Tax season is underway, and while some Americans are looking forward to a nice refund, others are dreading the day they get slammed with penalties and additional payments. And if you didn’t sign up for health insurance last year, you may be kicking yourself.
In 2015, the uninsured rate among working-age adults was 13%, which was a 7% decrease since just 2013. Ultimately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made it easier for a lot of Americans to purchase health insurance policies; however, not everyone signed up. Since the government mandates that every U.S. resident must have health insurance (unless they qualify for an exemption), individuals who are uninsured are penalized.
Of course, that might eventually change now that there's a new administration in the White House. For now, you should prepare for the 2017 tax season as if the individual mandate and associated penalties for not having health insurance are still in effect.
If you are uninsured for a full three months in a row, you will be required to pay a tax penalty that is calculated in one of two ways: It is either 2.5% of your total household gross income, or a flat rate of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child. You will pay whichever is higher.
Some individuals may be exempt from the Obamacare penalty. Those who don’t have health insurance coverage may not have to pay a penalty under the following circumstances:
The easiest way to avoid the penalty is to simply sign up for health insurance. You can look into Obamacare health insurance policies at Healthcare.gov or purchase coverage through your employer or a private insurer.
When you file your 2017 taxes, the government doesn’t care if you’ve been living a healthy lifestyle and don’t believe you need insurance coverage. Likewise, the taxman won't care if you are happy to pay for your own health care expenses out-of-pocket. The reality is that every eligible U.S. resident must have health insurance. The question is: what policy will you sign up for?
For more information, talk to an expert at Bankers Fidelity about your insurance coverage options.
Even if you live an extremely healthy lifestyle, you may still have to visit the doctor once or twice a year. Most people seek medical help more frequently than that, though, and those costs can add up quickly. According to The Commonwealth Fund, about one in five Americans paid out-of-pocket health care expenses upwards of $2,000 in 2014. That is money that, with the right health insurance and a few smart strategies, you shouldn’t have to pay.
Four Tips for Managing Health Care Expenses
1) Select the right health insurance policy for your needs
Bronze plans look good from afar because of their low monthly premiums, but what you may not think about right away is the inconvenience of these plans’ high deductibles, coinsurance, and copays on top of the overall lower level of coverage. This type of plan might be ideal for someone who rarely visits the doctor (and therefore deals with fewer copays), but if you have a medical condition or must purchase monthly prescriptions, you may want to choose a plan with better coverage and lower copays. Basically, it is important that you read through the plans carefully and choose the one that is best for you.
This can be especially important for seniors. While Medicare provides a great deal of benefits, a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy may also need to be added depending on your needs.
2) Make sure your doctors are in network
Health insurance plans change from year to year, which means that they don’t always cover the same physicians and medical facilities. Always review your plan for changes and check with your doctor ahead of time to make sure that they accept your specific insurance plan.
3) Stick to generic drugs
Speaking of prescriptions, remember that there is usually more than one choice when it comes to most drugs. Brand-name prescriptions will often cost more than generic brands, so shop around and compare prices. Talk to your doctor about prescribing brands with lower costs.
4) Take advantage of free services
ACA-compliant health insurance plans offer a number of important screenings with no copay, and you can always find medical facilities in your community that offer free tests for conditions like diabetes, HIV, and other STDs. By law, insurance companies must cover preventative care, so get your free flu and shingles shots.
These are just a few of the many ways you can save money on health care this year. Do you have any other tips or suggestions? Feel free to post in the comments section below.
We all want to be able to plan ahead and provide for our families after we pass on. Many people choose to do so through life insurance coverage. However, with laws and circumstances changing all the time, sifting through all the different types of life insurance policies can be a complex and overwhelming process. In 2014, there were 35.7 million people without any type of healthcare insurance, and with premiums on the rise, many people can't afford to have both health insurance and life insurance.
However, many people have found that short- term insurance can provide the peace of mind they need without the undue financial burden. A short- term life insurance policy can help when you have an employment gap or need a supplement to your existing insurance plan.
1. Miscalculating your needs
Once you've chosen your policy type, you still have decisions to make regarding your coverage. You'll need to figure out how much your loved ones will require to live once you're gone. Picking a number at random will likely result in a shortage in the long run. Think about your age, health, and life expectancy, as well as your current income, debts, and assets. For instance, a senior couple with few living relatives, significant savings, and no real debt will not need nearly as much coverage as a family with young kids to support and only one spouse in the workforce. If you don't work yourself, don't assume that this means you don't need coverage. Although you'll have no lost income to replace, your policy can still cover childcare costs, housekeeping assistance, facility placement, and other expenses.
2. Basing your decision on price alone
The cost of life insurance can be a real shock for some people. Short- term insurance can certainly lessen the financial blow, which is why many people opt for term life insurance. However, don't reduce your coverage just so you can get a lower premium. Like health insurance, you'll be paying less out of pocket, but you may be skimping on something that can really benefit your family. If your current plan is too costly, you might even want to cut back in other areas of your budget so you can afford the coverage you actually need. Consider the areas that will really help your family in the event of your passing so that that money will be well-spent.
3. Waiting too long to purchase
Many people don't even think about buying life insurance until they experience an event that makes them realize its necessary. And in hindsight, you’ll realize you’re much better off when you buy these insurance plans as soon as possible. Premiums go up as your age increases, even if you're in good health. If you develop a serious condition later in life, you'll also run the risk of a much higher premium, or in the future, you may be denied coverage outright. Start thinking about your insurance purchase now, rather than putting it off.
4. Not reviewing your policy
It's important to review your policy every so often to make sure it still fits with your current situation. Even if you have short- term coverage, circumstances can change during that period of time. Your policy may have made perfect sense a year ago, but after you get married, have children, or acquire assets, you may need to rethink your coverage. And if you've had positive changes to your health or started a better job, some events might actually reduce your costs. Don't put your policy away in a drawer and forget about it. Take the time to review it on occasion.
If you'd like more information about our Life Insurance plans, please contact us today. We can help you provide for your family for years to come.
Although many people consider a life insurance policy to be necessary only when they have a family for whom to provide, having one can actually be vital in a number of different situations. Even if your children are all grown up and your mortgage is all paid off, you may find that having life insurance coverage can be of great benefit. If you have finances tied up in the stock market and the market crashes before you have a chance to replace your assets, your life insurance policy can help you. And if, like the 7 million grandparents who lived with a grandchild in 2013, you're chiefly responsible for the well-being of your grandchild, your policy can help to provide for them in the event of your passing.
But if you are fortunate enough to have minimal debts and few financial responsibilities or worries, you may not think that the life insurance cost is worth it. That's why many seniors opt for short term insurance, as it often provides the coverage they need without a significant cost. Whether you decide on a term or permanent policy, working with a life insurance company can reduce the burden you put on your loved ones and can give you peace of mind. Here are just three reasons seniors over the age of 60 should still invest in a life insurance policy:
Your policy can pay for final and outstanding expenses
For many people, the cost of a funeral and burial can be a shock. On average, these can cost more than $15,000! Your insurance policy will allow your family to pay tribute to the impact you've had on their lives without shouldering a huge financial burden. And even if you don't have outstanding mortgage payments or credit card balances, the pay-out from your policy can also help to cover medical bills. Since we can't always plan for needing additional medical care, this can be a big help.
You can leave a legacy
Your policy can also be used to provide for your children, grandchildren, or even a charitable organization. While not every person is in a financial position to provide gifts set aside in their wills, this can be a great way to keep your memory alive and support those you care about.
You can provide for your spouse
Even if you and your partner are both retired, your death may leave your spouse in a financial lurch if you don't have an insurance policy. If you rely on pension or Social Security checks, your passing could be a huge financial burden. This is especially true if your spouse is not currently in the workforce. Even if you're both managing your expenses right now, that may not continue to be the case after you're gone. Having a life insurance policy will ensure that your spouse can continue to life comfortably and without financial worry.
You may not be able to plan ahead for certain health issues or for any accident, but you can take precautions now to help your loved ones in the even if your death. To find out more about how our insurance policies can help you and your family, please contact us today.
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Understanding Medicare Supplement
Neither Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company® nor its Medicare Supplement policies are affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government, the federal Medicare program, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is a solicitation of Medicare Supplement insurance and an independent agent may call on you. The Medicare Supplement products issued by the Company are insurance policies. Policy form series B 21092 is issued by Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company®, Atlanta, GA; policy form series B 21492 is issued by Bankers Fidelity Assurance CompanyTM, Atlanta, GA. Limitations and exclusions apply; actual policy provisions control. Rates subject to change on a class basis. Individually underwritten; application to determine eligibility required.
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