The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been limping along lately, with this puzzle still missing key pieces. But an important part of Obamacare is already here, and you can -- and should -- take advantage: The right to have free preventive health care. It only works, however, if your doctor understands his or her part in the claims process. These screenings include mammograms and colonoscopies. In addition, other preventive screenings may not carry a copayment, co-insurance or deductible. This includes screening for blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer depression and many others. But this doesn't stop doctors' offices from miscoding and turning your routine screening into a diagnostic procedure for insurance purposes. And guess what? Diagnostic visits do have copays or co-insurance. Righting code My wife's eye exam was supposed to be a routine screening. Her health insurance entitles her to one every two years. So she called and made an appointment. But when she read her health insurer's Explanation of Benefits (EOB) after the exam, it said that she owed nearly $100 -- the difference between her doctor's contracted rate with the insurer and her doctor's price for the office visit. So she called her insurance company to… (continue reading......)
Chances are you know someone with a child who's either under-employed or desperately trying to enter the job market. These kids are ambitious and willing to work, and many have college degrees. But through no fault of their own, they're not finding full-time employment. Instead they are offered only part-time work. With workweeks shortened to 30 hours or less, these young adults -- and many older people too -- are commuting to one, two or even three part-time jobs on a daily basis. They start their day at convenience stores or day-care centers, move on to a couple of hours at clothing outlets or restaurants, and their long grind may end with an overnight stint as a security guard. Full-time employment, or the type of job where you work five-days a week, eight hours a day, receive a weekly wage and have medical benefits, is hard to find. So instead these "jugglers" are living at home -- and could be for quite some time. Unhealthy benefit When Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) became law in 2010, healthcare experts and lawyers who read the 2,800 voluminous pages asked, "How will corporate America react?" After all, these companies were in unchartered… (continue reading......)
When life insurers lecture us about our inability to save money, it's time to tune out. Last month the President and CEO of LIMRA, Robert Kerzner, told the Federal Insurance Office that Americans "choose immediate gratification over long-term well-being" and, consequently, aren't planning for retirement. In case you're wondering, LIMRA used to be the acronym for the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association, but it no longer refers to itself that way. So, with life insurance ownership at a 50-year-low, it's not surprising that Kerzner is telling us what we're doing is wrong: Not buying life insurance. Product placement But just because we’re failing to buy life insurance – including whole life insurance with with low interest rates -- doesn't necessarily mean that Kerzner and LIMRA are right. LIMRA's own figures show that when people find a product they like, and one that works for them, they buy. And that is exactly what happened when life insurance companies sold very appealing variable annuities in the earlier 2000s. These annuities provided not only a lifetime guarantee of income but also the advantage of investing in rising stock funds during the boom years when the DJIA nearly doubled, while still offering a… (continue reading......)
When people like me have to make the often confusing decision on what kind of health insurance we need, we often turn to an insurance broker -- or an independent agent -- to make that decision for us and find the best deal at the best price. I've had good experience with my broker. But recent events in Hamilton, New Jersey -- where I live -- have shown me that you have to keep a close eye on your agent or broker. 'Who's the boss?' The upshot is: Your insurance agent or broker doesn't really work for you. He or she is nearly always paid -- and very well I might add -- by the insurance company that writes your policy. According to one survey, top insurance brokers earn an average $273,000 a year. So when former insurance broker Marliese Ljuba was willing to forgo both a contract and paycheck to work for our school board, someone should have sensed something was rotten in the state of New Jersey. And someone eventually did. But not the school board, which, by Ljuba's own testimony, was being wined, dined and feted by her on someone else's tab. Romancing the school board That… (continue reading......)
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