies of any applicable workplace posters to remote employees and let them do what they like with the posters at their home office. If you have employees in multiple states, you should send each employee the required federal posters, plus any applicable to the state in which they work.

    Alternatively, more risk-tolerant employers often provide these required notices and posters on a company website or intranet that employees can access. A number of newer posting laws expressly allow for electronic posting, but this option is not necessarily compliant with every posting law out there.

    FMLA Eligibility
    Remote employees who otherwise qualify will be eligible for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they report to or receive work assignments from a location that has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

    According to the FMLA regulations, the worksite for remote employees is “the site to which they are assigned as their home base, from which their work is assigned, or to which they report.” So, for example, if a remote employee working in Frisco, TX, reports to their company’s headquarters in Portland, OR, and that site in Portland has 65 employees working within a 75-mile radius, then the employee in Frisco may be eligible for FMLA. However, if the site in Portland has only 42 employees, then the remote employee would not be eligible for FMLA. The distance of the remote employee from the company’s headquarters is immaterial.

    Verifying I-9s
    In normal circumstances, the physical presence requirement of the Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9, requires that employers, or an authorized representative, physically examine, in the employee’s physical presence, the unexpired document(s) the employee presents from the Lists of Acceptable Documents to complete the Documents fields in Form I-9’s Section 2.

    However, in March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) temporarily suspended the physical presence requirement for employers and workplaces that are operating remotely due to COVID-19 related precautions. In other words, employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 (and operating remotely) are not required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. Inspection should instead be done remotely. As of the date of this newsletter, this temporary rule is still in effect.

    Equipment
    In some states, an employer is required either to provide employees with the tools and items necessary to complete the job or to reimburse employees for these expenses. However, workstation equipment like desks and chairs is usually not included in this category of necessary items.

    That said, an employee might request a device or some form of furniture as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so they can perform the essential functions of their job. In such cases, you would consider it like any other ADA request. Allowing them to take home their ergonomic office chair, for example, would probably not be an undue hardship and therefore something you should do.

    Deciding Who Can Work from Home
    You may offer different benefits or terms of employment to different groups of employees as long as the distinction is based on non-discriminatory criteria. For instance, a telecommuting option or requirement can be based on the type of work performed, employee classification (exempt v. non-exempt), or location of the office or the employee. You should be able to support the business justification for allowing or requiring certain groups to telecommute.

    Originally posted on ThinkHR

  • PCORI Tax reinstated | by Jordan Shields, Partner

    January 19, 2021

    Tags:

    First, it was here, then it wasn’t, now it is back again, reinstated under the Trump administration.

    For plans that renew between October 1, 2019, and October 1, 2020, the amount paid per covered employee is $2.54.  For 2020-21 the amount will be raised to $2.66.

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

    January 12, 2021

    Tags: ,

    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

    Tags:

    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

    Tags: ,

    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.”

Español »